When I first started writing about watches, it seemed that there was an arms race to create bigger and bigger cases. And I’ll admit, I got caught up in it as well. These days, though, I’ve shifted more to classic designs and slimmer, more compact cases. Fortunately, there are watch brands also swinging the pendulum back in that direction, and the Oak & Oscar Olmsted is an example of how well it can be done.

To be sure, I’m making that statement based on the photos. While Oak & Oscar is Chicago-based, and I’ve met up with the man at the wheel, Chase Fancher, in the past, I’ve not yet had a chance to see the Oak & Oscar Olmsted in person. Blame that on my being out of town for vacation when it launched, and his busy schedule. No worries, we’ll work on getting some “in-the-steel” time with the watch. In the meantime, let’s run down what we’ve got on tap.

First off, the Oak & Oscar Olmsted comes with a deliciously svelte case, just 38mm and 10.8mm thick. That case comes paired with a relatively new feature for the brand, an stainless steel bracelet. This too is as compact as can be, going from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp. The case design itself is clean, very much lending itself to the field watch looks this one goes for.

For a field watch, you need yourself a legible dial, without much clutter. Again, the Oak & Oscar Olmsted delivers here. This is courtesy of the sandwich dial with the font that I associate with the brand. Here, you’ve got two options. The blue-grey dial will be the one that most would associate with O&O, but I find myself drawn to the crisp arctic white dial. This, in spite of the fact that the numerals don’t glow in this configuration (you do have lumed hour indices, however). The black-in-white color scheme is instantly readable, and the handset is lumed, so telling time in the dark can still be done.

If you’re going for a field watch, you’re going to want a movement that’s accurate and reliable. Tag in Fancher’s predilection for getting things upgraded on the watch where he can, and you end up with the veneral ETA 2892 A2. Not only that, he manages to do what the large brands seem to have a hard time doing (and understanding why we’d want it) – a color-matched date disc. These are the details that let you know attention was given. Not enough for you? Ok, how about this – take a look at the ghosted O&O logo on the dial above 6 o’clock. Now, check where the logo counterweight on the seconds hand would line up. You see? Attention to detail is present.

So, yes, in my book, the Oak & Oscar Olmsted is an absolutely lovely watch. Even if you’re not necessarily pre-disposed to go for things coming out of Chicago (which I suppose it’s safe to say I am), it’s not denying the bonafides of the watch. The Oak & Oscar Olmsted is up for pre-order now (expected shipping in 6-10 weeks) with pricing coming in at $1,575 on the bracelet or $1,475 on leather – with an additional $100 discount in the pre-order period. While the leather straps Fancher produces are top-notch, get the bracelet – you can always find straps in the aftermarket, but bracelets that fit your watch are much harder to come by. And as I mentioned, we’ll see if we can get some time with one to give you some hands-on impressions. oakandoscar.com

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Oak & Oscar Olmsted
  • Price: $1,575 on bracelet, $1,475 on leather
  • Who we think it might be for: You’re looking for a compact – and high quality – Swiss-driven mechanical as your daily driver
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? I’m a fan of what Fancher has been designing, and the 38mm case with white dial does call out to me…

Tech Specs from Oak & Oscar

  • ETA 2892A2 automatic
    • 21 jewel mechanical Swiss movement
    • 42-hour power reserve
    • 28,800 bph / 4 Hz
  • 316L Stainless steel
    • 38mm case diameter
    • 10 ATM water resistance (100 meters / 330 feet)
    • 10.8mm case height
    • 20mm lug width
    • 44.9mm lug-to-lug
  • Double-domed sapphire crystal with multi-layer anti-reflective coating
  • Color-matched date wheel with custom typeface
  • Sandwich dial with either a Super-LumiNova BGW9 base dial (grey / navy) or luminescent hour indices (white)
  • Two-year limited warranty
  • A portion of all Oak&Oscar profits donated to local Chicago dog rescue, One Tail at a Time
  • Price
    • On bracelet, $1575 (MSRP), $1475 (Launch price)
    • On leather, $1375 (MSRP), $1275 (Launch price)
  • Expected to begin shipping in 6-10 weeks

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