MICRO MONDAYS: Ollech & Wajs are the tool watch company you should check out if utilitarian is your thingTime+Tide
This week on Micro Mondays, we are looking at a brand that is a little older than most of the watch manufacturers we feature in this column — Ollech & Wajs. And what a story the company has …
This might be one of the best-kept secrets in the watch industry, with the Zurich-based company being founded in 1956 and specialising in tool watches for a number of different armed forces around the world. The brand saw its peak during the Vietnam War when they were sold to soldiers on US military bases in the 1960s, before slowly retreating from popularity over the following decades.
It was only recently, in 2017, that the brand entered a new phase, when one of the original founders, Albert Wajs, sold the company to a passionate collector, who has since relaunched the brand. In the few years since, Ollech & Wajs has released a number of exciting watches that return to the tool watch roots of the company. With the brand ethos firmly planted in the styles of pilot, military and diving watches, the combination of authentic history and honestly sourced vintage cues are seeing the brand rise once again with the current surge in enthusiasm for historical sports watches. With that context in mind, let’s take a look at three current references that show what the brand is all about.
OW Ocean Graph
Featuring a number of archetypal dive watch traits that mark it out as a real utilitarian object, Ollech & Wajs’ Ocean Graph is easily the watchmaker’s most well-known moniker. Water resistant to a whopping 1000 metres, the concentrically brushed 316L stainless steel case measures a very retro 39.5mm across and a hefty 15.8mm thick, which is understandable, given the aforementioned capability in deep waters.
We’re big fans of the dial of this watch, with the matt navy blue contrasting perfectly with the matt orange accents to create an overall aesthetic that screams Swinging Sixties. Another noteworthy advantage of this watch, as opposed to some of its contemporaries, is that the Ocean Graph comes equipped with a ratcheting uni-directional rotating bezel with a full “decomp bezel”. Powering the bullish beauty is ETA’s perpetually popular 2824-2 Calibre. This self-winding movement benefits from robustness only matched by a Panzer tank, 38 hours of power reserve and Ollech & Wajs decoration, which can be seen on the main plate and oscillating weight. Available with either a Perlon nylon strap ($1645.95 USD), as seen above, or a conforming “beads-of-rice” style tapered steel bracelet ($1794.05 USD). Whichever way you look at it, this fit-for-purpose piece has a pretty compelling repertoire.
Sharing the same basic case construction and architecture as its vintage-themed sibling, the C-1000 is, according to Ollech & Wajs, a “product of modern Swiss watchmaking”. And while the case measurements may well be identical at 39.5mm across and 15.8mm thick, OW are bang on when they say this watch is a much more modern offering. The simple matt black dial doesn’t possess the same sort of regal antiquity as the watch above. Instead, we’ve got a no-nonsense tool watch vibe accompanied by a thick, block-like handset, triangular indices, and a simple, easy-to-use ratcheting uni-directional rotating bezel with a traditional 60-minute scale.
Like the Ocean Graph, the C-1000 utilises the ETA 2824-2 movement, which is fine by us. But unlike the OG, this watch has a matching black date aperture located at six o’clock, instead of a white background, and that’s a nice touch that further complements the almost mil-spec vibe of this timepiece. Equipped with the black RAF nylon strap seen above, the C-1000 offers 1000m water resistance and retails for $$1540.17 USD; however, if you’d prefer a steel bracelet, this steely brushed brute can also be had with the same “beads-of-rice” style tapered steel bracelet, which costs $1688.26 USD.
Last and by no means least, we present to you the value proposition of the Ollech & Wajs range – the OW P-101. With a recommended retail price of just $1011.27 USD, this good-looking, vintage-themed tool watch has got weekend warrior written all over it. The matt black dial is accompanied by applied baton indices that are all filled with a fauxtina-style Swiss Super-LumiNova, which also fills the angular handset. The black 12-hour rotating steel bezel also scores the fauxtina treatment, with the legible Arabic numerals all coloured the same creamy off-white. Unlike the two watches above, the P-101 is water resistant to just 300 metres … but that’s still impressive, and with a gorgeous brown calfskin leather strap with contrasting cream stitching attached to its angular lugs, you probably shouldn’t be jumping into the ocean with this bad boy anyway.