The GIGN is a military police unit founded in 1974. The highly-trained elite group usually operates on French national territory. Yet, with their wide range of skills, they can also be called to operate abroad. The elite team is made up of 380 soldiers who are all trained parachutists. Twenty-six of these specialists are certified "Chuteurs Opérationnels" (operations parachutists, an ultra-demanding discipline where IT plays a significant role since they need an exact measurement of their distance from the ground in order to open their parachute at the last moment.
However, just like any sophisticated tool, parachuting computers are not infallible and so the armed forces deemed it necessary to equip parachutists with an exceptional mechanical tool that could serve as a back-up.
Aim: to serve
But at a time when everything is computerized, there were very few mechanical altimeters and it seemed quite a challenging task to repackage the ones from old airplane cockpits for these elite strike forces to wear on their wrists, as they need to carry as little weight as possible. Hence, the GIGN asked Oris to create a piece for that purpose and so, two years ago, the brand introduced the Big Crown Propilot Altimeter. Equipped with a barometric altimeter, the timepiece was thoroughly examined by the parachutists of the response team. Upon obtaining positive results, the GIGN signed a partnership with the Swiss watchmaking brand. Today independent from leading groups, Oris uses its own industrial tools to produce its own caliber and original complications.
From a purely mechanical point of view, the numbered 500-piece limited edition is not different from the series available in its stores.
And from a functional point of view, this is an advantage because it shows that the mechanics of the altimeter associated with the SW200-1 caliber (a Sellita movement virtually identical to the self-winding ETA 2824-1) housed in the robust steel case of the 47-mm watch has been tested enough times to be encased in a reference that is made for a specific public, but which is sold through the network of certified retailers, civilians and soldiers.
A badge of honor
However, the Oris GIGN Limited Edition differs from civilian pieces in several ways. Firstly, its dial is equipped with an altimeter graduated in meters (indication highlighted in yellow at 7 o'clock). But there's more to it. The dial of this steel piece that is water resistant to 100 meters and comes with a technical fabric strap closed by a deployment buckle, proudly sports the GIGN coat of arms. In line with the special force’s discretion, the badge signs this masculine product and guarantees good functioning for GIGN operators. And because this rare and positive partnership deserved to be highlighted, Oris' watchmakers reproduced the GIGN coat of arms on the back of the reference where they also engraved the individual reference number.
As soon as it was released, this exceptional watch cut out for heroes joined the league of collectibles and is delivered in a special case (Pelicase), which is water resistant and stamped with the coat of arms of the elite task force. To be discovered in stores from September 2016.