There’s a certain fascination with clockwork mechanisms, especially self-powered ones, that gearheads, motorheads and watchmakers worldwide understand and appreciate all too well. Holstein-born indie watchmaker Oris has been continuously championing this fascination they fondly call “The Joy of Mechanics” since its establishment in 1904.
Committed to bringing a fresh, new experience to the age-old pleasure of mechanical watchmaking, Oris introduced a fun video game and mobile app inspired by the cogs and wheels in mechanical movements. Today, they’ve followed it up with a new partnership with one of pop culture’s most iconic entertainers – showrunner and star of Disney’s The Muppets, Kermit the Frog – for the latest interpretation of its ProPilot X Calibre 400 timepiece.
Created by legendary puppeteer Jim Hanson for the sole purpose of entertainment, Kermit has been the driving force behind the motley crew of Muppets since his arrival in 1955, creating fond memories with children and adults around the world. Over the years, Kermit has taken on a life of his own and has been invited to numerous high-profile talk shows and red-carpet events as a guest host or special guest, including the recent King Charles III Coronation Concert, much to the delight of the royal family and their guests.
In recognition of his cultural impact, Kermit was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His song Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie would even go on to receive the Best Original Song nomination at the 52nd Academy Awards. His worldwide popularity has also sparked a series of capsule collections, collectibles and special collaborations with major brands such as Adidas, Supreme and now Oris.
The new Oris ProPilot X Kermit special-edition timepiece is based on the 39mm titanium ProPilot X Calibre 400, only it’s got a green dial – and a twist. On the first of every month, the date window at 6 o’clock will be filled with an emoji of Kermit the Frog. Dubbed “Kermit Day,” it signifies our me-time to unwind, lighten up and rediscover the fun in life.
When asked by Oris co-CEO Rolf Studer what Kermit Day means to him, The Frog Prince star responded, “For me, Kermit Day is a day I spend practising self-care and doing things that make me happy, but it’s not just about celebrating me; it’s about encouraging everyone to take time to celebrate themselves.”
The self-care approach of Kermit Day is in keeping with the powerful, introspective realization of Kermit’s own worth and dignity in his signature song Being Green, where Kermit begins by lamenting his green skin tone that makes him blend in easily with his natural surroundings, only to realise “green could be big, like an ocean, or important, like a mountain, or tall, like a tree,” giving him the strength and confidence to rise up.
“Green could be big, like an ocean; or important, like a mountain; or tall, like a tree.”
– Kermit the Frog
“It has definitely gotten easier being green. There are so many amazing ways that we can be green now. There are electric cars, solar power, wind power, etc. You know, sometimes it’s still a little tough, blending in with ordinary things like leaves, or grass, but there’s beauty in ordinary things too. Green may not be flashy, but it sure is what I want to be,” said Kermit.
In the following interview, Michael Meier, regional director of Oris Southeast Asia, takes us through the collaboration between Oris and Disney that became the ProPilot X Kermit Special Edition.
What inspired Oris to collaborate with Disney and Kermit?
The mission for the company is to put a smile on people with watchmaking, doing things that we enjoy the most and sharing the pleasure we get from making watches with our customers and followers. This collaboration with Kermit allows us to add an extra kick of joy to the experience. It’s also in line with our independent nature of always doing things differently – while most watchmakers favour the British racing green and military green, we have gone our own way by adopting the distinctive Kermit green.
How did the discussion with Disney go?
They’re very protective in general, so you really need to work very closely to understand what is possible and what’s not. I think we have found a really good way for the two brands to come together and have some fun. Apart from us creating the watch, Disney has also developed a light and easy original number performed by Kermit called Gotta Make Time for Me as part of the campaign.
“Our mission is to put a smile on people with watchmaking and sharing the pleasure we get from making watches with our customers and followers.”
– Michael Meier, regional director of Oris, Southeast Asia
Kermit is noted for speaking up for the protection of the natural environment and various green initiatives – he lobbied for the Shambala Wild Animal Protection Act and lent his support to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to help promote awareness of endangered amphibians around the world. How do you think you complement each other?
We are committed to the environment with our Change for the Better programme. We are working with various environmental companies, using recycled plastics, trying to protect coral reefs in natural habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef. Since last year, we have started working with Billion Oyster Project to restore one billion oysters to the New York Harbour’s iconic waterways. This year, we are teaming up with Bracenet to recover ghost nets from the ocean and upcycling them into new products. There are tonnes of ghost nets floating around and animals often get trapped in them.
I’ve had people asking me, “How is using recycled materials in watches going to make a difference because there’s so much plastic in the ocean that we could not make enough watches to clear out all the plastic waste.” But it’s not about that; it’s really about embodying that spirit and inspiring individuals to each do his/her part. And everyone who can afford a mechanical watch can make a difference with an Oris watch. It’s a really good way of using trash for something beautiful.
We’ve been taking small sustainable steps for the past 20 years, beginning with something as simple as removing plastic cups. Since then, we’ve invested quite a lot in things like installing solar panels on our roof, reducing the use of cars whenever possible, etc. As a company, we have set the common goal of reducing carbon emissions by 10% every year. It’s not just a corporate programme; it’s our mindset and lifestyle. We have internal workshops with our teams where we talk about the things that we can do as individuals to reduce carbon emissions.
“It’s about inspiring individuals to each do his/her part. And everyone who can afford a mechanical watch can make a difference with an Oris watch. It’s a really good way of using trash for something beautiful.”
MEETING OF THE MINDS
Oris creative director Ken Laurent journeys to Hollywood and brings home a short film composed and performed by Kermit the Frog.
Before we dive into the collaboration with Kermit, please tell us about your approach to a project like this.
As the creative director of Oris, my job is always to think about how we communicate a new product – What’s its core value? How does it tie into our philosophy? Sometimes that value is clearly defined: a diving watch with a depth gauge, or a bronze watch that will patinate over time. In others, it’s more implicit. That can be more of a challenge, but I think we’re doing a good job of being consistent and coherent in how we’re telling the Oris story and the story of our watches.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m originally from Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland, which, like Hölstein, is a very beautiful place, with lots of nature. I’m very drawn to nature and spend as much time as I can in it – I love downhill mountain biking, for example. That refreshes me. It’s where I cannot think about anything, like meditation. It sets chemicals free and makes me feel good for days afterwards. I’m always creating, which makes the boundary between my life inside and outside of work a bit fluid.
You’ve been at Oris for five years. What makes it such a good fit?
It can be hard to explain things that are intuitive. Oris just works for me. Sometimes with companies there’s an aura you can’t get past, but with Oris the aura is very human. We’re really interested in the cause and we don’t have to think about target groups: we can do the things we want to do. It’s a gift.
So, Oris and Kermit the Frog?
Let me ask you this: what is a mechanical watch for? We talk a lot about functions in a literal sense, but really, the purpose of an Oris watch is to make people smile. That’s it. And with the ProPilot X Kermit Edition, there’s nothing else to it. Ok, yes, it’s powered by a brilliant movement and the case design is spectacular, but the function of this watch is really simple: to bring joy.
The execution is interesting, especially the “Kermit Day” window.
It’s beautiful the way it’s been done. We could have put a big Kermit the Frog emoji on the dial. Some might have done that because they want their most important collaborations to be in your face. But we didn’t want that. We wanted something humbler that would respect the product.
“For me, Kermit Day is a day I spend practising self-care and doing things that make me happy, but it’s not just about celebrating me; it’s about encouraging everyone to take time to celebrate themselves.”
– Kermit the Frog
And what is it about Kermit the Frog that Oris was so drawn to in the first place?
We don’t want ambassadors who take their emotion and put it on top of ours. We always want someone who becomes part of the Oris family. Kermit is that. We have a lot in common. He’s the “everyfrog”, like the everyman. He’s down to earth. I mean, he comes from a swamp. And he’s never trying to be the centrepiece, but he always has an important role to play. The main goal of The Muppets is to entertain people, to have fun, to make people laugh and have a good time. At the same time, they’re always trying to solve something, but in a fun way. Snap!
You went to Hollywood to film the campaign with Kermit the Frog. How was that?
It was so much fun. On set you have to be so careful because all you want to do is laugh, but of course that would ruin a take. Everyone feeds off Kermit’s energy. Anything he does or touches, it just becomes funny. I didn’t want the day to end.
“He’s the ‘everyfrog,’ like the everyman. He’s down to earth. I mean, he comes from a swamp. And he’s never trying to be the centrepiece, but he always has an important role to play.”
– Ken Laurent, creative director of Oris
In the ad, Kermit performs Gotta Make Time For Me – who wrote it?
We spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of brief we should give The Muppets. We could have written a script or something, but Kermit and The Muppets know how to entertain better than anyone. So we left them to it. In a couple of days, they came back to us with a song – the lyrics, the music and the idea that Kermit would sing it while playing his banjo. It was perfect. And so catchy.
More to come with Disney’s The Muppets?
Maybe. You’ll have to wait and see.