This being the Year of the Tiger, we expect the Swiss watchmaking industry to go into overdrive producing tiger-themed watches: despite tension and uncertainty in international relations and China’s “common prosperity” drive brewing hotter by the day, the Chinese consumer’s appetite for luxury watches is one of the major pillars upon which the industry stands. But Oris is marching to a somewhat different beat, eschewing the tiger to go with the monkey, producing a second watch in collaboration with Shanghai Animation Film Studio Co. for the 60th anniversary of its unforgettable 1961 animated classic, The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven.
The first collaboration watch was released in November last year, a 2,000-piece limited edition of its Oris Aquis Date dive watch sporting a motif of Sun Wukong’s jing gu bang (gold-hooped staff) on its dial. The second watch from this collaboration is also based on the Aquis Diver, but is an altogether different watch, with an additional digit in its price for the toll. It is Oris’s first watch to feature a hand-decorated cloissone enamel dial, depicting a scene from the animated film of the entrance to the Dragon King’s undersea palace. Each dial is produced by the same Swiss artist and takes up to three days to complete. The scene to be painted is outlined by silver wire on a white gold plate, and the segments (‘cloisons’) are then painted with coloured glass powder before the dial is fired in a kiln at 800°C.
Unlike the first collaboration piece that was driven by a Sellita-based movement, the movement used here is Oris’s self-developed Calibre 400 that surpasses the Sellita on every metric, including resistance to magnetic fields, a five-day power reserve, higher precision than a chronometer (-3/+5 seconds a day), and a 10-year service interval.
Oris Sun Wukong Artist Edition is a released in a limited edition of 72 pieces, a reference to Sun Wukong’s “72 transformations” or powers.
The enamel dial is beautifully executed; like the first watch, Sun Wukong is not depicted on the dial, but in this case more than the other, one could feel that the scene lacks a subject. Yet a subject would disturb the tranquillity of the dial scene, especially since the dreamy quality of the Dargon King’s undersea palace, with the shading of the gate arches and seabed, is so well represented here. It’s an animation cel in water colour that will endure. And definitely a good call to not mar the painting with a date window.
An enamel dial is a very labour-intensive affair, and for this reason, this watch is in a totally different price segment from the first one (and indeed every other Oris watch), at CHF 24,000 as opposed to the earlier watch which can be had for USD 2,600. A regular Aquis Date with a Calibre 400 movement is USD 3,500. The Oris Sun Wukong Artist Edition then represents the company’s first stab at the realm of the high watchmaking houses. It is an ambitious move, and Oris ought to be commended for its choice of source material in this audacious undertaking. Over the years, there have been countless portrayals of the Monkey King in film and animation. Of this mountain of material, it’s hard to think of any rendition that compares to The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven for charm, playfulness and impact. At least watch it once.
Movement: Self-winding Oris Calibre 400, -3/+5 seconds a day, power reserve of 120 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Case: 41.5mm steel, white gold dial plate with cloisonné enamel, engraved caseback, water resistant to 300 meters
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp and extension
Price: CHF 24,000 (limited edition of 72 pieces)