When it comes to partnerships, there are a few routes watch brands typically embark on. There’s the celebrity ambassador, which is often little more than name awareness and a few key appearances. Then there’s the high-profile event tie-in, which usually results in a limited edition with a few dial tweaks. And there’s the organisational partnership, which, in its best form results in two like-minded parties creating something that benefits all involved. It’s this last model that Oris tends to opt for, and they do it well.
Oris Australia has a strong track record in supporting charitable organisations, notably their work around the Great Barrier Reef, but also their partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service – a comprehensive air ambulance service that provides primary healthcare to people living in rural and remote communities, across a swathe of Australia encompassing 7.13 million square kilometres. It’s essential work that the RFDS has been undertaking since 1928, which Oris has been actively involved in since 2013, releasing the first generation of the Royal Flying Doctor Service watch, as well as providing ongoing support.
Today Oris and the RFDS unveil the second generation of the RFDS watch, in the perfect setting of the Avalon Airshow. And it is an impressive piece of kit. The hefty 45mm steel case is beautifully finished, with well sculpted lugs, a pleasingly substantial crown and a coin-edge bezel that speaks to vintage pilot’s watch design. The dial doesn’t stray too far from the tropes of the genre, with clearly legible markers on a matt black background.
There’s a subtly integrated day and date thrown in for everyday convenience, but the real feature is the internal bezel, with pulsometre scale set for 20 pulsations (printed in a rich orange, evoking the red soil of our Outback), and a 12-hour scale which can be used to track a second time zone. Most internal bezels are operated via the crown, but this one is moved simply by twisting the bi-directional bezel. The operation is smooth and precise, firm enough to avoid accidental jolts, but not so stiff as to require undue effort. The bezel also features an RFDS logo at 12 – one that is quite discreet, ensuring the broad appeal of this design.
The solid caseback conceals the SW 220-1 movement, allowing Oris to use the space for maximum impact, with an engraving of the RFDS logo dominating. This limited edition of 2000 pieces comes on three different strap options, a vintage-inspired calfskin, a polished metal bracelet, and a very handsome brown alligator version.
Like all of the Oris offerings, this is a high quality piece at a competitive price, but for Australian audiences at least, the real value is in the work this watch will do in raising awareness and funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Oris Royal Flying Doctor Service Limited Edition II Australian pricing and availability
Oris RFDS II, limited to 2000 pieces, $2600 on leather, $2800 on bracelet and $2850 on alligator strap