Ollech & Wajs’ OW 8001 is a beefier yet more mature PRX alternative Ollech & Wajs’ OW 8001 is a beefier yet more mature PRX alternative

Ollech & Wajs’ OW 8001 is a beefier yet more mature PRX alternative

Jamie Weiss

The Tissot PRX  has proven to be one of the most successful watch reissues of the 21st century – there are no other words for it. Tissot has democratised the integrated bracelet: the PRX taps in to our current obsession with 70s watch design, offering a pretty substantial watch at a pretty competitive price point. But I think the PRX has become a victim of its success. You see them everywhere – they’re no longer the cool “if you know, you know” affordable alternative to Holy Trinity integrated bracelet darlings (just as the shine has also come off the MoonSwatch thanks to its ubiquity – but that’s a discussion for another article).

So what do you buy if you want an integrated bracelet and heritage 70s design without spending a packet? This is where I think the Ollech & Wajs OW 8001 comes into its own after having worn one for a week. More horologically competent, robust and aesthetically unique than the PRX – and crucially, with a cool factor that comes from a slightly off-the-beaten-path brand – it’s a strong contender in the affordable integrated bracelet space.

Digging into the archives

ollech wajs ow 8001

Similar to the PRX, the Ollech & Wajs OW 8001 isn’t a direct reissue of a watch from yesteryear. Rather, it’s a contemporary design that pays homage to one of Ollech & Wajs’ most historically significant models: the OW-8000, a hexagonal-cased, integrated bracelet-sporting chronograph powered by the famous Valjoux 7750 movement.

However, as I’m sure you may have noticed, the OW 8001 isn’t a chronograph at all. Indeed, it bears more resemblance to a diving watch if I had to pick anything: it might have a fixed bezel but it’s water-resistant to 300m. In some ways, it’s a bit of a weird choice from Ollech & Wajs. Why not just reissue the OW-8000? (Maybe we’ll see that in the future?)

ollech wajs ow 8000 vs ow 8001
L-R: the Ollech & Wajs OW-8000 from 1973, and the new OW 8001.

Perhaps it’s because of the stylistic direction Ollech & Wajs have gone in with the OW 8001, which combines design cues from the OW-8000 (namely its delightfully retro ‘Havana fumé’ dial and its bracelet) with a distinctly brutalist case design that’s really rather unique. Its tonneau-shaped case is almost plinth-like, with sharp slabby sides and nothing even close to lugs. It’s more of a tool watch than an elegant chronograph, and I think that works.

A bracing bracelet

ollech wajs ow 8001 clasp

That tool watch/dive watch vibe is reinforced by its bracelet, which is equal parts elegant and utilitarian. It resembles a Rolex Oyster bracelet that hasn’t received a final buff on a polishing wheel – but I personally found it more comfortable than a Rolex Oyster, thanks to its broad taper.

What’s particularly interesting is the OW 8001’s clasp. Milled rather than stamped, it features a micro-adjustment system that extends up to 22 mm, with a double pusher-release system facilitating its extension. I’ve not seen this sort of clasp on an integrated watch before, and it’s pretty impressive – it’s like a diver’s extension, except more minimalist.

ollech wajs ow 8001 extend

One complaint: I believe I was the first person to wear this review model, but already the clasp had a noticeable amount of wear. It’s metal on metal without lubrication so that’s not surprising. Actually, I think the wear looks kind of cool. It suits the OW 8001’s vibe.

A bigger sticking point might be the bracelet’s lack of articulation. The Ollech & Wajs OW 8001 officially has a case diameter of 39.5mm, but because the first links of the bracelet barely articulate, it actually has an effective lug-to-lug of 59.5mm. Needless to say, if you’ve got a smaller wrist, this probably isn’t the watch for you. I’ve got big wrists so I didn’t mind it.

ollech wajs ow 8001 case profile

If those first links were able to pivot a bit more, you’d avoid some of this chunky feel – but then you’d run into another issue, as because the case is so slab-sided, it would look weird if the links were able to fully articulate.

A moving movement

ollech wajs ow 8001 crown

It’s worth briefly mentioning the Ollech & Wajs OW 8001’s movement: a Soprod Newton Precision P092, made bespoke for Ollech & Wajs, which features a 44-hour power reserve. Not only is it COSC-certified, but it also features a Chronofiable certification, which is a COSC testing alternative offered by the Laboratoire Dubuis of La-Chaux-de-Fonds.

The Chronofiable certification refers to a watch’s durability rather than accuracy. Testing takes the form of various stages, including an aging cycle; test cycles designed to measure the pull-and-push forces on the stem, forces exerted on features like pushbuttons or bezels (if applicable); tests on reactions to magnetic fields; shock-resistance tests using heavy pendulums or strikers, and a water-resistance test.

ollech wajs ow 8001 dial

That Ollech & Wajs has put the OW 8001 through this process further reinforces its positioning as a distinctly tougher, more tool-watch-worthy take on an integrated sports watch. I can’t think of another integrated watch (particularly at this price point) that’s so beefy.

Closing thoughts

To be totally honest, when I first got hands-on with the Ollech & Wajs OW 8001, I wasn’t in love with it. It’s a polarising watch, in many ways: while its oblique, retro-modern design will 100% appeal to some people, some of its design features will put others off. But that’s okay – watches are subjective, and subjectively speaking, I think this is a far more interesting and distinct design than the Tissot PRX or indeed many other integrated sports watches popular these days.

ollech wajs ow 8001 pocket

It also offers quite a lot. Chronofiable and COSC certifications; 300m of water resistance and an expanding clasp, and that delicious fumé dial… If you’re dead keen on an integrated bracelet but you’re looking for something different (that isn’t going to break the bank, either), then look no further.

Ollech & Wajs OW 8001 pricing & availability

The Ollech & Wajs OW 8001 is available now from the brand’s online boutique. In reference to the year Ollech & Wajs was founded, the first 56 models will be numbered-crown editions. Price: CHF 1,856

Brand Ollech & Wajs
Model OW 8001
Case Dimensions 39.5mm (D) x 12.7mm (T)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 300 metres, screw-down crown
Crystal Sapphire
Dial Double-lacquered ‘Havana fumé’ dial, baton hands and indexes in Super-LumiNova
Lug Width Integrated
Strap Integrated brushed oyster-style bracelet, expansion clasp extendable up to 22 mm
Movement Soprod Newton Precision P092, automatic, COSC-certified
Power Reserve 44 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Available now
Price CHF 1,856