“Flores Delores and the Oris ChronOris”:

“Flores Delores and the Oris ChronOris”: A Watch-Related Children’s Book is Released in Basel

It was exactly one year ago, during the 2017 edition of Baselworld, that an idea about a little redheaded girl and her dad’s new watch started to take shape.

By Barbara Palumbo

I was in the Oris booth being shown that year’s novelties by V.J. Geronimo – the CEO of Oris North America – when he presented me with a watch that had a particularly peculiar name.

“This is the ChronOris Date” he said to me.

“I’m sorry,” I replied, not sure I had heard what I thought I did. “It’s the what now?”

“The ChronOris Date. It’s an updated version of our first chronograph which we released in the seventies. This one will be availa...”

“V.J., you’re telling me that this watch is called the Oris ChronOris? And you’re serious about that?

V.J. chuckled and said, “Yeah, we occasionally get some funny feedback about the name, but, yes. It’s an Oris ChronOris.”

I glanced at V.J. with my jaw slightly ajar then looked at the watch a little more closely.

“Okay,” I said to V.J., and to Jamie McCorry, Oris’ Director of Marketing for the U.S. “I am going to tell you a story, but I’ll make it quick because I know you’ve got appointments. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was having a tough time. She was a huge baby even in utero and my husband and I used to joke about how difficult she’d likely be even after she was born. My mother’s middle name is Delores, and my mother-in-law’s middle name is Flores, so before she was born, we’d nicknamed my daughter ‘Flores Delores,’ which then – as she grew into a toddler – because the name we would use as a code to one another whenever she was acting up. My husband would come home from work to find me pulling my hair out due to the screaming two-year-old redhead in the house and would ask, ‘So, did Flores Delores show up today?’”

The two of them laughed until I interrupted again to tell them my idea.

“I’m going to make you this promise: when I get home from Basel, the first thing I’m going to do is write a story about Flores Delores and the Oris ChronOris. I don’t know how, but I’m going to.”

“Well, if anybody can do it, you can,” V.J. said with a chuckle, and with that vote of confidence, I knew it would be easy to keep my word.

The Story Wrote Itself

Once home and in front of my laptop, the story of Flores Delores began to take shape. She’d be a redhead, naturally, but about seven or eight years of age; old enough to understand what a watch was and why it was an important tool for people. I gave her father and mother rhyming names (Fitzmorris and Doris) as well as her two best friends (Horace and Boris). And before I knew it, I was knee deep into telling the tale of a little girl whose father was so obsessed with timekeeping that she became jealous of his newest watch – the Oris ChronOris – until finally she and her friends stole it and buried it in the woods. Once her father realizes his new watch has disappeared he becomes discouraged and tries to explain to Flores Delores that it wasn’t so much that he was obsessed over the watch, but rather that he realizes how precious his time with her is, and how fleeting it can also be. The ChronOris date, he informed her, helped remind him of special occasions like her birthday, which was largely the reason he was so sad the watch was gone. Flores, realizing her mistake, confesses to her father that she was the one who hid the watch, and the two of them go out to the woods together to dig it up. Fitzmorris then tucks his mischievous little girl into bed with her teddy (aka – The Oris Bear) before reminding her once more that when she awakens, he will give her the thing she needs most... his time.

What I realized as I started to write the story was that it was a love story between a father and a daughter, and one that had a direct correlation with the importance of time. What I had not realized until I was two paragraphs in was how easy it was for me to tell this story in verse. Flores Delores and the Oris ChronOris reads like a Dr. Seuss book: the entire tale is one big rhyme.

When I uploaded the post to my personal watch blog last year, the positive feedback was astounding. Portuguese journalist Miguel Seabra included the piece in a roundup of his favorite writings to come out of Basel, and InStore Magazine Editor-in-Chief Trace Shelton reached out to me with an idea.

“You need to turn that into a children’s book,” he said. “I’m not kidding. I think you need to figure out a way to do that.”

When the comments on the piece continued, I thought more and more about what Trace and others had suggested, and a couple of months later, I decided to pitch the idea to Oris.

Getting Kids Interested in Watches and Watchmaking

When the luxury industry as a whole decided that it was going to blame their issues and losses on millennials, because they were an easy target, I started to do my research. What I found through reading studies and articles, and frankly, just through the sheer act of choosing to surround myself with young people, was that millennials care about a story. They care about sustainability, they want to know where their products came from, and they often are interested in how something is made. So why are we not properly conveying these stories to them in a way that doesn’t come off as marketing? How has that not been figured out yet?

The idea I pitched explained to the brand that – as a member of the press – I leave Baselworld every year with no shortage of lovely press gifts bestowed upon me. I come home to my family after the long journey back carrying candles, perfume, scarves, chocolates, notebooks, wallets, and a slew of other adult items. But what I never returned with was something that I could give to my two young children, leaving me to inevitably have to spend eighty-five Swiss francs in the Zurich airport just to show each of them that mommy didn’t forget to get them something.

“What do you think about creating this book, and giving it to the members of the press who have small kids? There are actually several of us now, and I think it would do two things: one, as someone who has children, I think it would be really cool to give my kids something associated with what I do for a living, and two, it would allow them the opportunity to have to think about watches and hopefully encourage them to ask questions.”

When I sent an email containing that idea to the Oris marketing team, it was met with great enthusiasm, and eventually, some months later (but close enough to the next fair), the project got the green light and we began working on getting it created.

Oris hired Ann Marie Drury – an illustrator out of Connecticut – to help bring Flores and her friends and family to life, and that is precisely what she did. We spent weeks going over ideas. From hair color, to the positioning of the ChronOris in the story, to where to fit in that beloved Oris bear. What resulted was a perfected pocket-sized tale of love, fear, possession, and time, that was released two days ago at the start of the 2018 edition of the Baselworld fair, and just in time for the introduction of the newest version of the Oris ChronOris (now with black dial!), as well as a limited edition, which we’ll talk more about down the road.

Thanks so much to V.J., Jamie, Rolf, and the entire Oris team for believing in this idea and for being open-minded enough to give it a try. I’m so happy to have been a part of the project and hope that we figure out in the future a way to do more things like this for children so that they learn why we believe the watchmaking craft is so special.

(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)

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