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.
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.