Swiss luxury watch brand ochs und junior has announced the new reference execution of the world’s most minimalist annual calendar watch: Ludwig Oechslin’s annual calendar brass.
The high-contrast dial of annual calendar brass is executed in one material – brass – with no added colour. Just two metals are visible on the watch: titanium (case, crown, buckle) and brass.Inside is the world’s most minimalist annual calendar function – just 3 specially manufactured moving parts designed by Ludwig Oechslin enable an annual calendar which requires adjustment only once per year. A typical annual calendar function uses up to 40 parts.
Dial-contrast is achieved through hand-patination of the milled indices, month, date, and weekday dots with an antique art sculpture restoration solution. The same process is applied to the hour and minute hands. A tiny excentric dot is milled into the hand-patinated second disk to show the watch is running and preserve the harmonious balance of the dial.
Ludwig Oechslin developed this single metal dial solution so that he could control the entire process of making ochs und junior prototypes in his workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Every ochs und junior annual calendar brass is a unique piece due to natural differences in the hand-patination process.
The rigorous simplicity of Ludwig Oechslin’s annual calendar goes much further than a simple solution for dial contrast though.
Ludwig Oechslin’s annual calendar watch jettisons text and numbers to give a more intuitive sense for the calendar year than an alphanumeric display, the same way an hour and minute hand give a more intuitive sense for the time than a digital display. The date, month and weekday are soon recognized simply by their analog position on the dial.
Ludwig Oechslin’s goal is to execute the most functional representation of time horizons in the most technically elegant manner possible. The ochs und junior annual calendar’s dial with no text or numbers is specifically designed to ensure the first thing the wearer sees when glancing at his watch is the time, and that ancillary indications remain perfectly legible.
Ludwig Oechslin’s unique rotating dots also provide an intuitive feel for the amount of time in a week, month, and year. Awareness of each time horizon is increased when they are observed in analogue rotation upon the wrist.
Annual calendar brass features the world’s most minimalist annual calendar function – just 3 specially-manufactured moving parts designed by Ludwig Oechslin enable a calendar function which requires adjustment only once per year, when other watchmakers use up to 40 parts.
Ludwig Oechslin accomplishes the ochs und junior annual calendar’s extreme reduction in parts by using custom-designed gears and lateral thinking instead of the conventional watchmaking solution of levers and springs.
The three specially-designed moving parts, pictured on the right, include the specially designed 5-tooth cogwheel, the month disk, and the weekday disk.
The only additional parts necessary for the function are the date disk (similar to the date disk on the ochs und junior date), a finger bonded to the hour wheel for power (similar to the one on the moon phase), and the functional dial.
Ludwig Oechslin is able to conceive novel solutions like these because of his wide-ranging background, which includes a doctorate in theoretical physics and experience restoring the Farnese astronomical clock in the Vatican. His experience has taught him that gears are a more technically elegant and reliable way to execute.
Ludwig Oechslin’s technically elegant designs allow ochs und junior watches to be custom-manufactured with high reliability in extremely small production quantities (a maximum of 300 watches are manufactured per year).
The custom-made gears of the annual calendar function, as well as the functional dial, case, crown, and buckle are manufactured outside the watch industry by Peter Cantieni, who machines ultra-precise parts for the Swiss Formula One team Sauber.
ochs und junior’s cases have visible machining marks that show the precision of Peter Cantieni’s workmanship. The resulting look is perhaps similar to the use of visible concrete in architecture. A lifetime warranty is offered on all ochs und junior parts including the annual calendar function, case, dial, crown, and buckle.
3 moving part annual calendar innovation by Ludwig Oechslin
ETA 2824-2 base movement
39mm or 42mm
Titanium case, crown and buckle (also available in silver)
All dial components executed in hand-patinated or brushed brass
Custom color options also available
Price: 8000 CHF in titanium, 10,000 CHF in silver (incl. 8% Swiss VAT)