The watch market is currently living through a golden age for microbrands. More boutique watchmakers have emerged in the past five years than ever before, tailoring themselves to nearly every conceivable niche, but very few have distinguished themselves as highly as Chicago-based Oak & Oscar. Since its founding in 2015, the brand has created six lines of distinctive timepieces, each sharing a strong unified design language. The latest addition to the lineup, the Olmsted 38, takes the signature Oak & Oscar look and simplifies the overall package while returning to the brand’s roots with an elemental field watch.
Oak & Oscar’s first release, the Burnham, was also a field watch, but the Olmsted 38 exhibits a level of detail that shows clearly just how far the brand has come in the past four years. Named for conservationist Frederick Law Olmsted — the man responsible for New York’s Central Park and Jackson Park in Chicago, the Olmsted 38 is available in three dial colors: a warm charcoal gray, navy blue, and a clean, stark white.
The 38-millimeter case of the Olmsted is foundational for a classic sports watch, with broad-shouldered lugs, a brushed smooth bezel, and 100 meters of water resistance for solid utility. The overall profile is a solid midsize at 10.8 millimeters-thick, offering some sporty presence on the wrist without feeling too chunky. Around back, a sapphire caseback window offers a view of the tried-and-true ETA 2892-A2 automatic movement topped with a custom rotor displaying the four stars of Oak & Oscar’s native Chicago.
The dial of the Olmsted 38 takes Oak & Oscar’s hallmark design elements and combines them into a cleaner, simpler package than ever before. The classic Oak & Oscar all-numeral, two-tone sandwich dial makes an appearance here (featuring backlit numerals for both the charcoal gray and navy dial variants similar to what one might find on a classic Panerai, and rectangular lumed hour marks next to the chapter ring for the white-dialed variant), along with the brand’s ubiquitous tapered-baton handset and orange seconds hand. A date window at 6 o’clock is unobtrusive and maintains the balance of the dial. What gives the Olmsted 38 its own personality, however, are the details, like the splash of orange used in the outer minutes track for 15, 30, 45 and 60, and the rounded softness of stencil-style numerals that could otherwise feel aggressive and militant.
Oak & Oscar offers the Olmsted 38 on a choice of either a brushed oyster-style bracelet or an American-made Horween leather strap in a rich tobacco-brown. Both choices are rugged, attractive, and fit the overall classic field aesthetic of the Olmsted 38 well. In addition, both strap options include an additional olive drab NATO strap on signed hardware.
Overall, the Olmsted 38 stands as a refinement and streamlining of signature Oak & Oscar design principles, creating a clean, classic field watch with a dose of unique personality. The Oak & Oscar Olmsted 38 is available for purchase now on Oak & Oscar’s site, with shipping expected to begin in mid-December. The Olmsted 38 is also Oak & Oscar’s most affordable watch ever, with launch prices beginning at $1,375 on leather and $1,475 on bracelet. Full price after the initial launch period will rise to $1,475 and $1,575, respectively. For ordering information, visit oakandoscar.com.