In partnership with Oris

Oris Celebrates Ten Years of their Change For the Better Campaign

Over the last several years, many watch brands have tied product launches to charitable causes in one way or another. We’ve seen this take many forms, but the area of environmental conservation stands out as a focus for many. It’s now fairly common for watches to incorporate recycled materials, to be packaged in minimalist boxes that produce less waste, and to be associated with a particular specific effort to reduce harm to the environment. 

Oris has been a leader in this movement for the last decade, bringing awareness to causes worthy of wide support through the release of limited edition watches that put a spotlight on conservation efforts that the brand believes in. This is foundational to what makes Oris the brand that they are. It’s not a marketing ploy, or an attempt to grab the spotlight of the constantly growing watch media – their partnerships and conservation efforts come from a genuine desire to inform their customers and make the world a better, more sustainable, and cleaner place to live. 

“We’re always looking to see what we can do better in the environment we operate in,” says V.J. Geronimo, CEO-North America of Oris Watches USA. “It’s how we approach things, we try to do the right thing.” 

Oris began releasing watches that placed a focus on various conservation efforts in 2010. This was a very different period in terms of watch culture – well before Instagram influencers, and on the early cusp of the vintage watch influence on mainstream products. The Oris Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition was the first watch in their ever evolving “Change for the Better” series. It was a dive watch on the Aquis platform made to benefit the Australian Marine Conservation Society. This organization exists to protect ocean wildlife off the coast of Australia, including the massive ecosystem supported by the Great Barrier Reef. The AMCS is an independent charity that has been protecting Australia’s marine wildlife for over 50 years, and has since partnered with Oris on additional watches, making them a well known entity among watch enthusiasts. 

The Oris Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition

That first timepiece, however, set a template for those that would come in the future. Oris starts with a watch that’s well known to their clients, and adds a unique color, decoration, or functionality that is in line with the organization they are partnering with. The design choices are frequently bold and daring, allowing the design team to get creative, always inspired by the work of the partner organization. For their first Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition in 2010, Oris took their 47mm Aquis diver and gave it a blue, wave textured dial that recalls the ocean habitats that AMCS seeks to protect. 

Ocean conservation is a special cause to Oris as a brand that is so well known for their dive watches, and in addition to their work with the AMCS, they’ve also partnered with a handful of other organizations that do great work in this field. Of particular note is the Coral Restoration Foundation, which has worked with Oris on three watches since 2017. Their first watch with the Coral Restoration Foundation, the Staghorn Restoration Limited Edition, is something of a classic among the “Change for the Better” watches to have been released over the last ten years. This orange accented diver with a discreet day-of-the-week calendar complication is a refined take on the Aquis and sports a deep blue sunburst dial that allows the orange highlights to pop. The caseback is embossed with an image of the staghorn coral that this watch raised funds and awareness to protect. 

Staghorn Restoration Limited Edition

In 2020, Oris once again teamed up with the Coral Restoration Foundation to produce two watches to raise awareness for the restoration of the Carysfort Reef, located in the Florida Keys. These watches demonstrate something that Oris does particularly well as a watchmaker: integrating complications throughout their watch lineup in a seamless way. The Carysfort Reef Limited Edition is a GMT diver with a date complication.  But instead of a large GMT hand that can obstruct time telling, or big numerals making up a 24 hour scale, Oris designed the Carysfort Reef Limited Edition GMT to show a second time zone on an inner 24 hour track that’s easily read when needed, but otherwise out of the way. Your attention immediately goes right to the brilliant blue dial, once again set off with subtle but well implemented orange accents. The other watch Oris worked with the Coral Restoration Foundation on in 2020 is a solid gold version of this watch, which gives the Aquis an incredibly luxurious feel, and admirably does the job of elevating the work of the CRF. 

The Coral Restoration Foundation, an Oris partner based in Key Largo, Florida, works to reverse damage done to the Florida Reef Tract

The Coral Reef Foundation watches are a personal favorite of V.J. Geronimo. “It’s something I’m very involved in personally,” he says. “I’ve been there, and seen what they do firsthand.” 

Carysfort Reef Limited Edition GMT

Oris might be inclined to return to these organizations for new partnerships again and again because of the way they’re able to see results develop over time. “You can really see it happening,” says Geronimo, when asked how the success of these partnerships is measured. “You can see that the organization has grown, it becomes very clear.” The reverberations of these partnerships are felt when Oris goes out into the community and sees the results, and hears about their impact from watch enthusiasts and those who work in conservation alike. Awareness for the causes Oris supports is constantly growing among the watch community, as the brand expands their conservation efforts, and in turn the conservation community has come to understand the influence a Swiss watch brand can have, and the good they can do. Through a decade of watches that seek to shine a light on causes of great importance to Oris, and to all of us, they have upended expectations about Swiss watch brands, and disrupted the industry in a positive way. 

The Carysfort Reef Limited Edition GMT in gold

In addition to saving coral reefs around the world, another aspect of marine preservation that is incredibly important to Oris is fighting ocean pollution, specifically the large amount of plastics that are dumped into oceans every single day. The Oris Clean Ocean Limited Edition, released in 2019 in partnership with Pacific Garbage Screening, sought to draw attention to a problem that impacts all us: the uninhibited consumption of plastics, and pollution those plastics cause to the worlds’ oceans. Pacific Garbage Screening has spent years designing a floating platform positioned within the ocean gyres (circular patterns of ocean currents) to filter plastics and microplastics. This platform would essentially catch plastics before they drift out to sea, causing irreversible damage to marine ecosystems. Further, the plastics collected can be recycled.

The Oris Clean Ocean Limited Edition

The Clean Ocean Limited Edition, like so many other watches in this continuing effort from Oris, takes the Aquis and gives it a special blue dial. This 39.5mm diver is well sized for any wrist, and makes a great daily wear candidate that can stand up to the elements in a pinch if needed. The light blue tone of the dial is reminiscent of the cleanest ocean water you can imagine, perfectly appropriate given the cause the watch supports. 

The feature that makes the Clean Ocean Limited Edition truly special, however, is what you’ll see when you flip it over. The caseback features a medallion made from recycled ocean plastic. Each medallion is completely unique, and serves as a reminder of what this watch stands for. The medallion is also aesthetically beautiful, an uncommon addition to a professionally specced dive watch. 

Pacific Garbage Screening, like all of the organizations Oris chooses to work with, was selected because of a belief that they can make a difference in the world, and that Oris’s partnership with them will help in their cause. “The projects have to make sense,” said Geronimo. For every partnership initiative, from Whale and Dolphin Conservation, to the Lake Baikal Foundation, Oris must ask if they can make a real difference through using their unique voice. As an independent brand with a lot of freedom to choose pursuits that are meaningful to them, Oris seeks projects that allow for a direct, hands-on impact. 

The Oris Hangang Limited Edition

Ultimately, Oris’s partnerships with conservation groups are all about raising awareness, even if you don’t wind up buying a watch. V.J. is quick to point out that all of the groups the brand partners with are charitable, and welcome donations of time and money from the public. The Coral Reef Foundation, for example, relies heavily on volunteers, and takes part in the annual Coralpalooza celebration. Seoul KFEM, the brand’s partner on the recently released Hangang Limited Edition, runs regular “clean-up days” that serve to clean the Hangang River, an important source of freshwater for the 11 million people who live in the city of Seoul. You certainly don’t need a watch on your wrist to participate. “These organizations try to involve people as much as possible,” says Geronimo. “You can take a vacation and do the work with these organizations.”

A clean-up effort along the Hangang River

With ten years of limited edition watches behind them, there are no signs that Oris is slowing down on this front. They’re a brand that backs up public support for these causes with real work on the ground, and the results, which include observable growth for many of Oris’s partners, speak for themselves. At the end of the day, it’s a win for watch fans and the environment, as Oris pushes the industry toward green practices and environmental activism, and consumers are exposed to worthwhile causes that are worthy of broad support. 

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