Siberia’s Lake Baikal, for those unfamiliar, is the world’s largest freshwater lake which has been under threat for some time due to pollution from both industry and the impact of tourism. Continuing their commitment to raising awareness about various issues threatening the world’s great bodies of water, Oris has released a new, “high performance” dive watch inspired by, and in commemoration of, efforts to preserve this treasured natural wonder. According to Oris’ website, this newest addition to the Oris Aquis collection was “made in partnership with the Lake Baikal Foundation, a research center working to preserve Siberia’s Lake Baikal.” The Oris Aquis Lake Baikal is the most recent in a series of limited-edition Aquis divers (this one, to 1,999 pieces to mark the year Russia passed a law protecting the lake) focused on such environmental issues, which include other models such as the Great Barrier Reef, Clean Ocean, and Blue Whale.
The Oris Aquis Lake Baikal, as other Aquis divers, is a substantial watch with a 43mm case size. Its design is equal parts rugged tool watch (ceramic bezel, bulky crown guards, SuperLumiNova indices) and luxury piece (domed sapphire crystal, gorgeous sunburst gradient dial, signed crown). The dial is really what shines here and what elevates the Lake Baikal from function-only to a handsome dress watch. The environmentally-conscious watches in the Aquis line all have dials that pay tribute to bodies of water. But, while the Clean Ocean or Blue Whale have deep blue dials to emulate the depths of the ocean, the Lake Baikal’s blue reflects the icy surface of the lake. It is a blue with depth but also a surface glow of silver and frosty white, a combo that makes the Lake Baikal stand out from the rest of the Aquis pack, in my opinion.
The caseback, as is the case with the other Aquis environmental watches, is also something to behold. Oris has done some neat things with these limited edition case backs including a recycled plastic medallion on the Clean Ocean. Here, Oris delivers what I think is perhaps the loveliest case back design of the series: an engraving portraying the star cracks in the ice covering the lake’s surface. The backs of these limited edition Oris watches are consistently an added treat and the Lake Baikal does not fall short in this respect.
Oris Aquis Lake Baikal Specs
- 43mm case diameter
- Domed sapphire crystal
- Blue gradient sunburst dial
- Multi-piece stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp and diver’s extension
- 300m/30 bar water resistance
- Oris 733 Movement, based on a Selita SW-200-1 / automatic winding / 38-hour power reserve
- Price: 2,200 Swiss francs (or about $2,260 USD)
I hope that the environmental conditions of the earth’s lakes and oceans improve rather than regresses in the coming years, though this fight for the preservation of clean water has, in my opinion, produced some of the most inspired moments in Oris’ recent catalog.
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Henry is a scholarly watch nerd based out of northern New Jersey. He works as a professor of composition and creative writing by day and a fiction writer by night. Both his academic and creative work have given him insight on design and rhetoric and his fiction writing background influences his humorous, narrative take on watch reviews. His watch collecting habits tend to lean toward vintage, but he never shies away from unique and interesting new pieces. Henry is also an avid musician, record collector, whiskey aficionado, serial hobbyist, and all-around enthusiast.