This is my first attempt at writing a watch review and I’m really kind of excited about it! From time to time I have read watch reviews after doing a google or some other search engine inquiry. I would often ask myself who is this person? What is their background and what basis are they forming their opinions?
So I think it’s important to tell you the reader a little about myself. I’m a watch enthusiast, not a jeweler, not a watchmaker, nor do I represent any watch company. I’m a middle class, hard working, family guy with three young kids. Prior to my father giving me his vintage 806 Navitimer that he purchased new back around 1964, my watch interest lay dormant just below the surface. When issues arose with that special piece I was forced to purchase a new watch as a daily wearer. Over the past three years I have purchased, sold, collected and tried to learn as much as time would allow. I have spent way to much of my childrens education fund on watches (sound familiar) My collection now includes the above mentioned Navitimer (fully refurbished), a Marathon G-SAR, Oris TT1, Seiko Blk Monster (my beater for lack of a better term), Marathon Field watch with rotating bezel and tritium tubes (my sleep watch), Seiko skx009 and 171 w/007 bezel, and my most expensive acquisition, a Breitling SuperOcean Chronograph. I have others . . . but who cares, right? That is a little about me and my watch background. Chances are, I'm a lot like you.
My latest purchase is an Ollech & Wajs M1. This is the watch I’m going to review. I did a little homework before purchasing this watch to read up on the history of O&W. They have a rich history of providing Swiss Made timepieces by mail order. They were very popular with those in the military during the Vietnam era. So I decided to give one a try, and I’m very glad I did.
The basic stats on the watch are;
ETA 2824-2 automatic movement
Mineral crystal w/magnifier
39mm in diameter
Unidirectional Rotating bezel
Screw down crown
200 meters water resistant
Deployant clasp with divers flip lock and divers extention
First let me state I’m thrilled with this watch. It has its flaws but it fits the price point perfectly.
First up is the case and case back. The case as mentioned is 39m in diameter. The basic shape is quite similar to a Rolex Submariner. The top surface is brushed very nicely and the sides are polished. The lugs are long so the watch wears bigger than the diameter would indicate. The lugs also taper nicely towards the bracelet so the transition from lug to bracelet is fairly smooth. The M1 also has great presence on the wrist do to the fact that the case back protrudes down roughly two millimeters. This causes the watch to stand tall on the wrist. The back also has a lot of space for engraving if your into that kind of thing.
Next up is the Dial. At first this looks like a fairly simple black dial. However, it has some nice details. The dial sits deep in the case so you have a nice machined chapter ring. The outer circumference has an enclosed ring with minute indices, every hour marker is a hash mark or dot. Next are bold luminescent Arabic numerals that give the watch a very tactical look. The watch hands are the traditional Mercedes hands with the centers filled with luminous material. The date wheel has a white background with black numerals making it easy to read. You will also see the O&W insignia with the word “PRECISION” just below the logo. Also noted above the 6 o’clock position is the word “AUTOMATIC”. All in all a very nice, easy to read watch face.
Here comes the bezel and crown. The bezel on the watch is extremely tough to turn. The coin edge provides a little grip but not much. This is good if you don’t want it to move during diving (yeah right) not so good when you want to play with it, lol. Of course, the only practical use I have had for any divers bezel is to keep track of how much time I have before the parking meter is up in front of the Post Office! Moving on to the crown. The crown screws down nice and tight, a full four turns for 200 meters water resistance. The crown also has very distinct notches when pulled to adjust the date or time. Once unscrewed she winds the ETA 2824-2 just fine. The feel is very good in my opinion (after all, that is all this is), but not high end. I have checked time against the atomic clock online and the watch gains roughly 8-9 seconds a day. This is a guess because I have never checked it over an exact 24 hour period . . . I’m just to busy and forgetful. The watch gained 27 seconds over a 76 hour period. Not COSC Chronometer standards by any chance, but the M1 isn’t at that price point.
The history of O&W shows that Ollech was the watch maker and Wajs made the bracelets. Wajs, from what I understand is the surviving member of the two men. The bracelet has both strong and weak points in my opinion. The end links on the bracelet are folded, not solid. This however is not a weak point on the watch because they fit very well. Unlike a most folded end links they don’t rattle around between the lugs, they fit quite snuggly. The brushed finish also matches the finish on the case very well. The folded end links are a cost saving measure, just remember the price point of the watch. The links in the bracelet are all solid and nicely brushed. The bracelet is held together with friction pins making it easy to size. The clasp is a paradox of detail and cost cutting. O&W gives you a lot of features in the clasp that all go for not due to sub-par materials. The clasp is a bi-fold stamped design with divers extention and a flip lock. You will also find eight or more micro adjustment holes that might make removing a link unnecessary. They then go through the detail of stamping the bracelet pattern into the exposed side of the clasp to try and give it a higher end look. Two words . . . “not working”. Don’t get me wrong, the clasp functions just fine. However the thin foil like stainless makes the tactile feel of the clasp seem cheap . . . because it is cheap. I don’t feel the clasp was a good place to cut costs. This part of the watch you use every time you put it on and take it off. I would have preferred a clasp without the pattern stamped into the outer face, and no divers extention in trade for a less flimsy material.
Notice how thin the clasp is.
All in all, this is a great little watch. I’m perfectly willing to overlook this watches short list of short comings. I can’t remember the last time I put on the same watch three, four, and five days in a row. At an under $400 price point you get a Swiss Made, Eta 2824-2 powered, automatic timepiece. A classic design shape and a bold numeric dial. This is a great watch for everyday use, works well with almost anything you wear, and it’s very comfortable on the wrist. Most of all, I’m comfortable wearing the M1. I can forget I have it on. We all have a watch or two in our collection that is comfortable on the wrist . . . but we are aware we have it on. It is probably your show piece or grail, for me it’s my Breitlings. They are comfortable to wear, but I’m always aware of there presence. I’m more carefull when I wear them so not to do them any harm. That is not the issue with the M1. If I could only have one watch . . . OMG the thought sends a chill up my spine . . . Okay, if I had to narrow down my collection to five, the O&W would make the cut! The M1 is well beyond a beater, but doesn’t require any extra care or concern while wearing it. Perhaps all this enthusiasm will wear off, only time will tell. I hope you enjoyed my review. It’s just my opinion.
Almost forgot the all important hand on the wheel shots; Sorry to those offended by any grammar or spelling errors.