Oris's New Pilot's Watch Pays Homage to an Impressive, Intrepid Medical Effort in Botswana

·2-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

When you think of watchmaker Oris, the word "diver" generally follows in quick succession. Yet while the veteran watch brand founded in Hölstein, Switzerland as early as 1904 has a long history of making functional watches for divers, it is also active in other disciplines, not least for pilots. Its Big Crown Pilot, launched in 1938, followed a number of timepieces created at the dawn of aviation from around 1910. Today, the line is called the Big Crown ProPilot and features in a line of watches that offer serious functional Swiss design, often at interesting prices.

New today is a special edition of the ProPilot to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Okavango Air Rescue, an ambitious project launched in 2011 to provide emergency medical care to the remote communities of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. One of Africa’s most diverse habitats for flora and fauna, it’s also remote, and in places impenetrable by ground. Set up by Swiss entrepreneur Christian Gross and German-born doctor Misha Kruck, the service has evolved from an emergency evac service for locals and tourists alike to a provider of general medical care to the five ethnic groups (each with their own language) that live off the delta and its resources. Operating on a "treatment first, payment later" system, the OAR’s patients (whether locals or visitors) are treated regardless of their ability to pay, which is supported by a patronage service funded by visitors to the delta.

The most striking thing about the Okavango Air Rescue watch, which is available in a limited run of 2011 pieces, is the 3D-etched green dial, which has been created in deep relief to mimic the long reed grasses prevalent in the delta. It is matched by a green stretch strap made exclusively for this watch by Erika’s Originals. (FYI: stretch straps are a definite thing right now, and by far the most comfortable option in the summer). A vegetable-tanned leather strap is supplied as an option, along with a suitably safari-like folding leather pouch.

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