Where other brands choose the path towards complexity and try to outdo one another in parts count, Ochs & Junior goes the opposite direction. In a literal pursuit of simplicity, the independent watchmaking brand is famous for doing extremely creative things with as little as possible. This includes an Annual Calendar with only 3 moving parts and an extremely accurate moonphase indication using only 5 components. Slightly breaking with tradition, as the latest series of watches will not be customizable, Ochs & Junior continues its dedication to simplification with the new Ochs & Junior Calendario Cent’Anni CCA Perpetual Calendar.
Collectors and enthusiasts familiar with the brand will know the history and philosophy, yet it remains a fascinating story to tell. Ochs & Junior is the brainchild of Dr Ludwig Oechslin, a legendary name within the watchmaking world. The Ulysse Nardin Freak is widely regarded as his biggest achievement, since it was the first production watch ever to use silicon components. Following his extensive work for Ulysse Nardin, Dr Oechslin started his own watchmaking project with partners Beat Weinman and Kurt König in 2006, under the name Ochs & Junior. Today the company is under full control of the Oechslin family.
In 15 years, the company has been well and truly dedicated to the “less is more” approach in design and watchmaking. Ochs & Junior have created a world of “uncomplicated complications” with several superbly innovative watches as a result. It seems like a contradictio in terminis and you’d be absolutely right, but there’s a method to Dr Oechlin’s madness. As displayed by previous watches by Ochs & Junior, the concept is to radically simplify a complication. Not only by means of indication but more importantly by means of the number of components needed or adjusted. This is evidenced by an annual calendar requiring only three moving parts, or an extremely accurate moonphase with only 5 components. And to top it all off, there’s even a Perpetual Calendar watch in the collection with only 9 new and 3 modified parts.
Today we are taking a look at the latest model within the Ochs & Junior universe, the Calendario Cent’Anni, or CCA. This follows in line with the rest of the collection in terms of design and execution, but will not be available as a customizable watch. The only option available is a black PVD coating on the otherwise blank 40mm Grade 5 titanium case. Regarding that case, it is a very simplistic two-part design with zero finishing. Well, that’s not entirely true, as Ochs & Junior keep the machining and milling traces as an industrial finish. The case has very short lugs, partially tucking the strap underneath the top half of the case. The grade 5 titanium crown screws down, ensuring a 100m water resistance. Of course, a sapphire crystal covers the dial and hands.
The Ochs & Junior CCA, as we’ll call it, comes in three different combinations for the dial and hands. Two variations have black dials, and one comes in white, with varying contrasting indications. The black ones are set apart with either Arabic numerals or stick markers in white for the hours. The remaining indications include white markings for the month and leap year display, and Pantone yellow markings for the date and seconds indication. The white dial CCA has sharply contrasting black hands and indicators for the month and leap year, alternated with Pantone orange for the date and seconds.
Hours and minutes are displayed traditionally, by central hands. The small seconds is indicated with a rotating disc, mounted flush with the dial and positioned at 6 o’clock. The display for the perpetual calendar somewhat hints at the ingenious system requiring only nine parts hidden underneath the dial. The date is shown via a travelling coloured dot underneath a spiral of squared apertures. The calendar module compensates for the length of each month, including the 28 days of February (or 29 during a leap year). On the same axis as the hours and minutes hand, you’ll find the disc for the months. A small dot aligns with 12 markings on the outside of the disc to display which month it currently is. The final indication is the leap year indicator, the small disc on the inside of the month disc. When the mark on the disc aligns with the dot and the marking for the month it is a leap year.
The beauty of the mechanism that drives the calendar display is mounted on the back side of the dial, eliminating the need for several components in a traditional calendar module or movement. Basically, it doubles as a plate, and thus serves as one of the nine components. The complete module consists of:
- Brass dial in with functional back
- Date disc
- Annual star wheel
- Main plate
- Gear wheel
- Month wheel
- Gear “finger”
- Transmission wheel for month end
- Wheel for month end
The entire module, driven by the base calibre, will be accurate for 100 years, as the name Calendario Cent’Anni indicates (and basically like all regular perpetual calendar watches). The base calibre is sourced from Ulysse Nardin, a nod to Dr Oechslin’s watchmaking roots. The Calibre UN 320 is an automatic movement and displays the hours and minutes, small seconds and the date. It runs at a frequency of 28,800vph, or 4Hz, and has a 48h power reserve. Normally you would expect to be able to see the movement through a sapphire caseback but with Ochs & Junior it is hidden beneath the bottom part of the two-part case. Another element of the simplistic design philosophy in Ochs & Junior watches.
The Ochs & Junior Calendario Cent’Anni “CCA” comes on a synthetic textile strap with a grade 5 titanium buckle. The design of the buckle is again a touch of simplicity, as it tucks in the strap end underneath the other end, and thus has no keepers or loops to secure the otherwise loose end.
Despite the fact that you might expect vast customization options given the history of Ochs & Junior, the Calendario Cent’Anni comes in three fixed colour combinations. As said the only option is to have the titanium case treated with a black PVD coating. Each variation retails for CHF 16,500 and is covered by a full 2-year warranty of the entire watch and a lifetime warranty on the calendar module developed by Dr Ludwig Oechslin.
While this certainly isn’t cheap, one should very much take the level of engineering required into consideration. Leaving out parts sounds like an easy enough thing to do, but making it run perfectly and accurate for 100 years is not a simple thing to achieve. So in all fairness to Ochs & Junior, such a watch with QP seems fairly priced at this level.
More information and orders from www.ochsundjunior.swiss.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.