Just like people, wristwatches each have their own personality. Some are the minimalist, no-nonsense variety. Others are more complicated than a tax return.
If you’re a regular reader of this column, or my blog you’ll know that in watchmaking terminology, a “complication” is any function of a watch besides the most obvious one: telling the time.
In an age gone digital, wearing a watch with mechanical complications isn’t a necessity – it’s a matter of personal style. In my years at the watch boutique I’ve seen all the varieties of people and watches come and go. There are those who want a tachymeter bezel for its sporting appeal, and those who insist on a power reserve complication as a technicality. Others want nothing but two elegant hands on a stylish dial.
For years watchmakers have been creating ever more complicated watches in a bid to outdo the competition. Complications like perpetual calendars, for example, make for good marketing. In my opinion, more than two or three complications on a watch is overdoing it – but many disagree.
The most well-known (and the most popular) complications are the day, date and year functions. There is also the chronograph (or stopwatch), the moon phase and the GMT (or second time zone). But there are many.
The Vacheron Constantin 57260 currently holds the record for the most complicated watch in the world, with 57 complications. It contains an incredible 2800 working parts, each one hand-engraved.
This monster of complexity includes six time measurement functions, seven perpetual calendar functions, four three-column wheel chronograph functions, nine astronomical calendar functions, eight Westminster carillon striking functions… you get the idea.
Now this isn’t your everyday watch. It’s one of a kind – and in all honesty – who would ever really use all those complications? Nevertheless, it’s an engineering tour de force, and a notch in the belt for the brand.
On the other extreme, but perhaps just as noteworthy is the sublime minimalism of the fine watches created by Ochs Und Junior. It’s the very deliberate absence of luxurious complexity that I find so appealing about their style. Minimalist style gurus take note!
Now, you’ve probably never heard of this brand because they don’t really advertise. That’s not an oversight, it’s deliberate. It’s one of the many untraditional things about Ochs and Junior.
The company’s founder, Ludwig Oechslin is a Doctor of Theoretical Physics, and the mastermind behind the revolutionary minimalist MIH watch. His philosophy: “In a world geared towards quantitative growth, we have opted for an alternative path.”
While studying the Farnese clock in the Vatican vaults, Oechslin learned that wheels and cogs are simpler, and far more efficient and reliable than the traditional levers and springs used by other watchmakers.
He went on to design the world’s most accurate moon phase watch using a standard run-of-the-mill ETA watch movement, and just five additional parts. In layman’s terms - That’s watchmaking genius at work.
Each Ochs Und Junior watch is custom made for each unique customer. You can choose any color you like. The new watch comes on a minimalistic piece of cardboard with a cartoon sketch done by one of the founder’s friends. You won’t find anything like it on a new Rolex.
You may be a simple man with simple tastes, or you may enjoy the marvelous complications of a multi-function wristwatch. Either way, when you’re looking for an accessory that speaks your language, make sure your timepiece is an expression of the authentic you.