Definitive O&w Information And History

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I was wondering whether a definitive O&W history exists on the net? Given that Mr Ollech apparently died in the early 1970's and the fact that Albert Wajs must be getting on a bit if the company ws founded in 1956, I think an overview is due. Ideally, the sort of rigorous analysis done by Pete Millar about Doxa or Chuck Maddox about Moonwatches should be carried out. Here's what I've found from various sources on the net:

From Albert Wajs's own site:

"The story begins 1956 when, together with a partner, I founded the Ollech & Wajs Watch Company. Right from the beginning, we concentrated

on manufacturing rugged, good looking sports watches at affordable prices. One day, a young American student on visit in Switzerland, bought

one of our watches. He said to us: Why don't you sell your watches in the US. Everyone there, needs a timepiece like that, that can stand it's man. To keep quality high and prices low, we decided to try something new... To sell by mail to US customers direct from Switzerland and eliminate the middleman's profit. This approach proved very successful, for our company, and also for the many happy US owners of our watches. Our company received many letters from satisfied customers. You can view some of these letters on my homepage."

from Neil Wood's site in conjunction with A. Wajs

"The History of Ollech & Wajs - Written by Neil Wood, but in consultation with Mr. Albert Wajs for authentication of the history of his company

Ollech & Wajs started business in the 1950’s when Albert Wajs began making and supplying stainless steel bracelets for wristwatches. In 1956, a partnership was formed with Mr Ollech, and they soon began manufacturing wristwatches. From the outset, the design philosophy was to create durable and good looking sports watches at affordable prices. Business was done from their retail premises in Zurich. They soon began to expand into world wide markets, more notably the US and UK markets. This was achieved through a low cost approach so as to keep the watch prices low. They began to advertise in magazines that were popular with aviators, soldiers, divers and sportsmen. They were selling direct to the end user by mail order from Switzerland. They cut out all of the middlemen, and there was no need to invest heavily in overseas infrastructures, so the cost of quality watches was kept to a minimum.

Sales were increasing so the O&W company were able to produce more models and focus on production methods so that the quality became better. In the 1960’s they were selling a high quality professional divers wristwatches for US $12. These watches became very popular with US soldiers who bought them privately, as they were the best quality watch and value for money they could find, and they were a vast improvement on their inferior quality government issued disposable watches.

Sales reached an all time high during the Vietnam era when they were selling thousands of watches via direct mail order. Towards the late 1970’s, Mr. Wajs bought up much of the Breitling stock for the aviation models such as the Navitimer. They began producing their own label watches with the Breitling cases and the same calibres used in Breitling watches. These watches were branded “Aviation†and are now highly prized amongst collectors. The advent of the quartz powered mechanisms drove down much of the traditional watch making industry, and O&W ceased production in the early 1980’s.

By the early 1990’s, the more discerning consumers who were concerned with quality, style and craftsmanship were becoming tired of quartz wristwatches. Whilst quartz watches were accurate, they were mass produced, often lasted less than a few years years, lacked in character and had no soul. This thought allowed a resurgence in Swiss watch making where customers preferred the machines made by highly skilled craftsmen who have inherited their skills over hundreds of years in the making. O&W subsequently began production again, this time under a new company, formed by Albert Wajs. The company is called A. I. Wajs, who proudly present A. I. Wajs Army Watches. They still use the logo and the brand name Ollech & Wajs or O&W, as these brand names are owned by Albert Wajs.

Albert Wajs is running the company with as much energy and enthusiasm as ever. He is constantly coming up with new ideas and creating new models. He calls upon his wealth of knowledge and technical brilliance to create innovative, fresh and appealing designs. His philosophy however still remains today as it did when he started in business – cost effective, durable and good looking watches. He is passionate about watches, is well known and well respected amongst the Swiss watch making fraternity. His passion and desire is reflected in his “appeal to all†wristwatch designs, and his personal success."

info from the MWR site:

"The company now known as A.I.Wajs Army Watches is a manufacturer of durable, rugged yet affordable sports watches. An interesting history began in the 1950s when Albert Wajs was supplying the stainless steel bracelets for wristwatches. Wajs partnered with Mr Ollech to begin to manufacture solid and sturdy timepieces and the company launched as Ollech & Wajs.

The business model that Ollech & Wajs followed was to maintain a low price by selling direct to customers and they have maintained this model through the rise and fall of the company. Very popular with soldiers, sportsman, divers and aviators, the Ollech & Wachs watches were sold predominantly to the US and the UK. The Vietnam era was a peak period for the firm and the Wajs aviator watches created from Brietling cases are still a prized collectors item.

In the 1980s the company closed along with many others as the quartz movement came into fashion. However demand for the reliability of a mechanical watch led Wajs to reopen the company by himself in the 1990s under the name A.I. Wajs.

A.I.Wajs watches are still popular today, still 100% Swiss and still sold via direct mail. Time proven business and design models continue as the basis for the company’s success. New watches sold under A.I.Wajs brand retail on average for approximately US$200. Collectors watches under the brand name Ollech & Wajs can retail for up to US$2000."

"Ollech & Wajs got their start in 1956, manufacturing and selling rugged sports watches at affordable prices. Their heyday was during the 1960's when many of their watches were sold to servicemen overseas. This catalog is representative of their line during the 1960s. Interestingly, they also offered Omega, Breitling and Enicar watches in addition to their own.

Ollech & Wajs ceased production during the 1980's when quartz revolution took place and mechanical timepieces all but became extinct. Today Albert Wajs has resumed production of fine mechanical timepieces, and O&W is once again gaining a reputation for their rugged mechanical sports watches at affordable prices."

Some info about the EarlyBird can be found at:

http://www.50717.com/notissued/ow-earlybird-01.html

Some info about the Caribbean 1000;

http://scubawatch.org/caribbean.html

http://www.personal.u-net.com/~carnfort/Pr...ls/hardware.htm

Some Caribbean 1000 stuff from TZ:

"Not a review. Just a look at an inovative idea designed 30 years ago and why a little known company built something that should have been built by Rolex in IMHO.

The watch in the scans below is an Ollech & Wajs Carbbean 1000 meter dive watch. O & W were not only makers of interesting watches, but also supplied parts to Breitling for their Navitimer models.

The case is a s/s unibody (one piece) with the movement inserted from the top. 40 mm in diameter and 45.5 mm lug to lug. With crystal on. The height is 16 mm. Crown is a screwdown with threads on the inside of the winding tube.

The movement is an unadorned ETA 17 jewel automatic with date.

Bezels came with 60 minute or 12 hour bi-directional turning with luminous markings. The watch came in dark blue, black, yellow or jade green with matching bezel insert. There were also two different widths of bezel inserts. A thin model (shown in scan) or the wider (about 1 mm more)

The watch in the early 70's was used to set a number of dive records. With tank and without. Been also said that the watch was a favorite of Vietnam military personnel who purchased the watches rather than use one's supplied to them.

The interesting thing about the watch is the crystal and why the watch warrents it's 3000 ft. depth rating.

The movement sits in a movement ring and is placed deep into the case. The crystal is then placed into the case and held in place with a s/s screwdown retaining ring. A rubber "O" ring under the crystal and a flat rubber ring under the retaining ring insuring proper water tightness.

With the bezel on. The crystal has a very low profile. The edge is barely 1/32nd above the rim and sit's about 1/8" higher in the middle.

The crystal is a slab of plastic. 1/8" thick on the side, with a 1/8" thick lip which the retaining ring presses down on. It's the top that's interesting.

Due to the lower sitting movement. The crystal has a very shallow curve on the underside matching that of the top. Between inside and out, is a 5 MM thickness of plastic.

At the time of it's creation. The Rolex Submariner had a 200 meter or 660 ft. depth rating.

Original value was $105.00

Most of these seen for sale are NOS due to the company going out of business just after the death of Mr. Ollech in the early 70's

At most, have seen over the past year and a half is less than 50 watches listed for sale. How many were produced is unknown, but willing to say that compared to a vintage Rolex from the same era that the Caribbean is much rarer

Current prices for the watches are about $550-$700. With a price of $1000.00 expected by the end of the year by some collectors."

Here's some very interesting info. about the purported relationship between O&W and Jenny by Peter at watchuseek:

"Jenny Caribbean is a dive watch but is also significant as a vintage watch. Jenny appears to have made watches for only about 10 years from the early 60's to the early 70's and they are accordingly rare and sought after.

The basic movements were ETA to which Jenny added special cases, dials and bezels.

Jenny invented the triple safe one piece case in the early 1960s and issued the first 1000 metre rated diver which ultimately lead to the Omega Ploprof.

My research shows that Jenny was probably assembled by Ollech & Wajs under a reciprocal arrangement that allowed O&W to sell the Jenny patents with their own branding.

The evidence for this is that whilst it is well known that Jenny owned the patents, there is no evidence whatsoever that Jenny had a watch making facility. O&W ofcourse had a well known factory.

Moreover, the Jenny divers came in some very unusual shapes and only the O&W Caribbeans can be found with exactly the same unusual cases.

The Caribbean range included Super Water Proof Divers rated for deep water use between 200 metres and 2000 metres, and Dive Chronos rated for use in more shallow water.

The Jenny Caribbean 1000 came with a decompression table bezel and as we have recently cracked how to use it in the WUS Dive Watch Forum I can tell you it had no purpose other than underwater use.

The extremely rare Jennys are the Caribbean 1000 in Orange or Blue from 1963."

Some O&W links and old catalogues from Chuck Maddox:

http://home.xnet.com/~cmaddox/o_and_w/impo...matter.html#Top

http://home.xnet.com/~cmaddox/o_and_w/inst...ctions.html#Top

http://home.xnet.com/~cmaddox/o_and_w/catalog/catalog.html

http://home.xnet.com/~cmaddox/o_and_w/odds...d_ends.html#Top

Some Aviation watch details at:

"The story has been told numerous times before, so I'll only give a short version here.

In 1979 the original Breitling company that was founded in 1892, and had been in family hands all its life, was liquidated. Several parties acquired parts of the Breitling heritage. Name, designs and parts all went to new owners.

The Ollech & Wajs company was founded more then twenty years earlier, somewhere in the 50's, by the two gentlemen that gave the company it's name. They specialised in good quality, affordable tool watches, and achieved quit a good reputation among soldiers, that preferred them to the government issued watches. In 1979 O&W had the foresight to buy much of the parts that were stocked by Breitling to build and/or service their watches from the Navitimer line.

Up to this day they still have on offer new, unused watches build from original Breitling parts, and parts that came from the original Breitling suppliers. They are sold under the Aviation name.

There are six models available. All of them in steel, and some also plated and in 18k gold. Prices range from SFr 2150 (US$1800) for the ref.nr.44017 in steel, to SFr 8425 (US$7060) for the ref.nr.34017 in 18k gold. All of them with vintage movements, including a gift box, leather strap and instructions for use.

It's important to notice that these watches were designed in the 60's and 70's, and although they are new, they must be considered classic watches. They have beautiful vintage mechanical movements, that will give years of trouble free service if well maintained. Most are hand wound, although two models make use of the Buren Cal.12. These latter movements lack a running second hand, and have a reputation for being fairly difficult to maintain. All of these watches should be considered very poorly protected against water. Don't even wear them when coming close to water. The one exception is the ref.nr.6081, that in its days was supposed to be waterproof. But although this watch will be better protected against accidental submersion, for practical purposes it should be considered not to be waterproof as well.

Just suppose you're in the market for a classic pilot's chronograph. You like the Navitimer designs, and you are fascinated by the rich aviation history of the Breitling brand. You prefer a new unused watch, and want to avoid the risks that come with buying a vintage wristwatch.

There are several options open to you.

Obviously you can go for a brand new Breitling. The Breitling name was revived again in 1982 by Ernest Schneider from the Sicura firm. Ever since they have produced new watches, some of which are in design at least close to the original and carry the Breitling Navitimer name. The Breitling company has successfully tried to move upmarket, and both the quality and price are in a different league then the originals were.

You might want to have a look at Sinn. Helmut Sinn bought the rights to the Navitimer design, and the Sinn company still has a few models in their line-up that are closely related to the Navitimer. In some ways you might argue that Sinn is closer to the philosophy of the original Breitling company, in the sense that they focus on technical improvements, and try to keep the price modest. Their Navitimer derivative is more a tool watch, like the Navitimer was once meant to be.

If you want to stay closer to the original, and you don't need the technical improvements that were made in the last 35 years, there are still a few options left.

You could buy a NOS original Breitling from Old World Jewellers in the US, but there are only a few Navitimer models left, and prices are very high.

Finally there's O&W. If you can live without the Breitling print on the dial, this is probably as close as you can get to the original Navitimer. It's basically a brand new watch made from original parts. In several ways, these Aviation's are more closely related to the much loved 60's/70's Navitimer's then the present day Breitlings are."

I have tried to bring together here a list of all of the O&W info available on the net. If anyone knows of anything else, please add it to the list.

Note to moderators: I have tried to avoid posting links to commercial sites. If I have posted commercial links, then please remove them at your discretion. I am merely trying to produce a full O&W picture. If you do remove any links, I will then try to post the information in another way, for example by reposting the articles inclusive of the pictures.

cheers

Dave

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Posted · Report post

The story begins 1956...

That must mean it's time for a 50th anniversary special. Perhaps a limited edition of the ID3077 with a nicely decorated movement, sapphire back and an M1 dial and chunky sword hands a bit like the rlt36... :cool:

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Thanks Dave, for putting the info, all in one place ;)

Mike

P.S can this be posted so it's always at the top of the Forum?

Edited by MIKE

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Posted · Report post

Thanks Dave, for putting the info, all in one place ;)

Mike

P.S can this be posted so it's always at the top of the Forum?

You're most welcome Mike :)

It's not quite all of the info. on the net as I've found another link to Aviations and their relationship with Breitling Navitimers on the www.navitimer.net website. The author seems to be Breitling expert and regular forummer on t'other side, Doug Darter. If the link doesn't take you directly to the O&W section, it can readily be found on the left hand menu:

http://www.lesmala.net/jean-michel/navitimer/index2.htm

I would be delightedif this information was made into a "sticky" at the top of the forum. However, I would like to amend the spelling, typos etc and there would probably be extra links to add. Also, and copyright issues notwithstanding, it would be nice to repost some of the pictures from the various sites to make the thread a bit more readable.

cheers

Dave

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Posted · Report post

Hi Dave,

Very interesting links. I've just bought an O&W Mirage III from Roy and it's superb value and quality for the price :) It's also VERY accurate!! :)

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Posted · Report post

Roy has just kindly sent me a 1968 letter from Global Marine Inc. Oceanics Division to O&W apparently reporting the results of a field test of an O&W Caribbean 1000 model 702 diver and an O&W Astrochron model 2003 chronograph. Here is the letter.

IPB Image

IPB Image

Great stuff, thanks Roy :rltb:

cheers

Dave

Further to the above, the Astrochron model 2003 and the Caribbean 702 are shown below in these catalogue shots. I can post the complet catalogue if anyone's interested. (all credit to the original, but anonymous poster on another site)

IPB Image

IPB Image

BTW, another forummer's watch (Ocean-Graph) seems to be shown in the second picture.

cheers

Dave

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Posted · Report post

Thanks Dave, very interesting reading this. :)

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Posted (edited) · Report post

BTW, another forummer's watch (Ocean-Graph) seems to be shown in the second picture.

That be this one, then :D

IPB Image

More great info Dave and Roy ;)

Edited by MIKE

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Posted · Report post

Great post Dave with loads of useful information :yes:

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Posted · Report post

BTW, another forummer's watch (Ocean-Graph) seems to be shown in the second picture.

That be this one, then :D

IPB Image

More great info Dave and Roy ;)

That's a super watch Mike, what a find :tongue2::P A Caribbean with that US Divers bezel would have cost a fortune :eek:

Presumably, your watch does not have the Jenny logo, but has the diver and fish logo on the back.

cheers

Dave

Great post Dave with loads of useful information :yes:

I'll be able to provide more information if I get permission from Albert Wajs to scan the old O&W and Caribbean catalogues that I have and then post the images :)

cheers

Dave

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Posted · Report post

Presumably, your watch does not have the Jenny logo, but has the diver and fish logo on the back.

Dave

Yes that's the one, and only a chrome case :( but nice old watch regardles :)

Mike

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Posted · Report post

Presumably, your watch does not have the Jenny logo, but has the diver and fish logo on the back.

Dave

Yes that's the one, and only a chrome case :( but nice old watch regardles :)

Mike

It's still a very nice watch Mike and holds a strong resemblance to one of the most desirable Caribbeans: the 702 with US Divers ND limits bezel and orange face. Thepics aren't mine and neither is the watch :cry2: All credit to the original photographer and poster.

IPB Image

IPB Image

cheers

Dave

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Posted · Report post

After a long, hard and impossible research of the original OW case, 2 weeks ago i've sell this movement for 200 USD

Maybe a 34200 ??

medium_25ccef1b53ded83f2743d339b80057a9.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

thank you so much for putting this up! did not realise the moon orbiter cost more than the early bird when it was first released!

Edited by kpaxsg

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Great post Dave with loads of useful information :yes:

+1 - Thanks very much. I have this 3077 incoming (photo by previous owner)

OllechWajs3077.jpg

It's my first O&W & I'm really looking forward to getting it.

Edited by Andy Tims

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Posted · Report post

I have no O&W photos I'm affraid but when do you can use them.

Loving reading the info posted here in particular the letter. I laughed out loud where the diver praises the watches performance but then suggests the bracelets are connected better as they lost one of the test watches on a dive.

Surely this is a fail in any diving watch test.

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Posted · Report post

BTW, another forummer's watch (Ocean-Graph) seems to be shown in the second picture.

That be this one, then :D

ORANGEOW1.jpg

More great info Dave and Roy ;)

That's a super watch Mike, what a find :tongue2::P A Caribbean with that US Divers bezel would have cost a fortune :eek:

Presumably, your watch does not have the Jenny logo, but has the diver and fish logo on the back.

cheers

Dave

Great post Dave with loads of useful information :yes:

I'll be able to provide more information if I get permission from Albert Wajs to scan the old O&W and Caribbean catalogues that I have and then post the images :)

cheers

Dave

thats a great looking watch!

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Posted · Report post

How come Ollech & Wajs doesn't appear to have their own web site? Who owns them?

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Posted · Report post

Its because Albert Wajs is about 80 and still going

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Posted · Report post

very helpful to get this type of detail - exactly the reason I joined this forum

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Posted · Report post

Thanks for taking the time to write this up, a very informative read to go with my cup of tea!

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Posted · Report post

Last year I asked some questions to mr. Wajs and he kindly answered. I have a nice true 24h Moon Orbiter with original sword-type hands and mr. Wajs wrote:

Von der Moon Orbiter wurden weniger als 100 Uhren hergestellt, von der Early Bird ca, 500 Uhren.

That means, there was less than 100 Moon Orbiters produced. As it is known some of Moon Orbiters have 12h movement what makes true 24h Moon Orbiter even rarer. Early Bird is a well-known watch and the series was much bigger (500). As you probably know Early Bird hommage is now produced by Airnautic.

Another quote from mr. Wajs, when I asked why some Moon Orbiters have instead Orano Computer on the dial.

Das Modell habe ich selbst gestaltet, und dann in einer kleinen Serie bei Orano gebaut. Orano hat wahrscheinlich einige Moon Orbiter für Eigene Kunden hergestellt

I personally created Moon Orbiter and small serie was produced for me by Orano. Probably Orano made some watches more extra for his customers.

My Moon Orbiter:

746468d1340620295-what-24-hours-watch-yo

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