Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons added the Oris brand of Swiss watches to its portfolio earlier this month. Founded in 1904, Oris is an independent company headquartered in Hölstein with a rich and uninterrupted history filled with innovation, a struggle for survival, and its pioneering rebirth as a committed manufacturer of mechanical watches.
Oris designs and manufactures maniacal watches, entirely in-house, for people who “go their own way,” and is driven by the company credo “things must make sense.” The brand has built its reputation over the years by maintaining the highest quality standards throughout its manufacturing process.
Following the brand’s introduction to the UAE, Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, Chief Commercial Officer, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons commented: “We are pleased to introduce Oris to the UAE and expand the Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons portfolio. The passion and innovation behind each Swiss mechanical Oris timepiece is bound to attract our clientele. The brand ethos is very much in line with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, and we look forward to working alongside them and introducing our clients to the brand offering.”
In 1904, Paul Cattin and Georges Christian purchased a factory that had been part of the recently closed Lohner watch company. Rather than naming the new watch company they had founded after themselves, they chose to name it after a brook that ran close their factory in Hölstein, in the canton of Basel-Landschaft.
They began by manufacturing pocket watches and, by the end of the year, had over 60 employees. By the time Georges Christian passed away in 1927, the company had added five more manufacturing facilities – four in Switzerland and one in Como, Italy – and had added wristwatches to its portfolio.
Christian’s vacant seat as the President of the Board of Directors was filled by none other than Jacques-David LeCoultre, the grandson of Antoine LeCoultre and the founder of LeCoultre & Cie. Jacques-David would, in 1937, preside over the merger of the LeCoultre and Jaeger names into the Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre SA of today.
The brand survived the disruption caused by World-war II and continued to grow until the infamous ‘Quartz Crisis’ of the 1970s. This massive disruption, which devastated the Swiss watch industry and caused the closure of around 900 watch companies in Switzerland, did not spate Oris. To survive, its management decided to become a part of Allgemeine Schweizer Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG), the Swatch Group’s predecessor, and added Quartz watches to its portfolio.
However, the brand’s decline could not be thwarted. By the early 1980s, Oris had been reduced to a few dozen employees and had stopped manufacturing its own movements. At that time, Oris’ Managing Director was Dr Rolf Portmann. He had joined the company in 1956 as a young lawyer to lead its fight against Switzerland’s restrictive Watch Statute, successfully. He was hired by Oscar Herzog, co-founder Christian’s brother-in-law and General Manager at the time. Oscar’s son, Ulrich W. Herzog, became the Head of Marketing.
The two men, Dr Rolf and Ulrich, joined forces to orchestrate a management buyout in 1982. Oris SA was once again an independent brand and immediately committed itself to producing only mechanical timepieces. The quartz models were phased out by the early 1990s.
In 2014, to celebrate its 110 years in watchmaking, Oris presented its Calibre 110, the brand’s first in-house-developed calibre for 35 years. This hand-wound movement – featuring a 10-day power reserve with a patented non-linear power reserve indicator – symbolised he brand’s return to its roots as an independent and complete manufacturer of maniacal timepieces. Oris has also stayed true to its commitment to innovation and manufacturing efficiency, rather than marketing, as the foundational ethos of the brand – therefore the company credo “things must make sense.”
Today, Oris presents its watches under four, self-destructive collections: Diving, Aviation, Motor Sports and Culture.
The Oris Diving Collection has a wide selection of models presented under three lines. The Aquis line offers real-world functionality through a considered combination of design, materials and functionality. The Divers line offers a vintage aesthetic by drawing inspiration from Oris’s first diver’s watches, particularly an iconic 1965 model. The ProDiver line is the definitive professional diver’s watch with innovative functions such as the Oris-patented RSS bezel-locking system and 1,000-metre water-resistance.
Oris began making pilot’s watches in the 1910s, at the dawn of aviation, and has been a pioneer in the field ever since. In 1938, it introduced a model with an oversized crown. It was developed to enable pilots’ to adjust their watches while wearing leather gloves. This feature not only became its signature, but led to “Big Crown” becoming the name given to its line of modern, updated successors. The Big Crown ProPilot line focuses on innovative functionality for the professional pilot. The Big Crown ProPilot X line reveals its inner workings through its skeletal architecture. The Oris BC3 is a line of 16 vintage-inspired aviation models.
The Motor Sports collection comprises four lines. The Chronoris line is the modern-day successor to the original Chronoris released in 1970, which became Oris’s first chronograph. The Artix GT line comprises steel sports watches loaded with innovation. Each model has a bi-rotating bezel with a ceramic insert and an Oris-developed rubber ‘good grip’ outer edge for taking quick, accurate readings.
The Williams line in the Motor Sports collection pays homage to Oris’ partnership with the Williams F1 Team, dating back to 2003. The collection carrying the F1 team’s name was launched in 2015 to capture the essence of the speed, power and technology of a Williams F1 car on a wristwatch. The TT1 line combines aesthetics and innovation while also drawing on the brand’s partnership with Williams.
The Culture collection, as the name suggests, is all about refined aesthetics, and comprises two lines. The Artelier line “embodies Oris’s commitment to heritage and innovation.” It includes a suite of timepieces that combine the brands in-house developed calibres with refined, formal designs. The Classic line explores minimalist beauty in its most refined forms.
The selection of introductory models offered at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons’ boutiques will include timepieces from the Aquis, Big Crown range, along with models featuring the newly launched Calibre 400 – Oris’ first in-house automatic movement – amongst others.
“We are extremely proud to partner with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, in bringing our flagship timepieces to the highly discerning collectors and watch lovers of the UAE,” said Ulrich Herzog, Chairman of the Oris Group. “With their deep knowledge of the region and their familiarity with the tastes and demands of their select clientele, we have identified an ideal partner to work with.”
Oris watches are available in Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons multi-brand boutique in The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Mirdiff City Centre and Yas boutique in Abu Dhabi.