When browsing new cutting-edge products on Kickstarter this month, you might be pleasantly surprised to come across an eye-catching vintage-style dive watch. Orator will be familiar to watch geeks as it was a Swiss heritage watchmaker previously mentioned alongside some of the biggest brands. While its competitors – notably Rolex and Blancpain – went from strength to strength, Orator fell from view and went out of production. Fast forward to 2022 and two German entrepreneurs, with a successful watch brand already under their belts, are about to recreate Orator’s most famous watch.
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Orator was an exciting brand produced by Swiss watchmakers Schild and Co following the ’50s explosion in diver’s watches. By then, watch brands were beginning to spot a big problem with their constant technological innovation – namely, most recreational divers had no need for bulky watches designed to go to extreme depths. Orator was one of the first manufacturers to offer a new style of watch – the Skin Diver.
Skin Divers were pared-down, utilitarian watches that offered beachgoers and divers the essentials. The simplistic design was an instant hit and provided the template for a number of classic watches including Seiko’s debut dive watch. Christian Schmitt and Hans Meeder, the German businessmen behind Swiss revival brand Gigandet, picked up a vintage Orator Sportsman during a trip to Switzerland. After two years of development, they’re now ready to drop their new iteration of the Orator Sportsman, a watch that remains faithful to the original, while making some necessary updates.
If the simplistic and angular aesthetics of vintage Skin Diver watches are your thing, then the Orator Sportsman ticks the boxes you’re after. And it comes in two distinctive models – the Sportsman Diver and the Sportsman Racer. Both watches mimic the signature case of the original ’60s watches, featuring long lugs and a modest 40mm diameter. The attractive bezel is equipped with a simple aluminium insert with a quirky crown logo at 12 o’clock on the Diver. In keeping with the vintage ethos, the glass is a double-domed sapphire crystal and there’s Old Radium lume to reinforce the look. Of course, this is a Swiss-made watch, so the movement is a reliable Swiss Ronda automatic calibre.
It takes a special watch to make an impact on Kickstarter these days, but the Orator Sportsman has the hallmarks of a successful campaign. It has history, retro-chic and is limited to 888 pieces. There’s a choice of black and blue dials and both the Racer and the Diver have 100M of water resistance, but there’s a major boost for fans. Orator has confirmed that the kickstarter price will be discounted to €750 for early birds, so it’s all the more reason to get in quick.
Straps: Easy Release Rubber Tropic and Calf Leather Straps
Case: Stainless Steel
Crystal: Double-domed Sapphire
Movement: Ronda R150 Swiss Automatic
Water Resistance: 100M
Price: €1,180 (AUD$1,729)