In the market for a 1,000m watch? Look no further...
Ollech & Wajs (OW) can be traced back to 1956, when Albert Wajs of Zurich, partnered with Joseph Ollech to create high end watches, learning their trade by distributing Breitling and Omega. Technically their early watches did not reinvent anything, they were focused on tried and tested components which allowed for the assembly of highly competent watches. Well known parts from manufacturers such as Valjoux for movements and stainless-steel cases from Maison Etienne allowed for the creation of rugged, high legibility, military and diver style units which were variously branded under the names of OWZ, Helsa and Piz Palu, before Ollech and Wajs was locked in the early 1960s.
The early portfolio consisted of mechanical aviation style chronographs with dual sub dials and tachymetric scales. Also diving watches, mechanical and automatic (with ETA movements) and some bespoke military watches such as the sought after Early Bird which was a dedicated 24hr dial watch.
When you mention OW in conversation reference is often made to Breitling. The two companies are inextricably linked as many OW watches were made on ex-Breitling tooling after they were liquidated in the 1970s. This period saw the creation of the OW Aviation which is, to all intents and purposes, a Navitimer. Indeed, some components are Breitling made, as is the Sinn 806/9 which also shares the same heritage.
It was during this creative period that OW made the famous Caribbean 1000 Diver which was the first monobloc 1000m water-resistant diving watch. Which leads us nicely to a relatively new creation from OW – the C-1000.
Survival at 1000m
For a watch to survive the incredible stages of atmospheric compression and thermal expansion on a descent to the underwater midnight zone is a huge technical challenge. Once it has reached the bottom, the case and lens will have to withstand sub-zero temperatures and a staggering 1,456lb per square inch (100.4 BAR) of pressure pushing in on it from all sides, trying to force water inside through the gaskets and shatter the crystal.
Hence the C-1000 undergoes rigorous testing at Laboratoire Dubois in La Chaux-de-Fonds, one of only two facilities in Switzerland capable of simulating pressures of 1000. To be 100% certain of build quality one in every hundred OW’s C-1000 dive watches is tested to 1,200 metres.
OW point out that of course very few owners of dive watches ever descend close to the 100M on their dial, let alone 200M or 300M. In 1964, when Ollech & Wajs successfully pressure tested a watch to the equivalent of 1000M (3300ft), more than three times the rating of the best dive watch available at the time, it was a difficult depth to comprehend. To this day no diver has ever experienced such depths.
The OW C-1000 S is powered by a modified ETA 2824-2 OW5, which is equipped with an Ollech & Wajs engraved main plate and unique machined rotor. The movement is housed in a 39.56mm, 316L stainless-steel, and 1000m water resistant case, which is stamped, machined, and brushed in Jura, Switzerland. The upgraded OW C-1000 S is also equipped with a reinforced back case, an extra-strong domed sapphire crystal, a special quadruple gaskets screw down crown, and the Ollech & Wajs stainless steel beads of rice bracelet. The watch has a stainless-steel rotating bezel with a mineral insert, and SuperLumiNova indexes and hands for extra legibility.
Technical Specifications: OW C-1000
DIMENSIONS: 39.56 mm X 15.8 mm
CASE: brushed 316L stainless steel, reinforced screwed back, special triple gasket screw-down crown, unidirectional 60 min rotating bezel, manufactured in Jura, Switzerland.
GLASS: domed sapphire with anti-glare treatment
DIAL: hands and indexes in Super-LumiNova®
WATER RESISTANCE: 1000m/ 100atm
MOVEMENT: automatic ETA 2824-2 OW5P, 25 Jewels. 28,800 bph, with a power reserve of +/- 38 h. Mainplate engraved Ollech & Wajs Zurich 1956, and OW machined rotor
ORIGIN: 90% Swiss Made, excluding strap and packaging
STRAP OPTIONS: - 20mm wide, RAF nylon strap, origin Great Britain, 20mm wide, rubber strap, origin Italy
Some personal thoughts
Technically the C-1000 and C-1000 S are hugely impressive creations. There is a plethora of “life at 1000m” information on the OW website which makes for extremely interesting reading. The crushing statistics are eyewatering. True, it is very unlikely that any of us will ever see those depths and most C-1000s will be subjected to little more than a PADI 18m dive limit but there is something hugely reassuring about having such a competent piece of equipment on your wrist. Like any watch created for extremes, it gives confidence that you can tackle anything – it is so much more than a wearable machine.
Worthy of note is that the original Caribbean 1000 was the watch of choice for Bodie and Doyle in CI5…. If you are not familiar with the classic 1970s UK cop-show The Professionals I cannot recommend you watch it now as it is very dated but back in the day these guys were the epitome of cool and toughness. So, to those of us who grew up with the exploits of CI5, this new C-1000 will not only allow us to dive with confidence but will allow us to feel a little like our childhood heroes!
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