Over the last couple of years Oak & Oscar has slowly, but surely built up a solid following. Many brands do this, but what makes it particularly interesting in this case is that founder Chase Fancher started this process a couple years before actually having a watch for sale. In fact, we first met the Chicago native not on US soil, but in Basel, at one of the horrendously over-priced coffee bars within the shows halls. It was there that Chase first told us about his brand, his initial watch, the Burnham, and his goal to make something great.
Fast forward and Oak & Oscar have become one of the more talked about micro brands of the year. Between a strong following of friends and fans from the #watchfam and #redbarcrew scenes on instagram, his brand got off to a very strong start. He also participated in our Wind-Up: NYC event, where his booth was regularly full of intrigued watch enthusiasts.
Before getting to the watch, part of what set Oak & Oscar apart was that he wasn’t trying to make the most affordable watch out there, mixing the most expensive components into a razor-thin-margined machine. Rather, he set out to make something luxurious in the same way a nice Filson briefcase is luxurious…something built well and meant to last. To that end, his approach was a bit different. His watch was developed slowly, which shows in the execution, and while the case components were manufactured overseas, he sourced various American partners to tie it all together. So, his leather strap is made in Indiana, his Nylon is from Crown & Buckle, his watch wallet is made in Chicago, and the watch itself is assembled in Ohio by Chris Wiegand/Lüm-Tec. Lastly, his movement is from Soprod, giving the insides Swiss-made credibility.
So, it’s this hodgepodge of people, places and things…which is more and more becoming the reality of watches. It’s not American-made, nor is it Asian-made. It’s a mix of things sourced from specialists in each thing, which is the modern way of doing things. What you get in the end, is a watch with a story that has been touched by many hands along the way. The accessories that join it a more like curated extras than standard parts, and their craft all stand out. So, when you see the $1,650 price tag, keep in mind that it’s more than just a watch with stock straps and packaging. Apart from that, what interested me is that Oak & Oscar are one of the few brands pursuing watches with a sort of American design language. It doesn’t look like a Swiss watch. It’s a bit more blunt, a bit warmer. As micro brands continue to pop up in the US, few have felt this way to me, which is something I think is lacking.