The OBIEs (the first series from the Oberlin Watch Company) have been incredibly popular, and needless to say it is nice to see that it has been such a success. But as a watch nerd, I really wanted something a bit more classic, with some nods to the original watch commissioned by the Oberlin Pharmaceutical Company of France as a promotional gift for doctors and pharmacists -
But I also wanted to give a nod to an important event in Oberlin's history. Now other watch nerds think of the Great Kipton Train Wreck and want to tie connections to that awful event that jumpstarted the improvement of watches and timekeeping on the railroads of the US. And although the new Oberlin 1858 might be somewhat reminiscent of what we refer to as a railroad watch, it was actually a different railroad that I had in mind when naming this new time machine.
In 1858, John Price had managed to escape slavery and was living and working in Oberlin, Ohio. An acquaintance of Mr. Price's "owner" passed the word that he was in Oberlin, and a slave catcher named Anderson Jennings found his way to Northern Ohio, where Price was tricked, and abducted by Jennings and his henchmen and spirited off to Wellington. Why Wellington? It was the closest rail depot with a train heading south, so Mr. Price's abductors checked into the Wadsworth House (a hotel in Wellington) with he intention of hopping the first thing smoking south. The people of Oberlin had other ideas.
A rescue party was quickly organized, and Mr. Price was rescued from his erstwhile captors and returned to Oberlin, where he was hidden in the home of future Oberlin College president, James H. Fairchild before he was carried on a different "railroad", one that carried him to freedom in Canada. It just so happened that while Oberlin was not a railway depot of any real significance for freight, livestock, or even commuters, it was an important departure point to Canada, and in some ways one of the more important stops on the Underground Railroad.
My friend Armand Billard, of Sartory Billard was kind enough to create a modern take on the original Oberlin pocket chronograph. And another friend, D.N. Mason has created some truly wonderful artwork to help tell this story.
In truth, this is the watch I wanted to make for myself, and my friends. And I am happy and proud to offer it to friends who as yet are unmet!
If you wish to preorder the 1858, you can do so with a deposit of $58 US, with a final price of $285. The preorder period will end on December 15th.