Ever been a guinea pig for watches? Well, that might happen if Ludwig Oechslin appears!
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
I hope you liked my report.
Magnus This message has been edited by Magnus Bosse on 2010-02-07 03:44:18
Comments: view entire thread
What a wonderful post Magnus
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...
As always, its a joy to read your posts !! And wat an honour Magnus !!
First of all, thank you.
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
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
i so loved your report as much as i loved the watch just wish it was one mm larger. Faisal
Thanks for the story - it reminds me of another Ludwig story.
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 ...
What an amazing write up of a fascinating watch
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...
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 ...
As far as I know, Embassy only has stores in Lucerne and St Moritz.... Regards, Alex
Very interesting report
Thanks for putting it all together. And what a simple way of two timezones, really godlooking watch. GEO
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.
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 ...
... 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
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...
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...
wow. that's a very cool watch. Tony
....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!
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...
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
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...
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?
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 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...
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'...
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.
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 ....
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...