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.
Maybe this watch looks better in person, but from the photos it seems kinda boring. A Nomos Club is not much more than this, and is a much better looking and more interesting watch in my opinion.
I really like the watch, but when you mentioned Nomos…well, you reminded me of a great, great looking watch.
The more I’ve seen this watch on Instagram, the more I’ve come to really like the details and style of the watch. I can appreciate the price, do not feel it’s overpriced at all, but it’s out of my price range. I have yet to be able to hold it or strap it on my wrist, but some day I’m sure I will. I find the watch to be well designed and attractive.
I love the center grooves and would love to see them used in future models as some sort of power reserve or even a calendar/moonphase somehow.
I’ve honestly never understood the hype over this watch. The dial looks really cheap to me, like its made of gray dollar-store plastic stencil. Maybe it looks better in person, but I think the dial photographs horribly. The back and movement look very nicely finished, but I’d spend $1650 on a lot of other watches before this one.
My thoughts exactly
well, I don’t know …
I like it.. I just wished it was under 40mm and have some polishing to the case.
This watch started to grow on me, the more I see it the more I like little details like stars in the rotor, warm grey sandwich dial, straps and package. I am fan of Soprod movements, they have great finish and performance, but this one looks too small for that case. Burnham with its 42mm could easily house Unitas 6497/8, but I would prefer it to be 39-40 mm. The pricing seems a bit high, at 1650$ I can see many competitors: USA-based like Weiss, germans like NOMOS Club or Stowa Partitio, which is 2x cheaper; lots of swiss and japanese with more sophisticated finishing. But cannot deny – the watch has some charming warmth about it, very few watches give me same feeling.
Weiss watches are also over-priced and uninspired. But like Weiss, Oak & Oscar found a few rich kids who “blessed the brand” and everyone else fell in line.
As I always say, in a couple of years you won’t be able to sell one of these watches pre-owned for even half of what you paid for them. Hell, in the case of the Oak & Oscar, I truly believe you won’t be able to resell them at all. If there’s anyway to determine the value and staying power of a brand, its to look at people’s interest after its been in the marketplace for a few years.
These watches are like Justin Beiber songs – they sound great for the first 15 minutes. But two years later you’re wondering how you liked it enough to buy your very own copy.
I usually don’t think about reselling watches I purchase – I try to find ones to keep me attracted for a long time. Well, maybe it doesn’t always happen this way, but I try to find long-term watches. Regarding being overprices – I do agree, there are some better offers there from well-established companies. I can see examples from Longines, Stowa, Seiko. Maybe some used Omega. But its not so badly overpriced! Panerai with default ETA6497/8 for 5,000$ is overpriced IMO. Many british brands are heavily overpriced, don’t you think? Pinion watches offer simple 3-hander on ETA2824 for $3,000$; Schofield offer watches based on same Soprod A10 for 6,200$; Bremont offers simple 3-handers on ETa2824 for over 4,000$. So it all depends on how you look at it. But anyway its a bit overpriced, I agree.
The only thing I don’t like about this watch is the phony name of Oak & Oscar. Why didn’t he just call it Chase Fancher? It’s a name with more class and authenticity — a contemporary first name and an unusual last. I just couldn’t buy a watch with such a contrived name staring at me each time I look at the dial. Otherwise this is a very likeable casual watch with a lot of appeal and some character.
The price is much too high when you have so many options out there.
for $400-500 more, i could buy a vintage Speedmaster in decent condition…
Recently bought a Tag Heuer Aqua Racer 300M with ceramic bezel at this price range. I get that to penetrate the brutally cruel watch market, one has to offer at a decent price range. However, that’s also what makes it a tough market, with a really nice Oris big crown series selling at just a little over a thousand dollars brand new.