Welcome to Episode 55 of the Tenn & Two Podcast
Today we are beyond thrilled to be joined by VJ Geronimo, CEO of Oris North America for a chat about watches and life. We are sure you’ve noticed by now, but we are huge fans of Oris watches and having VJ reach out to us personally a few months ago was most definitely a moment that neither of us will forget. Since then we have had both an Aquis and Big Crown Pointer Date in for review, and have begun a great friendship with Oris. VJ was a blast to speak with and we hope that you all enjoy the show!
Wrist Watch Check
Before we get too into today’s episode, we start out with a customary wrist watch check. Our guest VJ starts us off wearing the new Oris Pro Pilot that he’s been wearing for some time now. Kat has the Pointer Date on Bark and Jack leather strap, a combo that she has been loving. And Katlen checks in wearing the mint dialed Aquis that has captivated much of her attention now that we have them in for review.
About VJ and Oris
VJ Geronimo has been in the industry for about 27 years now, with the last 10 of those being spent at Oris. His journey into watches came from a former co worker in finance bringing him into a company called North American Watch Company (which would eventually become Movado Group) followed by Victorinox and LGI before accepting a position with Oris. His first recollection of a watch was a Casio VJ had when he was a kid but watches were never something that he was incredibly passionate about until he got into the watch industry. Obviously things have changed since and we chat about a few watches that he still has in his collection from previous companies as well as how his daughter is getting into the hobby.
VJ speaks about how while Oris has been here in the US for a long time, their corporate set up is only 10 years old. In that time they have seen a significant growth which has been balanced between good product, social media, and embracing the watch community. Established in 1904, Oris remains one of the last mainstream independent brands which gives them so much more freedom and availability than some of their counterparts.
Oris and the Watch Community
We chat about Oris’ relationship with RedBar which VJ admits started because of the commonality of being into watches. The two organizations have been partners for various events over the years and Oris even produced a 100 piece limited edition watch to celebrate their first national meetup. Even going outside of RedBar, Oris has made a point to partner and support local watch groups, events like the Wind Up Watch Fair, and the enthusiast community which is highly accredited to the fact that they are independent. VJ talks about how important this mindset is to the Oris culture as he truly believes that the watch community is where you learn as a brand.
With the two of us ladies being big fans of the guys over at Worn & Wound, we were definitely curious to hear how the partnership began with Oris and the Wind Up Watch Fair. VJ talks about having first met them at Baselworld a few years ago and having developed a relationship with the guys at that point. He goes on to discuss how important it is to him and Oris as a brand is supporting people and organizations that they believe in, such as with Worn & Wound. We chat about the difference that is the Wind Up Watch Fair compared to other events as it is solely based around enthusiasts.
Oris and the Environment/Social Causes
We have always been huge fans of Oris and their efforts to better the environment. VJ explains that this began in 2009 with their first environmental conservation pieces, starting with the Great Barrier Reef. He talks about the fact that Oris sells a lot of dive watches, so it was only natural that they would partner with organizations to support the oceans. They focus primarily on smaller organizations that would benefit most from the partnerships and their causes.
On top of being involved with various conservation groups, the brand also makes strides to protect the environment through things like their packaging. Over the past few years, Oris has switched from plastic boxes to cotton boxes as well as adding options for leather pouches to replace boxes completely.
Another partnership VJ speaks about is Movember. For those who don’t know, Movember is an organization that focuses on gaining awareness for men’s physical and mental health. We talk about spending time with one of their limited edition pieces when @spanishrob sent his personal watch to us for a few weeks, which was their third such piece for the cause.
We start chatting about a new release from Oris earlier this year, the Carysfort Reef Aquis. VJ discusses the idea of it being based on their partnership with the Coral Reef Foundation and a program that Oris ran with them called Sea Heroes. In collaborating with an annual auction done, Oris decided to do the watch with a solid gold case donated three of the 50 piece run to be auctioned off and all funds raised to benefit the foundation. If gold isn’t your color, we find out that there will be a steel version of them introduced this year.
Discussing the Carysfort Reef watch brings us to a new conversation on the fact that Oris is pushing boundaries in both materials and technologies. This watch was one of very few solid gold pieces from Oris which shows the diversity that the brand is able to achieve in their selection and pricing. Another such example that Katlen brings up is the Oris Pro Pilot X Calibre 115 that was introduced last year. VJ talks about this watch being one of the benefits of being an independent brand. The company was able to challenge their design team simply because they can, and the result led to the Pro Pilot X. It’s that freedom that drives the brand to continue to pushing the boundaries.
“Go Your Own Way” is the motto of Oris and VJ explains that it is a free thinking mindset. It is the ability to do what you want and be creative. Another example of that creativity was the virtual reality experience that was rolled out with the release of the Calibre 115. It was something that had not been done before on a mass scale and gave people the chance to become more familiar with the engineering that went into this amazing movement.
Oris in 2020
Well, of course we had to ask what Oris would be doing this year for 2020 with the cancellation (“postponement”) of Baselworld. With several brands having made public announcements that they will not be releasing anything for 2020 because of everything going on, VJ reassures us that Oris will still be announcing new products for this year. He insists that while things may be delayed as far as scheduled releases, there will be new things coming (and apparently “game changing” things).
The other topic we needed to discuss, Oris Bear. He’s been around since the early 2000s and has become a phenomenon since his debut at Baselworld a few years ago. While other brands use celebrities, Oris Bear is their unofficial ambassador. He travels, goes on trips, rides the subway, and has even been kidnapped. VJ talks about how with everything going on in the world right now, it was important for Oris Bear to make a strong statement about cleanliness, staying at home, and supporting the community. He’s also the face of their new giveaway. Oris is donating watches to the everyday heroes of the community right now so be sure to head over to his Instagram page (@orisbear) to find out how you can nominate someone making a difference during these difficult times.
We want to thank VJ once again for spending time with us today. This has been such a fun interview and we are thrilled to include him as one of the many friends we have in this incredible hobby. We look forward to hosting both he and Oris Bear here in Nashville after all of the chaos ends. Be sure to head over to the Oris website for more information about the brand and their watches. Until next time, be safe and take care of eachother.
Kat, Katlen, and VJ
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