Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Maybe You Can Go Home Again - The Continuing Evolution of ochs und junior

So right off the bat, I need to stress that this is an opinion piece. And as I have been informed more than once - "Opinions are like backsides, everyone's got one, and some truly stink."

Having said that, I got a chance to read a piece that was forwarded to me from Watch Around, a Swiss based watch magazine. In it, Kornelia Imesch shares a lot of the answers to what many of us who write about these things have been wondering - what has been happening, and what's next? In the article, Ms Imesch clearly outlines what could be viewed as the 3 phases of ochs und junior -

The foundation period - this involving Ludwig Oechslin, BeatWeinmann and Kurt K├Ânig (the owner of Embassy, the Lucerne based jewelry store that Beat Weinmann was working for at the time). The latter part of this period is when I discovered ochs und junior, and curious to relate? It was due to an article in... Watch Around! At that time there were, essentially 2 ochs und junior watches.

The Growth Period - this was when Ulysse Nardin was brought in as a partner (and I will presume, funder), Embassy let ochs und junior go, and to a certain extent Beat Weinmann was fully in charge to run the day to day.

The NOW Period - and this is what answered a big question for me, who owns it? Well, that would be Kornelia Imesch, a certain legend in watch making that you may have heard of - Ludwig Oechslin, and family. Yes, that last word you have correctly, 2 of the "juniors" have decided to join the now fully family owned ochs und junior.


Now I will be the first to say that I have found the communication coming out of ochs und junior for the past 5 years more than a little bit baffling. But I also think, in fairness, that the past 3 years in particular were probably a key time where the past, present and future were in some ways colliding. 

ochs und junior surely did inspire a lot of passion from collectors (they wanted to own one), journalists (it was a fun story) and retailers (they were desperate to sell it). But passion alone does not a watch brand make. And that is I think the piece that a lot of my erstwhile colleagues in the Fourth and Fifth Estate have lost touch with, because what was actually stirring that passion was amazing products. And the other thing that they have lost track of is that at the heart of ochs und junior are the ideas that come to life in the watches. Those ideas, curious to relate, are STILL embodied in the watches being produced by ochs und junior because (spoiler alert), Ludwig Oechslin is STILL bringing those ideas to life.

To that end, two "newish" models have been released that actually harken back to the foundation of ochs und junior all those years ago. The Settimana which we covered here -

And something really special, the calendario cent’anni, or “cca” -
Courtesy of ochs und junior
It is available in 3 different dial versions - 2 in black (above and below) -
Courtesy of ochs und junior
And white -
Courtesy of ochs und junior

In their own words, here is a basic primer from ochs und junior -
100-year calendar designed by Ludwig Oechslin | dial with indication of hours, minutes and seconds in addition to correct date (28, 29, 30 or 31 days), month, leap or non-leap year | Arabic character or indices with hour/minute hands with Swiss Super-LumiNova® coating | 40mm grade 5 titanium case |  Ulysse Nardin UN-320 | Available in 3 versions

This is currently a preorder item.

Now for all of those lamenting the change in staff, and the change in location, I get it. Change is hard, it's scary and it is something that most of us tend to avoid with as much energy as possible. But then again, change is necessary and inevitable. Full credit to everyone who played a part in the creation, birth and growth of ochs und junior. But truth be told, the future has yet to be written, and I for one am curious to see what ochs und junior has in store. They say you can't go home again, but then again, maybe you can.

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