By now you’ve probably heard the news of Ochs und Junior aligning with Ulysse Nardin as a strategic partner. They get use of their in-house caliber UN-118. The alliance makes sense since Ludwig Oechslin, the eccentric genius behind Ochs’s movements along with Paul Gerber, also did a few tiny little projects with Ulysse Nardin. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? He’s responsible for the ground breaking Freak and the Trilogy of Time series, which included the Astrolabium, Planetarium and Tellerium.
While an ETA movement can certainly make a watch tick and is known for its reliability, watch geeks prefer a more sophisticated motor. Though Ochs und Junior will continue to use ETA calibres, they plan to incorporate the respected UN-118 calibre into future projects.
Just because you’ve got an in-house made movement, doesn’t make it better. What makes the UN-118 so notable? It has a patented DIAMonSIL escapement and in-house-produced oscillator adjustable with four screws and fitted with a silicium 1.1.1 hairspring. A very light but hard material that will remove friction and eliminate the need for escapement lubrication, DIAMonSIL is a melding of silicium and man-made diamond.
The decision by Ochs und Junior to upscale should remove a roadblock that held back some from purchasing one of their watches. One of the criticisms that continued to pop up was that the price point was just too high for an off-the-shelf movement. “Incorporating this wonderful calibre will do us a lot of good in the eyes of watch collectors, naturally,” admits Beat Weinmann, chief communicator of Ochs und Junior. He promises its use will lead to some exciting developments. We previously did an interview with Beat Weinmann where he gives more insights on the brand.
Ochs und Junior is really upping their game. Not only have they scored the use of calibre UN-118 but they’ve also moved into new digs on Zürichstrasse in Lucerne. Here you can wander in and sip an espresso, the best in Switzerland, according to Weinman, and, if you come on Saturday, you’ll be treated to a “very fine” local seven-year-old cheese. Plan accordingly.
In the showroom, which is really an artistic enclave, you get a unique shopping experience. In addition to Ochs und Junior watches, you can purchase handmade llmia sneakers from Germany in the same eco-tanned leather as the Ochs und Junior straps, freshly ground coffee, handmade skateboards, leather shopping bags and lamps. Weinmann’s wife Bea also locates her photo studio on the premises, adding to the creative ambience.
The showroom isn’t what one would call a corporate environment usually adopted by watch brands. And, that makes Weinmann very happy to hear because it represents the company ethos. “Our venue on Zürichstrasse and its unique atmosphere embodies this individuality,” says Weinmann. “It is like our watches.”
The Ochs und Junior customer is “after something out of the ordinary,” explains Weinmann. It’s true, with this brand you get something quite different. On the whole, the watch industry trumpets the complexity and number of parts in a movement like it’s a huge triumph. Oechslin works from a different premise: the art of simplicity. He built the world’s most mathematically accurate moonphase indication using just five components, one of which is the dial, as well as an annual calendar based on just three additional components. “That’s extreme watch design,” asserts Weinmann. Innovation like this calls for a high level of intellectual rigour. And that’s what Ludwig Oechslin offers.” We wrote a hands-on review of his due ore here.
With Oechslin retiring from his Directorship at the Musée International d’Horlogerie (MIH) in 2014, the Ulysse Nardin-Ochs und Junior partnership will benefit both companies, providing a mutual brain trust.
We can’t wait to see what the mind of Oechslin will come up with now that he’s got the UN-118 and the new playground on Zürichstrasse.