There’s an idea I’ve been kicking around, and maybe it’s time to just commit and do it, that’s essentially a guide to the nerdiest watch nerd brands. I think most people reading this understand what that means (if you’re a nerd). There are certain brands that appeal to the hardcore among us in a way that more mainstream brands can’t. It might be because they’re incredibly small, and make only a handful of watches per year and get absolutely zero press. They might have a polarizing design language that only real watch people truly “get.” Or, like ochs und junior, they might have an absolutely killer mechanical feature that nobody else can match. ochs und junior is, to me, the king of the watch nerd brands. Trust me when I say that I mean that as the highest possible compliment. Their latest release, an annual calendar with an impossibly clean design and an even more flabbergasting price point, absolutely keeps them at the top of the watch nerd heap.
ochs und junior has had an annual calendar in their lineup for some time, but always as part of their fully customizable (and thus more expensive) product line. Over the last few years, the brand has greatly expanded their so-called “ochs line” of pre-made watches that lack the full suite of custom options, but at a greatly reduced cost. The “anno” in 42mm is the latest addition to the ochs line, and it represents one of the most complicated additions to the affordable lineup yet.
“Complicated,” though, is a relative term with ochs und junior. An annual calendar is literally a complication, and a pretty serious and rare one at that, but in the hands of watchmaker Ludwig Oeschslin, it is reduced to what is perhaps its most elemental form, both visually and mechanically. Reading the date is remarkably intuitive, and involves noting a trio of roving dots that move around the dial. The large circle of apertures toward the perimeter of the dial provides the date, while the smaller circles at 12 and 6 provide readouts for the month and day of the week, respectively. It’s a largely visual representation of a traditional calendar, but gives you an immediate sense of where you are in a given month, week, or year. As this is an annual calendar, it only needs to be adjusted once per year, at the end of February.
What’s most impressive about the anno, however, is that the base movement (an ETA 2824-2) requires only three additional components to create tha annual calendar execution. While some (in fact, most) makers of complicated watches tout the sheer number of components involved as an accomplishment, ochs und junior’s approach has always been that a simpler approach that makes use of rotating gears rather than levers and springs carries a significant benefit in that the movement will be far easier to service down the road. A purely analog display like the one ochs und junior has devised is also, in their view, easier to read at a glance.
Three versions of the anno are available at launch, all in a 42mm titanium case with 100 meters of water resistance. The oj blue and brass has a dark blue dial brass hands dial accents, the oj blue and orange makes use of the same base dial but adds bright orange markers and hands, and black and white is, well, black and white. All have a retail price of CHF 5’077 (without VAT) which at press time works out to approximately $5,086. ochs und junior