This military-themed retro-styled sports timepiece, the new OW M-110 AS (“Armee Suisse”) from Zurich-based Ollech & Wajs, succeeds in a myriad of ways ranging from the style to the story and is a watch that I think a lot of people can get excited about. Ollech & Wajs currently offers the OW M-110 watches in two versions, and the only difference is the strap choice, with the slightly more expensive OW M-110 M coming on a steel Milanese-style bracelet, and this OW M-110 AS coming on the “reclaimed” vintage Swiss Army hemp twill material. Which strap you choose is a matter of style, but I think given the story and color tones, this hemp strap works a bit better with the overall design.
The Ollech & Wajs OW M-110 watch is sort of an all-purpose military watch with an emphasis on naval or plane aviation. While the case is a fully capable diver being water resistant to 300 meters, the dial and bezel configuration are more aligned with navigational timepieces. This begins with the freely rotating bi-directional compass bezel. Aside from looking cool, the main purpose of this bezel is to allow users to identify the compass directions using the sun. If your watch’s current time is accurate and you can see the sun, then the process is to first line up the position of the hour hand with the current position of the sun in the sky. The next step is to make a simple calculation based on the position of the hour hand and the sun in combination with the bezel, to determine the position of South. I don’t think this technique is used very often given the availability of electronic navigation equipment, but as a vintage-style tool watch goes, we like having this antiquated instrumentality at our fingertips. Another interesting nod to the past is the small green-colored markers on the dial next to the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock hour markers. These are meant to remind users of moments of radio silence. Such moments were traditionally used to free up the limited bandwidth of analog radio signals in order to allow for the transmission of emergency signals. I don’t think this is done any longer, but it is interesting that this otherwise attractive dial design is based on actual utilitarian functionality.
Otherwise, the dial of the Ollech & Wajs OW M-110 is an elegant exercise in legibility, vintage military style, and a palette of attractive colors that are entirely modern in their composition. The green, gray, and white colors (not to mention the color of steel) are effective for this dial for two reasons. One, they allow for enough contrast so that the dial is very legible. Second, the colors don’t contrast so much that they are harsh to the eyes. A great example is the contrast between black and white, which is harsh if both colors are presented in equal amounts on the dial. Thus, Ollech & Wajs was able to be trendy and fashionable with the watch, even though at its heart it is a retro-inspired tool watch.
The OW M-110 AS watch case is in steel and sized modestly at 39.56mm wide, 12.5mm thick, and with a 45.7mm long lug-to-lug distance. This is about as small as a tool watch as I like to wear, and I found the OW M-110 AS to be very comfortable and well-fitting on the wrist. Ollech & Wajs likes to remind people that the case is made in the Jura region of Switzerland and that, in general, more than 90% of the watch is Swiss Made. As I said above, the case is water-resistant to 300 meters with a beefier screw-down crown. Over the dial is a domed, box-style AR-coated sapphire crystal. Luminant on the dial might be a bit too weighted on the large 12 o’clock hour markers, but overall darkness legibility was very good.
There is also an interesting movement story in the OW M-110 watch — but it isn’t part of the vintage theme. Rather, the Ollech & Wajs OW M-110 watch collection is the first to feature a modern movement that will show up in future Ollech & Wajs timepieces. Positioned as a collaboration between Soprod and Ollech & Wajs, which I think means there is some personalization for use in Ollech & Wajs products, the movement inside of the OW M-110 is the Soprod Newton Precision caliber P092. Produced by Swiss Soprod, the movement appears to be a solid performer and seems architected for durability. The automatic-winding movement operates at 4Hz with 44 hours of power reserve. The movement features the time and date (which is attractively and symmetrically positioned at the 6 o’clock position on the dial) and is awarded with a “Chronofiable” certification. This is similar to COSC Chronometer certification and provides third-party evidence of a watch’s performance and accuracy over time. This watch would have been just as successful with a more standard or common automatic movement, but it is a testament to the nuanced brand personality that Ollech & Wajs is going for in offering a more original movement, and without a huge retail price.
The final bit of the OW M-110 AS story is the strap. My understanding is that Ollech & Wajs produced brand-new straps using some vintage Swiss Army surplus fabric that it was able to acquire. The fabric is a durable hemp twill in a light army green color. The fabric was purportedly produced in the 1950s and was originally designed to have a 100-year shelf life. I don’t know all the applications the material was used for, but apparently, there were some famed Swiss army backpacks produced from the hemp twill. As a watch strap material, it is joined with a rubber lining and stitched together to make for a rather nice textile-style watch strap. There is some fraying around the edges of the strap, but that isn’t a big deal and it is part of the interesting personality of the watch. The strap is very comfortable and nice to look at as it elegantly matches the green tones on the dial. I think that Ollech & Wajs could easily sell these straps (provided they have enough of the army surplus material) alone, and overall I’ve had a very pleasant experience wearing this 20mm wide hemp/rubber strap on the OW M-110 watch.
The tough news for the Ollech & Wajs OW M-110 AS is that the $1,000 – $2,000 sports watch market is very crowded right now. This watch indeed has a lot of standout elements and is certainly a solid enthusiast choice. With that said, Ollech & Wajs will need to put some effort into standing out a bit if it wants to gain the attention of the more branding and popularity-focused watch buyer consumer demographic. In time, I think they will get there. Especially as Ollech & Wajs is now communicating a lot more than in the past, and we can see real investments into new and impressive products. The price for the Ollech & Wajs OW M-110 AS watch is 1,456 Swiss Francs (the USD price on the website dynamically changes with currency value fluctuations). Learn more at the Ollech & Wajs website.
>Brand: Ollech & Wajs
>Model: OW M-110 AS
>Price: 1,456 CHF
>Size: 39.56mm wide, 12.5mm thick, 45.7mm long lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Easy to wear daily timepiece or beater-style sports watch when the colors suit the occasion.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Military-style watch lover who seeks something modestly sized, fashionable hued, and with a solid component list.
>Best characteristic of watch: Comfortable to wear, attractive to look at, high-quality modern automatic movement, nice strap with good story.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Strap frays a bit and over time it would be nice to know if Ollech & Wajs has extras to sell (and what they cost) as a replacement. Small thing, but I feel as though the dial would be that much better if the hands didn’t feel quite as flat.