You may have noticed a new watch taking over Instagram of late; and I don’t mean Tudor’s recent homage to their Only Watch offering – the Heritage Black Bay Black. I’m talking about the Oak & Oscar Burnham, which since May has been trending under the hashtags #oakandoscar, #theburnham, and #makenolittleplans. Click any one of those links and you’ll find hundreds of shots of the Burnham. Posts prior to September 19th were photos of prototype Burnhams that founder Chase caravanned around the country; giving the watch community the chance to get their hands on the Burnham – and at the same time – get to know him a little better. From the very beginning, the Burnham’s overall design, its details, and Chase’s efforts, struck a chord with people and orders have been pouring in…
Just last month Chase himself put the finishing touches on everyone’s Burnham, including hot stamping watch wallets, installing butter-soft leather straps, boxing everything up and shipping out. No sooner did UPS drivers leave packages on doorsteps, proud new owners began unveiling their very own, much anticipated, Burnham to the #watchfam. Of the many carefully thought out moves behind the development and release of the Burnham, one was Chase letting buyers choose their serial number (if they purchased during the pre-order period).
While the window has closed for being able to pick your own serial number, you can still purchase the Burnham. A few remain unclaimed out of the limited production run of 300 pieces (visit Oak & Oscar for more details). The Burnham has been reviewed by Hodinkee, a Blog to Watch, Wound For Life, and countless other online and print watch publications. But here at Watch Patina, I put more stock in a different kind of review: Listening to stories from the actual people who bought the watch and wear it daily. This installment of “New Watch Alert” turns the spotlight on 9 Burnham owners. I asked them to send in a picture of their Burnham, explain the significance behind their serial number choice, and share why they bought the watch.
#13. As a kid Paul didn’t let the dread surrounding Friday the 13th give him a case of Triskaidekaphobia – a clinical diagnosis for fear of the number 13. He didn’t buy into the ouija-superstition and ill-fated omens that give the number 13 a bad wrap. Especially not after he learned about instances where the number 13 was just the opposite: a lucky or neutral number, like in the case of the Apollo 13 lunar mission, where all crew members survived the “Houston, we have a problem” fiasco. The debate and intrigue behind the numerology of the number 13 has always amused Paul. So much so, that it became his favorite number.
Along with Chase, Paul – Instagram @thepaullewin – co-founded #CommonwealthCrew – Chicago’s chapter of New York City’s #RedBarCrew. Paul witnessed firsthand Chase’s passion to build a watch community, which came in a close second to Chase’s true passion – launching his own line of watches. “Watching Chase bust his ass and nurture this idea for years before debuting the watch – just to get everything just right – is downright badass. Damn right I’m going to own one.”
#7. John studied mathematics in college, so numbers – and what they symbolize – don’t easily escape him. Besides being the largest single digit prime number, the number 7 is considered by many, John included, to represent completeness and perfection: 7 days in a week, 7 colors in a rainbow, A 7-game series to crown a champion in pro baseball, basketball, and hockey.
Before scoring lucky serial number 7 from Chase, John will be the first to tell you he was first fortunate to meet Chase: John’s life wasn’t the rosiest growing up. But through it all he’s managed to keep his head above water, lead a very interesting life, and accomplish some pretty amazing things: playing a perfect game of pool, saving the lives of two people (on separate occasions), and currently running his own business. His success is due in large part to his positive outlook, but also to Chase and his wife, who’ve been like family to him. As John puts it, “the Burnham is my reminder of what it means to have a family [and be] committed to making sure we do what inspires us.”
#40. Nowadays, I’ll bet many watch purchases are motivated by beautiful photos shared through Instagram or from trying on someone’s pièce de résistance at a GTG. Before smartphones and forums connected us, I’ll bet the majority of watches were bought out of necessity or to celebrate an occasion. The latter is one of the reasons Dave bought the Burnham and precisely why he requested number 40: As a birthday gift to himself for turning 40.
If you follow Dave on Instagram @jazzbass251 – you know he’s a huge fan of micro brands (Steinhart, Halios, Magrette, to name just a few). After meeting up with Chase for drinks and seeing the Burnham prototype, Dave was down to support another independent watch company. “When I heard about all the components, who was assembling it, and the “extras” that were coming with it, I was very impressed.”
#11. Rich is really into watches… He’d have to be to maintain his Instagram alter ego @uppercrustlife – approaching 20,000 followers. Not to mention he’s on the board of directors for @kicktoc’s Wednesday #Head2HeadCopycat challenges. Along with time spent posting signature wristshots and managing his social media duties, Rich has a successful career. (He also trains for and runs half marathons.) You can image Rich’s life can get pretty crazy. That’s why he chose #11. It was the number he wore playing soccer during most of his youth. For Rich, the number 11 reminds him of “simpler times and pure joy” – a state of mind that has a calming effect and keeps him grounded in today’s world.
When Rich first met Chase at Baselworld in 2014, he recognized a joy in Chase when he shared sketches of the Burnham. The two hit it off right away, and kept in touch as Chase’s vision started to become a reality. Rich said “I invest in people, not products. Chase’s focus and drive alone made me want to support him. When those factors are in place, more often than not, the outcome is typically exceptional.”
#86. Daniel doesn’t own a birth year watch in the traditional sense (i.e. a vintage model as old as he is), but he does own a birth-year-serial-number-watch. He came into this world in 1986, so Burnham number 86 had his name written all over it. Not only was he born in 1986, but his favorite Heavy Metal albums from bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeath were all released that year too; making his Burnham a nice reminder of his life and one of his passions in life.
So why did Daniel – Instagram @scofielddj – buy a Burnham instead of putting those dollars towards a true birth year watch? It’s not like Daniel and Chase go way back, like Paul and John do. Although, ironically, Chase actually owns the birth-year watch Daniel wants: A 1986 ref. 16660 “Triple Six” Rolex Sea Dweller. So maybe there’s a kindred watch spirit present between them… No seriously, about buying the Burnham, Daniel said: “I believed in his vision and dreams for his brand. He wanted to leave the strains of working for someone else and follow his own dreams of launching a watch brand. I wanted to proudly represent him by owning his debut timepiece.”
#97. “Chase did what all of us dream of, however, few of us actually do: He took a leap of faith and ventured into the unknown by creating his own watch company.” Granted on a much, much smaller scale, some owners of the Burnham also took a leap of faith with their purchase. For those who’ve been with Chase since day one – buying the Burnham felt like playing with house money. But for many, who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Chase prior to Oak & Oscar, like Antonio, it took some wooing and convincing to get on board. Working in the Burnham’s favor were all the unique details Chase incorporated: The gray sandwich dial, the Horween strap, the Soprod Movement…
They say word of mouth is the best kind of marketing; a business’s dream scenario to attract customers. But this only happens when the product or service is top notch. For Antonio, the person singing the praises of the Burnham, and Chase for that matter, was his cousin Joey – Instagram @scotchnwatches. Slowly but surely, Antonio came to realize what Joey already knew: The Burnham was a worthy timepiece to add to his growing collection. Joey owns number 96; when Antonio made up his mind, he took number 97. Seems only fitting since Joey showed him the light – or the lume – in the Burnham’s case.
#63. It takes some companies years to become a global brand; it only took Oak & Oscar a few months. Julian and number 63 reside in Australia – approx. 10,000 miles from Chicago and a +16 hour time difference. Why did Julian feel so comfortable sending a large sum money to a person he’d never met – on something he’d never tried on – only seen and read about? Chalk it up to the allure of good design. Julian was immediately drawn to the Burnham and its many endearing qualities: The stonehenge effect, the color-matched date wheel, and that second hand painted vibrant orange – a color Julian said he’s a “sucker for.”
When it came to choosing his serial number, Julian declined. Why? He thought “Chase might have a difficult time allocating them out if everyone wanted something specific.” For him, the numbers on the dial – with their unique font, especially the 7’s with the slash – were satisfying enough. “I couldn’t be happier with the result, the Burnham is an amazing watch in the metal.”
#6. For many owners, their relationship with the Burnham started with a partial dial shot leaked by Chase on Instagram. Eventually Chase quit teasing and unveiled the entire watch, followed by letting people go hands-on with the protoypes. The photos and test drives invariably led to questions, which Chase was more than obliged to answer – at all times of the day. One of Darren’s inquiries was about serial number selection… After finding out that his top choices were already claimed, he asked for the lowest number available: a much-coveted symbol that a collector was an early supporter. He was surprised to find out number 6 could be had. And so that’s how it came to be his.
So far every Burnham owner I’ve talked to is proud to rep the Oak & Oscar brand. There’s no doubt its success is due to it being a phenomenal product. I firmly believe its thoughtful design, strategic development, execution and delivery were all important variables that helped people make up their mind. But I also know the man behind the Burnham had a huge influence. I think Darren speaks for all Burnham owners when he says “Chase is an awesome dude, and meeting him, hearing his story, and discussing life, his family…that sold me”
#109. A meaningful serial number definitely cements the bond between an owner and his or her Burnham. But one’s relationship with this watch isn’t an exclusive affair. The fact that the Oak & Oscar community is nearly 300 strong; owners can’t help but feel a connection with each other. Look no further than Justin as a prime example…
By the time he got around to purchasing the Burnham, his short list of preferred serial numbers were all spoken for, so he ended up with a random serial – number 109. That was fine by Justin. Just owning the Burnham and being part of Oak & Oscar from the get-go – along with all the other owners – meant more to him than a one, two, or three-digit serial number.