Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition

Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition on its side

There are a lot of ways to tell time. For accuracy, nothing beats an iPhone. If you don’t care about accuracy, there are plenty of stylish one, two and three-handed watches without indices that’ll give you the temporal gist. But if you want to keep jazz time, there’s only one choice: the Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition watch. Here’s the legendary drummer in action . . .

OK, that’s Art Blakey playing with a band, where the percussion provides relatively straightforward musical accompaniment. Here’s a more challenging example of Mr. Blakey’s drumming:

Art keeps the beat throughout the solo. But there’s definitely less toe-tapping involved. Is that important? When it comes to jazz, it’s how the music feels that’s important. And what, pray tell, does all this have to do with the Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition watch?

Bass drum parts


Eight claws (above) secure a bass drum’s batter head to the shell. Oris’ horological homage has eight bass drum-inspired “claw” indices.

Bass drum claw

The watch face is a drum head, geddit? The jazz bit is in both their number and positioning.

Most watches arrange their major indices north, south, east and west – at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 postions. If a watch has more indices, designers jump to 12, adding markers at the 1,2,4,5,7,8,9 and 10 positions. This makes it easy to tell the time, right?

Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition watch

Unlike any other watch I’ve seen, the Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition’s eight – yes eight –  indices/claws lie at the 1,3,5,6,8 and 11 o’clock positions.

The picture above shows the limited edition Oris in the 10:10 “happy hands” configuration beloved of watchmakers’ marketing mavens. Quick! Do the time-at-a-glance thing with this pic:

Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition close-up

If it weren’t for the word ORIS, you’d probably think it was three (four?) minutes to twelve. Notice the bits that really confuse: the slightly darker hour markers on the outer ring, in their traditional positions. Here’s another temporal test:

Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition on strap

How many minutes to seven? A better question: do you care? If you do, this is not the timepiece you’re looking for.

Don’t get me wrong: you can still tell the time with Oris’ jazzy watch. Just like listening to the most extreme forms of the quintessentially American musical genre, you have to readjust your neurological pathways.

[Hint: smoke some reefer and get hip to the horology. Then, when someone asks you the time, tell them time is a subjective construct, man.]

A cymbal of watchmaking excellence

Just so you don’t totally blow your lid, Oris fitted the LE timepiece with a caseback that looks like a cymbal. Symbol? That’s cool Daddy-o!

The Art Blakey hide-hitter watch may not be as crazy as the skeletonized Oris Big Crown ProPilot, but it’s another courageously different timepiece from an increasingly inventive Swiss watch brand. That’s Jake with me.

Oris Art Blakey Limited Edition
Price: CHF 1,950 ($1965.26)
Reference: 01 733 7762 4081
Case: Oris Artelier, 38.00 mm, 1.496 inches, Stainless steel
Movement: Oris automatic calibre 733, based on the Sellita SW200-1
Dial: Silver, three-hands, eight-indices
Strap: Leather
Extras: Special box, certificate, limited to 1000 pieces

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