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