Known for its love for music (among others, their limited editions include homages to such legends as Frank Sinatra, John Coltrane, and Dexter Gordon) the Swiss watchmaker has recently introduced its limited edition Oris Thelonious Monk (ref. 733 7712 4085) automatic wristwatch. Although in certain respects this new model may look very unfamiliar to a person who usually associates the brand with their gorgeous chronographs and bulky divers, it is in fact deeply rooted into the manufacture’s philosophy of industrial design. As the legendary sculptor of the past, they took a piece of metal and removed everything that didn’t belong there leaving only the truly essential elements that make an ordinary watch a true masterpiece.
Mr. Monk played complex music with many of his pieces almost instantly becoming jazz standards, yet this new watch looks extremely simple.
There are only two thin hands to display time, a simple setting crown and, well, nothing more besides a slightly oversized stainless steel case. The only thing that betrays its true identity is the way minutes are marked on its (virtual) chapter ring. If you will take a moment to look closely at the part between 10 and 12 hours, you will notice that there are eleven (five at 10-11 plus six at 11-12) minute marks instead of the usual ten. This looks like the best way to pay homage to Thelonious Monk’s approach to playing the instrument that was so brilliantly unpredictable that even some first class stars of jazz found it difficult to improvise over his accompaniment.
Although Oris plays in a market niche of a second-tier brand (at least, when it comes to pricing their timekeepers), the guys know a thing or two about industrial design. Personal preferences aside, their watches are always (or, at least, when they want to) easily readable, highly ergonomic and well sculpted.
This new model, for example, features their signature “smoke blue” color of the dial that not only looks great and expensive even though the sunray finish that they use here is nothing particularly new. It also provides an almost perfect background for the polished hands and dot-shaped hour markers.
Unlike their earlier Chet Baker (Ref. 733 7591 4084) limited edition model that featured more details than an average connoisseur would care for, with this new accessory Oris shows that it has learned the lesson well: like lonious Monk expertly mastered the art of using silence to make music, Oris, too, understands that sometimes less is more. It now knows that sometime it is better remove an element to make the final product look more complete.
At 40 millimeters in diameter, the ref. 733 7712 4085 that we discuss here is not particularly large, but, like it is often the case with dress watches, may look a bit too big on a smaller person’s wrist. Just keep that in mind.
One of these promotional images gives you a false impression that the timekeeper’s solid back features satin finish, but it isn’t really so. In real life, the back is as mirror-polished as the rest of the case. While this sort of finish looks cool when the device sits in a display stand or is gently handled with gloved hands, it would immediately attract all the oil on your skin as long as you put this beauty on your wrist. So, make sure that you are really ready to wipe this piece with a soft rag before going to bed.
As far as the technical stuff goes, this new timepiece is animated by the same Caliber 733 automatic movement that also animated a number of their other models including not only the delicate the Chet Baker model, but also the monstrous ProDiver Kittiwake Limited Edition diving tool. Based on a well-known Sellita SW 200 ebauche, the movement proved many times its robustness, reliability, and relatively low cost of ownership.
Here, the Swiss-based brand, too, decided to keep things simple and removed the stock calendar wheel that we see on other Cal. 733-powered models. Not sure about how it affected its power reserve, but, without the date aperture, the dial of the timekeeper really looks better.
Price & Availability
The model was revealed a week ago at Baselworld 2015.
According to the brand’s press release, they plan to limit the device’s total production run to just a thousand of individually numbered units, which makes the price they ask (CHF 1800 at the time of writing this small review) not really high. First batch will arrive to stores in May 2015, which means that, if you are really interested in this thing, you should possibly pay a visit to your local boutique that officially sells their watches: you know, national quotes tend to run dry soon enough for a lazy person to never get the things they really want.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Oris Thelonious Monk Limited Edition Automatic (Ref. 733 7712 4085) watch specification
Price: CHF 1800 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Oris caliber 733 (base Sellita SW 200), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 26
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 38 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Dial: Smoke Blue, sunray finish
Hour markers: Applied rhodiumed and polished dots
Hands: Polished, rhodiumed
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with stainless steel folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides, domed
Case back: Mirror polished, solid, engraved with “MONK ALWAYS KNOW” motto