In 2019, a very niche but still revered brand, specialized in instrument watches, made its comeback. This brand is Ollech & Wajs, a brand born in 1956, which gained quite some popularity amongst professionals. It took some years to convince Albert Wajs to pass on his brand, but Ollech & Wajs was back in action, with a collection of accessible tool watches – the brand’s speciality for years. Following models such as the C-1000 Caribbean or the P-101 for pilots, the brand has recently introduced a new, and appealing, dive watch, the OW Ocean Graph. And we take a closer look at it today.
Ollech & Wajs is typically the kind of name that might not ring a bell to a broader audience, but that is still well-known and highly respected in some collectors’ communities. A case-in-point niche brand that has devoted its production to instrument models, now all relatively collectable.
In 1956, Albert Wajs and his friend Joseph Ollech formed a partnership and opened a watch shop in Zurich. At first, they distributed timepieces from Breitling and Omega but eventually decided to establish their own brand: OWZ, for Ollech & Wajs Zürich. Albert Wajs quickly realized that OWZ should specialize in the assembly of reliable and accurate mechanical watches. He favoured movements with solid reputations. In 1959, the first watches were launched, with a focus on pilot, dive and tool watches in general. The brand gained fame and respect among soldiers, divers and pilots around the world, producing over 10,000 watches a year by the end of the 1960s. In 1978, as Breitling shut down its operations, Ollech & Wajs (along with Sinn) bought stocks and equipment from the famous watch brand. Albert Wajs then resumed production of the Navitimer, under the brand name Aviation, for over two decades.
The Ocean Graph, a watch created in 1968, was together with the Caribbean 1000, part of the “Precision” collection. An important difference between these two watches, both fruit of the collaboration between Ollech & Wajs Zurich and the Jenny Watch Company, is the bezel. As both recreational and professional divers started to descend to previously unfathomable depths, one of the most perilous aspects was the ascent back to the surface. This is why the decompression table was invented, and soon implemented on dive watches – thus allowing for the divers’ body to readjust gradually their pressure on the way back up. Today’s watch is a tribute to these vintage models.
The modern Ollech & Wajs OW Ocean Graph
Just like it was in the past, the modern versions of the Ollech & Wajs C-1000 and Ocean Graph are very close in their overall architecture, but differ on multiple elements of the habillage. In both cases, we’re talking about ultra-robust dive watches made to be used in tough conditions, equipped with all the necessary features for a professional diver, fitted with a tried-and-tested movement and relatively accessible. And in both instances, this instrumental conception is what makes these watches cool and desirable.
For its OW Ocean Graph, Ollech & Wajs is relying on its multi-purpose case, used for more than one watch. Nothing bad here, it is actually quite clever to use a shared base and then to derive models from it. As such, the Ocean Graph comes in a rather compact stainless steel case of 39.56mm in diameter. But this relatively small diameter makes no concession to the robustness of the watch. It is indeed equipped with a super-thick sapphire crystal (5.6mm in height…), a special screw-down crown with no fewer than four gaskets, thicker case walls and a reinforced screwed caseback to resist high-pressures. Altogether, this allows the OW Ocean Graph to be rated for depths of 1,000 metres – and in reality, watches are tested under a pressure of 120 atm. The downside is that the case is pretty thick, at 15.8mm. Yet, the feeling of solidity is obvious.
The main difference between this watch and the Caribbean-inspired model is the bezel. No classic 60-minute scale here but instead a so-called decompression scale printed on a crystal insert. The markings on a decompression bezel calculate the time elapsed during a dive, as well as the decompression stages corresponding to the duration and depth of the dive. The blue and white decompression bezel of the OW Ocean Graph has three concentric zones. The inner scale indicates the elapsed dive time, from 0 to 60 minutes. It also contains indications for the maximum depth of the dive, carried out in meters. In the intermediate zone are marked the dive times for which decompression will be necessary, according to the depth indicated in the most central zone. The outer zone of the bezel indicates the decompression times, in minutes, that the diver must respect at a depth of three meters, calculated according to the depth and total duration of the dive.
For the dial, Ollech & Wajs here respects the tradition of the brand for cool and bright colours, as the OW Ocean Graph is fitted with a somehow faded blue dial, with applied triangular markers at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock, as well as brushed hands filled with orange-coloured Super-LumiNova. The rest of the markers, equally luminous, are executed in white. The result is a legible and fresh dial that adds great personality to this model, different from the crown of black-dialed dive watches.
Under the solid steel caseback, engraved with the brand’s logo, is a ubiquitous movement, the ETA 2824-2. Adjusted in 5 positions and equipped with a personalized rotor, it provides accurate timekeeping and a 38h power reserve. Nothing fancy here, but this watch isn’t made to be fancy anyway.
The Ollech & Wajs OW Ocean Graph is presented either on a perlon nylon strap or, as seen here, on a bead-of-rice stainless steel bracelet, closed by a folding clasp. The bracelet feels as tough as the rest of the watch and greatly participates in its vintage appeal.
Availability & Price
The Ollech & Wajs OW Ocean Graph is now available from the brand’s website for orders. It is priced at CHF 1,696 on steel bracelet and CHF 1,556 on perlon strap.
For more details and orders, please visit ow-watch.ch.