Bebop jazz is anything but clean and minimalist. Still, its founder inspired Oris to make a watch that is exactly that. Meet the latest watch in Oris’ Jazz Legend collection, dedicated to drummer Art Blakey, who had his heyday quite some time ago, but hasn’t been forgotten. Meet the new Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition.
Watches named after people aren’t always direct hits. Sometimes, they can come across as a bit childish, the kind that only fanboys would buy. Not so for the Oris jazz models. Quite a lot of them have are well-designed watches. Most of them are minimalist and mature watches with subtle design cues that hint at their jazz inspirations.
This time, drummer and bandleader Art Blakey gets his own timepiece. Like most jazz legends, Blakey grew up in difficult circumstances. He was born in 1919 in Pittsburgh and grew up without his mother. During that period, he became injured while battling the police, which led him to be declared unfit for battle in World War II. And that turned out to be a blessing. During the war, Blakey played everywhere he could and got acquainted with a couple of players that would become legends, like Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. But most of all, Blakey got famous for his co-founding of the Bebop style. This heritage earned him the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2005, 15 years after his death.
The Oris Art Blakey watch
The new Oris Art Blakey is pretty basic, but very well executed at that. It’s just as much a design piece as it is a technological achievement. The first thing that stands out is the dial that echoes the shape of a snare drum. Like its jazzy inspiration, the indices aren’t fixed at conventional positions -12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock – but in between them. And because a drum has eight claws that keep the drumhead in place, this watch is also equipped with eight indices.
That means the hour markers don’t show the time, but it’s a nice playful detail. The actual time indicators are minimal stripes around the outer ring of the dial, and Super-LumiNova dots on 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock.
The back of the case has another jazz-inspired pattern: that of a cymbal. All these little holes might be a little hard to keep clean, and thus not be very practical, but at least they look good.
Inside the 38mm steel case of the Oris Art Blakey ticks a familiar rhythm, although nothing jazzy: it beats at 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour – quite faster than a jazz movement. This comes from the Oris calibre 733, which is based on the Sellita SW200-1. One of the biggest differences between the base movement and its Oris re-interpretation is the elimination of the date window, which keeps the design nice and clean. The power reserve is 38 hours.
The strap might come as a bit of a surprise. Design-wise a black strap would be the obvious choice, but Oris chose something else. The watch comes with a brown matte calf leather strap with a folding clasp.
Prices and availability
Like all pieces in the jazz collection, the Oris Art Blakey watch comes in a limited edition; only 1,000 pieces will be made. It is now available, and the retail price is CHF 1,950. More details at oris.ch.