Oris Introduces the Aquis New York Harbor Limited Edition and Kicks Off the Billion Oyster Project
Independent watchmaker Oris and non-profit group the Billion Oyster Project have teamed up to restore New York Harbor’s Historic Oyster Population by 2035.
Oysters were, at one time, inextricably linked to life in New York City. Centuries ago, New York Harbor was home to 220,000 acres of oyster reefs, and before the 20th century, bivalves were an important part of the Manhattanite diet. They were as ubiquitous then as hot dogs and pizza are today. In fact, in his 2007 book, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, journalist Mark Kurlansky wrote: “Before the 20th century, when people thought of New York, they thought of oysters. New Yorkers ate them constantly. They also sold them by the millions.”
Indeed, in the 1800s the lower Hudson River estuary was home to approximately 350 square miles of oyster beds. However, overharvesting and pollution led to the decline of the oyster population in the 1900s. And by the 20th century, New York Harbor’s water was so filthy and diseased that its oyster beds were practically gone.
That is why, today, Oris and non-profit organization Billion Oyster Project have teamed up to help restore these culturally and environmentally important populations with the release of the Oris New York Harbor Limited Edition watch, a 2,000-piece limited edition based on the brand’s classic Aquis diver’s watch.
Why We Need Bivalves
As always, Oris is dedicated to cleaning up the world’s waterways. So its teaming up with the Billion Oyster Project to restore the vulnerable oyster beds of New York City makes perfect sense. It feels like a natural extension of the brand’s previous “Change For The Better” collaborations with groups like Seoul KFEM to produce the Oris Hangang Limited Edition, which highlighted the plight of the Hangang River in South Korea.
But what makes the new New York Harbor Limited Edition unique is that it also raises awareness about the cultural and environmental importance of the city’s oyster population.
Oysters are vital to the ecology of an area. An adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day, while oyster colonies create ecosystems for other marine life and form natural storm barriers. Oyster reefs are to the ocean what trees are to the forest.
So, with this new timepiece, Oris also wants to raise awareness of the impact of oysters on the growth of New York City and their effect on the city’s cultural evolution.
Most folks associate oysters with NYC’s swanky raw bars and seafood towers, but once, they were a working-class staple, sold from street stalls and served raw, smoked, pickled, in creamy stews, fried whole, or mixed with bread and stuffed as oyster dressing.
And economically, oyster fisheries offered people upward mobility. In the 1800s, one of the most prominent oystermen was Thomas Downing, an African American businessman and abolitionist. His Oyster House in 1825 at 5 Broad Street in Lower Manhattan was one of the most popular establishments and also served as a stop along the Underground Railroad.
Heroes on the Half-Shell
To support the Billion Oyster Project’s pioneering work, Oris has created a watch that aims to restore the rich history of New York Harbor’s favorite bivalve.
The most notable feature of the New York Harbor Limited Edition is its green mother-of-pearl dial, inspired by the color of the harbor’s water. Oris is known for sustainable watchmaking, so the lustrous nacre of the oyster shell is a lasting reminder of the many properties and uses of the shellfish.
As always, Oris’ commitment to sustainability is underscored by its watches being built to last. This iteration of the classic Aquis has a multi-piece relief 41.5mm stainless steel case. It’s a practical dive watch with a uni-directional stainless steel rotating bezel with minutes scale in relief, water resistance to 30 bar (300m), and hands and indices coated with Super-LumiNova for maximum legibility. There is a domed anti-reflective crystal on the front (the caseback is decorated with an image of oysters and inscribed New York Harbor Limited Edition) and has a steel screw-in security crown to help keep water out.
For extra endurance, the New York Harbor Limited Edition comes with a rugged green rubber strap, an additional multi-piece stainless steel metal bracelet with a folding clasp with extension, plus a strap changing tool. It is powered by the precision Oris 733 Automatic movement. And to preserve memories, it comes in a special presentation box.
Pricing & Availability
The New York Harbor Limited Edition is available now and is priced at $2,700. For more information, visit the Oris website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)