Oris Super wrist watch, 1960s.

Last Updated on May 19, 2024 by Jason

Oris has long been a favourite Swiss brand of mine. I own a modern Oris 65 Divers watch with a bronze bezel and leather strap. It looks amazing, keeps great time and flies under the radar, only a watch aficionado would appreciate it for the respected Swiss made brand that is it. The bronze and the leather have matured with age and both have acquired a unique patina and character. Oris also has an interesting history dating back to 1904, when the brand launched in Holstein, Switzerland. More on the brand below. In this post, we will take a look at a vintage Oris Super wrist watch dating from the late 1960s.

Oris 65 Divers watch.
Automatic Oris 65 Divers watch.

Oris, the brand

Oris is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer with a history dating back to 1904. It was founded by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian in the town of Hölstein, Switzerland. They bought the recently closed Lohner & Co. watch factory and began their venture into the watchmaking industry. They named their new company after the nearby Orisbach brook and initially focused on assembling “affordable” pocket watches.

Oris logo.

Oris began using Roskopf movements, which are also known as pin-lever movements, shortly after their foundation in 1904. The Roskopf movement was a simpler and more cost-effective alternative to the traditional lever escapement, and it allowed Oris to produce watches that were affordable yet reliable. The brand quickly expanded, opening multiple factories and becoming the largest employer in Hölstein by 1911. By the mid-1920s, Oris responded to the growing wristwatch market by producing leather straps for its pocket watches, transforming them into wristwatches.

The Swiss Watch Statute

The statute, introduced in 1934, was a law designed to protect and regulate the Swiss watch industry, and it prevented watch companies from introducing new technologies without permission. The restriction prevented Oris from making in-house lever movements or using lever movements from ebauche manufacturers. It was an obstacle for Oris as they couldn’t improve the standard of their offerings and compete on a level footing with their watchmaking competitors.

In 1956, the company, under the leadership of General Manager Oscar Herzog, began a campaign to reverse the statute. The campaign was spearheaded by lawyer Dr. Rolf Portmann, who was hired by Herzog. The campaign lasted over a decade and the statute was finally reversed in 1966. As a result, this allowed Oris to begin using the superior lever escapement in their watches.

The introduction of the lever movement allowed Oris to compete on a level footing with other Swiss watch manufacturers. In 1968, Oris introduced the Calibre 652, their first in-house lever movement. As a result of the Quartz Crisis, Oris joined ASUAG, the future Swatch Group, in 1970. Oris’s independence and production suffered. In 1982, Oris management engineered a buyout, which restored its independence and secured the future. Instead of targeting the lower end of the market, Oris turned its attention to the luxury watch market and produced high-quality mechanical movements. This change was instrumental for Oris, establishing its recognition as a watchmaker of high-end timepieces.

Oris Super

The Oris Super watch brand was launched around 1963, this was before the Swiss Watch Statute was reversed so the early versions would have included Roskopf pin-pallet movements. However, once the Statute was reversed, Oris was able to use lever escapements in their offerings. This particular Oris Super has an ASST 1950/51 watch movement made by Adolph Schild SA.  The ASST 1950/51 was a lever movement available in the 1950s and 60s. As this is a lever movement, the watch must date post 1966 when the Swiss Watch Statute was finally reversed. Given that Oris produced its own in-house lever movement in 1968, this particular Oris Super wrist watch is likely to date from 1967 or 1968.

Vintage Oris Super wrist watch.
Vintage Oris Super wrist watch.

ASST 1950/51 watch movement

The ASST 1950/51 calibre was a manual wind watch movement. It was part of the AS 19XX series of movements, which were widely used by various watch brands during the mid-20th century, including Oris. The AS 1950/51 calibre measures 11.5’‘’ lignes (26 mm) in diameter, it features 17 jewels and uses a lever escapement with a nickel anular balance. It’s equipped with Incabloc shock protection and has a hairspring key adjust mechanism. It also has a date complication and a power reserve of 46 hours. Technically, the AS 1950/51 movement was considered very robust and reliable. However, the fragile date mechanism was known to be a challenge for watchmakers due to its tendency for parts to dislodge.

ASST 1950/51 calibre
ASST 1950/51 calibre.

Dial & case

This charming Oris Super vintage watch has a stunning silvered sunburst dial in pristine condition. The dial is signed “Oris Super, 17 Jewels, T Swiss Made T”. Additionally, the dial has a subtly framed date aperture sitting at 3 o’clock and features gold plated applied baton hour markers with matching stick hands. A gold plated central seconds hand completes the dial. The dial sits beneath a domed acrylic (plexiglass) crystal, which shows some signs of use. It is not unusual, as in this case, for acrylic to show minor scratches from normal daily use. These could easily be reduced by buffing or polishing.

The “T Swiss Made T” marking indicates that the watch was made in Switzerland under strict terms and conditions. The “T” on either side of the marking indicates that the luminescence on the dial is triggered by tritium, a radioactive element, reacting with the paint on the hour markers and hands. Originally, this would have allowed users to read the time in the dark. Tritium was used for luminescence from the 1960s until the 1990s.

Vintage Oris Super case back.
Vintage Oris Super case back.

The case measures 35mm in diameter, excluding the winding crown and the lugs, which makes it a mid-sized watch. However, the watch appears much larger on the wrist, which is probably due to the very slim bezel which showcases the dial perfectly. The case is stainless steel with gold plating (10 microns). This is a vintage watch so naturally there are signs of previous wear, however, it has been well taken care of and is in overall excellent condition.

Related content

Oris official website.

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