There is significant demand within the watch industry for vintage designs. In addition to the countless vintage-inspired timepieces that are created each year, a number of brands have also started producing watches that incorporate new-old-stock parts into their construction. As its latest new release of 2023, Ollech & Wajs has created a limited-edition timepiece that combines both vintage and modern components, and the new Ollech & Wajs 56 M represents a unique offering within the brand’s modern lineup that will be produced as an exclusive batch of just 56 individually numbered examples.
Unlike the vast majority of the three-handed models from the brand’s contemporary lineup that are based upon somewhat of a skin diver-style case (such as the Ollech & Wajs Ocean Graph reviewed here), the Ollech & Wajs 56 M uses new-old-stock vintage cases, which were originally produced during the 1990s and offer a traditional round profile that recalls the appearance of military pilot watches from the late 1940s. Due to its classic form, the new 56 M looks quite a bit less purpose-built compared to most of the other watches in the Ollech & Wajs lineup, although it still maintains a highly utilitarian appearance due to its brushed surfaces and function-forward dial.
Crafted from 316L stainless steel with an entirely brushed finish, the case of the Ollech & Wajs 56 M measures 38mm in diameter by 11.5mm thick with an overall lug-to-lug profile of 45mm, and it is fitted with a signed screw-down crown and a solid stainless steel screw-down caseback, which help support its 50 meters of water resistance. Additionally, rather than receiving a sapphire crystal like the brand’s modern watches, the Ollech & Wajs 56 M is fitted with a new-old-stock plexiglass crystal that slightly sticks up above the rim of its thin fixed bezel.
Instead of featuring some type of numerical scale, the bezel of the Ollech & Wajs 56 M is engraved with a Morse code motif of dots and dashes that spell out “SOS” in white Super-LumiNova as a reference to the brand’s military heritage. The Morse code motif also appears on the matte admiralty gray dial, which has also been sourced from the brand’s unused vintage inventory. The dial features hour markers that reflect the Morse code dots and dashes, with beige-colored Super-LumiNova used on the baton-shaped “dash” markers and small white dots placed along their interior perimeter.
Rather than just having the standard propeller logo with the “OW” initials printed on its dial like the vast majority of the brand’s other watches, the new Ollech & Wajs 56 M also receives the full “Ollech & Wajs” name below its hands, which marks only the second time in the brand’s 67-year history that the founders’ full names have appeared on the dial of one of its watches. This small yet intentional deviation has specifically been done to designate the new 56 M as a vintage new stock hybrid piece and to help separate it from older Ollech & Wajs models that share the same vintage components.
Instead of opting for a contemporary caliber, the new Ollech & Wajs 56 M is powered by the brand’s last remaining stock of ETA 2824 automatic movements, which have been fully overhauled and serviced to bring them back up to specs after spending many years in storage. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 38 hours, the core architecture of the ETA 2824 serves as the basis for countless different calibers. However, rather than being one of the modern iterations of this movement such as the ETA 2824-2 (which is what can be found inside the brand’s other three-handed watches), the movement inside the Ollech & Wajs 56 M is one of the original versions of the ETA 2824, which is a design that was originally introduced in the late 1970s.
Realistically speaking, the structural differences between the various generations of the ETA 2824 are relatively minimal, so it’s not like you are getting some rare or obscure caliber with the Ollech & Wajs 56 M. However, the use of this new old stock movement is more about finding a meaningful way to up-cycle unused vintage inventory, while simultaneously creating a legitimate way to connect this new limited-edition watch to the brand’s history. Additionally, due to the minimal structural differences between the generations of the ETA 2824, performance specs are largely the same. This means that the Ollech & Wajs 56 M still offers the same core functionality as its contemporary siblings, despite being powered by a new-old-stock movement.
Fitted to the 20mm lugs of the Ollech & Wajs 56 M is a heavy-gauge stainless steel mesh bracelet. Additionally, rather than featuring a sliding clasp or deployant-style buckle like most mesh bracelets, the bracelet on the 56 M closes with a standard stainless steel tang buckle that is engraved with the brand’s “OWZ 1956” logo. The sizing holes for the bracelet are reinforced with metal rings for increased longevity and to help ensure smooth operation, while the two keepers that hold the excess length of the strap are also crafted from stainless steel to guarantee maximum durability and a cohesive overall aesthetic. My personal experience with Ollech & Wajs bracelets has largely been quite positive, although, with standard 20mm lugs, a virtually endless list of aftermarket strap options will also be compatible.
The new Ollech & Wajs 56 M will be accompanied by an official retail price of 1,356 CHF (or approximately $1,550 USD at the time of writing). Due to the nature of its new old stock components, the watch will be produced as a limited edition of just 56 examples, which serves as a reference to the year that the company was founded (1956). Despite its limited nature and vintage components, the Ollech & Wajs 56 M is priced right in line with the rest of the brand’s catalog, and it even costs slightly less than many of its other models that offer greater depth ratings or additional functionality. While Ollech & Wajs makes a number of watches that are more durable and capable than the 56 M, this unusual vintage/modern hybrid piece isn’t for the person who just wants one of the brand’s highly durable tool watches, but rather for the collector that is looking for something truly unique among the brand’s modern lineup. For more information on the limited edition Ollech & Wajs 56 M, please visit the brand’s website.