Some impressions of my Ochs und Junior Anno 50... (longer than I intended...)

Jul 12, 2009,04:24 AM

Dear All:

I promised it already when I reported from me taking possession of the Ochs und Junior Anno 50 (please click here). I was quite busy recently, but finally, here we are!

The Ochs und Junior Anno 50, as I am sure you know by now, is a minimalist annual calendar constructed by Ludwig Oechslin. The indications show:

  • the dots on the outer circumfence: the date (clockwise)
  • the dots on the top circle: the month (counterclockwise)
  • the dots on the bottom circle: the weekday (counterclockwise, you can decide which day it is)

More on the mechanisms in a separate article!

The timepiece is driven by an in-house automatic movement by Paul Gerber (see more below). Gerber also industrialised the entire watch based on Oechslin's construction and manufactures it is his workshop in Zurich. The whole project is coordinated by Beat Weinmann of Embassy in Lucerne.

This is the core team that already gained fame with the MIH watch.

But now back to the watch. I should note that I was so impatient to obtain my watch that I finally requested to be given a prototype, so if there are some imperfections please blame it on me.

The Case:
The Anno 50 is dressed in a case which I would call reduced to the max. With a diameter of 43mm and a height of 12.5mm, it consists of only two extremely precisely machined pieces: body (no bezel!) and back. In my case (pun intended) it is made of silver, but both red and white gold are available as well:

The machining of the case should be done, as per Ludwig Oechslin's imperative, without compromises, that means as precise as possible without needing a movement ring. In fact, what Oechslin had in mind was a pure case, a case where the machining was of such a high level that post-production finishing would not be necessary.

Of course, this would not mean that it will look like a typical high quality case with its highly polished and/or matte surfaces. . On the contrary, the case should tell the story of its manufacturing process: vestiges of machining would be visible as a manifestation of the high production quality. The Ochs und Junior team did not want to polish away this craftsmanship.

Several case makers were contacted, but none was able (or willing?) to produce the desired. A non-conformist solution was required. Beat Weinmann knew a man who would be able (and willing) to deliver: Peter Cantieni, owner of a precision engineering workshop east of Zurich. He produces highest precision parts for several Formula 1 racing teams, the aerospace industry and also for newsprint machines. Beat also realised high tech bicycles with him a couple of years back.

And Peter delivered! The case you see here is fresh and directly from the CNC machine...

Please note the slight traces from drilling, which make each case a piece unique:

The Dial:
White gold is also the material of the dial. White gold?? Mind you, it is not plated or chemically coloured! The fascinatingly cool blue-grey shade is achieved by heating the raw dial at a very high temperature for a precisely defined amount of time. Oechslin treats the dials himself at home. Since each single dial is slightly different from the other, imbuing each watch with a distinct personality:

The hands are crafted from white gold. Note that each hand has the same diameter on the axis:

The Strap:
The hand-stitched strap, which comes in dark brown (for red gold watches) and black (for silver and white gold watches), is again special in the sense that environmentally (and skin) friendly materials are chosen. It is is fashioned by Camille Fournet from European cowhide (produced by Ecopell in Germany) which has been tanned by use of ecologically compatible and heavy metal free plant extracts.

The lighter-coloured leather on the inside of the strap for example has been tanned using rhubarb; it has a wonderful fragrance and a low propensity to induce transpiration of the skin. I tested it, it works!

The Ochs und Junior logo is applied by Oechslin's son Giorgio using a heated punching tool (true 'branding'):

The Movement:
Originally, it was not planned to use an in-house movement for this watch. Ludwig Oechslin considers the existing options, mainly ETA, as fantastic and reliable engines to drive something far more interesting for him, that is unusual and intellectually complex, but mechanically simple mechanisms.

So how come that this watch is driven by an exciting automatic movement developed by Paul Gerber, sporting a splendid 100h of power reserve? Well, back in 2007 the supply of ETA movements was more than questionable in the context of Swatch's announcement to cut deliveries to non-Swatch Group brands in the future. So, Beat Weinmann nervously called Paul Gerber and asked to construct a new movement from scratch. Paul's short reply: "What do you think I am doing since a couple of weeks?" - and so it went...:

The rotor is made employing the same materials and processes as described above for the dial. Via a gearing system, it feeds its energy into two mainspring barrels, which together guarantee the 100h power reserve. You might find the thick ball bearing of the intermediary wheel kind of odd, but so far Gerber could not find a flatter piece robust enough. But he is still hunting...

Gerber invented a novel micrometric regulator that works via an eccentric screw, which makes it unique-looking. More on this in a later article!

The surfaces of the bridges are without obvious decorative elements, but carefully glass-bead blasted, and the edges are hand-chamfered and polished. The screw heads are flat-polished, and even their slots are chamfered and machined. Resembling the style of the old German and English masters, it has been successfully employed also by Girard-Perregaux's subsidiary JeanRichard in their Minute Repeater. What a dramatic arrangement!

The engraving of the movement number follows the overall reduced style, but is realised in remarkably clean execution:

Well, that's for now. I fell deeply in love with it, and I will not part with it. I also do not regret the small inconsistencies and faults of my pre-series piece. The add character, remind me on the difficult birth of this watch, and make my watch as close to Oechslin's ideals as possible.

I hope I could convey some useful impressions on this unique watch.


More posts: MIHPaul Gerber

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Comments: view entire thread


I use the hands ;-) NT

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : July 12th, 2009-09:05
no text

Ronald, in this pic the minute hand is just covering one...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : July 14th, 2009-00:29
note that this is an even earlier prototype: Best, Magnus...  

Wonderful, Personal Post, Magnus

 By: Douglas : July 12th, 2009-06:03
Great, Magnus. Several areas attracted me to the Ochs und Junior, but the two key points: One, it is meant to be a very personal watch, involving the wear in the 'time' that defines his/her life; and, two, it is a watch, created by geniuses yet without th... 

I don't know what to say...

 By: ling5hk : July 12th, 2009-08:33
With all due respect to the genius behind this watch (that is why I bought MIH), it would only classify this watch as a fun watch with unique mechanism and dial layout. It is not practical at all as compared to MIH. One needs to do "calculation" before da... 

The counter-clock wise arrangement of month and day...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : July 12th, 2009-09:08
was necessary to keep the number of moving parts down to three. Thus, it would spoil Ludwig Oechslin's concept of pureness. It is in fact a very short time required to adjust to this, certainly much less than adjusting to a new car or a new mobile phone. ... 

It is interesting to know...

 By: ling5hk : July 12th, 2009-18:24
if the arrangement of month and day is clock wise, how many additional parts are required? Of course, if you wear that watch everyday, you will get used to it. But I am sure with the intelligence of the creators behind this watch, improvement is still pos... 

Depending on the arrangement on the dial, at least 66% more parts...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : July 12th, 2009-23:22
would be required: two, one additional disk for each indication (month, weekday). In such a case the dials would not be symmetrically arranged. If you want that as well, it becomes easily much more. However, this would adulterate a major objective of the ... 

To me, this watch has been compromised by its design.

 By: ling5hk : July 13th, 2009-15:57
I don't care about the world record. But I care the geniune intention and true spirit behind the team. Your example is only good when the crown of the watch is moved from right to left. ( compare right hand drive to left hand drive) And I know you like th... 

Magnus thank you for a.................

 By: Topcat30093 : July 12th, 2009-10:51
Nicely constructive report.

Excellent post, thanks...

 By: polarbear1990 : July 12th, 2009-10:26
Congratulations on your new "Ox"...wear it in the best of health! Myself, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my settimana junior. Smart man, I didn't think to ask for a prototype :^)

Great pictorial report!

 By: glickman : July 12th, 2009-11:30
Thank you, Magnus, for enabling us to get much closer to the a50. There is a lot to absorb here. BTW, there are now photos of the Gold a50 models on I am drawn to the story and the aesthetic of Ochs und Junior. The displays seem perfectly... 

Marcus, a fabulous report, but the watch doesnt sing to me

 By: G99 : July 12th, 2009-12:03
Ludwig Oeschlin is a genius in my eyes and i own the freak, the Ludwig perpetual and MIH, but this just doesnt do anything for me. i appreciate the in house movement and the concept, but i just dont like it...........yet. Graham

Pleased to meet you & see the a50(s)!

 By: dnanian : July 18th, 2009-07:15
You can always spot a Oechslin fan, and Roger noticed me waiting for the same meeting with a telltale sign: my MIH watch. Alas, by the time we got there, Paul Gerber had already left to visit another state, Beat was kind enough to spend quite a few hours ... 


 By: glickman : July 18th, 2009-12:15
Great to meet you too, David. To me there were no surprises at our meeting with BW. I am captivated by the a50. I get it. It works. The Ochs und Junior team have, in a relatively short time, created a brand of distinction. It starts and ends with the watc... 

a BIG congrats!

 By: monochrome : July 12th, 2009-14:43
Congrats Magnus. That is a stunning watch and i love the whole idea about it. The design is also very nice. Wear it in good health

An extremely interesting and heartfelt review...

 By: pingtsai : July 12th, 2009-14:57
Thank you Magnus for sharing it with us. I think it is admirable how Mr. Oechslin remained steadfast in his vision, and it certainly was a unique one at that as is always with his watches. The simple, raw, industrial, look of the case is quite a refreshin... 

Congrats Magnus!

 By: SJX : July 12th, 2009-17:26
It's a very unique watch and I did not expect any less from the creators of the MIH timepiece. - SJX

This is what it's all about, Magnus

 By: Mostel : July 12th, 2009-20:36
Such a personal story, such a personal watch. I am reminded why I love watches and collecting when I read these kinds of reports.

A question about the movement.

 By: Mitch K : July 12th, 2009-22:24
I understand that Paul Gerber is going to be producing a watch with his Caliber 41, the same movement as in this watch. It is my understanding that in his watch, Paul is going to construct it so that the owner can (by the push of a pusher) can switch betw... 

You are correct...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : July 12th, 2009-23:30
that Paul Gerber' watch will have a switchable Dead Seconds complication. And another one... But both of them will be exclusive to Paul's own watches (and above all fit their philosophy much better). As to the pricing, here we are (taken from the Ochs und... 

Thanks for the information... but you tantalize with the hint of an added

 By: Mitch K : July 13th, 2009-07:37
complication in Gerber's watch. I think that I know what you are referring to but will patiently wait until fully revealed by Paul or ... Mitch This message has been edited by Mitch K on 2009-07-13 07:53:10

Great post!

 By: VMM : July 13th, 2009-01:27
It's funny to see the "masters" doing their "job" Thanks for sharing. Vte

I am somehow ambivalent to this watch...

 By: DonCorson : July 13th, 2009-12:53
I love the industrial, but with attention to details, finishing of the movement. And, of course, Oechslins radical purism in the mechanism. I like the idea of the case, even if the actual form I'm not so crazy about. But that dial does absolutely nothing ... 

I am too.

 By: J_Warden : July 13th, 2009-15:25
And I agree, Don - it could be so much better. I have read the reports of the development of this watch with great interest. When I heard the MIH team was at it again I was very excited, but I'm afraid this watch is just trying too hard. I can't help but ...  

Dear Jeff, thanks for your critical comments!

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : July 14th, 2009-00:27
I understand where you are coming from. The MIH watch is indeed much more self-explanatory as the Anno 50. however, the watches have similar but different objectives: While both aim to the work with the smallest number of parts possible for their respecti...  

Hi Magnus,

 By: J_Warden : July 14th, 2009-05:55
Thanks again for your comments. I bet this case looks pretty cool when in movement outdoors, so the light catches the toolpaths. It would be really cool if there were a video on the maker's web page showing the play of light on this case, but then again I...