In my recent acquisition of a new to me watch. I was asked to do a review of it. Admittingly, I was surprised to be asked to do a review, given that I have never officially written a watch review before.? Editor’s note: we asked because he’s been creating interesting content over on Instagram! The watch I was asked to review? It’s known as the Ollech and Wajs P-101.
In my years of collecting the ~50-60 watches in my current collection, it has been very hard to find something I get excited about. However, the Ollech and Wajs (I’ll refer to as ‘OW’ going forward) got my juices flowing for sure! When I purchase a watch/brand I have little knowledge of, I usually do my research and see if there are any reviews on the watch. If that turns up nothing, I then search for the brand itself, starting with the site. I was surprised to see that there was very little out there in reviews on the recent OW offerings.?
- Case Material: 316 Stainless steel w/ closed case back
- Dial: Dark Grey/Slate Grey
- Dimensions: 39.5mm /Lug to lug: 49.5mm/Lug Width: 20mm/12.5mm thick
- Crystal: Sapphire with anti-glare treatment
- Bezel: bi-directional 12 hr
- Water Resistance: 300 meters
- Crown: Screw down-signed with the OW logo
- Movement: ETA 2824-2 with custom rotor and adjusted in-house?
- Strap/bracelet: Leather with custom signed buckle; mine came with a single pass leather and single pass nylon with signed hardware as well.
- Price: Depending on the exchange rate, about $945 USD converted from Swiss Francs
- Expected Release: Available now?
For those interested, here’s a quick snippet of the brand’s backstory: this was a brand that was basically a wartime watch created in the Vietnam era. It has gone through many phases in its history, and has now settled down to what you see today. I like how they state on their site that refers to their own “Swissness”. It’s a cool little detail.?
When I saw this company online, I saw there were two models that were currently offered, this one and the P-104 (upon writing this, the OW C-1000 diver was announced and released (10/2019)).? But I had my eyes locked on the OW-101 from the get-go. What drew me to the watch was the boldness of the indices and markers along with the black 12 hour bezel, which is the hot thing for 2019. It is a “poor man’s GMT” for sure; I’ve used it myself a few times already in my short time with it.
Upon opening the suede pouch which housed the watch, I saw the markers harkening to me along with its welcoming hands. Everything on this watch screamed vintage to me without actually being a vintage piece. The finishing is amazing as well as the initial thought of the case and the profile. The dial is not black as some sites picture it, rather it’s a slate gray to my old eyes; the layout is not too busy, and the text is pretty subdued. The date window is centered, all is gravy at this point.
Now did I have “buyers remorse” when it came down to it? No, actually, it was actually a watch that looks like nothing else I have.? I saw that the stock leather strap is thick and needs to be broken in. Now how does it fit on a 6.5 inch wrist? In a word, amazingly. I love it to death. Not many watches nowadays, in my collection gets consecutive wrist time. Only on rare occasions this happens and it has happened today.?
The P-101 pays homage to the McDonnell F-101 Fighter Jet. And growing up, I loved fighter jets. So much so that I joined the US Air Force. No I wasn’t a pilot, but anything to get a glimpse into that world was reward enough. Just being around them is awe-inspiring to me.?
The case is entirely brushed, no polish on it at all. Also, there are no crown guards – and the oversized crown is a dream to operate. I love the streamlined retro look of the long lugs that slightly dip and hug the wrist (but they’re not so long that they overhang my 6.5 inch wrists). Because of the thin lugs, I hardly notice them at all. Oh and yet another cool thing besides the lugs being drilled out for super easy swap changes, the case had dual lug holes. One set is totally drilled through and the second is recessed inwards a hair. I think the drilled out holes are to be used for nylon straps or single pass straps of sorts, which give ample clearance. This is beyond cool!
Next, have a look at the bi-directional black steel 12-hour bezel. The bezel is tight enough that it doesn’t accidentally move, which is always a concern when dealing with bezels like these. Checking out the case back, it is a nicely stamped back listing details of the brand, water resistance, and type of watch. Was I looking for a clear case back? No but many may be when it’s advertised that the rotor is decorated but one cannot see it unless you take the case back off. What do I think? I personally don’t care. I guess it’s cool that there is a decorated rotor in there, but, do I want to see it? Nope. Then there’s the sapphire. Your normal fare here. It is raised and boxed, a cool vintage vibe there definitely.?
Man do I love the dial. I love every faucet of it. I adore everything about it. There is absolutely nothing I would change on the dial, EXCEPT for the lack of lume. I was pretty disappointed that only the hands and indices at the 12, 3, dash under the 6, and 9 markers are lumed; nothing on the bezel is lumed either. I find that a miss for me. To go back to the postive, though – those hands are super cool! The laddering minute hand is a treat to look at whenever I glance at the time. The hour hand is normal “margarine bar”, and the seconds hand is a broad arrow that gently sweeps the day away and also a treat to look at.
The date window is framed and along with the small pad of margarine under it, looks great too. The date wheel is black, but works with the black bezel it matches in my color coordination/OCD. Now more on the 12 hour bezel. I have found myself using this more than I thought I would. It’s a cool tool to have and being bi-directlonal is a plus as well. Overall the dial as a whole is easy to glance at. There is no issue telling time on it at all, even at my age. I enjoy looking at the watch throughout the day, it is just that good.
To tell you the truth, I’m not really a movement expert. I like all movements equally if they work and work as they should. This has a ETA 2824, which I am familiar with actually. Not because I have built any or know the parts by hand. It is because my first ETA watch has a 2824, which I purchased a few years ago and it still works and I have no issues with it at all. The rotor is quiet and you can barely hear it. The sweeping of the hands is smooth as you would assume. No issues keeping time within spec. I am no accuracy junky. I am more of a “fuzzy time” guy. Meaning, if it’s close, I can work with that.?
What I like/love?
- First off, the overall styling of the watch and how it pays homage to the jet fighters of old. I know retro is a dime a dozen nowadays, but when you get it right and hits most of the boxes I am looking for in styling, I’m the customer.
- I love the layout of the watch and it’s text. I am not normally a fan of text everwhere, but I don’t seem to mind it on this one.
- It’s a Swiss made (well mostly) watch, which I normally do not really care where it’s ‘made’. Just give me a great product and I’ll sing your praises.
- The dual sets of spring bar holes for different size or style straps. Now I don’t have to hunt down curved spring bars if I need clearance for a strap!
- The color combo that OW used in this model. You don’t have to be crazy in your design, just deliberate. I think that is what they have here.
- Case details:
- The brushing quality is great.
- A great, oversized crown
- The lack of crown guards
- Combine those last two, and you have a watch you can easily set the time on without removing it from your wrist
What I didn’t like/love
- The lack of lume. Lume junkies, move on if you are looking for lumed indices and bezels. I guess I am spoiled by other brands that do this? Maybe, but I want more lume! The lack of lume on the bezel is what hurts the most personally, they had so much potential there.
- The lugs can be long for some. On paper, it may seem to be long and may overhang your wrists. I have 6.5 inch wrists.and the slight downturn of the lugs help in this regard.
- The OEM Straps. They seem to be a bit thin, but that could be a European style cue.
- Cost. It is a bit on the higher end of what I refer to as the “affordables”. Even though the OW P-101 is the cheapest model offered, it is still on the high end. I guess you can say you are paying for the product being “Swiss” made (mostly).
Would I recommend it? For a pilot’s watch, there are others out there that can fit the bill, but the style of the watch is what won me over. So, yes I would, in the end recommend this for a person looking for a pilot’s watch that looks different than most things out there right now. I hope they add more lume in future models! Other than that, I am truly enjoying my time on the wrist with the OW P-101. ow-watch.ch