You may have seen a few pictures of new Oris wristwatches floating around on Instagram â that’s because the watchmaker is currently introducing a few Baselworld 2017 novelties, from its new base in Zermatt, Switzerland. The reason it decided to climb 7,000 feet above sea level to present their watches? To demonstrate a new limited edition which performs particularly well (or, at least, much more noticeably) at high altitudes.
The Oris Altimeter Rega is a PVD-coated limited edition of the company’s self-winding mechanical altimeter, featuring the logo of the Swiss Air Rescue Guard (known as Rega) at 9 o’clock, and the likeness of an EC 145 helicopter used during rescue missions, embossed on the case back.
Rega (short for Rettungsflugwacht Garde Aerienne), is an air rescue service that is 100% funded by its patrons. It receives no government funding and in 2015 alone, it carried out 15,053 missions around Switzerland. Oris will be making 1414 pieces in reference to Rega’s emergency telephone number (a distinctive feature of the Rega service is that you can call Rega directly by mobile or satellite phone). Below is an example of one of Rega’s aircraft â a Eurocopter EC 145 (photo by Mattias Zepper).
The watch is a spin on the Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter, which uses an aneroid barometer to measure atmospheric pressure and convert it to a scale showing altitude. It’s a complicated little machine, the first self-winding wristwatch of its kind, and Jason Heaton explained how it works in his typically adventurous hands-on review, while trekking up the Rocky Mountains.
I was entrusted with a sample of the new limited edition to take with me on the slopes this week, and I have to say it’s one of the most fun, and most useful pieces of kit I’ve ever skied with (although, technically, it is still a pilot’s watch). It’s also much better looking than any battery powered GPS device typically used by skiers. Seeing the yellow needle in a new position at the end of every run (and up every ski lift) is a lot more satisfying than getting a pixelated reading on a screen, even when that screen is disguised as a watch dial.
Oris has added a gunmetal grey PVD coating to the stainless steel case, which gives the watch an element of sportiness. Putting it on the wrist and calibrating the altimeter is the last thing you do before putting on your gloves, clicking into your skis and lowing your mask, and the gesture feels like a natural addition to the pre-ski ritual so dear to experienced skiers.
Customers will be able to choose between two dials, displaying the altitude in feet or in meters. Price will be CHF 3,950 (approximately $3,845 at time of publishing) and Oris will begin delivering the watch in March 2017.
For more information, please visit the official Oris website.