English articles

If you’re a regular GP reader, chances are you’re familar with Ochs und Junior, the Swiss watchmaking company that distills dazzlingly complex mechanical mechanisms (such as the perpetual calendar) to just a few parts, and then completely redefines the system by which they are read and understood on a watch dial. Established in 2006, Ochs und Junior, under the direction of master watchmaker Dr. Ludwig Oeschlin and cofounder Beat Weinmann, has made some of the most remarkable watches of the 21st century.

In the same way that Brutalist architecture was a reaction to the slickness of modernism, so Ochs Und Junior is a reaction to the very strict codes of traditional fine watchmaking. To understand what Dr. Oechslin and company are after – not to like it, which is a matter of personal taste, but to understand it – is impossible if you don’t view the company’s work in the larger context of the traditional practices of haute horlogerie. What Ochs Und Junior is doing is questioning those practices, and if you’ve ever found yourself feeling that fine watchmaking is maybe a little too precious for its own good, you’re beginning to have an inkling of what motivates Ochs Und Junior to create watches with surfaces that not only don’t make any effort to hide machining marks, but actually celebrate them.

Ochs und Junior is a small brand that makes watches almost exclusively to order, and only 130 or so per year, priding itself on simplicity and straightforwardness. This belies the fact that one of the co-founders, Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, is one of the greatest living minds in horology – he’s just chosen to use it to create complex things in simple ways rather than to pursue complexity for its own sake. Joining the brand’s perpetual calendar, annual calendar, date, moon phase, and travel time watches is this new astronomical watch, the Day/Night.

Ochs und Junior doesn’t make traditional watches, and the brand’s perpetual calendar doesn’t look like any QP you’ve seen before. Most traditional perpetuals use  a set of clearly marked sub-dials, a group of window-and-disc displays, or some combination of the two to clearly articulate the day, date, month, and year in the leap year cycle (sometimes the actual year and the phases of the moon too). Instead, this watch uses nothing more than concentric sets of dots – there’s not a numeral or letter in sight.

“As minimal as it is functional, Ochs Und Junior’s Perpetual Calendar displays the date with a dot on its outer ring — including 28 or 29 days in February, leap year or not — along with the current month, represented by the inner disk’s outermost dot pointing to a time (for instance, pointing to 3PM means March).”

Ochs und Junior is unlike any other watch brand. The pared-down aesthetic and mechanical discipline almost border on austerity, but combined with a sense of levity and creativity they make the brand one of my personal favorites. Today, Ochs und Junior is launching a major update to its much-loved customizer tool (which we first covered here) that brings a new watch and a number of new features to the party.

Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, however, has tended to go in exactly the opposite direction in his work with Ochs und Junior, and has made a specialty of making complicated watches that use an absolute minimum of parts, in combination with novel solutions to the display of information that make it possible to achieve that reduction. His most recent achievement is the new Perpetual Calendar from Ochs und Junior, which implements a full perpetual calendar in a watch with only nine additional parts.

Ochs und Junior is one of those companies that manages to make its presence actually seem necessary, in a world (mechanical horology) of questionable necessity overall.  They are, on one level, a modest little outfit turning out a few, unobtrusive, design-forward, insider timepieces per year; on another level, they’re one of the most genuinely subversive luxury watch manufacturers out there.

One man that definitely likes the challenge of reducing complexity is the brain behind Ochs und Junior, Ludwig Oechslin. The MIH watch, the Ulysse Nardin Astrolabium Galileo Galilei, the Ulysse Nardin Dual Direct escapement, and every Ochs und Junior timepiece are evidence of his passion for simplifying complexity while retaining functionality.

This approach to watch customization can only be offered by the likes of Ochs Und Junior. They are not driven by increasing profits and growing a customer base, hence their lack of marketing and sales teams. They take a truly intimate approach with the customer, and take the time to get it right. The new online tool is an extension of that passion, and one that opens the door to discovery far beyond the reach of their studio in Lucerne.

“All of my prior experiences and background, including the astronomical timepieces for Ulysse Nardin, were necessary in order to reach the simplest result with the most precise calculation and the least number of parts used.”

-Ludwig Oechslin, about the ochs und junior moon phase

“Although I’ve always had a passion for watches, I am not a watch collector. Over a period of time, I noticed that I like watches that I can actually wear on a daily basis. A watch needs to be special for me, but not so special that it’s to delicate to wear. When I came across ochs und junior and learnt more about the company and their watches, I decided that at some point my only watch would be an ochs und junior. One watch to wear every day, on every occasion.”

– Reader’s Story On The Ochs Und Junior Mese Watch

French articles

Considéré comme l’un des plus grands spécialistes des mouvements mécaniques complexes, Ludwig Oechslin a été durant plus de dix ans à la tête du Musée international d’horlogerie de La Chaux-de-Fonds. A la veille de son départ, il porte un regard affûté sur l’horlogerie suisse.

“Mon but premier n’est pas de faire des choses simples. Je veux en fait fabriquer les montres les plus fiables possibles. Il faut pour cela utiliser le moins de compo- sants possible.” – Ludwig Oechslin

Italian articles

Che il tre sia considerato il numero perfetto lo sappiamo dal I secolo avanti Cristo, ma è solo dal 2012 che con le stesse unità Ludwig Oechslin riesce a costruire un calendario annuale. Alla Ochs und Junior di Lucerna che ho visitato qualche anno fa, dopo il modello da 42mm e da 39mm è ora disponibile una nuova versione da 36 mm.

Considerato uno dei più grandi specialisti dei movimenti meccanici complessi, Ludwig Oechslin è stato per oltre un decennio il direttore del Museo internazionale dell’orologeria di La Chaux-de-Fonds. Alla vigilia della sua partenza, getta uno sguardo critico sull’orologeria svizzera.

Rigorosa Semplicita’ Svizzera. Piu’ Minimalista Di Cosi’ Non Si Puo’! ochs und junior Ha Recentemente Presentato Il Suo Ultimo “Gioiello”: L’orologio annual calendar brass.

…dietro al loro messaggio di semplicità a tutti i costi, sono davvero complicati: Ludwig Ochs li progetta senza seguire i classici schemi dell’orologeria fatti di leve ruote e camme, ma sfruttando il segreto custodito dai ruotismi epicicloidali e la pura matematica – “Arte” che al loro creatore non manca visto che essendo laureato, prima di Maestro Orologiaio Ochs andrebbe chiamato “Professore”.

Russian articles

Когда мы видим несколько сотен миниатюрных колес, рычагов, пружин, осей, камней и прочих составляющих механизма, которые затем волшебным образом соединяются в сложнейшую конструкцию, то проникаемся уважением к таланту мастера. Однако это удивление исполнением, а не идеей. Это уважение к кропотливости и точности движений, а не восхищение красотой мысли. Величайший изобретатель Возрождения леонардо да Винчи писал: «Простота — это то, что труднее всего на свете; это крайний предел опытности и последнее усилие гения». С тем, что труднее всего на свете, великолепно справляется гений людвига Окслина – выдающегося часового изобретателя современности.

Czech articles

Spíše než o komplikacích bychom tedy měli mluvit o přídavných mechanismech. A právě vymyslet mechanismus, který dokáže zobrazit požadovanou klasickou hodinářskou funkci, jako je věčný kalendář, měsíční fáze nebo druhá časová zóna, úplně jinak, než se to dělalo doposud, a až neuvěřitelně jednoduchým způsobem, je hlavní ambicí Ludwiga Oechslina a Ochs und Junior.

Danish articles

“I en verden, hvor det ofte handler om at råbe højest eller se ud af mest, forsøger et lille og højst ukendt mærke at definere sit bud på subtile luksusure uden synlige logoer, men med noget af det fineste håndværk. Kom indenfor hos schweiziske Ochs und Junior, der sælger ca. 130 special­ fremstillede mekaniske ure om året fra sin diskrete adresse i Luzern.”