Oris Continues its Noble Association with Rega

Oris Continues its Noble Association with Rega

As the epitome of a highly reliable and well-designed watchmaker, Oris has always remained an affordable watch brand. Here, it distils the essence of what it means to be Swiss-made by adding the Rega logo in a limited edition dedicated to the power of Swissness…

By Joël A. Grandjean

Adding the Rega logo to the dial of a Swiss watch is like offering an international clientele a double ration of Swissness. Firmly rooted in the Swiss collective conscience, the Swiss air rescue and repatriation service (known as Rega), with its airplane and helicopter ambulances, is a highly respected institution, proudly flying the flag of the Swiss Confederation. This Oris limited edition dedicated to the iconic air rescue service is sure achieve cult status.

A legitimate high-flyer on land and in the air

Generally speaking, Oris timepieces feel at home wherever they are, from the automotive world to diving culture, and even… aviation. These are truly functional pieces, consistent with an approach whose utility is matched only by a powerful sense of service. In itself, when it comes to aviation watches, this independent group having originated in the vicinity of Basel and boasting its own movement manufacture, enjoys historic legitimacy. Its very first breakthrough in the field was in the form of a timepiece first rolled out in 1917. Then, in 1938, it patented an oversized winding crown, which went on to become the brand's hallmark feature. This particularity enabled air pilots to make quick time adjustments without having to remove their gloves.

Oris has always broken new ground. Take, for example, its Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter, which, to this day, remains the first self-winding mechanical wristwatch with altimeter ever produced. A firm favorite with pilots, this 47 mm diameter tool watch is truly dependable. Because of its mechanical nature, It is able to survive any computer blackout occurring in mid-flight, acting like a mechanical locator that is reassuring to both professional airmen and intrepid weekend pilots alike. To be honest, this piece, incidentally water-resistant to 100 metres, also appeals unashamedly to confirmed landlubbers and urbanites chained, willingly or unwillingly, to their office desks. In a nutshell, these are watches that, despite their inherent functions, never look out of place on the terra firma of real city life.

The Oris altimeter, a limited-edition tribute to Rega

The Oris altimeter, coupled with a barometric pressure indicator (the two are closely linked), is astonishingly accurate. A twist of the crown, on which the word "Alt" is etched in red, reveals a red seal and allows the ambient air to enter the Vidie capsule (named after the physicist responsible for inventing it). The capsule compresses or expands according to whether the spring maintaining its walls compresses or releases, following the differences in pressure brought about by altitude change. This information is relayed to the altitude indicator by means of a simple process. The altimeter and mechanical calibre are nonetheless independent of one another in a construction that evinces that little extra spark of spirit typical of Oris timepieces.

When it dedicated its Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter to Rega in 2016 as part of a limited series of 1414 pieces, an intentional allusion to the air service emergency number, the Hölstein-based Swiss watch manufacturer showed that it is possible, for the highly affordable price of CHF 3,950.-, to acquire an amazing array of functions. But above all, it pays a grand national tribute to the expert pilots of the legendary Swiss Air Rescue service. An average of 29 patients treated every day in 2017 meant that Rega conducted such a mission roughly every 33 minutes, which amounts to 11,774 helicopter rescue missions and 886 in an air ambulance. The reasons for its interventions range from illness to winter sports and the inevitable accidents relating thereto.

Oris GMT REGA Limited Edition

Conjuring up images of intrepid pilots known for their skills in negotiating the icy hostile mountain environment in helicopter rescue missions that require keeping a close eye on altitude, the Oris Rega altimeter enables enthusiasts of functional utility watches to identify with the same lofty values. Meanwhile, the new Rega 2017 comes in a superb GMT version limited to just 2000 individually numbered pieces. The watch is capable of crossing various time zones in one day, just like the air ambulances themselves, always ready for take-off in Geneva or Zurich, and sometimes even Switzerland's military airports.

Reminiscent in design to the first Oris aviation watch rolled out 100 years ago, this marvel of watchmaking houses an Oris 748, a specific customisation of the base calibre Sellita SW-220-1. It features a black GMT pointer hand tipped with red to indicate a second time zone. The watchcase, also water-resistant to 100 metres, sports an alluring gunmetal grey PVD-coating. Its patented adjustment system, a stroke of genius so dear to Oris, is clearly inspired by an airplane's seatbelt buckle system. There's a splash of red at 3 o'clock, just where the Rega logo peaks through, which is echoed by the red flash on the reverse of the leather strap in an extra flourish of Swissness. A special presentation box lends extra emphasis to the ultimate functional utility watch. And the whole lot will set you back less than CHF 2,600.00.-.

Oris tool watches, especially those that celebrate the altruistic values of Rega, deserve to be declared instruments of public utility. The epitome of fine craftsmanship and affordability, it's no wonder that the brand is popularly viewed as the Swiss champion of perceived watchmaking value.

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