Oris Aquis Date 36 Stainless Steel

Alongside Oris’ recent news of achieving climate neutrality and the promise of a published sustainability report for 2022, the independent Swiss brand has announced a pair of new Aquis models that further their commitment to sustainability by using recycled ocean plastics to create unique and colorful dials.
Dubbed the Aquis Date Upcycle, this new version of Oris’s core dive watch line will come in both 41.5 and 36.5mm sizing, and both feature dials created from PET plastics. The same material was used on a special caseback medallion featured in the Oris Clean Ocean Limited Edition, an ocean-conservation-themed Aquis that Oris launched in March of 2019.

As an estimated 13 million tons of plastic makes its way into our oceans each year, Oris previously partnered with Everwave (formerly known as Pacific Garbage Screening) to support the painstaking process of lowering the impact of plastics in the oceans. As such, the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle highlights one way of using recycled plastic to create something distinct and special.
Five years ago this past spring, I was fortunate enough to be attached to a research and eco-tourism expedition to Clipperton Island, a remote coral atoll in the eastern Pacific (about 1400 km due south of Cabo San Lucas). Oris was the main sponsor for the expedition to the French-owned island, and one of the main objectives of the various teams aboard was to survey this remote island for evidence of ocean-born plastics.

Despite Clippteron being among the most far-flung locations in our world, the surveyors found a litany of trash deposited by the waves on the low-lying shoreline. From water bottles, caps, toothbrushes, lighters, and so much more, it was not at all what I expected to see on this forgotten sliver of the world and the experience highlights the level of interconnectedness made possible by the oceans and just how far-reaching the ocean plastic problem has become.
The process by which PET plastics are recycled ensures that no two dials are alike, so each example offers a unique pattern and colorway. If you’re looking for an alternative to the standard black- or blue-dialed dive watch, the Aquis Date Upcycle has a compelling backstory and the dials are anything but usual.

Aside from the colorful effect of the dials, both sizes of the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle are otherwise unchanged from their non-recycled siblings. Both case sizes are made of stainless steel, feature matching steel bracelets, have a date window at six o’clock, and grey ceramic inserts fitted to uni-directional bezels.
Water-resistance is an ocean-ready 300 meters, both feature sapphire crystals upfront and mineral display case backs, and both sizes use an Oris 733 automatic movement. Based on a Sellita SW200-1, this Oris-decorated movement ticks at 4 Hz and offers a power reserve of about 38 hours. Visible through the display caseback, Oris has added its usual red-accented and signed winding rotor.

Really though, you clicked on this story for the dials and I’m happy to report that they do not at all disappoint in person. In either size, the effect is somewhere between camouflage and opalescence, with the more brightly colored dial of the 36.5mm offering considerably more fire than that of the 41.5mm version and its dial of blues, whites, and even brown tones.
While each dial is unique to the watch, the general color space of each size appears to be intentional, with the smaller case size showing an array of brighter colors, and the larger size opting for a somewhat more muted palette.

The difference between the two is quite distinct and it gives both iterations their own vibe that still works as a whole. While editing the included images, the effect of the dials settled in my mind almost like taking two small circles of a larger abstracted painting or scene, wherein each is similar but feels like only a narrow slice of a larger design.
Encircled by the grey tone of the ceramic bezel insert, both Upcycles are not forced to compete with any other element of the watch when it comes to color, so the dial projects in a way that almost supersedes the time display. The patterning is complex, like layers of clouds in the sky or even the manner in which oil cascades on the surface of water. For the more punchy dial of the 36.5mm Upcycle, it often feels as though the dial is glowing via the use of some internal power supply. I’ve seen and worn a lot of Aquis models in my time, and the Upcycle has an appeal that is all its own.

Zoom out even just a bit and the dials offer a sort of painterly effect, in which the colors blend and transition as a whole while responding to environmental light with an impressive array of highlights and depth. As you might have noticed from some of the images, the dials are so impactful that legibility is not as cut-and-dry as you might expect of a purpose-built dive watch like the Aquis. It’s a give-and-take scenario, but if you like the Upcycle’s dial execution you probably won’t mind lingering a bit longer when glancing at the time. Also, I’d argue that the Aquis Upcycle is less concerned with outright sportiness or diving acumen, and more with being a vehicle for a greater message about ocean conservation.
With the recycled nature of the dial forming the key factor in the Upcycle’s existence, then it makes sense that the dial is, by a wide margin, the defining experience of actually wearing the watch. Sure, it’s still an Aquis and if you’ve read past reviews on this line of watches you’ll know that they are solid dive watches with short lugs that help to make a somewhat chunky and purposeful design quite wearable.

As with other examples, the bezel is clicky and not overly weighted, the bracelet is nicely made, quite comfortable, and features a clasp-based extension. The 41.5mm version measures 47mm lug to lug and 13mm thick while the 36.5mm Aquis Upcycle is just 42.5mm lug to lug and 12mm thick. At 148 grams (unsized) for the larger version and 118g (also unsized) for the smaller, weight is manageable and directly in line with a sporty diver on a steel bracelet.Due to the short lugs and relatively thin case (for a 300m dive watch, mind you), both versions wear a bit smaller than you might expect, but the dials form the lion’s share of the dreamy wrist presence.

The Oris Aquis Upcycle is not limited and will sell for $2,300, in either size and includes the full steel bracelet seen in this review.

While it wouldn’t be my first pick for a go-anywhere dive watch (even among the varied Aquis line), the Aquis Date Upcycle is a special and unique offering that highlights both the need to protect our world’s water from further plastics contamination and how recycled material can be repurposed for new and creative uses, even within the world of luxury watches.

For SCUBA divers and desk divers alike, the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle is an eye-catching reminder of a sobering reality that affects all of us and it’s encouraging to see Oris continue to support ocean conservation and to partner with those who are actively working to raise awareness for the protection of our oceans.