Oris Adds Some Bling to the Aquis: Hands-On with the New Aquis Date Diamonds

At this point, I think we all have a fairly solid understanding of the appeal of a gold watch. The heft, the rarity, and the luster of gold all appeal to our reptile brains in ways that are almost innate. Zach Weiss broke it down here back in 2021, and in the nearly two years since that article was conceived, we’ve only grown more gold-curious as a team. But as much as we talk about a growing appreciation for gold, there’s another tangentially related segment of watchmaking that doesn’t get nearly the same level of attention, at least from enthusiasts. But a new watch from Oris made me rethink my relationship to these watches. 


No, I’m not talking about watches with Muppet-clad date displays. I’m talking about diamonds, an entirely different level of opulence. In a modern context, watches that have been set with diamonds most frequently fall into one of two categories: watches marketed exclusively toward women, or the completely iced out custom jobs that you sometimes see on red carpets, music videos, and in New York City’s diamond district. With the new Aquis Date Diamonds, Oris is asking us to rethink the stone by incorporating them into a watch that’s truly sporty, and also by making them accessible. 

Oris goes about this by using lab-grown, as opposed to mined, diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds have increased in popularity in recent years as manufacturing techniques have gotten better and better, delivering stones that are identical optically and chemically to diamonds created naturally. Lab-grown diamonds are of course far less expensive than natural diamonds, which makes them appealing to anyone looking for this very specific aesthetic, but on a budget that won’t accommodate mined diamonds. It’s a way to compromise without really compromising, because these are real diamonds in every sense of the word. It also allows brands like Oris to flex some creativity. 

Lab-grown diamonds are made using one of two different processes. The CVD (chemical vapor deposition) method involves placing a very tiny slice of a mined diamond into a chamber and exposing it to gasses with high levels of carbon at extremely high temperatures. Over the course of weeks, the gas ionizes and particles stick to that small piece of mined diamond, eventually forming new stones that can be used in jewelry and watches. 

In another method, known as HPHT (high pressure, high temperature), pure carbon is pressed within an enclosed space and exposed to high heat and pressure. Over time, the carbon breaks down and crystalizes into a stone. Most experts agree that the HPHT process results in a higher quality of diamond, but both methods have their pros and cons. The CVD process happens comparatively fast, and the quick growth can cause grain and spots in the final product. And HPHT can sometimes leave small traces of metal in the diamond, but this is virtually impossible to see with the naked eye, and the risk can be mitigated with the latest manufacturing processes. In both cases, it’s important to remember that in terms of their chemical composition, these are real diamonds that have been created in a laboratory environment, making them more sustainable than mined diamonds while also being indistinguishable from natural stones, except with high end imaging equipment. 

Oris uses a total of 92 diamonds in their new Aquis, 48 in the bezel and another 44 set into the dial’s hour markers. They complement the same “Cherry Red” dial that they debuted in a 43.5mm Aquis last summer (this new diamond set Aquis is in the smaller 41.5mm case). In our Watches & Wonders meeting, a member of the Oris team described this as his “Vegas watch,” and that feels like the perfect use case for a sporty, iced out watch like this. 

The Aquis Date Diamonds strikes me as the opposite of what most people would call an “everyday piece.” If you’re anything like me, there just aren’t a lot of occasions where a diamond set watch makes a lot of sense. Vegas, as mentioned. Watches & Wonders itself, is another. This would be fun at just about any watch meetup as well, I think, and depending on the city you live in, your company, and the venue, it could be a great watch to wear for a night on the town. But the usual dive watch applications seem rather silly. Do you really want to wear a watch with nearly 100 diamonds to the beach? Does it make sense to have this on the wrist while doing yard work? You can’t even time laundry with this thing. 

The appeal here, at least for me, is the idea of having a single watch that kind of transforms you. I think most collectors already think about watches like this on a certain level, at least subconsciously. It explains, in part, why we love pilot’s watches when we don’t actually know how to fly a plane. Or why a watch that’s good to depths beyond what a human being could survive while diving speaks to us. They inspire confidence through aspiration, while also being good looking, capable, and often practical. This watch can turn you into a guy that is totally comfortable wearing a ton of diamonds for a night, and that’s fun. If your name starts with the letter “D,” it might even garner you a nickname with the word “Diamond in it. 

And then there’s the price. The Aquis Date Diamonds has a retail price of $5,700 on a bracelet, and $5,500 on a strap. The bling-per-dollar ratio here is off the charts, but that’s the magic of lab-grown diamonds. If these were mined diamonds, that retail price would easily sail into the five figure range. Not a lot of practicality there. But at a $5,000 price point, this watch has a certain charm if you’re at all inclined toward this vibe aesthetically. I didn’t think I was, but that twinkle is surprisingly tough to resist. Oris

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.