Remember when Oris introduced the Aquis GMT Carysfort Reef Limited Edition? If that doesn’t ring a bell, what if I asked if you could recall the solid gold Aquis that Oris released in early 2020? There have been a bunch of Aquis releases in the last two years, but that solid gold GMT stands out for being something that’s a little rare in the Oris catalog: an unabashed luxury object. Oris, obviously, makes plenty of very nice watches at a variety of price points and styles, but a nearly $20,000 solid gold sports watch is a flex. Now, two years later, Oris has introduced a watch that I think has a similar vibe, but a very different aesthetic: the Sun Wukong Artist Edition. This watch built on the Aquis platform has a stunning cloisonné enamel dial that is unexpected, luxurious, and appears to be executed with the very highest level of skill and craft.
First, let’s talk a little bit about cloisonné enamel, because it’s a type of craft usually associated with a type of watchmaking that just doesn’t get covered much in the pages of Worn & Wound. Obviously, this is a type of enamel dial making, but the cloisonné enamel technique uses small compartments (cloisons, in French) on the object being enabled to hold colored enamel powders in place before they are fired at high temperatures in a kiln. A really well made cloisonné enamel design can have extremely intricate details, and the process is considerably more difficult than traditional enameling because each compartment presents a unique failure risk for the entire dial if a mistake is made.
The Sun Wukong Artist edition dial is a representation of a scene from the 1961 Chinese animated film The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven. The scene in the film shows Sun Wukong approaching an underwater palace, which has been intricately recreated in varying shades of blue for this extremely limited watch. There are no hour or minute markers to distract from the craft of the dial making (a good decision in my view) but time telling is still straightforward thanks to the rotating dive bezel.
This is a limited edition of just 72 pieces, with each dial made by the same Swiss artist. Technically, each is unique. While they all show the same scene, it’s impossible to produce a dial in exactly the same way each time. This is part of the charm of any enamel dial, as they’ll naturally show little imperfections and idiosyncrasies that ultimately only serve to highlight their great depth. It’s said frequently when speaking about enamel work, but you really have to see it in person to fully grasp its impact.
The decision to pair a cloisonné enamel dial with an Aquis case is worth taking a moment to consider, as it’s not the type of watch you’d normally expect a dial like this to be found on. Perhaps the most well known cloisonné enamel dials are those found in various Patek Philippe worldtimers (like this 5131R), and that gives you a good idea of the type of watch usually outfitted with a dial like this. They are generally conservative, in precious metal cases, and certainly live in the dress watch category. The Aquis is none of those things, but it is a watch that’s extremely familiar to Oris customers, and maybe more representative of the brand as a whole than any other watch in their catalog. While it seems incongruous at first, it makes sense that Oris would want their flagship sports watch to be associated with something as special as a cloisonné enamel dial.
On the technical side, this is a 41.5mm Aquis with the latest Calibre 400 movement holding 120 hours of power reserve and extreme resistance to magnetism. If you choose to take your cloisonné enamel dialed dive watch diving, you can do so at depths up to 300 meters with this watch. Try that with a 5131R, and see how deep you get.
The retail price for the Sun Wukong Artist Edition is $27,500. They’re available through Oris this month. Oris