Hiren Kumar Bose on the avant-garde “day/night” timepiece from the little-known Lucerne-based company
ochs und junior, a Lucerne-based watch company has introduced “day/night”, a new model with a function never before seen in a wristwatch. Based on the inventions and ideas of watchmaker and scientist Dr. Ludwig Oechslin whose name to fame includes Ulysse Nardin’s Trilogy of Time with its sophisticated astronomical displays reduced all the way down to the size of a wristwatch. His additional “game changers” like the Freak or Ulysse Nardin’s Perpetual Calendar. Decades of studying astronomy, the laws of planetary motion, and micromechanics are the foundation of his unique mechanical solutions.
Two years ago, ochs und junior’s perpetual calendar created a stir among experts, thanks to its 12 custom-designed parts for such a complex function, contrasting starkly with the up to 180 and more parts some competitors’ creations need. The uniquely smart functional parts designed by Oechslin also make it easier to manufacture the watch and render setting it almost foolproof.
And now comes “day/night”. “There was never a watch that showed the sunrise, the sunset and the length of the day like this,” explains CEO Beat Weinmann.
The watch is yet another result of Oechslin’s intensive research. Besides displaying the time, the date, and the moon phase, it also shows at what time the sun will rise and set, plus the current positions of the sun and the moon. It shows all of this in an extremely simple manner that makes it intuitively readable and easy to set. The exclusive manufacturer’s calibre UN-320 from Ulysse Nardin, with whom ochs und junior maintains a collaborative relationship, serves as the base movement. The entire mechanism is executed with just 13 additional parts.
The top portion of the dial represents the daytime, while the bottom half of the dial represents the night time. Since the duration of the day and night change throughout the year, there are two “wings” here, one on either side, that move up and down to adjust how long or short each appears.
The sun and the moon move in a median time. This latter differs from the time zone time depending on one’s position. Sunrise and sunset will occur at different times in the same time zone. Simply put, the day/night difference is the more pronounced the further one moves away from the equator in geographic latitude. Using the button near the 6 o’clock marker, “true noon”, which depends on one’s longitude, can be set very simply. The same function is used to switch from daylight savings to standard time and back.
Since the lengths of day and night vary according to one’s position, the watch is manufactured specifically to the geographical latitude requested by the customer. This “position individualization” can be changed, should its wearer shift the centre of their life, for example by moving from Helsinki to sunny California, by exchanging one single (!) adjusted gearwheel – a fact that illustrates how uniquely deliberate the mechanism is designed.
The watch will be manufactured specifically to the geographical latitude requested by the customer. “We have an outstanding customizer tool on our website (www.ochsundjunior.swiss) and beyond of this, we can discuss any idea our customers have and do a truly bespoke watch with a unique experience. Once the customer lets us know his location (city or village) we calculate it and manufacture the specific part,” says Beat adding that “if the requested configurations are a little too extreme, however, s/he discusses these choices directly with the customer and tries to prevent combinations that might be disadvantageous.”
Ochs und junior plan to manufacture some 30 to 40 day/night watches this year. “Our total of sold watches is around 130 per year. Almost every watch is custom-made. We share probably the highest level of radical innovation with the smallest number of customers,” concludes Beat.