#TBT Is The Oris Star The Greatest Vintage Diver Of All Time?
It couldn’t be any better. I like everything about the Oris Star. The shape, dial, bezel, wearability, and functionality. The only detail some modern critical eyes might object to would be the 36mm diameter. On the other hand, the watch is perfectly balanced thanks to the original bracelet, fitted with an Oris signed clasp.
I kept my eye on it for a few years. I wasn’t actively hunting it, but I stopped and stared anytime one crossed my path. It was the €1,000 plus price tag that always chased me away. When I accidentally bumped into one Oris Star for half the price, I didn’t hesitate and bought it right away. And I am telling you that even after a year I am still surprised at how well balanced the Oris Star is. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Oris Super and Oris Star
To avoid any confusion or disappointment after your watch hunt, we should first tackle the difference between the Oris Star and Oris Super. Visually, they are almost identical and it’s easy to mistake one for the other. But why do I think you need the Oris Star, not the Oris Super? Well, the Oris Super was an earlier model and its case was chromed by default, whereas the Oris Star always had a steel case. So if you find an Oris Star in chrome, stay away. Another important difference is the movement, which represents a huge milestone in the history of Oris.
Watch Statute problem
In 1934, the Swiss government introduced a law that prevented watch companies from introducing new technologies without permission. Before the law passed, Oris used cheaper pin-lever movements. Oris bled due to this regulation since they couldn’t easily switch on to the Swiss lever solution already adopted by competitors. You will often find the earlier Oris Super fitted with a hand-wound pin-lever 654 caliber. I’m not saying it’s bad, but you can do better with an automatic Oris Star with a Swiss lever 645 caliber.
And that’s exactly the time when the current honorary chairman of Oris, Dr. Rolf Portmann joined the company. As a young lawyer, he was hired to fight the legislation and open the door for Oris to step up their technical elements. He had to fight for ten long years until the regulation was liberalized and finally allowed Oris to update its movements. One of those new movements was the 25-jeweled 645 automatic caliber installed in the Oris Star, which was introduced in 1966.
The Oris heyday
The Oris Star definitely represents the peak of Oris’s global success in the sixties. “By the end of the 1960s, Oris had become one of the ten largest watch companies in the world. It employed 800 people across a network of factories in Hölstein and beyond, and produced 1.2 million watches and clocks a year,” according to the history page on the brand’s website. The company developed its own tools and machinery and even ran an apprenticeship scheme that trained forty engineers and watchmakers every year.
I hoped to bring you some previously non-published information about the launch of the Oris Star. As is usually the case, a passion for watches always makes you new friends. That’s how I met Gijs Van Hoorn, the Oris country manager for Benelux and a passionate vintage Oris collector. Together we contacted Oris Switzerland, both hoping that the archives might reveal some never before seen materials, drawings or sketches. A long wait pays off sometimes, but not this time. The only material we were able to source is the movement diagram you can see in the image gallery. If you have some archive materials on Oris, we would be excited if you could share them with us.
The Oris Star is a very durable watch
A picture is worth a thousand words. Looking at my piece, you can see it’s not exactly a pristine piece, right? If you check it carefully, you will find a gazillion tiny scratches, including one deep cut on the bezel above 45. Despite the heavy beating, the bezel is still very well preserved. It’s just a feeling that the Oris Star can take a bigger beating than many other divers from the era without being critically damaged.
The bezel, which seems indestructible, works perfectly. It’s non-clicking but slides with just the right amount of traction. The bezel reads quickly and precisely and worked reliably for timing any daily activity. I shouldn’t forget to mention, I have developed quite a relationship with the lume pip.
The dial and hands
Dully beautiful. Yes, you heard me right. When I saw pictures of this watch, my brain yawned with boredom. But man, you want to see it in the flesh. The flat lume dots are slightly oversized. The moment your brain wants to laugh at them you see the equally simply designed hands. You are immediately disarmed by the perfect minimalism that puts function on the highest pedestal. You look at the hands and you realize they are neither shaped, nor designed. They just are there rolling around confidently. You realize that the bit of metal is there just to hold the big fat slab of lume in place. Sanity check: is it possible to fawn over the simplest dial design ever? Well, buy the OG Oris Star and we can come back to the question together.
I believe that the thick crystal plays an important role in the spectacular visuals too. While I usually just see a crystal on a watch, here I see deep layers of a perfectly transparent protection shield. The simple branding is as cool as the overall design. The asymmetric date window is integrated with a lot of grace and precision. The wide cut makes each lug look super thin and therefore quite sporty. A pleasingly beefy crown is true to the utilitarian nature of Oris, while the Oris signature just gives it a stamp of quality. The Oris emblem on the case back is still slightly visible, but I wish it was engraved. At least as visible as the no-nonsense, ornament-free, and majestic Oris brand name embossed on the clasp featuring a genuine vintage font.
After a few months, I no longer wonder why the Oris Star became a blueprint for so many current re-interpretations popping up in the Oris watch portfolio. It’s so simple one is tempted to question where its charm hides, but the “aha” moment comes when you put it on your wrist. I don‘t usually throw around purchase recommendations, but yeah, you should go and get an Oris Star ASAP. Happy hunting.