ochs und junior AG
CH – 6004 Lucerne
+41 41 266 02 12
ochs und junior is a watch company with an alternative vision. Our distinctive watches incorporate rigorous simplicity and out-of-the-ordinary concepts. Intended for daily use, the watches are conceived and developed by Ludwig Oechslin and realized by a team of friends. The oxloft – our center of operations – in Lucerne is the only physical place where our watches may be obtained. Ulysse Nardin became a strategic partner in the company in the spring of 2012.
The company ochs und junior AG was founded in 2006 as a vehicle for converting Ludwig Oechslin’s horological ideas and prototypes into viable products. While at Ulysse Nardin, Ludwig Oechslin was responsible for designing some of the watch industry’s most respected innovations, and he has been Director of the Musée International d’Horlogerie (MIH) since 2001. As a Doctor of Theoretical Physics and qualified mathematician, astronomer, archaeologist and master watchmaker, his learning and interests know no bounds. In sharp contrast to the watch industry in general, which is primarily focused on complications, Ludwig Oechslin’s interest lies in radical simplification.
As we manufacture our components and functions in ultra-small batches, for the most part away from mainstream suppliers in the watch industry, we are able to respond quickly to the need for changes and improvements. It also means that we are not held back by the industry’s generally long lead times, and that we have less capital tied up. We finance our innovations through the sale of our watches.
We ensure that we can offer development, production, communication, distribution and – very important – aftercare from a single source. Either big enough or small enough! Convinced that this principle also applies to the watch industry, we have opted for ‘small enough’: we produce no more than 300 watches per annum. Were we to reach the upper limit we have set ourselves in our business model, we would no longer seek to grow quantitatively, but ensure we maintain and enhance our product and service quality.
In a world geared towards quantitative growth, we have opted for an alternative path – one that we are confident is right for ochs und junior.
This ethos of ours allows ochs und junior to produce uncompromising timepieces and deliver them direct to purchasers around the globe. ochs und junior watches are available exclusively from Lucerne. You can either visit us in Lucerne at the oxloft, our center of operations at Zürichstrasse 49, or via the ochs und junior website.
Dealing with us direct has the advantage that you are in contact with the founders themselves, which means you receive the best possible service. ochs und junior has opted for a personal sales model rather than a conventional (and expensive) distribution network; with no middle-man margins or advertising budget, we invest a modest amount in direct communication. We work on smaller margins than is usual in the watch industry, and are only satisfied when you are.
Day-to-day operations are in the hands of ochs und junior co-founder Beat Weinmann.
In 2012, ochs und junior founders Ludwig Oechslin, Kornelia Imesch Oechslin and Beat Weinmann brought on board watchmakers Ulysse Nardin as a strategic partner.
ochs und junior is all about people. Functional utility comes about through intensive brainstorming and meticulous manufacture. We only work with people we consider friends – they know what we’re about and help us develop our concepts. ochs und junior works with people whose experience, lateral thinking and enthusiasm flow into our out-of-the-ordinary products. Until such time as the watch comes to you and you can enjoy it for yourself. That is what drives us.
Ludwig Oechslin is responsible for all of ochs und junior’s technical innovations and functional designs. The lateral thinker and polymath questions given procedures and devises new and simpler solutions. He likes to go new ways and does just that with his innovative wristwatches. Usually, for a watch to be thought of highly, it has to be complex and incorporate as many additional complications and components as can fit into a tiny space. Ludwig Oechslin, by contrast, focuses on simplification and functionality. This is how it came about: in his final watchmaking exams, he was tasked with making a highly complex spring barrel in three hours. He looked at the drawings, wondering how to proceed. Popping some chewing gum into his mouth, he studied the design. Around him, all the other candidates had started working on their solutions. Some 15 minutes later he found a way forward, delivered the item with an hour-and-a-half to spare and left the room. The examiners were not too impressed with his attitude. The next exam involved turning and polishing a balance staff. Four hours were allowed for that. Ludwig Oechslin finished the part in an hour-and-a-half. To avoid incurring the examiners’ displeasure again, he asked for a second workpiece. In a little less than four hours he delivered two perfectly accomplished components. Oechslin’s work is all about brainstorming. A large part of the work takes place before any tool is picked up. The work is optimally prepared, which results in solutions featuring few interfaces. It took him just three components to realize the annual calendar function which, conventionally, requires anything up to 40 parts. His moon phase indication – which is over three times more accurate, mathematically speaking, than any other similar indication – consists of just five components including the dial. Complications in mechanical wristwatches such as calendars conventionally incorporate levers and springs. Oechslin’s studies of astronomical devices, and his restoration and documentation of the Farnese astronomical clock in the Vatican between 1978 and 1982, taught him that gears are a better solution for a wristwatch; he now bases his designs on that insight. His novel combinations of cogwheels and epicyclic (planetary) gearing are so straightforward that they can be manufactured by any competent engineering workshop, and offer excellent operational reliability.
Ludwig Oechslin direct:
A watch produces events in the form of seconds, minutes and hours that repeat themselves equally and regularly, i.e. standardized sequences of events with whose help we can fix points in time, such as an appointment at 9.15, or measure and plan the duration of an event, such as 45 minutes for a meeting from 9.15to 10.00.
I have made this tool – which we use to organize our day and which acts as a fundamental means of communication between people and a global means of navigation – my life’s work. Aside from the display of hours, minutes and seconds, i.e. aside from the subdivision of the day into segments of time or events, I am particularly interested in the macro-temporal aspects of the calendar with their units expressed as days, weeks, months and years. We aim to provide instruments capable of delivering the information people need to organize their daily lives: by way of guiding principles, we strive to deliver products that are useful, reliable, clear, easy to use and straightforward to make. Judge for yourself whether we have succeeded with our products – I hope you like them.
Beat Weinmann is the foil to Ludwig Oechslin. He has a flair for developing thought-through brand concepts from the latter’s amazing creations. His focus is on direct communication with the customer and people in general.
As both co-proprietor of ochs und junior and its managing director, Beat Weinmann represents the interface between production, planning, communication, sales and service.
With a highly developed sense of style, he is responsible for choosing the color combinations, the choice of materials and the ochs und junior environment. He also provides customers with expert advice on their choice of a perfect watch – and ensures visitors to the oxloft, the company’s center of operations in Lucerne, receive a warm welcome. Beat Weinmann served 16 years on the management board of Lucerne-based watch and luxury goods retailer, Embassy. Access to one of the largest selections of exclusive brands sharpened his discernment and, with his critical faculties, made him an acknowledged expert in the Swiss watch industry. Ludwig Oechslin and Weinmann are long-standing friends, and their first venture together was the creation of the MIH watch.
Cail Pearce works with Beat Weinmann on marketing and is the designer of ochs und junior’s website. A graduate of Stanford University, Cail worked at Google for over seven years, the last two as a user experience researcher on Google+ Hangouts and Google Books. Cail is the lead inventor on a US patent for “Dynamic recommendations based on user actions”. During his honeymoon in Switzerland, Cail became acquainted with Beat and the watchmaking concepts of Ludwig Oechslin. Seeing the MIH watch on this trip made him realize that he wanted to switch careers to work in the watch industry. Cail works at the oxloft in Lucerne with Beat Weinmann.
Peter Cantieni makes all of our cases, buckles, dials and many of the hands – and all of the components used in the functions we feature in our current crop of watches. He is an expert in titanium and has now, thanks to our input, acquired the same skills in silver. Why are we emphasizing this collaboration? Because Peter Cantieni’s number one client is the Swiss Formula One racing team Sauber. Located next to the team’s headquarters, his one-man workshop is where he puts his entire engineering know-how at the service of his partners. Peter Cantieni’s expertise lies in ultra-high precision and flexibility, and he works with small production batches. Ludwig Oechslin’s ideas are radical in their elegant simplicity. Peter executes them 1:1, interpreting only where he needs to for production reasons. Thanks to him, we can build uncompromising watches. And with small production batches, we can respond quickly to new ideas and developments.
Marion Müller is the reason our watches are so well assembled. Her long-standing experience as a watch builder, her restoration of highly complex pocket and wristwatches and her time as a tutor at the WOSTEP watchmaking school make her an absolute gem from our point of view. Marion Müller returned to her roots from French-speaking Switzerland in 2010 and went freelance. Her workshop occupies the premises of a former post office in the grounds of the historic monastery of Kappel am Albis. Surrounded by meadows and woodland and not far from the Albis hills, ochs und junior watches are assembled peacefully, quietly and with immense attention to detail by Marion Müller herself. Ludwig Oechslin involves her in the production process once he has produced the prototypes, and she works on the watches alongside him and Peter Cantieni until the watches are completed.
Kornelia Imesch Oechslin is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Architecture at the University of Lausanne. As an expert in art and cultural studies, she is the ideal facilitator for Ludwig Oechslin’s work in the cultural arena. Kornelia Imesch Oechslin chairs the board of directors of ochs und junior AG.
Sjoerd van Rooijen is up for all kinds of crazy ideas, whether his own or those we suggest to him. While in the early planning stages of ochs und junior in 2006 and conceptualizing the settimana junior, we knew we wanted to accompany it with a comic strip by Sjoerd. Now the tall Dutchman – tucked away in his bright loft studio – not only illustrates the comic strip, but also designs the minimalist packaging the watches are presented in, and designs our company letterhead. He acts as the sparring partner of, and intelligent facilitator for, the ochs und junior communications department. He has kept virtually all the notes and doodles he makes during our countless telephone calls – they’re real works of art…
Bea Weinmann has a flair for letting people be themselves in the photos she takes of them. She has a fine eye for detail and a well-developed sense of timing. Much of the communication work at ochs und junior involves her photography, which makes her a key member of our team. Bea moved her photography studio into the oxloft on Zürichstrasse in spring 2012. That way, we have direct access to her skills – and high quality results are just a step away. All the ochs und junior images you see online have been snapped by Bea. Bea Weinmann spends most of her time focusing her camera on people. She works on a freelance basis for newspapers and offers corporate and fashion photography services. She can be found at:
Giorgio Oechslin, Ludwig’s son, plays with fire. Or rather, he uses it to brand the backs of the eco-tanned leather straps with the ochs und junior company name. In a marketing-heavy world, this is branding going back to its roots! Speaking of roots, it seems only fitting that Giorgio landed this job, since it was one of his humorous remarks that inspired this company name. And because Giorgio may well be learning the craft of the blacksmith when he leaves school, it’s just as well he’s practicing using hot irons…
Claudia Walder has lived, studied and worked in five different countries. She has come back to Switzerland with two degrees (Licentiate in International Relations and MSc in Translation Studies) and a Chinese cat. At the end of 2011, she founded her own company, text-it GmbH, after having worked as a freelance translator for several years. When she is not busy proofreading ochs und junior texts, she reads books in various languages – all right, mostly German and English – and writes. She is a firm believer in coffee and Swiss chocolate.
Ulysse Nardin’s Rolf Schnyder contacted the Lucerne atelier of Jörg Spöring to ask who restored the Farnesian clock in the library of the Vatican, more than 30 years ago. Who could have guessed that this would lead to a lasting and fruitful friendship? Rolf Schnyder and Ludwig Oechslin became soul mates – and remained so until Rolf’s death.
Ludwig Oechslin and his mentor, Rolf Schnyder, were responsible for pioneering developments such as the Ulysse Nardin ‘Trilogy of Time’ series of astronomical watches, as well as the Perpetual Calendar, Freak, Sonata and Moonstruck.
Ludwig Oechslin was appointed Director of the Musée International d’Horlogerie (MIH) in 2001, while remaining an independent operator. Ulysse Nardin still had a number of exciting projects in the pipeline.
Ulysse Nardin became a partner in ochs und junior in spring 2012. The two companies will be working together on product developments when Ludwig Oechslin stands down as Director of the MIH in 2014 on reaching retirement age. Ulysse Nardin has the exclusive right to patent and use wristwatch concepts created by ochs und junior.
Most of what we do at ochs und junior is taken care of by an ‘inner circle’ of partners. But because we can’t do everything ourselves, we also work alongside specialists that deliver top-quality work and can accommodate flexible delivery times and small batches. As transparency is one of our by-lines, we name all our suppliers here.
Cador. We can thank the accommodating nature of the Reisch family in Eimeldingen for our ability to offer bespoke colored dials. These highly specialized experts are located on the German border with Switzerland and can coat our dials with any color we (or our customers) like – including one-offs. Their turnaround times are fast, too. We know the true value of this partnership. Our thanks to the Reisch family!
Ecopell. The watch industry tends to use the same types of leather – often crocodile, and almost always tanned using heavy metals. We do things differently. The leather we use at ochs und junior is sourced from Ecopell in Germany’s Allgäu region. The hides of happy cows that graze in the region are processed using natural tanning agents, including oak, rhubarb and other plant-based substances. This helps get the leather wonderfully soft and ready to accept a patina that bears witness to the wearer’s life. It also means far fewer allergy issues.
Pibor. Crowns need to be made with precision to accommodate the gaskets, and that calls for experience. Pibor, in Switzerland’s Jura mountains, makes these to our specifications in titanium.
ETA SA. Ludwig Oechslin has based most of his modular innovations around movements supplied by ETA from Biel/Bienne. He implicitly trusts the longevity of ETA movements, which is why he specifies them for most of our watch products.
Camille Fournet. The stitching of a watch strap requires experience and an eye for detail. We buy the eco-tanned and chrome-free leather from Ecopell and forward it to Camille Fournet. Based in northern France, they handcraft straps in various lengths and colors, as well as bespoke straps.
Stettler. ochs und junior’s scratch-proof sapphire crystals are made by Stettler amongst the Bernese lakes. They are non-reflective on the inside. If they were non-reflective on the outside as well, the outer treatment would sooner or later fail and spoil the aesthetics of the watch. Hence the one-sided coating only.
Estima. Ludwig Oechslin has designed simple yet elegant hands for our watches, which are made by Estima in Grenchen. They come in different colors with a coating of luminescent Super-LumiNova.
Biwi SA. ochs und junior watches are water resistant. We offer caoutchouc straps as an alternative to our leather straps for customers who, for instance, want to swim with their watches. These natural rubber straps are made by Biwi. We offer two lengths in orange or black.
Genius Media AG. Relationships that already exist should be made the most of. Genius Media has been printing Sjoerd’s work for years. Based in Frauenfeld, they are flexible when it comes to unconventional deadlines and out-of-the-ordinary specifications. We think that Mike Suhner and his colleagues like our project; either way, they come up with creative ideas and constructive suggestions. The ochs und junior headed notepaper is recycled and very light. We are doing our bit for the environment by using this slightly textured paper for all our office communications – and it’s made in Switzerland.
ochs und junior watches are free of any designation of origin. The phrase ‘Made in Switzerland’ is intended to inspire confidence, but in practice it tends to raise more questions than it answers. Of far greater importance to us are the people we work with. We insist on absolute transparency. As most of our partners are based not far from Lucerne, the ‘Swiss Made’ aspect is a given. Some of our components come from further afield: the leather, for instance, is from southern Germany and is stitched by specialists in France. The dials made by Peter Cantieni here in Switzerland are printed just the other side of the border in Germany.
The reason for that is that we really like those particular suppliers, their ideas and their commitment. The advantage of keeping things as local and/or as personal as possible is that we know the people and we’re assured of the right quality – which in turn gives us the greatest sense of satisfaction. And that’s what it’s all about!
ochs und junior? Ludwig Oechslin’s son Giorgio was having a laugh when, at lunch one day, he suggested a reinterpretation of the family name (a word of explanation for non-German speakers: Ochs means ox, and Oechslin is a diminutive form of Ochs, i.e. little ox): playing on the image of the old “Ochs” and his cool junior, Giorgio turned it into ochs und junior (or ox and junior). And since his father is known for his unconventionality, he didn’t take much persuading to run with that name.
ochs und junior: intelligent watches for people who don’t always take life too seriously. And rather than place the brand name on the dial like everyone else, we brand the logo (literally!) on the back of the leather strap. Legitimately so, in our case. The ox – that wagon-pulling, abstinent farmyard animal that often ends up as ox tail soup – is a tongue-in-cheek way of indicating that this watchmaking venture of ours, though dear to our heart, should still be seen with a dash of humor.