Creating limited-edition timepieces based on celebrities and popular figures is nothing new in the luxury watch business, but few brands in the current market have embraced the concept as wholeheartedly or with as much variety as Oris. Over the past several years, the brand has amassed a dramatic collection of limited-edition designs celebrating notable personalities, including a host of influential jazz musicians and a legendary U.S. Navy diver. For its latest entry, Oris turns its attention to the world of baseball, creating a handsome and remarkably reserved tribute to one of the sport’s all-time greats – Roberto Clemente. Over the 18 seasons of his major league career from 1955 to 1972, spent entirely with the Pittsburgh Pirates, right-fielder Clemente racked up an astonishing record including two World Series titles, 12 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, and 3,000 career hits before his tragic death in a plane crash on December 31, 1972. To capture the spirit of this sporting legend, as well as bring attention to the charitable Roberto Clemente Foundation, the Oris Roberto Clemente Limited Edition creates a clean design filled with subtle hints to Clemente’s career.
The standard Oris Big Crown Pointer Date forms the basis for the Oris Roberto Clemente Limited Edition, and the 40mm stainless steel case is more or less carried over to this new model, verbatim. From the distinctive coin-edged rounded bezel to the eponymous oversized pillbox crown, the case of the Roberto Clemente Limited Edition should feel familiar to those acquainted with the brand. That’s not to say it isn’t a clean and attractive design, and where it does deviate from the standard Big Crown Pointer Date, it does so brilliantly. Nearly the full width of the solid caseback is dedicated to a detailed and sharply etched engraving of Clemente at bat, accompanied by a limited-edition serial number.
Like the case, the dial of the Oris Roberto Clemente Limited Edition takes its cues from the Big Crown Pointer Date, but here the design is allowed to express a whole new personality courtesy of a Clemente-inspired color scheme. The main dial surface is a cool white, contrasting sharply with the black of the railroad seconds track and the glittering gold-paint finish of the Arabic hour numerals and the signature pointer date hand. Beyond just being a dynamic and wearable color combination, it also calls back to the Pittsburgh Pirates home jerseys Clemente wore throughout his career. Another subtle nod comes through on the outer Arabic date numerals, where Clemente’s jersey number 21 is printed in gold. Even for non-baseball fans, this classic color scheme feels like a natural and attractive extension of the familiar Big Crown Pointer Date design.
Oris powers the Roberto Clemente Limited Edition with the Sellita SW200-1 based Oris 754 automatic movement. One of the staples of the brand’s lineup, the dependable Oris 754 has been seen in countless pointer date models for the brand over the years, and still steadily delivers with a 38-hour power reserve and a 28,800 bph beat rate.
To complete the theme of the Roberto Clemente Limited Edition, Oris pairs the watch with two separate straps inspired by the baseball great. The first of these is a double-stitched nubuck leather strap in a saddle tan, supposedly inspired by the look and feel of a baseball glove, but while it’s a handsome strap design on its own it does little to capture the look or feel of a worn-in glove. To this end, a smooth and heavily oiled light brown leather with dramatic pull-up might have been more ideal. The other included strap, however, feels far more cohesive and gives the watch more of a pop on the wrist. This is a custom NATO strap with signed hardware, with a muted stripe pattern in the Pittsburgh Pirates colors of black, white, and gold. It’s not enough color to overwhelm the rest of the watch, but it’s sure to be a conversation piece.
With the Roberto Clemente Limited Edition, Oris has crafted a reserved and attractive tribute to one of the greatest right-fielders ever to play the game, while at the same time creating a design that should garner plenty of fans outside of the baseball faithful. Only 3,000 examples will be made to commemorate Clemente’s 3,000 career hits. The Oris Roberto Clemente Limited Edition is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $1,950. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.