The ATV Ollech & Wajs Astrochron Chronograph
The Astrochron diving chronograph stages its comeback as a function-packed, hyper-resilient action watch for all terrains.
The Ollech & Wajs 1967 Astrochron was one of the first chronographs suited for professional divers thanks to its 200m water-resistant case. Equipped with a Valjoux 72 movement, a movement it shared with models like the original Rolex Daytona, the Astrochron has been selected by Ollech & Wajs for a remake this year. While the Astrochron borrows some design cues from its 1967 ancestor and is powered by a descendant of the historic Valjoux 72, it is equipped with a host of functions to keep you covered in just about any terrain. With double the depth rating of the original and fitted with a regatta countdown timer and a 360-degree rotating compass bezel, the Astrochron chronograph is a mighty robust and function-packed action watch.
Ollech & Wajs was founded in 1956 by Albert Wajs and Joseph Ollech in Zurich and started life retailing watches from Omega and Breitling. The business expanded to specialise in the assembly of movements from ETA, Dubois Dépraz and Valjoux inside stainless steel cases from Maison Étienne. With a portfolio of hyper-resilient sports and tool watches, OW gained a solid following among soldiers, divers, pilots and American GIs in Vietnam.
Following the brand’s restructuring in 2017, by 2019, OW was ready to conquer the market with its utilitarian instrument watches with a convincing 1960-1970s vintage vibe and outsourced movements (you can read about the brand’s history and key models here). With models like the OW C-1000, the Navichron and the Ocean Graph, OW proudly looks back to its archival models and reinterprets them in a contemporary light.
The name of OW’s 1967 chronograph was designed to capture the space age exploration mania of the day when the race to the Moon was an all-consuming topic. Although it didn’t make it to the Moon, it did make it onto the wrist of NASA’s chief rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun.
Touted as a precision chronograph designed for “pilots, sailors, soldiers, engineers, world travellers, divers and frogmen”, the Astrochron was a rugged all-terrain watch with three counters, impressive 200m water-resistant credentials and different scales valid for navigation, calculating speed and timing immersions.
Measuring 39.56mm across with a height of 16.8mm, the brushed 316L stainless steel case has a screwed back, a screw-down crown, four gaskets on the twin pushers and an extra-thick sapphire crystal to ensure the 500m water-resistance. Like the original, the pushers are piston-style, but the large striated crown has a flat head. Other updates include the 360-degree rotating compass bezel with cardinal direction markers and an angle scale and a two-tone grey and white 60-min dive bezel with the first 20 minutes picked out in white.
Like its forebear, the 2023 Astrochron flaunts a reverse panda dial with a North Atlantic blue background colour and white sub-dials respecting the tri-compax layout of the original (30-min totaliser at 3 o’clock, 12h totaliser at 6 o’clock and running seconds at 9 o’clock). However, compared to the original, the new Astrochron ditches the tachymetre scales and incorporates a date window in the 12-hour totaliser, which can be adjusted with the pusher on the caseband at 10 o’clock.
Featuring a regatta countdown timer, the two triangular areas on the 30-minute totaliser, picked out in blue and white stripes and solid blue, add more functionality to the chronograph. All treated with Super-LumiNova, the large rectangular indices are indicated by the blunt-tipped baton hour and minute hands, while the central chronograph seconds hand has a large white arrow. To reinforce the vintage mood, the Astrochron comes on a 20mm 316L fully brushed beads-of-rice stainless steel bracelet.
The 2023 Astrochron is equipped with an automatic Valjoux 7753. Beating at 28,800vph, the cam-lever chronograph movement delivers a power reserve of 54 hours and is regulated, adjusted and tested in five positions at the OW workshop in the Swiss Jura.
Availabilty & Price
The first 56 numbered OW Astrochron watches can be reserved on the brand’s website from March 10. Unlike the original Astrochron model, which could be ordered via mail and retailed for USD 85, the new Astrochron retails for CHF 2,496. For more information, please visit ow-watch.ch.
Amazing how the prices have gone up from 85.00 dollars in the mail order world of 1968 to the current price of over 2000.00 dollars in 2023. It’s a cool looking watch and seems pretty functional however in my time in Nam I never saw one being used.