Sometimes we like to play around at the HQ.
We’re not talking about throwing balled up paper into the trash bin, ping pong, flip cup or anything nearly as wild as the Office Olympics a´ la Dunder Mifflin (although on any given Friday…).
No no, we’ve been playing with fire in the workshop, and we think the results so far are pretty cool.
Heat treatment and thermal blueing have long histories in watchmaking. Blueing is usually limited to regular steel inside the watch, on dials and hands. We’re trying to see what happens when you do the same thing to the outside on our stainless steel cases. After all, stainless doesn’t want to change colors—it’s right there in the name!
Today we’re introducing it as the Olmsted Experiment Number 1, or Olmsted ExP-01, the heat-treated first addition to a new explorative line up of Oak & Oscar watches.
The Experiment Series is an experimental line of watches where we explore different techniques and expand our horological chops. That can mean new metals, heat treatments, unique dial materials—nothing is off limits.
The experimental line is a look into our learning process and a piece of the workshop. This first round, known as ExP-01, is not the end of our heat treatment journey, but they’re too fun not to share! These experimental pieces are a taste of our curiosity, passion and commitment to trying new things.
So What Happens When You Apply Heat to the 38mm Olmsted Stainless Steel Case?
Mostly, a lot of fun! These copper, bronze colored watches are absolutely beautiful—especially paired with our dark green, no date dial. They’re part of our horological journey, and aren’t perfect, but dang it they’re not incredible and truly unique! The different surface colors, all due to a chemical reaction, are a reminder of just how cool discovering new techniques can be.
As part of this journey, we added a fancy new kiln to the shop (it gets up to 2,000° F!!) and got a chance to engage the creative side of our brains for a bit. We mixed some science, traditional watchmaking skills, and fun all into this super cool new watch.
Similar to our Matte Series, this is a limited production watch. We’ll make more one day; however, not exactly the same and likely an entirely different experiment. But therein lies the point: we’ll keep experimenting and it’ll be fun — that you can be sure of.
The finish is completely unique on every watch and will become even more personal as it patinas. For now, we’re only releasing five examples of the Olmsted ExP-01 and they’re only available at this year’s Windup Chicago from July 14 - 16, 2023.
So, what is Heat Treatment?
Heat treatment is a centuries-old technique that changes everything about steel, inside and out. Heat can make steel strong or weak, springy or brittle, and can turn it nearly any color of the rainbow. Color was originally used to determine the strength of a tempered tool, but artisans quickly realized that they can use the brilliant shades to decorate and preserve things too. Heat coloration is actually a thin film of oxidized metal, basically controlled rust, that helps preserve the metal from further corrosion.
The colors aren’t PVD or anything synthetic or automated. Every one of these cases has been transformed by hand in our workshop to reach a rich copper-ish red hue. You’ll see shades of pink, purple and even some traces of blue in the metal, all because of a microscopic oxide layer on the surface of the steel, formed at hundreds of degrees in a specialized heat-treatment kiln.
These watches will wear and patina naturally on your adventures. These experimental pieces give you a chance to be a part of our journey as we continue to push the boundaries of what we can create, and make the coolest watches we can imagine.
If you’re looking for a completely unique watch that came right out of the brains at Oak & Oscar, meet us at Windup Chicago and nab one of these super fun pieces! Again, we’ll be doing more experimentation in our workshop in the future, but this first batch is and will be truly one of a kind. We can’t wait to see them on your wrists!