Discussing watches with collectors never fails to amaze and inspire me. I tend to find it is the stories behind the watches themselves that evokes the emotion within a collector. As the great marketing guru Simon Sinek always says, it is not the ‘what’ but the ‘why’ which counts. I am also of the belief watch collecting should be something that has less to do with social significance and more about intrinsic meaning and a deeper appreciation of time for a collector (although this is not always the case). An example of this is this Andre Ekrem’s Ochs und Junior, a fascinating timepiece which on first inspection looks extremely simple. Andre is a 34 year old from Bergen in Norway a self-confessed corporate slave by day and watch geek by night (and weekend!). With a passion for travel, he tells me he frequently finds himself visiting independent watchmakers on the move. Let’s find out why his Ochs und Junior is so special to him.
When did you first get into watches?
As long as I can remember I have been fascinated with watches, smitten by my mother’s interest in them. My first “serious” purchase was at the age of 14 when I had saved up enough money to buy the Omega Seamaster Bond model. Shortly after I was on a vacation to the island of Maderia and visited a local Audemars Piguet dealer where I saw the Offshore for the first time and fell in love. The dealer was kind enough to let me handle it on my daily visits for one week, this has stuck with me because I am quite sure he was well aware that I could not buy it. But the episode made me a loyal AP customer some years down the road.
What drew you to Ochs und Junior as a brand?
I first read about them on various blogs like Monochrome, and then I started my research. Contemplated a while on purchasing the MIH watch and ended up with the moon phase as the first model. I loved the idea behind the brand, simplicity and focus on the watch and its functions not the brand ambassadors as many other do. At that moment I had been through so many of the big brands models and found most “boring” and flipped most of them quickly after purchasing them, that I started to look at the Indie watch scene. I went on a weekend trip to Lucerne and met Beat (member of the Ochs und Junior team) at the first location they had and was impressed. Impressed by the hospitality, the honesty and their watches.
We know Ochs und Junior are famous for their customization, what attracted you to the rust dial?
The rust was a spur of the moment on one of my visits to Ochs. On one of my earlier visits I had asked Beat if it was possible to have the moon phase or annual calendar in rust, as I like the rough look, but was told at first that they could not sell one because the rust would attack the moving parts. Then on a later visit I jokingly told him that I would buy the annual calendar if he could make it with a rust dial. the answer was quickly yes we can. I do not know if he has regretted that afterwards… Long story short, I ordered one with silver case and rust dial as a gift for my newborn son to inherit in the future.
Can you tell us more about the movement?
The movement is a module based one developed by Ludwig Oechslin. Oechslin has developed a supersimple annual calendar complication consisting of only five parts which is piggybacking on a ETA 2824-2. I love the ETA 2824-2 for its simplicity and easy service possibility. I live in Norway where it is not too easy to find a decent watchmaker to service my watches, most end up going back to Switzerland.
Do you find yourself having to explain the annual calendar functionality to others as it looks like a deceptively simple watch?
That is the part I love with the annual calendar: it looks so simple and most people do not get it. I then get to share all my nerdness for the model and most that see it love the clean look and appreciate to cleverness behind it.
Generally are you drawn to clean looking dials?
Not really, I like the dials that do not bore me, that might be a really clean looking dial or a busy one. I tend to rather look at symmetry and the reason for why the dial is as it is.
What is the case material?
Sterling silver 925 which is fantastic and I love the patina it develops.
How does it feel on the wrist?
It sits great on the wrist and the sturgeon leather strap is hard at first but forms quickly to the wrist and gives it, I guess, a great look.
When buying a new watch, what is more important to you: Brand/model Heritage/Aesthetic/Accuracy or Rarity?
In truth I love all watches and I do not find myself focusing on any of the above mentioned criteria above one another. That does not mean that I like all I see and at certain price levels I feel that many brands are too similar, a good reason for me to not care about them. I do like the rarer models, not in terms of Limited Editions, but models that have a smaller target group due to their eccentricity. I think too many people worry about what they should like, instead of what they do like, due to terms of resale, holding its value etc. I buy what I like if I feel that the price is right, I tend not to buy what, in my opinion, are overpriced models.
How much wrist time does this piece get?
At periods it is my daily wearer, but in general a few times per week at least.
What sort of day/event do you find yourself strapping it on?
I will wear it for any occasion as it really flies under the radar, but I am especially aware of wearing it around any special occasion that involves my son, like his birth.
Do you tend to research the market before making a purchase?
That is the fun part of any purchase! I simply love to research and get in all the details, read the reviews and if I am lucky communicate with all the great members of the various forums that might have first hand experience with the model.
Do you listen to the advice of anyone before making a purchase?
I value others opinion but I rarely weigh to much on others input, I follow my gut.
Is the joy of wearing a watch more important to you than considering resale value?
Definitely, I used to overthink in terms of resale etc, not anymore, most I buy is intended to be keepers. Of course, this costed me some money over the years.
What (if anything) have you got your eye on next?
Can a collector ever be fully satisfied with his/her collection?
I don’t think so. I think you can for certain periods of life due to other priorities but the majority of the collectors I know always end up with more or exchanging current pieces. In my opinion there is always the next white whale you are hunting. I feel satisfied when I have acquired a certain piece but I do love the hunt for it, the search for the right model.
Other than Ochs und Junior, which brands do you think are doing interesting work out there?
I have a very soft spot for Nord Zeitmaschine, which in my opinion is very underestimated for its complexity. I think the founder is a great guy who makes wonderful alternative ways of showing time. I also adore MB&F and their fun madness which I always look forward to admire.
What piece of advice would you give to someone considering starting a collection?
My first advice is to always follow your heart and buy what you like and if necessary save up for it, do not compromise, most times you will feel unfulfilled even regret and end up selling and possibly lose money which you could have used for the piece you really wanted.
When collecting do you think its important to stick to a brand or a category (ie.Patek, IWC / aviation, dive pieces?)
For me it is not. When I started I never thought I would buy any brand but Omega, but this quickly proved wrong. Why have limits? I like to explore as much as possible and I do not have a certain category I fit into, but I do like the unusual timers…
Is this Ochs und Junior a keeper?
I really love the piece and it has a special sentimental value. It will never leave my hands except passing it over to my son in the future, but I will have fun with it meanwhile.