Founded in 2015 by Chase Fancher, Oak & Oscar is a Chicago based microbrand (a watch company that is on a smaller scale than an “independent” brand). The company’s signature design feature is an orange central seconds hand with a counterweight that is shaped like the company logo, and that uniquely aligns with the logo, that’s printed in the center of the dial, when the hand hits zero.
Today, Oak & Oscar unveiled the Humboldt. This watch was inspired by Alexandar von Humboldt, an 18th-century explorer who spent his life traveling the world in the pursuit of knowledge, according to Oak & Oscar. He influenced generations of discoveries throughout the world and was credited by Charles Darwin as the “greatest scientific traveler who ever lived.”
The Humboldt comes in a 39.5 mm diameter case (40.0 mm bezel), that’s 12.4 mm thick, 46.8 mm lug-to-lug, with a 20 mm interlug width.
The watch does have a screw-down crown and a water-resistance rating of 200 meters, twice the ISO 6425 dive watch standard, so it can go further underwater than you will ever be able to go. However, it has a bi-directional bezel (as opposed to unidirectional), and the bezel is the 12-hour variety, not the 0-60 count up type needed for diving.
Interestingly, the case and bezel are brushed steel, while the bezel insert is satin-brushed, providing subtle contrast compared to a conspicuous fully polished treatment.
With a change of the bezel and completion of the additional ISO 6425 testing required, which would both add significantly to the cost, but not necessarily the usability, this could be officially called a “dive watch.” Perhaps they’ll consider it in the future, although in speaking with Fancher this morning, he made it clear that they consider the Humboldt an “adventure” watch.
Distinguished by a two-layer sandwich dial, available in either a charcoal grey or dark navy blue, with luminous material on the bottom layer, and the orange second hand, the Humboldt has the design cues of an Oak & Oscar, now in a sports watch. It’s worth noting, both dials have a color-matched date wheel at 6 o’clock featuring custom date numerals.
Driving the hours, minutes, seconds and date is an automatic 21 jewel ETA 2892-A2 caliber that beats at 4Hz and has a 42-hour power reserve, visible through the sapphire caseback.
Something you don’t see much these days are the drilled lugs, which means you can remove the bracelet or strap by pushing the spring bars from the sides as opposed to using a fork to remove them. Drilled lugs are typically easier to remove a strap/bracelet with, although built-in quick-release systems are the easiest for almost anyone to change strap/bracelets without much risk of causing scratches.
There is an option to purchase the Humboldt with either a metal bracelet or a Horween leather strap (made in Chicago). Both options include a second olive drab nylon strap with orange stitching (Nato), strap changing tool, and a waxed canvas watch wallet (in lieu of a box).
The watch is assembled and tested in Switzerland with a final assembly completed in the USA.
Retail on a steel bracelet is $1,750 (limited time launch price $1,650) and $1,550 on a leather strap (limited time launch price $1450). Deliveries are scheduled to begin Spring 2019.
Learn more at Oak & Oscar.