Upcycling is everywhere right now. It’s not too much of a surprise; the planet’s all but on fire right now and every little bit helps. But it’s still a surprise to see just how many watchmakers have begun using would-be landfill trash and ocean waste as design elements.
There was Ulysse Nardin with the Diver NET concept watch of course, with both Alpina and Christopher Ward taking similar, plastic-based case materials further. On the other hand, there’s Panerai with their sleek eSteel, using recycled metal this time. Then of course there’s a host of upcycled, vegan or otherwise sustainable straps, a whole sub-genre of wristwear to themselves.
What very few brands do though is upcycled a dial. Enter the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle.
The choice of an Aquis was an obvious one. You want to draw attention to ocean waste, you do so with a diving watch, it’s a central tenet of eco-slanted watches. The ocean waste in question here is PET plastic, the stuff that’s getting into most of the fish we eat at an alarming rate, which forms the new dials.
PET plastic comes from thousands of sources in almost as many colours, as you can clearly see from the swirl of melted-down plastic here. It’s a random, abstract and eye-catching in the extreme, enough that it’ll likely put some classicists amongst you off. I have to say, I’m still not quite used to it myself.
On the flipside, if you don’t like the one we’ve shot here, you might like another one. Because the dials are indeed random, each individual watch will end up looking remarkably different. Same general aesthetic of course, but with different colours and moods.
It reminds me a lot of the Bamford Watch Department collaboration with Black Badger a while ago where they used multi-layered strata of supercar paint to create unique swirls in a series of TAG Heuers. That was a little more curated of course and less random – they actively looked for the best finishes – but they were also limited. These upcycled Aquis models are not.
On the wrist, the Upcyle is the same as any other Aquis, a solid, comfortable diver available in a decently sized 41.5mm or a diminutive and downright lovely 36.5mm. The smaller one looks a little too much like a jewellery piece, some schizophrenic mother-of-pearl, while the larger one gives the dial space to breath. It’s one of the few times I’d recommend the larger.
Either way, the rest of the watch is paired back, with a grey ceramic diving bezel, steel bracelet and signature Aquis crown guard. It’s all very streamlined and equipped with an Oris 733 with a 38-hour power reserve. Oris have made the Upcycle a core part of their collection so hopefully, fingers crossed, we’ll see it with the calibre 400 at some point in the future, too. The more watches that movement goes in, the better.
While the Upcycle might not be single-handedly cleaning up the oceans – Oris would have to make a few hundred thousand more dials a year before it’s a proverbial drop in said oceans – it does show that there are more inventive ways to use these recycled materials.
I’m still not sure how I feel about them myself – the longer I wear it, the more I’m beginning to appreciate the dial’s unique nature. But whether you think they look funky or funkin’ ugly, these dials are a cool idea, done in an interesting way. What more can you ask for?
Price & Specs:
Model: Oris Aquis Date Upcycle
Case/Dial: 36.5mm or 41.5mm diameter, stainless steel case, unique dial made of recycled PET plastic
Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Movement: Oris 733 calibre, automatic, 26 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38h
Functions: Hours, minutes, central sweep seconds, date at 6 o’clock
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
More details at Oris.