The Robust Ollech & Wajs OW 8001
Unbeatable ruggedness combined with a groovy Havana fumé dial, a Soprod chronometer-certified movement and a competitive price.
Partners Joseph Ollech and Albert Wajs started their adventure in watchmaking, distributing Omegas and Breitlings from their watch shop in Zurich. In 1956 they decided to create their own brand specialising in robust tool watches, much appreciated by soldiers, divers and pilots. One of the few companies to ride out the quartz storm by reducing production, after Ollech died in 1992, Wajs renamed the brand OW and eventually sold it in 2017. Faithful to the original portfolio of no-nonsense tool watches powered by reliable third-party Swiss movements, OW has streamlined production by creating a one-size-fits-all 300m water-resistant case. With its well-stocked archive of historical models, OW takes inspiration for its latest three-hand-and-date OW 8001 from a 1973 chronograph with a groovy brown fumé dial.
In the early 1970s, Ollech & Wajs produced a range of integrated bracelet sports watches, including the ref. 8000 of 1973, an angular TV-screen-style dial chronograph with a Havana fumé dial. Although the new OW 8001 is not a chronograph and does not have a TV-screen dial, it shares the brutalist tonneau-shaped case, the solid three-link bracelet and the brown fumé dial of its 1973 ancestor.
Measuring 39.56mm across (standard size for all OW cases) and with a thickness of 12mm, the hyper-robust 300m water-resistant stainless steel case is equipped with a large 6.10mm screw-down crown and caseback, a fixed steel bezel and an extra-thick anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The bezel, which cannot be rotated, combines numeric and round Super-LumiNova markers at 5-minute intervals. Like the original, the case and bracelet are brushed. The sturdy clasp with a double pusher-release system is extendable up to 22mm.
Perhaps the most obvious similarities with the 1973 chronograph are the colour of the dial and the blunt, baton-shaped hour and minute hands. Using a double-lacquering technique, the dial reveals an attractive fumé or gradient finish. The three central hands and the indices – applied at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock – are treated with Super-Luminova, and there is a date window at 6 o’clock. All the inscriptions and the peripheral track are white.
Rather than invest in building a manufacture, Ollech & Wajs and now OW has always relied on quality third-party movements. The movement powering this model is a deluxe, chronometer-certified version of the Soprod Newton Precision P092. OW chose the Soprod movement as a successor to the ETA 2824-2. Marking the first OW model with a COSC-certified engine, the watch is delivered with its certification papers. Beating at 28,800vph, the automatic movement delivers a 44-hour power reserve and has been adjusted in five positions (élaboré grade) for an average accuracy of +/-7 seconds p/day. Independently tested by Laboratoire Dubios in La Chaux-de-Fonds to obtain the Chronofiable certification, the movement was also subjected to OW’s very own testing programme. Although the caseback hides it, the customised rotor is engraved with OW Zurich 1956, and instead of a balance cock, the movement relies on a sturdier and more stable balance bridge.
Availability & Price
A tradition at OW, the first 56 (year the brand was founded) OW 8001 models will come with numbered crowns. The retail price is CHF 1,856. If you are interested in ordering the watch, OW suggests you email [email protected] with your name, address, phone number and email; shipping should be underway by mid-summer 2023. For more information, please visit ow-watch.ch.
I wonder if apart from being COSC-certified, does that Soprod Newton come with any improvements – the last time I checked, it was notorious for design flaws – including a moment of “force feedback” from the mainspring when disengaging the setting position and engaging the movement (hands jolting forward by a few minutes), which is an issue known to most who bought it in a Serica. I like the looks of the watch, but I had rather they chose some different movement to power it. Doesn’t matter if it’s COSC-certified, if one can’t really set it properly without counting on a stroke of luck.