High-end Swiss industrial watchmaker Oris, notable because it is independent rather than being owned by a larger conglomerate, has been crafting its mechanical watches since 1904. Oris is always working to make its watches better with, according to the website, “beautiful, innovative functions and advanced performance levels.” One recent example is the watchmaker’s decision to use 3D printing in its new Oris Coulson Limited Edition, a reinterpretation of the design of its Big Crown ProPilot. In this endeavor, Oris is honoring is Coulson Aviation, the world’s leading aerial firefighting organization.
“When you look at the watch, the first thing you will see is its fiery, gradient orange dial. Impossible not to think of a blazing fire – impressively beautiful and frightening at the same time. It is what these pilots see when approaching their targets. We have used avant-garde technology in this watch as well as carbon, the product of fire. I think this watch is a fitting tribute to the heroes at Coulson Aviation and puts the spotlight on the urgent subject of wildfires,” explained Rolf Studer, the co-CEO of Oris.
As our Executive Editor Joris Peels mentioned in a recent episode of “3D Printing News Unpeeled,” Oris partnered with ETZ Zurich spinoff 9T Labs on its Oris Coulson Limited Edition, using the startup’s continuous carbon fiber composite Additive Fusion Technology (AFT) to 3D print a carbon fiber PEKK composite case for the watch. While 3D printed watch cases, watch straps, and watch parts are not an entirely new use case, I’m pretty sure this is the first time the AFT process—which combines software, 3D printing, and compression molding in matched metal dies—has ever been used in watchmaking.
“Using an innovative technology to make high-precision parts such as a watch case is always a challenge. The process we use is so advanced that you can fix the material’s pattern, where typically carbon-fibre watch cases are random. The watch, movement included, weighs just 65 grammes. The result is as beautiful as it is useful. We are incredibly happy with the outcome,” Studer said.
“We are thrilled and extremely grateful for our successful partnership with Oris. The collaboration did not only help enhance the performance and aesthetics of the Coulson watch, it also demonstrated the potential of 9T Labs’ Additive Fusion Technology to become the new industry standard for mass producing composite products strong, lightweight and sustainably like never before,” said Giovanni Cavolina, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of 9T Labs.
Oris’s relationship with Coulson, and the low waste resulting from the use of 9T Labs’ precise AFT solution to make the tough, yet lightweight watch cases, are part of its “Change for the Better” initiative with conservation organizations.
“At Oris, we are working on a number of fronts to bring change for the better to our planet and its people. We are now independently certified as a climate-neutral company, and we work with pioneering agencies to bring change that will make this world a better place,” Studer said. “Wildfires are a sign of a warming Earth and climate change. To work with Coulson Aviation, the world’s leading aerial firefighting organisation, allows us to talk about this threat to our planet and the people who go out there and fight it. Based in Canada, the family-run independent company sends pilots, planes, and equipment to areas of the world affected by wildfires. To me, these pilots are today’s aviation heroes.”
On a personal note, my uncle was a firefighter for many years, though not in an aerial force. They are the bravest of the brave, in my opinion, and I’m proud to have been his niece. I’m thrilled that Oris chose to honor these heroes in this way.
Using its AFT solution, 9T Labs mass produced 1,000 units of the Oris Coulson Limited Edition watch case, inside of which is housed the Oris Calibre 400 five-day automatic movement. As Editor in Chief Michael Molitch-Hou has previously written, consumer goods have struggled to take off as a viable 3D printing market, but luxury goods and limited editions seem to be a good entry point for the technology. You can purchase your own Oris Coulson Limited Edition for $4,500.
Images courtesy of Oris.
3DPrint.com and SmarTech Analysis are hosting Additive Manufacturing Strategies in New York City on February 7-9, 2023. Register for the event here to learn from and network with the most exciting companies and individuals in AM about topics like composite materials, aviation applications, and more.
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