Ever been a guinea pig for watches? Well, that might happen if Ludwig Oechslin appears!

Feb 07, 2010,03:24 AM

Dear All:

I wanted to share this story with you since quite some time, but the dodgy thing with time is its fugacious nature... So it did not happen so far.

But the positive things with time's passing is that sometimes it brings its benefit. More on that further down.

The story begins on a saturday in October 2009. I was in transit in Zurich and had some convenient hours to spend before my plane back to Vienna would depart. I called Beat Weinmann, one of the men behind the MIH project and the Ochs und Junior platform. Beat suggested to meet for a coffee, and so I found myself in the next train to Lucerne.

We decided to make best use of the still comfortable weather and seated ourselves on the terasse of Lucerne's Concert Hall, an architectural skuplture created by architects Jean Nouvel and Emmanuel Cattan.

While exchanging news and chatting, Beat's iPhone rang. It was Ludwig Oechslin! And since he was in Lucerne as well (what a coincidence!) he swiftly decided to join us.

Now, meeting Ludwig is always an endeavour with an unpredictable outcome. He is constantly on the run, thinking, conceptualising, realising. He wears a functional vest with many pockets, and all these pockets are full with 'stuff': smartphones, calculators and prototypes for new watches. What marvel would he produce this time out of his idea's chest? Well...

Ludwig has a network of good friends scattered all over the globe. Being himself not the greatest fan of long-distance travelling, he keeps contact with them mostly via phone. But of course you don't want to call them in the middle of the night - so a dual time zone watch is needed!

As we all are aware there is a huge selection of models available on the market. But Oechslin wanted to have one that displays two time zone with one set of hands, one one view.

So, he did what he always does, he retreats into his 'laboratory' at home, thinks, draws and produces a prototype.

This is how the Ochs und Junior La Due Ore is born. It does not only display different timezones at a glance, it also uses less parts than its base movement has! Ludwig once again came up with a minimalist solution.

We continued our chat, and I mentioned that I would soon leave for intensive business travels to Latin America and Southeast Asia. 'Magnus', Ludwig said, 'you are the right person to test-ride a prototype of the La Due Ore in the field - would you agree?'

Counterquestion: Would you say 'no'? The logistics were quickly agreed on with Beat and Ludwig, and I was promised the prototype as a loan within short time!

Fast forward a couple of weeks. My departure was drawing closer, still no news. Then a call from Beat: Ludwig finished your watch!

It arrived literally hours before my flight. There it was - and what a beauty:

Attention, warning! The following contains images of objects in their raw state. No measures have been enacted to conceal the brute intrinsic tell-tale signs of their origin and nature. If objects left without polishing, make-up and coatings are offensive for you, you are advised to close this windows (or at least look only at the images in the second part of this post)!

The watch is on the first view a simple 3-hand watch. But take a close look and you'll see 12 small windows at each hour index. Beneath is a time wheel which you can set to display the second timezone:

Now here comes the ingenious concept Ludwig has devised: The time wheel carrying 12 hours indications replaces the date ring of the base movement. Those can be advanced in 1 hour increments via the former date-setting mechanism of the movement. The click which normally would advance the date at midnight has been removed.

This is why the watch actually has less parts than the standard base movement (Beat and Ludwig opted for the ETA 2824 as the engine driving this watch -its reliable, robust and available).

From the above it is obvious how to use and set the watch. To set the time difference of the second time zone, pull out the crown one click and turn it until the aperture marked by the orange dot shows the correct number of hours' difference. Now pull out the crown a second click to set the time of day. Done!

Since the watch has no date, it can be used either as 'stay at home' or as 'travel' second time zone watch.

This watch is special, it is home made: it has been entirely made by Ludwig in his 'laboratory' in the cellar of his house: case, dial, the modification of the movement. You can clearly see the difference to the known Ochs und Junior watches. This one is really raw - but it is a prototype, a mechanical study, and it is not for sale.

There are bold traces of machining, inconsistencies in the heat treated german sivler dial. Noticed the small dark spots? These actually stem from miniscule inclusions of oxygen in the gold, which exploded because of the heat.

The case is silver, is 39mm in diameter and executed in the typical Ochs und Junior fashion with only two parts: a combined bezel and case band, and a back plate with lugs. I personally find this case the most refined and elegant of all Ochs und Junior watches, the relative dimensions of the elements to each other have reached an unprecedented harmony:

Again, look at the marks on the case. Its in stark contrast to the production pieces of Ochs und Junior, and it gives a good imporession on the overall exactness of the latter. I personally like the unpolished charme of this prototype, and especially the fact that it has been made by Oechslin himself, at home and on his own machinery.

This is like owning a Giacometti statue!

As will all Ochs und Junior watches, it is fitted with either a rubber or, as in this case, with a vegetably tanned leather strap carrying their branded logo. If you look closely, you will realised that they meanwhile created a punching tool that is not mirrored anymore:

The strap was initially another miracle to me. Look at the tang buckle - how is one supposed to strap this on?

Like this! You pull the needle through the correct hole in the strap, and then, similar to some deployant clasps, you fold the remaining parts of the strap through the clasp below the other. Oechslin designed it this way because it reduced the danger of losing your watch in case the buckle opens. Also, you need two parts less: there are no flaps needed to secure the remaining strap part.

As I said, I consider this the most harmonious case of all the Ochs und Junior watches. It just sings to me. But how did it fare in real life?

I found it to be a versatile und unusual travel watch. It is unobtrusive, and it is one of the extremely rare cases where you wear a price of art on your wrist. Uncompromised!

Sure, due to its reduced-to-the-max concept, the second time zone can only be advanced, but not set back. Also, it does not have a 24h indication. And after all, human beings have a brain to use for thinking. Don't we already rely too much on 'pre-digested' information?

I am fascinated by the very straightforward approach to this type of complication, and that fact this it is realised actually by exchanging one part and taking away a few others. The solution is simply compelling, and allows the watch to be used as a watch to time events far away, or nagivate through timezones while on the road. I discovered its only a question of seconds to set it to any timezone I desired.

So everything is golden and shiny? No, there were some quirks I noticed: First of all, the contrast on the time wheel (the engravings of the numbers on the second timezone disc) was to low. Under certain lightning condition, I could not even detect any number. This is due to the choice of german silver for dial and time disk, which does not yield to such high a contrast.

Secondly, the watch uses the MIH watch's crown, which is quite large in diameter and has some rough edges. While this is not a problem with the rather substantial height of the MIH watch (and also the Anno 50 that uses the crown as well), the low profile of the La Due Ore leaves the crown closer on the wrist. Marks were left on my skin (you can see them even on the last pic above).

Finally, the base movement had an out-of-factory defect in the keyless works, but this is just bad luck and has nothing to do with Ludwig Oechslin's work.

A few months later: where do we stand now?
Ochs und Junior have decided to create an outlet for Ludwig Oechslin's ideas. As he is constantly onto something, creating, imporoving, developing, there is a lot to show.

Ludwig's Ideas Chest is an additional platform to Ochs und Junior and is devised to allow interested aficionados to take part in his thought process and developing work. Powered by a reliable ETA movement, Ludwigs' ideas chest will be the platform for timepieces being built as one-offs or in small series.

Every ochs und junior product is rooted in an idea. From idea to product takes a vast spectrum of development work. Ludwig's ideas chest presents watches as case studies or pilot products of this development work. Thus each watch of this series will represent a different stage of development. The watches will be examples of how an idea becomes a product – a completely different product to the one originally conceived.

And this now closes the circle. The La Due Ore will be the first out of the chest. As I will demonstrate below, much of the experience gained during test-driving it has been implemented. Please note that the following pics were sent to me by Beat Weinmann (they are taken by Beat's wife Bea), and that I have not seen the final watch in the flesh myself.

The case is now made by Peter Cantieni (as mentioned above). Its as much directly out of the machine as Ludwig's own version - you get a good idea about the primary workmanship quality Peter achieves.

Furthermore, the crown now is modifed with an anglage to reduce the sharpness of its rim:

The treatment of the dial has been further developed, and contrast is a non-issue now. As with previous Ochs und Junior watches, white gold is now used and heat treated. The experiment with german silver was abandoned. You can read it well at almost all types of light:

The watch above is made in titanium. Why titanium? There is a nice story to this. I suggested to Beat and Ludwig that a travel watch should come in a metal which is guaranteed to cope serenely with Asia's challenging climates (or any other tropical/sub-tropical climate). Steel or titanium? The choice between titanium and stainless steel was decided by a flip of a coin - titanium won!

In addition to titanium watch will be available also in silver.

Judging from these pics, the watch seems to have gained even more in its appeal - to me that is. Its obviously not for everyone's taste.

I myself was grateful to being able to participate to some extent to the development of this timepiece. It has been a unique and very satisfying experience.

I hope you liked my report.

This message has been edited by Magnus Bosse on 2010-02-07 03:44:18

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What a wonderful post Magnus

 By: gazoz : February 7th, 2010-03:43
what an honour it would be to test drive a watch for Ludwig this would be a thrill for anyone so you are a lucky person as to the watch it looks neat and simple i would like to see it in the flesh before i put my verdict, thankyou for a great story and th... 

Thank you

 By: flamenco : February 7th, 2010-05:04
As always, its a joy to read your posts !! And wat an honour Magnus !!

Thanks Magnus. I must say, this is a very friendly

 By: ArthurSG : February 7th, 2010-08:23
dual time watch. And in Titanium, it should be resonably priced. i have to ask Beat about this!

First of all, thank you.

 By: VMM : February 7th, 2010-10:43
Wow, I really love this kind os post. So fresh, with new creations, excellent pictures and great stories. That new creations looks very attractive to me. So simply and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Vte

Dualtimezone simplicity

 By: hans_jorgen_1968 : February 7th, 2010-10:45
Thankyou Magnus For a very good post with some brilliant pictures an history on a very well thought trough dul-timezone watch that now is on my wishlist Best regards Hans

MANY thanks

 By: aldossari_faisal : February 7th, 2010-12:48
i so loved your report as much as i loved the watch just wish it was one mm larger. Faisal

Fantastic report, thanks.

 By: donizetti : February 7th, 2010-12:51
I wonder what else is in Oechslin#s vest! Best Andreas

fantastic, thanks Magnus

 By: ChristianDK : February 7th, 2010-15:24

Thanks for the story - it reminds me of another Ludwig story.

 By: Mitch K : February 7th, 2010-21:10
A number of years ago, I was attending a dinner with Rolf Schnyder. At the dinner, Rolf was wearing a watch that was extraordinarily rough. The whole piece looked like it had just been thrown together, in a beaten up brass case on a cloth strap. The dial ... 

Thanks so much for sharing this, Magnus!

 By: Gary G : February 7th, 2010-22:16
A wonderful story, and a very appealing watch -- how wonderful to have been involved in its development! Best, Gary

What an amazing write up of a fascinating watch

 By: Mostel : February 7th, 2010-22:55
Thank you so much! So unusual and human. I have to say, I LOVE the first RAW watch, and if I ever were to order one, I would wonder if I could get one with that fantastic raw finish... in a way, I even prefer the raw, first dial, too! It is like some apoc... 

m still blown away...

 By: ChristianDK : February 8th, 2010-11:38
Im still blown away by this watch since I saw this post yesterday. I have been checking the Ochs website several times today. I am however a bit shocked by the price of the calendar piece, but I guess since this is eta based and a relatively simple ( but ... 


 By: gweilgi : February 10th, 2010-15:15
As far as I know, Embassy only has stores in Lucerne and St Moritz.... Regards, Alex

right you are

 By: ChristianDK : February 10th, 2010-16:01
my mistake Christian

Very interesting report

 By: Geo : February 8th, 2010-07:06
Thanks for putting it all together. And what a simple way of two timezones, really godlooking watch. GEO

Great story...

 By: monochrome : February 8th, 2010-07:52
and thanx so much for sharing this Magnus! I just love this sollution for a second time zone, like Oechslin's other ideas it's great in simplicity or maybe i should call it pragmatic. Love it... and love to get a closer look of these watches.

What a marvellous story........................

 By: Topcat30093 : February 8th, 2010-08:35
And a piece of history in the making.

Great report.

 By: Massi : February 8th, 2010-22:59
I am a fan of this new brand, especially of the anno cinquanta, which unfortunately is out of my budget. I hope this new GMT is more affordable, because I think it is their best piece so far, at least aesthetically speaking. Thanks for sharing your nice s... 

This watch will definitely attract young women ...

 By: Marcus Hanke : February 9th, 2010-03:29
... because it looks as if hammered by the local horse blacksmith, and we all know that girls are crazy for everything connected with horses . Its finish quality left aside, it is indeed a great watch! Best regards, Marcus This message has been edited by ... 

love the concept

 By: Tony A.H : February 9th, 2010-08:08
but at 39mm it is so Tiny.!! wish it was in 46mm. BTW .what's that watch in the Back. looks BIG :0)) Cheers and thanks for the great Report Tony...  

That's is the Anno Cinquanta, an annual calendar...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : February 9th, 2010-09:05
using only three additional moving parts. The watch actual was the 'inception piece' of Ochs und Junior and is 43mm in diameter: The watch uses a novel 100h power reserve movement developed by Paul Gerber as basis: I own the Anno Cinquanta watch myself an...  

I love this watch very much.

 By: VMM : February 10th, 2010-11:22
Super simple, super cool. Vte

thank you

 By: Tony A.H : February 10th, 2010-15:05
wow. that's a very cool watch. Tony

Great story...

 By: tee530 : February 9th, 2010-08:35
....and excellent report. I like the conception behind this watch, particularly the adaption of the 2824 date mechanism to the second time zone. As a robust travel watch, maybe the only thing to add is some decent water-resistance. I was thinking, though,... 

What an excellent suggestion!

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : February 9th, 2010-08:56
without preempting anything, it seems technically feasible to me, and I would be surprised if the Ochs und Junior team would not consider this if one requests. Cheers, Magnus

A THANK YOU and some additional information...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : February 9th, 2010-09:18
Dear All: thanks a lot for reading my post - very encouraging! I have some additional information for you: what I did not know is that the heat-treatment of the dial not only changes the colour without painting it, it also confers a strong hardness to the... 

Many Thanks, Magnus

 By: Douglas : February 9th, 2010-15:07
Your story only enforces one of the reasons I like the Ochs und Junior pieces. I've had an Anno 50 for six months with an upcoming post of living with this very creative watch. I am very happy to see more ideas, simply executed, from Oechslin, et al. I wo... 

Living with this watch...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : February 9th, 2010-23:27
is a story of growing together, understanding each other and allowing life to leave traces. Truly fascinating, and am thinking about putting together a post about this. Cheers, Magnus

Sorry, can you help me?

 By: Marcus Hanke : February 10th, 2010-00:15
I seem to be the only who doesn't get it how the watch works, and, unfortunately, the depictions above do not explain it to me. So, please, can you describe the watch's function for a dummy like me? So the small window pointed out by the orange dot marks ... 

I think....

 By: tee530 : February 10th, 2010-06:57
...I would use the watch this way, using NYC (GMT-5) and London as examples. At home in NYC at noon, the hands indicate noon and the 12 o'clock window reads "12". To set the second time zone to London (5 hours ahead), I would pull out the crown one stop a... 

Dear Tom, exactly, that's how it works. NT

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : February 10th, 2010-07:29
no text


 By: ArthurSG : February 10th, 2010-21:36
I'm not sure if this is past the prototype stage and into full production but will a day/night indicator of sorts be put in?

Arthur, there is not such thing like a 'full production'...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : February 10th, 2010-23:23
as this is a watch from 'Ludwig's ideas chest' which are more or less conceptual studies and produced in very small quantities to give people an opportunity to be part in Oechslin's creative process. So, they might make a handful. I don't think that they ... 

Thanks for the explanation Magnus.

 By: ArthurSG : February 11th, 2010-00:20
learning everyday. the 24h indicator would be good I think as I find that useful for travel albeit not essential. And just a handful or so.. that's nice for the to be owners. thanks again for the explanation.

Ah, I think I get it ....

 By: Marcus Hanke : February 10th, 2010-07:51
thanks a lot for that lucid explanation. However, to put my feelings into mild words, sacrificing the date for a "function" that has been realized many decades ago, by means of a simple revolving bezel with 12 hours-increments, at a fraction of cost, is a...