While other fine watchmakers flaunt ultra-complex designs with thousands of parts, a niche brand elevates a high complication through radical reduction.
As much as it is about soul – think components with designs delicately etched by hand, or a dial embellished using an ancient art – haute horlogerie is also a numbers game. Often, the number of components found in a timepiece is understood to be proportionate to its complexity and quality. A mind-boggling 2,800 parts, for example, make up Vacheron Constantin’s 57- complication timepiece, the Ref. 57260 pocket watch.
Ochs und Junior, a Lucerne-based company co-founded in 2006 by visionary watchmaker Ludwig Oechslin, challenges the notion that more is more. Led by his belief that fewer parts translate to a more reliable watch requiring less servicing, Oechslin has designed an ultra-minimalist perpetual calendar that requires only nine components to be added to a Ulysse Nardin base calibre. Stunningly economical, considering perpetual calendars usually call for at least a hundred more parts.
Oechslin achieved this feat by rejecting the complicated lever-and-spring system of traditional perpetual calendar mechanisms, using a series of gears instead. These gears also serve as time and calendar indicators, further eliminating the need for more parts: The 31 holes on the perimeter of the dial indicate the date of the month – when the dot at the 30-minute mark is orange, it is the 15th. And that orange dot? It’s actually painted on the date gear. Clever.
Encased in a 42mm titanium case and devoid of fancy flourishes, this Ochs und Junior perpetual calendar shows that haute horlogerie does not always have to amaze with a cornucopia of intricate elements – it can also awe with the elegance of austerity.