Oris Japan

Ginza×CSR・CSV Vol.39 Oris Japan

Authentic mechanical watches manufactured in Switzerland: keeping time for more than 110 years


Ginza×CSR・CSV Vol. 39 will introduce Oris Japan. Oris has manufactured mechanical watches for more than 110 years since its establishment in 1904 in Holstein, Switzerland. In June 2019, Oris opened its first boutique in Japan in Ginza, with a focus on not only communicating the charm of mechanical watches but also on raising public awareness of social issues. We interviewed Ms. Mamiko Tanaka, Managing Director & President of Oris Japan K.K..

The amusement and beauty of mechanical watches

  • ─ Since your establishment, Oris has continued to manufacture only mechanical watches. Please tell us about your corporate history and the philosophy behind it.
  • Oris was established in 1904 in a small Swiss village called Holstein and has specialized in making 100% mechanical watches to date. Mechanical watches do not run on batteries and can be used for a lifetime with the proper maintenance.

    They operate on energy produced by winding the mainspring manually or by the wearer’s natural motion. An amusing feature of mechanical watches is that they will continue to operate if they are constantly worn.

    Another attractive feature is the beauty of the clockwork itself, as each small watch is made of around the same number of components as a car engine. Even the most accurate mechanical watches will lose a few seconds each day when it has been in use for a long time. The wearer comes to enjoy the mechanism, including enjoying adjusting the time manually.

    Many Swiss companies are conscious about creating local employment and promoting business for local benefit. Oris also manufactures its products at factories in Switzerland. With as many as six factories at its peak, the company engaged in integrated local production of the entire watch, from small parts to the exterior. At one point, Oris was the world’s tenth largest watchmaker in terms of production.

    However, just as it was recovering from the world depression, followed the Second World War, it was struck by the “Quartz Shock” in the 1970s. When Quartz watches were developed and sold, they spread rapidly as “innovative watches that work without having to wind the crown.”

    The global watch market became dominated by quartz watches, and around 1000 Swiss mechanical watchmakers were forced out of business. Oris successfully avoided closure by joining ASUAG (later, the Swatch group), but was given low priority among other subsidiaries under the holding company.

    Hence, then marketing and managing representatives bought Oris back, believing that the mechanical watch market would continue, and the company restarted as an independent company. They valued their passion for “making what they sought to make.”

Oris Ginza Boutique, opened in June 2019


Ms. Mamiko Tanaka, CEO of Oris Japan

Saving mechanical watches from crisis

  • ─ That was big decision to make. The company must have faced many challenges continuing to make only mechanical watches in a changing market.
  • The company had already sold its six factories, so it had to outsource the manufacturing of parts. At the same time movement makers and subcontractors were challenged with the question of whether or not to continue their business. Oris built business partnerships with these companies and manufacturers saying that it could not offer financial support but could promise to purchase from them.

    Some of the movement makers and subcontractors that became partners remain global leaders today. Oris’ spin-off helped sector peers and consequently saved the mechanical watch industry.

Antique watches on display at Oris Ginza Boutique

■ Philanthropy instead of commercial promotion

  • ─ Oris has been actively engaged in social action, including donation-with-purchase products and the Clean Project. Please tell us about your sustainability-related efforts.
  • Oris does not hire celebrity brand ambassadors as do many brand companies, but instead donates its public promotion budget to NPOs whose cause it supports. Since a part of its sales is donated, customers can be a part of its philanthropical activities when they purchase the watch of their choice.

    In 2017, Oris launched the MOVEMBER EDITION, a part of the sales of which is donated to the Movember Foundation, a leading charity aimed at raising awareness of health issues unique to men, who tend to miss the opportunity to consult with their doctors or friends and family about their health concerns, given the social context of increasing cases of prostate cancer and testicular cancer, and consequently, men’s suicide.

    The ROBERTO CLEMENTE LIMITED EDITION launched in September 2020 supports the Roberto Clemente Foundation, which promotes education and sports for children, in accordance with the will of the Puerto Rican major leaguer who died during a humanitarian trip.

    In addition, Oris values getting directly taking social action. For example, they have campaigned against using marketed water in countries like Switzerland and Japan, where tap water is drinkable. This is because water sold on the market creates environmental load through pumping groundwater, bottling and transportation. Therefore, the Ginza Boutique uses charcoal to dechlorinate tap water.

    The store also runs on renewable electricity. As a reminder that Oris was named after a local stream, it uses hydropower produced at Takato Dam in Nagano Prefecture.
オリス モベンバーエディション」。売り上げの一部が、男性の健康支援とがん撲滅を口ひげでアピールする、オーストラリアのモベンバー財団に寄付される

Part of sales is donated to the Movember Foundation
encouraging men to grow mustaches to promote health and tackle cancer

「ロベルト・クレメンテ リミテッドエディション」。クレメンテ選手の背番号21にちなんで、数字の「21」がゴールドになっている

with the date at 21 in gold
in reference to Clemente’s number.

Inviting customer to join its Ginza Clean-up project

  • ─ I have been told that you have been engaged in local clean-up activities since opening Ginza Boutique.
  • Since Oris Headquarters joined World Clean-up Day in 2018, it has promoted a Clean Project in Japan as well. From July 2019, it has actively hosted a monthly clean-up effort in Ginza, as well as beach clean-ups. Not only our employees but customers and others are welcome to join us.

    Oris has focused not only on collecting plastic waste but also on raising public awareness of recycling and waste issues. In 2018, it launched a special model featuring a recycled plastic belt.

Clean-up event held in Ginza in November.
Around thirty employees and customers joined the Ginza clean-up.


DIVERS 65 special model
featuring a recycled plastic belt

  • ─ Before we close, could you please share your feelings for Ginza?
  • Ginza is a special town that I personally love. With a long history, it is home to companies established more than a century ago. It has a shopping street with stores that have been in business across generations, so there are many opportunities to learn about its history.

    I respect the strong will of the people of Ginza to preserve and pass on traditions, including its townscape.
Mamiko Tanaka

Managing Director & President, Oris Japan K.K.

Managing Director & President of Oris Japan K.K., Director of Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan, Director of Japan Playwork Association, Director of Chiba Gijuku, dental hygienist. Born in Hyogo Prefecture. Bachelor of Arts, Asian Studies, University of Southern Queensland. Worked for two years at the Philippine Refugee Processing Center as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer. After working for the Japanese arm of foreign brands to launch new businesses and pursue M&As, she was Managing Director & CEO of Victorinox Japan from 2012-2017. In 2018, she launched the Japanese subsidiary of Swiss mechanical watchmaker Oris.

Planned, interviewed, written & edited by alterna

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