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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ochs & Junior Anno Cinquanta Watches

Being quite unusual is what makes these watches also quite fantastic. Ochs & Junior (Ochs und Junior) is no ordinary watch maker because founder Ludwig Oechslin has no desire to make "ordinary" watches. He takes Bauhaus design to its minimalistic threshold, with a collection a timepieces that expresses his personal ideal of what a watch should be, and what a watch should display.

If the sentiments he harbors sound a bit like the dedication of an artist, then you would be correct. This is art - functional, luxurious, and extremely time consuming, but still art. Ludwig runs with a very creative crowd that includes watch makers among many others. This affords him a diverse intellectual perspective, and his inspiration for the Anno Cinquanta collection of watches comes equally from the world of horology, as it does the greater industry of functional goods.

Each timepiece in the collection is hand-made using precision machinery and years of expertise. The movement is hand-made by watchmaker Paul Gerber, and is his own unique design. It uses a solid white gold rotor and has over 100 hours of power reserve. The beautiful movement is made completely in Zurich Switzerland, and is neatly displayed through the timepieces sapphire caseback window. If the rotor doesn't look like white gold, it is because it is unfinished and has developed a special gray patina.

The gray patina of the dial (like the automatic rotor) is unlike that which you will find on any other watch. The eccentric name of the timepiece comes from the 50 openings on the dial for the annual calendar. Sometimes the Anno Cinquanta watch is referred to as the Anno 50 watch. The 43mm wide case comes in either white or red gold, or in sterling silver. The case is quite simple, done in two parts. The lugs are connected to the caseback and the top part of the case is one piece.

Aside from the time (hours, minutes, and seconds), the watch displays the month, day, and date - though in a most eccentric of manners. There are no indicators, and no reference as to what you are looking at. Merely a dial that looks as though it were rendered from a sophisticated sort of code. Och & Junior is proud that their annual calendar watches use much less parts than those from most annual calendar watches. A fact that might make them less prone to requiring repair or service.

On the outermost dial you'll find 31 openings - this is for the date. A disc with an orange dot behind the dial moves to indicate the date. In the middle of the dial there are two smaller rings of small openings. The top ring has seven openings and is for the day of the week, and the lower ring has 12 openings, which is for the month. It is easy to disregard the Anno 50 as not being user friendly given the lack of visual instruction as to what you are looking at. This would be lumping the watch together with the rest of the world's timepieces. Ochs & Junior clearly does not fit this mold.

The design and construction of mechanical wrist watches is highly sophisticated, so it the person who is enjoys them. The type of person who wears an Anno 50 watch learns how to read the dial and relishes in the fact that most onlookers are unable to read the dial. It is part of the joy that accompanies teaching oneself a new skill that others do not have. The Anno 50 is an ideal watch for days when one wants to be at their most mysterious.

Ochs & Junior timepieces are sold in a handful of boutiques in Switzerland, but they are the type of brand that enjoys hearing from potential new owners directly - part of the service you get from just such a brand. The Anno Cinquanta timepieces start at about 35,000 CHF is silver, up to about 40,000 CHF in red gold, and up to 41,500 CHF for the white gold version. Prices exclude the VAT and shipping costs.

By Ariel Adams

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