UN­CON­VEN­TIONAL WIS­DOM

The Peak Selections: Timepieces - - The Last Page -

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.

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