Oris was founded in 1902 under the brand name Lohner & Nägelin in Hölstein as a local watch factory. In 1903 the company registered the brand name Oris. In 1904 Paul Cattin and Georges Christian took over the factory and till 1960 manufactured only watches with pin-lever escapement (Roskopf movement). As early as 1930 the daily production reached about 7000 watches. They were sold to Europe, New Zealand, South America and China.
After 1945 the company successfully participated in chronometer tests of the Swiss testing laboratory and till 1958 received approximately 1,500 chronometer certificates for its wristwatches.
In the sixties Oris was one of the ten largest watch manufacturers in Switzerland. In the quartz crisis at about 1970, which hit manufacturers of mechanical watches, Oris was taken over by the ASUAG.
In 1982 the Oris SA was re-established under the leadership of Dr. Portmann and in partnership with Ulrich W. Herzog. It was one of the very first manufacturers who completely emphasized on traditional mechanics. The dials of the watches were sometimes intricately guilloched and together with the curved hands were significantly inspired by classical examples. With the slogan “High Mech” the importance of traditional mechanics was emphasised, in contrast to quartz technology, which in those days was still present even in the luxury segment. A complex, freely distributed catalog book documented history and technique of traditional watchmaking mechanics and positioned the brand clearly in this area. With this strategy it had success even in Japan. Among the classics of the brand is the model Big Crown, a pilot’s watch with oversized crown, allowing the pilot to operate even with leather gloves.