The Okavango Delta in northern Botswana is home to some of Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes, bridging together rivers, marshes, savanna grassland, and thousands of small islands while forming one of the most important water sources for wildlife in southern Africa. As the water levels rise during the rainy season, the area becomes a gathering place for lions, leopards, water buffalo, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes, hippopotamuses, cheetahs, crocodiles, antelope, and a menagerie of smaller animals. With such an incredible display of natural beauty, the Okavango region is a thriving hub for tourism and local commerce, but its remote location makes emergency medicine a challenge. As part of its ongoing effort to conserve the world’s waterways, Oris has stepped in to raise awareness with its latest release. Working in partnership with the Okavango Air Rescue medical airlift service, the brand has created a unique variant of its signature Big Crown ProPilot design with a look inspired by the grasslands of the Okavango Delta. The new Oris Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition reframes the independent marque’s cornerstone pilot watch design with a wild new natural aesthetic and bespoke strap options.
The 41mm stainless steel case of the Oris Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition shares its form with the rest of the Big Crown ProPilot line. The overall shape is a clean modern interpretation of traditional pilot watch design cues, featuring sharply defined wide-set lugs and the eponymous oversized signed pillbox crown flanking the line’s unique split-texture bezel. This bezel design gives a jet-inspired character to the otherwise simple look, with a clean brushed inner ring contrasted by an outer fluted ring with a swept back, turbine-like pattern. The polished raised elements of this outer turbine ring provide some needed contrast to the utilitarian fully brushed case body in images, and Oris handsomely ties the design together by continuing this swept motif on the crown. Around back, the brand adds a unique engraved design to the solid caseback, depicting one of Okavango Air Rescue’s Pilatus PC-12 airplanes flying over the islands of the Okavango Delta during the rainy season. As with the rest of the Big Crown ProPilot line, Oris rates the Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition at a sporty 100 meters of water resistance.
Oris takes a more dramatic stylistic turn with the dial of the Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition. 2021 has been a banner year for green dials in watchmaking, and the brand delivers one of the most unique and characterful entries into the current trend here. The olive dégradé surface features a nuanced and organic vertical texture with a marked sense of visual depth in images. Fading from an olive drab at the center to deep forest green at the dial edge, the surface is designed to capture the color, texture, and even the semi-glossy sheen of the savanna grasses that dominate the Okavango Delta. It’s a strikingly detailed and complex look in photos, and it effectively calls to mind the untamed and thriving character of the African savanna. Oris complements this verdant surface with a punch of scarlet at the tip of the seconds hand, while the black and white treatment of the angular modernist alpha hands provide a stark counterpoint to the dial’s more naturalistic colors. The clean modern applied Arabic numerals are a staple of the Big Crown ProPilot line, visually anchoring this to the rest of Oris’ offerings in images.
Oris powers the Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition with the Sellita SW200-1 based Oris 751 automatic movement. Despite the brand’s push towards in-house movements in recent years, many of the brand’s offerings are still underpinned by third-party powerplants, and the Oris 751 is still a common sight in Oris’ lineup. While solid, reliable, and easily repaired, the base movement behind the Oris 751 is beginning to show its age somewhat with a below average 38 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Oris finishes the watch with a pair of included straps. First of the pair is a simple and minimal single pass leather strap in chestnut brown. For a more thematic and aggressive look, the brand also includes a unique custom MN strap in olive green and white supplied by MN strap specialists Erika’s Originals.
With a nuanced and on-trend new dial concept paired to one of its flagship designs, the Oris Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition may not be the most innovative release from the brand but should succeed in turning heads. Only 2,011 examples of the Oris Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition will be made. The Oris Okavango Air Rescue Limited Edition is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $2,500. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.