The ochs und junior annual calendar encapsulates Ludwig Oechslin’s ideas and acquired knowledge in one elegant, simple and functional wristwatch. Here he describes his idea, his solution and his modus operandi:
Description by Ludwig Oechslin:
Task / idea
A watch featuring an analogue display and an ultra simple calendar mechanism that needs manual adjustment just once a year.
The calendar can be displayed using 50 perforations. 31 for the date, 12 for the months and 7 for the weekdays. In my solution, the conventional date disk mechanism provided by the movement drives the disk bearing the date dot, which rotates beneath the dial with its 31 perforations. The colored dot on the date disk moves from day to day. If you supplement the date disk with a set of teeth and a position ring to the inside, these teeth can perform the function of a Maltese cross gear, which, as it moves, drives the month indication cog via an intermediate wheel. The month indication cog, in turn, is equipped with long and short teeth, whereby the long ones are arranged in such a way as to engage, on the 31st of the month, with a tooth on the hour wheel and, via this, provide a further impulse of one day at the end of a month with 30 days, in order to provide an impulse to the 1st of the following month immediately after the impulse to the 31st. The impulse passed on to the month wheel is transferred from the latter via its intermediate wheel to the date disk. This arrangement of wheels allows me to transform the movement’s simple date calendar function into a semi-perpetual annual calendar, i.e. one that needs adjusting just once a year at the end of February. The weekday disk also receives an impulse from the finger located in the middle of the hour wheel, such that a Maltese cross is formed. The impulse is received twice a day. To compensate for this, the weekday is displayed by means of a broad colored dot visible through the circle of seven perforations. This colored dot is arranged in such a way that it appears in two perforations between 6 o’clock in the evening and 6 o’clock in the morning to indicate the expiry of the current day and the approach of the following one; between 6 o’clock in the morning and 6 o’clock in the evening, the user sees only the dot indicating the current day. This reflects the 24-hour display by indicating midnight when the user is adjusting the calendar date.
In our view, the wristwatch plays an integral, functional role in our lives – and it should be designed accordingly. Ludwig Oechslin does just that with his watches. The design of his timepieces emerges as a logical consequence of their functions, which makes it distinctive. Most of our timepieces make do without alphanumeric markings of any kind, and that includes any branding or logo.
You won’t find indications of the make and model on an ochs und junior dial, or of the watertightness, precision or country of origin. In fact, there is a logo, but it’s discreetly branded onto the back of the eco-tanned leather strap.
The design of ochs und junior watches is for people who live in the here and now. Ludwig Oechslin’s guiding principle of functional reductionism is reflected in the mechanics as well as in the appearance of his timepieces. A prototype leaves his private workshop only when he has completed the first stage – incorporating his latest thinking into it.
By assembling the prototypes himself, he proves that they can be produced. Small numbers of components ingeniously put together are easier to handle at a mechanical level, and thus a better solution in the long term, than one based on as many parts as possible.
Ludwig Oechslin creates and develops the mechanics and makes the initial prototypes. He then lives with them for some time, carrying them either on his wrist or in a waistcoat pocket. These prototypes don’t have an easy life. They are stressed, handled roughly and subjected to the kind of treatment that our production watches never have to endure.
Talking of production, our approach is as distinctive as our designs and unlike that of any other watch company. The technical drawings and a prototype are forwarded to Peter Cantieni. His main activity consists of machining ultra-precise titanium components for the Swiss Formula One racing team Sauber. Based in Hinwil, his experience allows him to manufacture most of the minuscule components we need for a pre-production batch of watches.
These components are then brought to master watchmaker Marion Müller. In her workshop in Kappel am Albis, she assembles the initial few watches and corrects various aspects to ensure optimal functionality and ease of assembly when the time comes for the definitive production run. The radical nature of Ludwig Oechslin’s innovative functions remains sacrosanct throughout this process. Marion Müller does not reinterpret them, nor does she attempt to make them more conventional.
After all, experience has shown that the fewer interfaces there are in a mechanical product and in its production process, the greater its reliability and the longer its service life.
Marion Müller’s feedback now helps Peter Cantieni machine the definitive components, including the two-part case, the buckle (carved out of a single block), the functional dial and the wheels. In other words, almost everything we need to create our watches, not counting the movement itself.
Marion Müller then painstakingly assembles the mese and regulates the movement, for which we use the self-winding mechanical ETA 2824-2.
We rely on this dependable and highly functional workhorse for most of our watch concepts.
The watch industry usually offers two years’ guarantee against manufacturing defects. That’s also the case here at ochs und junior. The following timepieces also benefit from the ochs und junior long-term guarantee: moon phase, annual calendar, two time zones, date. These watches come with a lifelong guarantee against manufacturing defects affecting the following parts made for ochs und junior by Peter Cantieni:
annual calendar (anno)
The watches are functionally extremely reliable thanks to Ludwig Oechslin’s reductionist approach to components. During the periodic service interventions (or during a repair intervention if needed) we can see how the internal works are doing in terms of service life. If our appraisals indicate possible issues, we can immediately revise the parts in question for new batches of watches and, if necessary, replace them in existing watches. This guarantee also applies retrospectively to all watches in the above series that have already been bought.