Over the years, Oris has released a handful of limited-edition watches that raise awareness for various environmental conservation efforts that frequently involve some specific body of water and an organization that aims to protect it. Oris’ latest release is the Aquis New York Harbor Limited Edition, is produced in collaboration with the non-profit Billion Oyster Project, and it aims to restore a body of water that I know very well from my years spent living in New York.
The New York Harbor isn’t necessarily the most glamorous waterway in the world, and while it was once the home of a thriving oyster population, pollution and overfishing eliminated nearly all marine life by the 20th century. Founded in 2014, Billion Oyster Project aims to reverse this process by building reefs and reintroducing oysters back into the New York Harbor. A single adult oyster is capable of filtering as much as 50 gallons of water per day, and in addition to serving as natural storm barriers and ecosystems for other marine life, oyster reefs are, essentially, to the ocean what trees are to the forest.
Those familiar with the current Oris Aquis lineup will be instantly familiar with the case of the New York Harbor Limited Edition. Crafted from stainless steel, the 41.5mm case features the Aquis collection’s signature thick, semi-integrated lugs that allow models from the range to wear significantly more compact on the wrist than their case diameters might otherwise suggest. Fitted to the top of the watch is a double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on the inner side, along with a stainless steel unidirectional timing bezel that features a sandblasted finish and its 60-minute scale in relief.
Like other special Oris Aquis models, the New York Harbor Limited Edition foregoes the display caseback of the standard production model and it instead features a solid stainless steel caseback with an engraving of three oyster shells and the watch’s individual limited-edition number out of 2,000 examples. Just like the standard Oris Aquis model, the New York Harbor Limited Edition is a highly capable professional dive watch, and its signed screw-down crown and solid screw-down caseback help provide it with 300 meters of water resistance.
Without a doubt, the green mother of pearl dial is the focal point of the Oris Aquis New York Harbor Limited Edition. The unique shade of green is inspired by the color of the harbor’s water, while the mother of pearl surface directly connects it to the Billion Oyster Project and the mollusks that serve as the basis for its operations. Mother of pearl dials are fairly common in the luxury watch industry, but the material itself is typically chosen exclusively for aesthetic purposes, rather than because the watch itself has any ties to mollusks or even the ocean itself. But a mother of pearl dial fitted to a watch produced in collaboration with Billion Oyster Project simply makes sense, and it gives purpose to what would otherwise be a rather resplendent and ornamental dial choice.
Featuring a date window at 6 o’clock, the green color of the dial offers a significantly more subdued take on mother of pearl, which is typically characterized by its pink/purple tones and warm iridescent finish. Although I objectively enjoy the appearance of mother of pearl dials, I find their aesthetic to be a bit too delicate for my personal tastes, and this is the main reason I don’t currently own any watches that have them. With that in mind, the asymmetric patterns of mother of pearl presented in a subdued shade of green have the potential to be quite a bit more versatile, and this is definitely one dial that I’d be curious to see in person before forming a final opinion. Beyond its green mother of pearl surface, the rest of the dial follows the same layout as most Oris Aquis models, with applied polished hour markers and broad alpha-style hands, both of which are finished with Super-LumiNova to provide them with luminescence.
Powering the Oris Aquis New York Harbor Limited Edition is the brand’s Caliber 733 movement, which is essentially the Oris-branded version of the Sellita SW200-1. As the Sellita-manufactured equivalent of the ubiquitous ETA 2824, the Oris 733 runs at a frequency of 28,800vph and offers users a fairly-standard power reserve of 38 hours. Regardless of the specific name attached to this caliber or the movement manufacturer that produces it, this core design is about as tried and true as you will find within the Swiss watch industry, even if it may seem slightly auspicious compared to the brand’s in-house series of Caliber 400 movements. Additionally, using a third-party base caliber allows Oris to offer the Aquis New York Harbor Limited Edition at a lower price point, and it also means that it can easily be serviced by any competent watchmaker in the world without a single worry about the future availability of replacement parts. Included with the watch is both a metal bracelet and a green rubber strap, along with a strap-changing tool to facilitate swapping between the two options.
Compared to some of the utterly breathtaking lakes and rivers that exist in remote parts of the world, the New York Harbor is hardly the most picturesque waterway, let alone one that you would typically associate with having a luxury watch dedicated to it. However, the New York Harbor is an incredibly important waterway simply due to the fact that it directly impacts the lives of millions of people on a daily basis. While I’m sure there are some folks out there who tire of the constant barrage of limited-edition watches this industry produces, Oris has been doing this for years, and it offers a fun and unique way for the Hölstein-based manufacturer to add variety to its catalog while simultaneously helping raise awareness for a good cause. The Oris Aquis New York Harbor Limited Edition will have an official retail price of $2,700 USD, and production will be limited to 2,000 examples worldwide. For more information, please visit the Oris website.