Name: Ollech & Wajs Moon Orbiter
Movement: FHF 72 manual wind movement in 24h version, 17 jewels, 18000 bph
Dial: 24h two color for day and night time main dial with hour numbers, 12 on the top, sword type luminous hour and minute hands, sweep seconds, C/D and E6B slide rule
Case: all stainless steel with screwed case back, red and blue 24h aluminium bezel
Size: 40 mm diameter without crown, 42 mm with crown, 48 mm lug to lug
Height: 12 mm
Lugs: 20 mm
Text on dial: [Ollech Wajs logo] COMPUTER 17 JEWELS INCABLOC
Text on back: SWISS MADE WATERPROOF 20 ATU ANTIMAGNETIC INCABLOC ALL STAINLESS STEEL [Globe with meridian lines]
Water-resistance: 20 ATM water resistant
Crown: two unsigned crowns at 2 (time and winding) and 4 (slide rule)
Crystal: domed acrylic crystal
I happen to have in this very moment two Moon Orbiters in my collection. It is not usual. The situation with Moon Orbiters is exceptional. Back in the 60s, they were produced in very small numbers. Nevertheless, they are very easy to find. Moreover – every time you see a NOS condition watch. How come?
Ollech & Wajs produced in 60s two very close watch models, both true 24h and named after space satellites – Early Bird and Moon Orbiter. Recommended reading is a good review on Early Bird by l3wy - https://forums.watchuseek.com/f5/lsr0...ss-910091.html
Both watches have the same movement and all stainless steel case. What is very different is the dial. Here you see both watches in 60s O&W catalog:
As mr Wajs is still in the business ( www.chronotime.ch ) and answers to emails, let’s follow his comments.
In 2012 he wrote to me:Mr. Wajs to arrowlandVon der Moon Orbiter wurden weniger als 100 Uhren hergestellt, von der Early Bird ca, 500 Uhren. (There were less than 100 Moon Orbiters made, and about 500 Early Birds.)Mr. Wajs to me"The moon orbiter watch was made at the same time as the early bird, not long after the lauch of the early bird satellite, which I think occurred in the late sixties.
Both models were made to house 24-hour movements, but for the moon orbiter, an experimental model, we where short of the 24-hour wheels, so that only part of this model actually houses the 24-hour movement version, while the rest were fitted with the same movement, but with the normal 12-hour components."Let me try to summarize.Das Modell habe ich selbst gestaltet, und dann in einer kleinen Serie bei Orano gebaut. Orano hat wahrscheinlich einige Moon Orbiter für Eigene Kunden hergestellt. (This watch is designed by me. They were produced by Orano in small series. Most probably Orano made some watches [named as Orano Computer] for theiyr own customers.
In 60s Ollech and Wajs designed their own watches, but (as it was common) the watches were produced by other companies, this time by Orano. Orano was a lesser-known Swiss watchmaker, now defunct. Sometimes they produced watches under their own name, sometimes they were working as subcontractors.
An Orano ad from the 50s:
Moon Orbiter is one of the rarest (in production numbers) watches made by O&W. You can see Orbiter in 1966 catalog, but not anymore in 1969. In total less than 100 Moon Orbiters were produced, and these divide in three types. The number of watches of each type is not known. You can see all of them in auctions.
a. The true Moon Orbiter. Has a FHF 72 true 24h movement. All true Moon Orbiter I’ve seen have sword-like hands.
b. The 12h Moon Orbiter. O&W were short in 24h movements and part of the Moon Orbiter series were equipped with 12h FHF 96 movements. All these watches have small black hour and minute hands. The dial and slide rule are the same.
c. Orano Computer. Same as (a), but instead of Ollech & Wajs logo on the dial is written Orano.
Moon Orbiter was named after Lunar Orbiter satellites. Lunar Orbiter 1 was launched in August 1966, and Moon Orbiter soon afterwards.
Popular sister model Early Bird had two 24h time zone capability. For Moon Orbiter the bezel with second time zone remained, but added was slide rule. And to operate the slide rule second crown was necessary to add too. This raised Moon Orbiter to the league of navigation watches (Breitling Cosmonautes, Sinn 903, Aviations by Ollech & Wajs etc.)
The slide rule is quality made and works. Unfortunately, the whole dial design was not very good. Here on the picture I marked with red circle the “real” dial – hours and minutes. All the rest if slide rule. The diameter of the “real” dial is about 20mm. Can you imagine a so small watch telling the time?
This is the reason, why you can find these Orbiters in NOS condition. It is not legible enough to read the time. Moreover, the minute markers are missing too! As I am using all the time only 24h watches, to read the time is not so big problem to me. To prepare this review I wear Moon orbiter several days with no problems.
No doubt, that the watch is attractive. Nice free bi-directional Pepsi bezel, satin silver and grey dial for day and night, that is all fine. One weak point can be that the bezel is not stainless steel but aluminium. BTW. My watches are both NOS, but bezel colors slightly differ, as you can see on the pictures.
As I said, I have two orbiters. One of them is equipped with original Tropic rubber strap. Quite often, you can find Orbiters with this original Tropic. I prefer leather strap.
About the movement, I can say only, that both my Orbiters (likely never having been serviced) are keeping time extremely well!
The case is reliable too. Crowns are big and it is convenient to operate the watch with these crowns. I haven’t check how much of the original 20 ATM water protection is still present.
About the slide rule. Usually you do not need the calculation capabilities nowadays. However, one practical use for me is that in my navigation watches the slide rule is usually set to show me the USD to EUR ratio. Very helpful when browsing some auctions. If you need instructions how to operate slide rule - How To Use A Watch Bezel Slide Rule | aBlogtoWatch
Note about the dials
Only after I made pictures of my watches I discovered that there are two types of O & W logo on the dial. One of my watches has logo with small letter “o” and “w”. The other logo was without letters. In web, both dials are quite often pictured, mostly without small letters.
This is a well-known attractive watch. You can find it, you can buy it, and you can sell it. Right now in certain auction site even three Moon Orbiters are for sale. You can follow them and find out, how much are Orbiters worth today.
-- Definitive O W history
-- Ollech and Wajs Moon Orbiter