Up until now, the word ‘oyster’ has been synonymous with one watch manufacturer only. But that has just changed, with Oris recently embracing the whole oyster cause. Specifically, the oysters of New York, which once upon a time were apparently as prolific as the gangs there, with 220 acres of oyster reefs. But over-fishing to feed the hordes of oyster-hungry New York socialites depleted the harbour’s seemingly bottomless stock of crustaceans, to the point where there are now relatively few oysters left.
And that’s where Oris comes in. The Swiss company has lent its backing to the Billion Oyster Project, which isn’t the name of a prog rock band, but instead a non-profit organisation aiming to populate New York Harbour with a billion oysters by 2035.
Naturally, there’s a watch to go with it, which is based on the well-known Aquis diver. However, there are some important distinctions. Firstly, this is a limited edition of just 2000 pieces. Secondly, it looks somewhat different to a standard Aquis.
The thing that stands out is an exquisite green mother of pearl – obviously – dial, which encapsulates the whole ‘oysterness’ of the campaign. Having been lucky enough to see it up close and personal, I can confirm that it looks even better than the photos: constantly changing colour and beautifully finished, to deliver the sort of opulent look that only mother of pearl can provide.
People tend to think of mother of pearl as being predominantly for ladies, but here it looks excellent on a man’s wrist too: the delicate luxury of the dial texture provides a great contrast to the chunky robustness of the actual watch.
Then there’s the rubber strap, which coordinates with the dial in a sort of sage green. That shade has been chosen to reflect the colour of the water in New York Harbour, which makes you question why anybody would want to eat an oyster that came out of it – but the name of the game is conservation rather than consumption after all.
To commemorate this fact, each of the watches has a beautifully-engraved caseback with three oysters on it, identifying it as a “New York Harbor Limited Edition”.
At 41.5mm, it’s imposing rather than attention-seeking, with the green being much less bright than you often see on other green watches. As well as the rubber strap, there’s a stainless steel bracelet, which subdues it even more.
So why are oysters so important? Pete Malinowski, the co-founder of the Billion Oyster Project, points out that oysters are “ecosystem engineers”. Just one oyster can effectively filter 50 gallons of water per day, while oyster colonies also create ecosystems for other marine life. The charity has already introduced around 75 million juvenile oysters back into the harbour, which means that there are around 925 million still to go in order to hit the target. We recommend helping them along by buying this unusual watch. At £1850, it’s also considerably cheaper than the other Swiss watch that’s named after an oyster…
The New York Harbour Limited Edition watch is available to purchase from Oris currently priced at £1850.
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