Review: The Ollech & Wajs C-1000

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There are some watches that you are told are tool watches by marketing materials, and others you know are tool watches because you pick them up and say “oh, yeah, that’s a friggin’ tool watch.” The Ollech & Wajs OW C-1000 is emphatically one of the latter. “Solid as a rock” is an expression that gets thrown around with little to back it up, but it’s also the first thing that came to mind when taking the C-1000 out of the box. It’s small, hefty, sturdy, and nothing budges without some effort. In a literal sense, it’s solid as a rock. In a day when vintage divers are the watch-of-choice, this unabashedly over-built 1000m diver is a breath of fresh, albeit heavy air.

The Ollech & Wajs C-1000 on an Admiralty Gray ADPT Strap

To be clear, the C-1000 isn’t completely devoid of vintage influence, but it’s far enough away from the original to be dubbed a modern watch, at least in my book. Based on the Caribbean 1000 models from the mid-60s, the C-1000 is a modern reinterpretation, not a recreation. An iconic watch, if rare and cultish, the original O&W Caribbeans utilized the robust Jenny 702 1000m case that featured odd fang-like lugs that actually get farther apart away from the case. Regardless, at 40mm x 45mm x 16mm, these cases were engineering marvels that make many of today’s divers seem bloated at best (for more on the original, click here). 

an original from the 1960’s

Today’s Ollech & Wajs took inspiration from the best parts of the original watch, the size and high water resistance, to make one of the more intriguing tool watches currently on the market. With an ETA 2824-2 inside and a price point well sub $2,000, the C-1000 is very worth a closer look.

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$1650

Review: The Ollech & Wajs C-1000

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
ETA 2824-2
Dial
Black
Lume
Yes
Lens
Domed Sapphire
Strap
Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
1000m
Dimensions
39.5 x 49.5mm
Thickness
15.8mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$1650

Case

Measuring a very specific 39.56 x 49.5 x 15.8mm to the top of the massive domed sapphire crystal, the C-1000 is a wonderful size for such an overbuilt watch. With a 1000m water resistance, you expect some chunkiness, and this has it, but it’s not to the detriment of the design. It’s still very wearable and utilizes some nice design tricks to at least visually mitigate the thickness.

the first 56 have serialized crowns

From above, the lugs, which verge on the long side, are dominant, followed by the unique bezel design. Riffing on the original, the C-1000’s bezel features a thick metal rim and a thin mineral crystal insert. Typically inserts are wide, bold and the center of attention, but here the balance is different, giving the design a more technical, and frankly less explicitly “dive” look. It’s almost as if the wide metal rim is designed to protect the insert, which speaks to the rugged, tool nature of the C-1000. Either way, it’s a nice change of pace and a simple design detail that separates the C-1000 from other dive watches currently on the market. The mechanism is 120-clicks and has an appealing action with a nice click and little back play.

On the right side is a massive 6.1mm screw-down crown that has a small stand-off from the case, making it extra easy to grasp. In keeping with the original design, there are no crown guards, which makes the crown look even more pronounced. Visually, the crown works with the design, adding another rugged, blunt element. Physically, it’s not the greatest as I did find it pushed into my hand regularly.

a very solid case back

From the side, the 15.8mm thickness is apparent but well broken up between the various elements. The crystal is huge, adding a few millimeters at least with its large dome. The bezel is substantial, with a nice amount of coin-edging for grip. The mid-case makes up most of the mass, but features a nice, modernized design with swooping lugs that create a bisecting line, breaking it up visually. The case-back has a reassuring solidity to it, like a vault door for the movement, and actually gently domes, likely for ergonomics, completing the design. Though thick, O&W makes the best of it.

Dial

While the case feels like a modernized version of the 60’s original, the dial is more of a departure. Consisting of a flat, matte black surface, the dial features a printed index of white markers, with large rectangles per hour and small lines per minute/second. There are then large applied triangles at 12, 3 and 9, with brushed surrounds and acid green lume fill. At 6 is a date window with a brushed metal frame, and a small applied marker with lume fill. For hands, they went with large rectangles for hours and minutes with the same green lume found on the dial, and an arrow tipped seconds.

the thin bezel insert is a unique and appealing detail

At a glance, it’s more of a pilot’s dial than a diver, bringing to mind another 1000m tool watch, the Mühle Glashütte SAR Rescue Timer, which is a hybrid of styles. While on the SAR I think the design makes sense as it was designed specifically for German SAR with their input, and not based on anything from the past, on the C-1000 I find it a bit off putting. While admittedly the original Caribbeans didn’t have typical dive dials, per say, this dial feels a bit too far off the mark for such a tool diver. Moreover, lume is only found in the applied markers, limiting it to the cardinal points. In my book, a diver needs lume on all markers, and while the original watches featured a similar arrangement of applied and printed markers, the latter were most certainly still tritium.

What’s going on here is that O&W has tried to create a cohesive design style between all of the watches in their current line up, the P-101, P-104, and C-1000. Looking at them side by side, they are successful in doing this, I just can’t help but think they missed a bit on the conceptual side of the C-1000. At the very least, though all feature applied markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9 with lume, I think they should have added printed lume on the C-1000 as well. Oddly enough, the P-101 dial, which we reviewed here, bears a closer resemblance to the original Caribbean than the C-1000.

A modern interpretation

The bezel features a black insert under a mineral crystal ring. I’ll state the obvious, sapphire would have been nicer at this price point but mineral is still totally functional and unlikely to have issues. The insert puts its relatively meek surface area to good use with markers per minute, larger at intervals of five and numerals at 15, 30 and 45. It’s crowded, but it works and looks great. The Triangle at 0/60 and the subsequent five-minute markers up to 20 all glow.

An odd lume pattern for a diver
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Movement

Inside of the C-1000 is an ETA 2824-2. The tool watch standard, it’s a Swiss-made automatic with 25-jewels, hacking, hand-winding, date, 38hr power reserve and a frequency of 28,800bph. Though you’ll likely never see it, O&W replaces the rotor with one they machine for a bespoke touch. Since the C-1000’s dimensions are likely more to do with the 1000m water resistance than the movement inside, there really isn’t any reason for them to have used a 2892 or equivalent. Ultimately you know the 2824, you trust it, so not much else to say.

Straps and Wearability

The C-1000 is available on a beads-of-rice inspired steel bracelet with quite a dramatic design. Rather than the soft rounded “beads” you might be used to, these are crested in the middle, giving them a much harsher and more aggressive look. I was amazed to see that this followed the design found back in the 60’s as it looks much more modern. In addition to being attractive, it’s also comfortable, as the design allows for a bit more flex than standard three-link designs. As someone who has never fallen in love with BOR bracelets, I quite like the looks of this one and would be likely to keep it on the watch. That said, the C-1000 does take nicely to both nylon and leather straps, for a different look.

Beads or blades of rice?

On the wrist, the C-1000 wears as well as one could hope a 1000m diver would wear. You don’t buy this kind of watch for its thin profile, lightweight or svelte lines, you get one because you want something insanely rugged and overbuilt – which means chunky and solid. Yet, the C-1000 is in between. One one hand, it’s thick (though not a hockey puck) and heavy, and on the other, it’s only 39.5mm in diameter. So, it manages to fit quite well. Honestly, the long lug-to-lug, which is a design detail that all of the modern O&Ws share, and the huge crown are the only potential wearability issues I found.

Extremely wearable for a 1000m diver
Thick but tolerable

Aesthetically, it’s a pretty cool design as well. It’s got a unique look that is more modern than vintage but doesn’t feel detached from the past either. It’s fairly minimal, with only the green lume standing out to call attention. I particularly like the bezel design with its slim insert, which gives the watch an extra-armored look, and a bit of a different presence than any other diver I’ve ever worn.

Conclusion

In general, I’d say Ollech & Wajs were very successful with the C-1000. It pays tribute to some of the best aspects of the original Carribean 1000 design, especially its remarkable engineering, and yet feels like its own watch. It’s refreshing in that it’s more of a tribute than a reissue, not necessarily relying on a nostalgic connection, or even awareness of the original to succeed. In that context, as a Swiss-made, 39.5mm, 1000M diver, with unique looks at under $1,700, it’s also a pretty rare offering that stands its own in a crowded market of divers.

The C-1000 is a unique new offering in the overbuilt tool watch category

That said, I do think the dial could have been a little better thought out. While the use of triangles might make the C-1000 feel a bit more pilot-like than seems appropriate, I can live with that as a stylistic choice for the purpose of creating a cohesive line of watches, even if it feels a bit off. It’s the lume issue that is more concerning. Though no one is really going 1000m deep with this, or even likely a full 100m, having a partially lumed dial just feels like a miss for a dive watch and an easy thing to have gotten right. Nothing actually would have needed to change visually to add lume to the otherwise white rectangles on the dial.

With that said, for tool watch fans, the Ollech & Wajs C-1000 is a really solid new and different offering. It’s got a cool, unique look, a great name behind it and is very nicely made. With the C-1000 the revived Ollech & Wajs has created a solid little catalog of tool watches that manage to both keep a great, if not obscure, brand name alive, and offer something appealingly different. Ollech & Wajs

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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