The Monkey King Sun Wukong was the first subject of the Oris brand wristwatches that featured a cloisonne enamel dial, which featured a scene from the 1961 movie, The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven. This handcrafted dial captured the Dragon King's underwater palace in exquisite detail, which then became the main feature of a limited edition, 41.5-millimeter stainless steel watch that was co-created with Shanghai Animation Film Co. There are two versions of the Oris Sun Wukong watches. The first was the Limited Edition, which was released in 2021. The latest is the Artist Edition, which just came out in 2022.
In 1904, Oris was founded by Paul Cattin and Georges Christian out of Holstein, Switzerland. Together, they bought a recently closed down factory that previously belonged to Lohner & Co before entering into a contract with the local mayor to produce pocket watches. The name was inspired by a nearby brook of the same name and during the first year of operation had an employee compliment of sixty-seven people. When 1906 came around, the company opened an assembly plant and second factory in the neighboring Swiss town of Holderbank. A third factory was then opened up in Como, Switzerland two years later. By 1911, it became the largest employer in Holstein that had over three hundred people working for them. With the increasing demand of watchmakers to the company, Oris built houses and apartments to accommodate its staff. By 1929, additional factories were opened up in Courgenay, Herbertswil, and Ziefen.
During this process, the company expanded the product range from bracelet buckles and pocket watches to wristwatches. When one of the founders, Georges Christian, died in 1927, Jaques-David LeCoultre became the company's president of its board of directors. It was through him Orisi would merge with Edmon Jaeger to form Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1937. At the same time, Christian's brother-in-law, Oscar Herzog, became the general manager of the company from 1928 until 1971. It was during this time frame it opened up its own dial factory in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland that would soon see Oris producing its signature pilot's watch in 1938. At the time it was called Big Crown. This style of watch earned its name from the oversized crown, which was specifically designed to accommodate the needs of pilots so they can adjust the watch while still wearing gloves. There are variations of this particular watch style still produced today.
About the Limited Edition
According to Chinese folklore, the Monkey King from the sixteenth-century novel, Journey to the West," became an iconic figurehead. Named Sun Wukong, there has since been a spawn of many adaptations that have later resulted in movies, plays, and video games. The 1961 flick, The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven, served as an inspiration for Oris to dedicate its latest timepiece release with the collaboration to its original film studio. The 2021 Limited Edition features a clean and playful twist on the brand's cornerstone Aquis design. The 41.5-millimeter stainless steel case of this watch design currently shares the current Aquis lineup but has a handful of unique touches that make it a limited, artist edition The Aquis line's signature is a downturned semi-integrated lug and tightly packed case sides, which makes this model smaller than the numbers suggest. The deep oceanic blue hue of the ceramic bezel insert adds depth and refinement in its imagery and is a move away from the familiar solid case backs this company is usually known for. There is also a detailed engraving of Sun Wukong's face that matches his appearance in the 1961 Monkey King film. Because it is a diver's watch as it is technically an Aquis model, these timepieces have been rated to withstand three hundred meters of water resistance.
The bright and stylish dial on the Limited Edition is a departure from the Aquis standard models, which features the character's signature red and gold magic staff that twirls about when in battle. The red and yellow seconds hand is the crux of this effect, but also maintains the navy blue Oris motif. The Sellita SW200-1 based on the 733 automatic movements is what's featured in this limited edition watch. With the brand's lineup favoring modern in-house movements, this 38-hour power reserve watch also features a 28,800 BPH beat rate. The Limited Edition watch's look has the Oris signature tapering semi-integrated oyster style, stainless steel bracelet. The brightly polished outer links, plus the broad center links, mark a different character to this watch that makes it flashier than most of the other designs of watches this company has been known for. There were 2,000 of these models made and have been retailed at $2,600 USD.
About the Artist Edition
For 2022, Oris introduced the Sun Wukong Artist Edition that features a uniquely hand-painted cloisonne enamel dial that depicted a scene from the Monkey King film. This design features a beautiful example of a cloisonne technique and has a jewelry-like dial has been artfully juxtaposed with the Aquis lineup, the sturdy dive watch that has become a pillar to the Oris brand. The Artist Edition watches are priced at $27,500 USD each. This is the first time this company has catapulted into new pricing territory that now puts them in the same league as the infamous Rolex. With more cloisonne dials introduced to the consumer market, this defined decorative technique uses a thin wire to separate varying shades of vitreous enamel to create an exquisite design. This is a technique that has been dated as far back as the 12th century BC. Now in the 21st century, this frame of artwork has been modernized that sees the cloisonne enamel watch dials for the Artist Edition produced This artwork has been rendered by a Swiss artist and is done by hand, which means no two of these Artist Edition watches are going to be exactly alike with each other. This delicate process begins with a silver whare that is used to shape sectioned outlines on the dial's white gold plate. This is what creates compartments that are then filled with colored glass powder. This is then fired in a kiln at eight hundred degrees Celcius, which brings forth the result of an enamel tableau, depicting the entrance to the Dragon King's underwater palace. This whimsical theme serves to cater to fans of the company's signature diver watch, Aquis.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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