Date watch German silver 39mm Ochs und Junior
Date watch German silver 39mm Ochs und Junior
Image: Supplied

I was chilling with friends at their pool overlooking the Atlantic a couple of weekends ago, while also catching up on some much-needed sun and reading. My pile of recommended but yet-to-be-read titles has grown as fast as this year has passed. I’ve all the good intentions in the world, but not enough allotted time. As usual, Haruki Murakami took precedence, as his work carries me away to a much-needed parallel universe.

A container ship on the horizon caught my eye as it entered my peripheral vision before disappearing behind my book. That was at about 1.30pm and by the time it came back into sight, more than two hours had passed. Sundays.

We’d been talking earlier about xennials. My friends seemed chuffed with their newly discovered classification: being too old to be millennials, but not old enough to be gen Xers like myself. They’re suitably cynical and optimistic at the same time. The dilemma of living now: as much as we try to break down barriers and stereotypes, and fight for our rights to be individuals, it appears that humans find comfort in their reclassification.

I watched two seasons of Stranger Things in less than a week. The '80s were my high-school years - I hated both - and drifted through them in my upside-down universe. For the others, things seemed so simple back then. Girls wore pink, boys played rugby, and sensitive guys, well, we were bullied. Now geeks are cool and kids can chose to express themselves however the hell 'they' like. What a life before cellphones.

I had a mild breakdown while shopping in Pick n Pay for the Santa Shoe Box project, when it hit home how grossly gender-stereotyped children’s toys, clothes, and even toiletries are. What if the recipient of my box, an anonymous five-year-old boy, doesn’t like trucks, camo and Spiderman? I settled on crayons, some pens, a sketch pad, a pale yellow T-shirt and jeans, then imposed my love of cars through a Matchbox classic and added the Man in Tights tooth brush, and a very neutral big box of Smarties.

While researching the watch industry’s moves on millennials and women, I came across an 11-year-old brand that is not chasing the market at all. However, in staying true to its own principles, Ochs und Junior is being far more relevant. One of the founders is veteran designer Ludwig Oechslin, who created some of Ulysse Nardin’s most awarded timepieces, such as the avant-garde Freak, Moonstruck, and Trilogy of Time. He also curated and managed the Musée International d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, so the man knows about fine watchmaking.

In creating “intelligent watches for people who don’t always take life too seriously” the brand has also created the perfect range of watches for this generation. The watches are totally unbranded, with “open-ended” customisation, on straps in a choice of hand-stitched sturgeon or “happy cow” Ecopell leather. The watches can be acquired only by contacting the dashing cofounder, Beat Weinmann, directly. How’s that for the ultimate consumer retail experience?

Oechslin’s concept was to make “rigorously simple watches” using gear systems to implement functions, with time displayed in analogue fashion. This is perfectly illustrated in the “date” watch, which displays only the essentials — time and date. The “date” is entirely Swiss made and features an ETA 2824 movement with 38-hour power reserve. From R85 000 for the 39mm in titanium.

For more info, contact Weinmann on +41 (0)79 232 63 15 or beat@ochsundjunior.swiss, ochsundjunior.swiss; ulysse-nardin.com

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