Chicago watchmaker pursues passion one tick at a time

If you're wondering what the time of day is, chances are you reach into your pocket and check your phone. But a boutique workshop on Chicago's North Side is carrying on the centuries-old art of watchmaking with no screens, no batteries and no Wi-Fi connection.

"Yes, I actually am a watchmaker," said Nathan Bobinchak, head of watchmaking at Oak & Oscar. "People don't tend to believe me right away when I say: this is what I do for work and money."

Wearing a pair of industrial magnifying glasses, Bobinchak's face bends diligently over his assembly work, comprised of dozens of tiny pieces.

"We're talking about hundreds of components," he said. "Some of them are screws that are less than a millimeter wide. Springs that are thinner than a human hair."

Oak & Oscar was founded in 2015 by Chase Fancher, who dropped his corporate job to pursue a passion.

"I've always loved watches," Fancher said. "I've always loved entrepreneurship. Put those together with some branding and it was exactly what I wanted to do."

Oak & Oscar's branding not only includes Fancher's beloved dog Oscar, but also the city he loves. 

"If you look at the back of our watches, you can see the four stars of the Chicago flag engraved in our rotor. If you're from the area and you know what that Chicago iconic symbol means, you love it," Fancher said.

In fact, Oak & Oscar's very first watch is called The Burnham, after famed Chicago architect and city planner Daniel Burnham.

"He had the quote that really drove me when I was looking to create this company and it was: 'Make no little plans, for they have no power to stir mens' blood,'" said Fancher.

Fancher describes his watches as being made the right way, not the easy way. 

"That's what's great about mechanical timepieces. Especially the ones that we make. They're meant to be serviced. They're meant to last for generations," Fancher said.

If you are interested in a watch from Oak & Oscar, visit their website. Their watches start in the $1,500 range.