While Oris’s dedication to producing its own movements in-house has been front-and-center lately (as witness the fanfare surrounding the launch of Caliber 400, its first automatic winding movement, last fall), the Hölstein-based manufacturer’s mission of releasing special timepieces in support of ocean-focused charitable initiatives has never wavered. Following up the Blue Whale model that completed its popular Ocean Trilogy in 2019, Oris this year turns its attention to another majestic and endangered ocean dweller with the release of the Whale Shark Limited Edition.
The whale shark, which is mainly found in tropical waters and can grow as large as a school bus (more than 40 feet long and weighing 20-plus tons), is the world’s largest fish. It is also an endangered ocean species, its global population having been halved over the previous 75 years due mostly to legal and illegal fishing as well as accidental entrapment. Preserving the whale shark, and its important role in the delicate ocean ecosystem, has been a primary goal of underwater photographer Gerardo del Villar, an Oris brand ambassador, whose efforts helped spur the development of the new timepiece, which is notable for the gritty sharkskin texture on its bright blue dial.
Based on the Oris Aquis GMT model, the Blue Whale has a multi-part stainless steel case, 43.5 mm in diameter, with a screw-down crown helping to secure its 300-meter water resistance. Its bezel, with an inlaid blue ceramic insert, is not the typical dive-scale bezel that ratchets in one direction but instead rotates in both directions and is etched with a 24-hour GMT scale. Used in concert with the central, orange-tipped GMT hand, this bezel enables the wearer to read the time in a second time zone in addition to the local time on the dial’s white, luminous-treated hands. The bezel’s colors flow from black, for nighttime hours, to blue, for daytime, while the sharkskin-textured, engraved dial also features a subtle gradation from center to edge.
In the tradition of Oris’s ocean-conservation-focused limited editions, the caseback of the Blue Whale is solid steel, with a relief illustration depicting the watch’s namesake. Beating behind it is the automatic Oris Caliber 798, based on the Sellita SW330-1, which drives the timekeeping, the added 24-hour GMT function, and the instantaneous-change date display, framed at 3 o’clock on the dial. It ticks at a frequency of 28,800 vph and holds a power reserve of 42 hours.
The Oris Blue Whale Limited Edition is fitted on a stainless steel bracelet with a secure-folding clasp equipped with a divers’ extension. Oris is limiting production to 2,016 pieces — a reference to the year 2016, in which the whale shark was recognized as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Available as of February 2021, it is priced at $3,200.