Oris has an answer to the horrors of 2020, and it’s an all-bronze Hölstein Edition 2020 with a bear on the back Oris has an answer to the horrors of 2020, and it’s an all-bronze Hölstein Edition 2020 with a bear on the back

Oris has an answer to the horrors of 2020, and it’s an all-bronze Hölstein Edition 2020 with a bear on the back

James Robinson

The ‘My Plans’ memes are right. 2020 has been annus horribilis. It’s ruined just about every party on the planet. Oris knows this, and they’ve got a plan. It involves what is claimed to be Switzerland’s first all bronze watch. Yes, including the bracelet. And, oh, to turn up the smiles, there’s a bear on the caseback, too. If this year needed to get more bizarre, more bronze, more bear-able (boom boom), I think we have mission accomplished.

As Oris themselves explain, “No one needs a wristwatch, some argue. But even given the myriad alternative ways of telling the time, that’s only true to a point. A mechanical watch is also a thing of beauty, which as the great poet John Keats wrote, ‘is a joy forever’.”

“In these challenging times created by the Coronavirus crisis, we need that joy. A celebration of mechanical watchmaking isn’t a first priority, but it is a welcome distraction, a high point when the world is laid low.”

“The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is cast in solid bronze, including the bracelet (a first in Swiss watchmaking), an industrial material with intriguing characteristics that we hope will charm everyone who comes into contact with it. On top of that, the caseback is embossed with the Oris Bear, for one simple reason – to make people smile!”

So there you have it: the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020, a remedy for 2020 malaise.

Oris Hölstein Edition 2020

Joking aside, I don’t think there’s any denying that this is a good-looking timepiece – bronze, when new, has a warm and charismatic quality that’s hard to find elsewhere. Likewise, the standard Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph, on which this watch is based, is a very arresting timepiece indeed, one that possesses great clarity of design and proportionality.

I’m also fond of the vertically brushed, gold-plated dial with contrasting black sub-dials and minute track matching – it nicely complements the rust-resistant material of the case and bracelet. And the Calibre Oris 771 found inside the 43mm bronze case is also a solid movement. Based on the Sellita Calibre SW510, it offers self-winding, 27 jewels, an operating frequency of 28,800 vph and up to 48 hours of power reserve.

The perceptive among you reading this may suspect that there’s a but coming … you’d be right, and it’s a big one. A baffling one. Oris said it themselves: no Swiss watchmaker has ever created a bronze wristwatch with a solid bronze bracelet. There’s a good reason for that – bronze oxidises. What starts out as a gentle golden glow slowly, but inevitably, turns green.

Oris Hölstein Edition 2020

And yet, despite this chemical inevitability, Oris has gone ahead and made a solid bronze bracelet anyway, knowing full well that owners who choose to wear the new watch may have their wrists stained teal green. More perplexing still is their justification, with Oris Co-CEO Rolf Studer stating, “We’ve been working with bronze for years and our customers know what bronze is and will be aware that if they have a watch with a bronze bracelet, they may get oxidisation on their skin. But then you have a shower and it’s gone again. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.”

Ahh … I don’t know if I’d appreciate spending $7200 AUD on a watch that’s going to make my wrist look like the Hulk’s … but hey, that could just be me? After all, we have gotten pretty good at washing our hands in 2020…

Regardless, I’m not 100 per cent sure why Oris didn’t just try to find a solution for the bronze bracelet like they did for the Hölstein Edition’s bronze case – by fitting it with a stainless steel backing, sans teddy bear, obviously.

Oris have said that they “wanted the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 to give watch enthusiasts something to smile about”. I can’t help but think that, despite delivering some much needed lulz, what most of us will actually be doing is scratching our heads. But hey, if anyone out there wants to be a guinea pig with this teddy bear backed watch, we’ll be all ears to what happens with their wrists.

Pricing and availability of the Oris Hölstein Edition Chronograph

Just 250 examples of the Hölstein Edition chronos are being produced and they’re exclusively available from either Oris’s online marketplace or boutiques.