Feature: We Can’t Help Loving This Rubbish Watch
If a watch brand hasn’t approached Greta Thunberg to be its ambassador yet, it’s surely only a matter of time. ‘Sustainability’ was the buzz-word in industry circles last year, with several brands either expanding on or launching a number of eco-initiatives.
Hublot helped to save the rhinos, Panerai released its eLab-ID model—made almost entirely from recycled-based materials—and Ulysse Nardin and Breitling launched watches on straps made from recycled fishing nets and repurposed nylon waste, respectively.
And this was just the tip of the, er, melting iceberg.
Perhaps most notably, we saw entry-level brand Oris releasing this rather colourful diving model whose dial looks like: (A) a Damien Hirst spot painting viewed through frosted glass, (B) the contents of someone’s stomach after eating crayons, or (C) the sky after a magic mushroom overdose.
Take your pick!
Thankfully the rather abstract dials of the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle owe their provenance to none of those things.
They’re actually made from rubbish—or rather, recycled plastic bottles found drifting in the ocean, making every single one as unique as your fingerprint.
The PET (short for ‘polyethylene terephthalate’) plastics they salvage are blended together during the recycling process making a one-off pattern that provides one of the most visually interesting diving watches around today.
Every dial on the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle is unique
Not only are Oris removing some of these plastics from our already polluted seas and using them for a good cause, they’re also reminding us that the problem exists in the first place.
According to UN Environment, a truckload of plastic leaks into our oceans every single minute of the day, with as little as 9 per cent of all the plastic ever produced going on to be recycled. So a huge pat on the back to this plucky independent Swiss brand for raising funds and awareness for some of the world’s most pioneering ocean conservation agencies.
Fit For Purpose
As for the watch itself, don’t be misled by the candy-coloured dial. This is a robust watch with a ceramic uni-directional bezel, screw-down crown and a dependable Sellita automatic movement. It’s also water resistant to 300 metres, although we’re not sure you’d be desperate to go diving with a constant reminder on your wrist of how much junk you’d be swimming in.
It comes in two sizes, 41mm and 36mm, and features a ceramic bezel
The two sizes it comes in—41mm and 36mm—ensure most wrist sizes are catered for and there’s an exhibition caseback through which you can see Oris’s signature red-accented rotor.
The steel Oyster-style bracelet features a folding clasp with an extension. At around a quarter of the price of a virtually unobtainable brand-new Rolex Submariner it’s quite the bargain.
We’re a little disappointed it hasn’t fashioned the entire watch out of recycled material, though. Why not an aluminium bezel made from Coke cans? A canvas strap made from old sails? Rotors made from rusty old ships.
Despite every watch being, in effect, a one-off, Oris has pledged to keep making this model for as long as demand is there, therefore it’s not a limited edition.
Though one nice way of looking at it is that every model is a limited edition of one.
Ah, packaging! We’ve all ordered something online where the item is the size of a baked bean yet it arrives wrapped in endless tendrils of bubble-wrap crammed into a cardboard shipping container. It’s one of the infuriating bugbears of modern life.
The Aquis Upcycle was one of many watches in 2021 that brought attention to environmental issues
Thankfully, even the Aquis Upcycle’s modestly sized box is made with “environmentally friendly materials”. Granted, recycled cardboard isn’t remotely luxurious, but anyone who has bought, say, a new Richard Mille in recent years will know that it comes with its own wardrobe. And it’s far from being the only culprit.
Are we being spoilsports by hoping that the days are long gone of brands selling a limited edition watch in a huge box that doubles as a cigar case made of ebony imported from Indonesia? (We’re looking at you, Hublot!)
In this new green-fingered, eco-friendly watch world, we really hope so.
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