Oris's history begins in 1904 when Paul Cattin and Georges Christian took over the Lohner and Co. watch factory in the northern Swiss town of Hölstein. A nearby stream, the Orisbach, would become the company's namesake. In the following decades, Oris became the largest employer in the town and had factories in a number of other locations until the late 1920s. For a time, it even operated a bus service to bring its employees to and from work.
From the beginning, Oris has concentrated on making watches for special purposes. Aviators, divers, and motorsport racers quickly grew enthusiastic about the functional design and high quality of Oris watches. Together with culture, these categories remain pillars of the Oris product range to this day.
During the Quartz Crisis at the beginning of the 1970s, Oris fell on hard times and became part of ASUAG, which would later become the Swatch group. In 1982, the company regained its independence, following a management buyout initiated by Dr. Rolf Portmann and Ulrich W. Herzog. The company remains independent to this day. One of the most important decisions made by the new company leadership was to produce only mechanical watches. In the 1990s, "High-Mech" became Oris's slogan in response to the "high tech" trend at the time. Since 2002, the company's trademark Red Rotor has been the embodiment of this spirit and can be found in all of their automatic watches.
To celebrate the company's 110-year anniversary in 2014, Oris resumed production of their own in-house movements after a 35-year hiatus. The movements, which have a power reserve of 10 days and incorporate sophisticated complications, are being gradually introduced into the company's collections.