Oris’ tagline is ‘real watches for real people’, and it extended to the event on the Great Barrier Reef to launch their sparkling new Limited Edition, the Great Barrier Reef II. This was a real experience on the reef, with a real conservation message, delivered by an Australian brand manager who will never be accused of not keeping it real – mostly thanks to his raging passion for Oris – Peter Borghouts.
Meet the The Great Barrier Reef II Limited Edition
Peter loves Oris and Peter loves Australia. He’s found a way to combine his two obsessions three times in recent years, to great effect. Both in terms of sales (the first version of the Great Barrier Reef, released in 2009, sold out in three hours) and in the way that each watch meaningfully reflects Australia in design nuances. These are not minor mods like a different coloured seconds hand, or a logo on the dial. These thoughtful and frankly cool features are significant additions, such as the new representation of the day on a day-date model.
The Great Barrier Reef II Limited Edition is a shining drop of the reef on your wrist
Elsewhere on the big 46mm timepiece it’s the shimmering deep-blue-sea dial, the vibrant yellow referencing a colour (the vivid colours you see on coral is in fact algae being expelled) predominantly found on the Great Barrier Reef and the engraving of the Australian continent and Coral Sea on the caseback. Watch lovers will already have noticed the unusual day indication, displayed on a cut-out centre dial. It’s one of very few day-date divers on the market, full stop, which should see its production run of 2000 pieces quickly exhausted with an audience reach well outside of Australia.
Finding Nemo, and a worthy cause, at the launch event
As for the launch of the watch, well, in Peter’s words, it could happen nowhere other than its namesake, the Great Barrier Reef. “Another brand might do it in an aquarium, but not us! It has to be real. If we’re talking to you about conservation, we all have to see what we need to protect,” he said at the welcome dinner, referencing the fact that Oris contributes to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) with each watch sold. His comments were met with vigorous applause from all, including Oris’ regional manager Michael Meier and one quarter of the whole AMCS, who had jetted in from Sydney and Brisbane. To assist in “seeing” what we need to protect, Peter enlisted specialist underwater videographer Ross Isaacs of Ocean Planet Images.
The battle for the mechanical watch is like the battle for the reef
In speeches the next night, Darren Kindleysides, Fisheries and Sustainable Seafood Campaigner from the AMCS drew parallels between the Great Barrier Reef and watchmaking, in that they have both thwarted major threats to their existence – watches have survived quartz and connected watch crises while in the reef’s case, coral mining (with the crushed coral to be used on land as soil enhancer) and drilling for oil (at one point the reef was dotted with oil rigs) were both shut down before they could begin, largely thanks to the work of the AMCS, which turns 50 this year.
The challenges to the reef are certainly not over, in fact they’ve reached a fever pitch this week, with the media reporting wholesale bleaching of the reef as a result of warming sea temperatures from the hottest summer on record, worldwide. Warmer sea water has rendered great northern tracts of the Great Barrier Reef colourless, though there is a chance for full recovery if, according to AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven, Australia embraces renewable energies over fossil fuels.
Diving into the 8th wonder of the world, which you can see from space
We were left with no doubts as to the reef’s eligibility for ‘wonder’ status, as, during the glittering highlight of the trip, we dived into the jewel blue coral sea to witness the reef for ourselves. We saw various hard and soft coral, giant clams, white-tip reef sharks, barracuda and green sea turtles, who can live to a staggering THREE-HUNDRED years old. Which means there are some sea turtles swimming around that might have seen the underside of Captain Cook’s Endeavour as it made landfall in 1788. Not to mention all the fish, which have thrived since the whole 2,000+ kilometre reef was declared a no-fishing zone. Parrot Fish, Trigger Fish, Dory and Clownfish (Nemo!). Words do no justice here. And neither could our expensive, high-end video camera.
We needed something bigger, something capable of 3D imagery and on-board colour grading; Oris had arranged just the machine and just the man to operate it, Ross, who has captured the experience so perfectly we won’t even bother to explain it beyond this paragraph. Stay tuned for our all-interviewing, all-diving, all-tropical video of the event, coming soon. Thanks to Oris Australia for a world class event that has renewed our love for a truly beyond compare part of our country.