While it may not be as prestigious or as visible as Geneva or Bienne, there may be no brand as connected to its hometown as Oris is to the small Swiss village of Hölstein. In fact, the Oris name comes from a stream near the town itself. While the brand has certainly grown in the years since its 1904 founding, in some ways Oris has never lost its friendly, independent, small-town spirit. To honor this connection to the village of Hölstein, Oris has announced a special limited edition version of its Divers Sixty-Five chronograph as the first part of a planned series commemorating this bond. The Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 combines some of the brand’s most popular cues with a brilliant gold plated panda dial, along with the very first solid bronze bracelet ever fitted to a Swiss timepiece.

The 43mm case of the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is carried over from previous bronze iterations of the Divers Sixty-Five chronograph, such as the Carl Brashear limited edition model. It’s a classic, slim skin diver form upsized for chronograph duty and made entirely of warm, nautical bronze. The narrow unidirectional dive bezel in particular becomes an impressive sculptural element with this bronze treatment, with indices and numerals standing in handsome raised relief above the main surface while etched minute markers add a third layer of visual depth to the design. Of course, half of the benefit for many bronze enthusiasts is the metal’s ability to easily build patina, and this complicated surface provides a plethora of attachment points for verdigris to emerge while the main case design maintains elegantly smooth planes. One point of contention, however, is the relatively limited 100 meter water resistance. Bronze is a metal with a long history of marine connotations, and seeing a timepiece with clear diver cues made from the metal with what most enthusiasts would call the bare minimum depth rating for a sports watch can’t help but feel like a missed opportunity. However, all these case elements are nothing new for Oris. Where the Hölstein Edition 2020 sets itself apart from its predecessors is around back. The stainless steel caseback, rather than featuring a display window or some cliché etched undersea iconography, instead opts for a sharp embossing of Oris’ small town Hölstein spirit. For those not in the know, the sharply dressed Oris Bear has become a mascot for the brand in the last few years, exemplifying the sort of warm and friendly independent values Oris has built its brand around. Beyond being an excellent conversation starter, this is the perfect match for a watch celebrating the marque’s Hölstein connection.

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Like the case, the dial of the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 takes existing forms from within the brand’s collection but adds a layer of polish above and beyond previous offerings. For the dial, this is a quite literal layer of gold plate. The main dial surface avoids the ostentation that often comes with gold dial treatments, instead settling on a warm slightly reddish tone with smooth vertical brushing. The panda-style black chronograph subdials sit a layer below the main dial to create a touch of depth and are embellished with snailing for added visual dynamism in changing light. The baton hands and applied indices should also be familiar to fans of the brand, but the rose gold execution here plays harmoniously with the bronze tones of the case for a unified feel. Overall, the design feels airy, open, and restrained – a far cry from what the thought of a gold panda dial chronograph might conjure up.

Oris powers the Hölstein Edition 2020 with the Sellita-based Oris 771 automatic chronograph movement. This 30-minute chronograph powerplant offers a respectable 48 hour power reserve, along with a 28,800 bph beat rate.

While the case and the dial are certainly handsome, the bracelet of the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 may just be this piece’s ace in the hole. This is an industry first, as no Swiss brand has ever attempted a solid bronze watch bracelet before. The results are a bronze fan’s dream. Each link of the oyster style offering is bound to pick up its own unique patina over time, and the effect alongside the bronze case is dramatic. While the pairing is attractive out of the box, seeing how future wearers will age this case and bracelet combination is going to be a treat. That said, working with bronze is not without its drawbacks. Bronze is a soft metal, far softer than steel, and so to ensure strength Oris has made of the bracelet’s link pins along with the folding clasp mechanism out of more conventional stainless steel. While it may not technically be made entirely out of solid bronze, once on the wrist these steel elements are sure to be negligible.

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With the Hölstein Edition 2020, Oris has doubled down on the elements that have made it a unique presence in luxury watchmaking to create an impressively attractive limited edition. Only 250 examples will be made, available for purchase now. While the watch can be bought through authorized dealers, Oris launching a new tool through its online store to allow prospective buyers to reserve specific limited edition numbers. MSRP for the Oris Hölstein Edition 2020 is $5,200. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

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