Oris Aquis Sun Wukong Artist Edition: Creating An Uproar (In Heaven)
by Nancy Olson
Fantasy, high artistry, and solid watchmaking whimsically coalesce in Oris’s limited edition Sun Wukong Artist Edition, the just-introduced timepiece inspired by the Chinese animated film The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven. And in a novel twist, the dial presents hand-rendered cloisonné enamel, an art form used by Oris for the first time.
“We were curious to explore a new aspect for Oris and push our own boundaries in the world of watchmaking,” said Oris co-CEO Rolf Studer of the new watch, which was created in collaboration with the Shanghai Animation Film Studio Co.
“To combine this theme of Asian origin with the art of enameling and the cloisonné technique felt very natural,” he explained. “Also, we wanted to depict the visual world of this movie as opposed to the classical themes that are often used with this [artisanal] technique.”
Further leaning into the unexpected, the brand chose the flagship no-frills dive watch Aquis as the canvas, whose ocean-hued dial décor features the mythological Dragon King’s underwater palace. The Dragon King is an integral character in the legend of the Monkey King, which dates to the sixteenth century.
“We literally took a scene from the movie – the one where the Monkey King is diving down to the Dragon King’s Palace,” explained Studer.
Cloisonné – at its most elemental – is an art form that employs thin wire to separate varying shades of vitreous enamel to create a design or picture. It has been used in jewelry making since the twelfth century BCE, and it is no stranger to watch dials, having found popularity in the collections of a number of upscale watchmakers.
And this is where Oris again covers new ground, placing the Hölstein-based brand squarely in the territory of high-end watchmakers known for their artisanal crafts rather than their ability to offer a lot of watch at a reasonable price.
A sole Swiss artisan crafts each dial, which can take three days to complete. Each is unique thanks to the vagaries of the human hand and the high temperatures (800°C) required to melt the compartmentalized glass powders on the white gold dial plate.
“I think we created a piece of art, and it has that element of quirk that we wanted,” said Studer of the part-jewelry-part-workhorse watch.
Oris Aquis Sun Wukong Artist Edition
The Sun Wukong Artist Edition has a 41.5 mm stainless steel multipiece case and a stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp. Super-LumiNova-filled hands traverse the cloisonné dial, which is devoid – smartly, I think – of numbers or indices.
The solid case back is stainless steel, screwed, and features a special engraving indicative of the watch’s theme and its individual limited edition number. It is water resistant to 300 meters, thanks in part to the screw-in crown.
Oris chose its five-day, in-house-developed automatic Caliber 400 introduced in 2020 to power the watch. Its functions include central hands for hours, minutes, and seconds. This highly antimagnetic movement has a power reserve of 120 hours via twin spring barrels, both of which have an extended mainspring and each storing about 60 hours of power.
The watch is priced at $27,500, and this, too, is unprecedented for Oris, whose timepieces have until now topped out at well under $5,000.
“We are known to give our customers a lot of watch for the money and that is certainly also the case here,” said Studer, no doubt alluding to the artistry, in-house movement, and overall cachet of the watch and its film-grounded theme.
“Our average [watch] price has risen with our own movement introduced last year – Caliber 400 – and we will extend that range,” he conceded.
But he is also quick to allay any fears that Oris will go the way of some brands, who ultimately price themselves out of the comfort zone of the fans who grew them.
“We know that for a lot of watch enthusiasts $2,000 or $3,000 is a lot of money to spend on a watch,” he said. “We will not forget these people who helped us to get where we are today.”
For more information, please visit www.oris.ch/en/watch/sun-wukong-artist-edition.
Quick Facts Oris Aquis Sun Wukong Artist Edition
Case: 41.5 mm, stainless steel
Dial: white gold with cloisonné enamel
Movement: automatic Oris Caliber 400, 120 hours of power reserve, 28,800/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds
Limitation: 72 pieces
Price: $27,500 / €23,500 / CHF 24,000
Remark: 10-year warranty