The concept of customization isn’t new, however Ochs und Junior’s take on it is refreshing. They allow the client to get a very hands-on experience in ordering, designing and taking delivery of his or her new watch; a concept that harks back to the very beginning of watchmaking. Ochs und Junior is not afraid to push boundaries, as we’ll show you. We go hands-on with the re-customized Ochs und Junior Two Time Zones, with a patinated brass dial.
The options or customizations, as offered by Ochs und Junior, are virtually limitless, and customers will experience an unparalleled customer service. Choices of dials and straps dial and strap go beyond what you might expect, and even when taking all Pantone colour as option, you’ll find out there’s more, much more!
The sole reason for the type of customization is the very idea behind Ochs und Junior watches, and comes directly from the two founders, Ludwig Oechslin and Beat Weimann. Under the slogan: “Rigorously Simple Watches”, these gentlemen offer a collection of watches stripped down to the bare essentials, but still with almost limitless possibilities. Just for your reference, the Ochs und Junior Two Time Zones that features in this review started its life as the Due Ore that we reviewed several years ago.
So take that Due Ore of several years ago, change dial, hands, and strap, and you have an entirely new timepiece. Oh, and Ochs und Junior changed this model’s name from Due Ore to Two Time Zones.
The overall appearance is industrial and raw, but also somehow strangely refined. That is probably the best definition to describe the Ochs und Junior Two Time Zones. The minimalistic ethos of O&J might not be the image people instantly see when hearing the word “luxury”. It will most likely remind people of gold, jewels, refinement and complications (when it comes to watches). From the outside, O&J watches are not finish at all; the machined titanium parts (case, bezel, crown and buckle) are what they are. This is part of the minimalistic approach.
The features of the Two Time Zones might not be of the watchmaking kind. There is more to talk about in terms of customizing an Ochs und Junior then there is to talk about the features. It displays hours, minutes and seconds and a second time zone, which we’ll elaborate later on in this review.
The seconds can either be displayed by a traditional hand, mounted in the center, or by means of a small disc on top of the stem for the hands. An indicative dot will give you an indication of how many seconds of the current minute have passed. This does give you a very clean look, as it only has two “real” hands. The model we got to review features a central second hand.
Perhaps the dial of this particular model can be described as a feature to, as you don’t come across a patinated brass dial too often.
Dial and Hands:
Dials made of rusted iron, patinated brass, oxidized copper, German silver or simply finished in one of the many colors you can choose from. But you can go beyond “just” the dial and go for an array of options for the markers, hands and indicators on each model available. You can request a platinum moon or sun on the Moonphase. Milled, patinated or painted markers, indications and discs on the Annual Calendar. Contrasting colors, alternating finishes, the list is just about endless for your very own watch.
As mentioned in the opening statements, the dial is made of brass that is patinated to a dark grey, almost slate-like colour. As with all O&J models, the product is allowed to show the marks of the tooling used in the production. The vertical graining of the dial is a testament of this philosophy.
The dial features milled markers, exposing the bare brass underneath the patina. The disc for the second time zone is finished in the same process, this time with Arabic numerals. The hands are done in matching brass, to stand out against the patina of the dial.
The patinated dial emphasizes the industrial feel that oozes from the Two Time Zones. The dark tone, with bare brass hands, hour markers on the dial and numerals on the second time zone disc, is a result of process by hand. An ancient antique sculpture restoration process is used to darken the dial to what you can see in the pictures. Milled markings bring out the original brass color underneath the patina, making it very legible in the day. On this particular iteration of the Ochs und Junior Two Time Zones, no luminous material was applied however this is an option in the customization process.
Case and Strap:
The Two Time Zones is available in three different dimensions and in two different materials: 36, 39 or 42mm in diameter, and in titanium or silver. To further allow the wearer to select their perfect O&J, left-handed or right-handed can be done, as well as custom engravings on the caseback. Not revolutionary stuff, but how many Swiss brands can you name that allow you to choose a different size, material or placement of their crowns when you want to? The spread is thin, to say the least.
The Two Time Zones at hand measures 42 mm across, and is made of titanium. The case is constructed into two parts only, the upper and lower half. The lower half is also the holder for the movement, as everything is fitted from the front before being covered by the upper half and sapphire crystal. No more than 4 screws hold everything in place from the caseback.
Being a minimalistic watch brand, none of the models get an endless polishing allowing you to see your reflection. No, the O&J’s show the finishing touches of the turning and brushing of the case. It isn’t rough to the touch, it doesn’t snag on your cuff or scratch your skin, but the very fine graining surface perfectly befits the theme.
The short lugs make it feel a little smaller than it actually is, and due to the cutout of the lower part of the case the strap fits snugly under the upper half of the case (which is simultaneously the bezel.) The crown can be a little bit sharp, but is easily pulled out.
Now, in general we can share two or three lines on the strap that comes on a watch. Maybe 5 if it is available with a selection of the usual three suspects: steel, leather and rubber. Ochs & Junior does this a bit more thorough too. No less than 38 different leather colors and 38 different suede colors can be selected. On top of that, a black or orange rubber strap is also available, comparable to the one on the MIH (also Ludwig Oechslin’s work.)
A neat feature, probably mentioned in just about every article covering an O&J is the design of the buckle. The tang is not fitted directly into the strap, but in the middle of the elongated buckle. This keeps your strap end clean, but at the same time allows you to feed the strap end underneath the opposing end, thus eliminating the need for keepers. Takes just seconds of getting used to, and is a neat finishing touch to the minimalistic concept.
It might not be clear at first, but the movement inside this Ochs und Junior Two Time Zones is an ETA 2824-2. Looking at the dial, the first thing you miss is the aforementioned date; a functionality that is standard on the 2824 calibre. The date wheel, equipped with 31 teeth (one for each day) is replaced with one that counts 48 teeth. This allows the date-disc to be used as a second time zone, adjustable in two-teeth increments for each full hour.
To explain: when you pull out the crown to the position that normally allows you to set the date, it now allows you to select the second time zone. This can be done both backwards and forwards, to allow for a quick change when touching down on your holiday (or business for that matter) location. Furthermore, each movement is regulated to perform at or within 0/+5 seconds a day.
The choice for the movement seems somewhat illogical at first, but considering the simple fact that it has been tested and proved as one of the most reliable movements ever made, and can be serviced by just about any watchmaker, it does make sense.
Verdict – Pros and Cons:
- Highly customizable product, regardless of which platform you choose
- Very thoroughly executed concept; from strap to crown along the same design code
- Reliable, easily serviceable movements
- Very distinctive, stand-out design
- Relative pricey entry point with regards to movement
- Difficult to choose your very own design due to amount of movement
- Uhm… we couldn’t think of a third one so… we ask you to give us one
The Ochs & Junior Two Time Zones is available from CHF 6.000 for the titanium version. Browsing through the Ochs und Junior website, and playing with the customizing tool of a Moonphase for instance will give you an insight into what’s possible and what some of the upgrades will cost. Be careful though, messing about in the customizing tool is highly addictive!
The minimalistic approach of Ochs und Junior, the thorough execution of this concept in everything they do, and the vast array of options to choose from borders on bespoke. The limitless options can quite possibly mean no two watches coming out of the Lucerne based ‘Ochsloft’ will be the same. And isn’t that exactly what luxury is about? Check out more about Ochs und Junior on their own website.