November 13, 2018
by Bilal Khan
Founded in 2015, Oak & Oscar have until now released three major watches all of which have been limited editions. Now, we see the latest from the American watchmaker with the release of the Oak & Oscar Humboldt. It’s their first time-only model since the brand’s inaugural Burnham watch and their first-ever non-limited edition watch.
It carries on the Oak & Oscar design DNA uncompromisingly and I have a feeling that not seeing “Sold Out” next to an Oak & Oscar watch will make a lot of people happy. I asked brand founder Chase Fancher about the decision and he told me “Frankly, it’s hard spending half the year telling potential customers that yes, we’re a watch company but we can’t sell them a watch because we’re sold out. A good problem to have but one we needed to fix.” Glad to see someone in the watch industry not exploiting the concept of supply and demand these days.
*Note that the production models will be closer to the second image below. Some of the “lifestyle” images don’t reflect final polishing touches like larger hour markers, longer hands, and an inset pip.*
To anyone familiar with the Burnham (which I believe came in 300 pieces and good luck getting one), there are a few similarities you’ll notice on the new Humboldt. The sandwich dial cutouts, lumed hands, and date window are probably the first things you’ll notice. There are a bunch of changes and refinements as well which I will get into.
First off, the Humboldt treads into sports watch territory, with an overall more rugged look than their previous offerings. There’s a rotating 12-hour bezel which looks great, but I’ll have to wait to judge its tactile performance when I handle the watch in person. I think it hits the target design-wise and in terms of functionality.
The other new first for Oak & Oscar is the steel bracelet. According to the brand, it took 18 months of research and prototyping to get the bracelet right. Again, this is one of those things that one can’t judge from photos but the decision to taper down the links from 20mm at the lugs down to 16mm at the clasp was a smart design choice. I gotta say, the blue dial on bracelet definitely looks like my favorite Oak & Oscar Humboldt at this point.
The sandwich dial is classic Oak & Oscar and while I’d love to see the brand do something totally new when it comes to design, it’s important to keep in mind that this is their first mass-production watch. It’s very likely that more people will have one of these on their wrists than every previous Oak & Oscar model combined. Functionality, legibility, and distinct design DNA are what the Humboldt is all about.
The case measures 40mm wide including the bezel, 12.4mm thick, with a 46.8mm lug-to-lug. The case has drilled lugs, making for easy strap changing (the watch comes with a strap changing tool as well). One more thing of note about the case is the 200m water resistance which is more than sufficient for basically any water activity the watch will be exposed to. Through the display caseback is the ETA 2892A2 movement that’s decorated with Oak & Oscar’s 4-star rotor design. Pretty straightforward otherwise, the movement provides a 42-hour power reserve.
The Oak & Oscar Humboldt will come in either a charcoal grey or dark navy blue dial, with lume on the lower level of the sandwich dial and a date window that matches the respective dial color. As mentioned, it’s available on a steel bracelet as well as a Horween leather strap.
Either way, the watch comes with a nylon NATO strap, a strap changing tool, and a leather watch case (Oak & Oscar don’t believe in watch boxes). Oak & Oscar provides a 2-year warranty for the watch.
The Oak & Oscar Humboldt watch on the leather strap will be priced at $1,550 and the steel bracelet version will cost $1,750. The watch isn’t expected to ship until Spring 2019, but they are offering limited time launch prices of $1,450 and $1,650 respectively. As usual, a portion of the profits will go to One Tail at a Time, a local Chicago dog rescue. You can learn more at oakandoscar.com