Zurich-based Swiss watchmaker Ollech & Wajs is on a mission to produce much more than just another vintage reissue or retro-styled dive watch, but one that channels a genuinely old-school mentality. Built like a rugged tool from a time before mechanical watches became luxury/lifestyle items, the modern OW C-1000 draws upon tech from the brand's own 1,000m water-resistant Caribbean 1000 watch from the 1960s — but it's no remake: it's just a sturdy, no-nonsense, deep-diving timepiece that stands apart for its ruggedness and overbuilt design.
Case Diameter: 39.5mm
Case Depth: 15.8mm
Water Resistance: 1,000m
Movement: ETA 2824-2 Automatic
Notable: If you appreciate a watch with personality, you also have to be able to accept some quirkiness. The C-1000 has both, with the brand's history and that of its 1960s inspiration baked into that charm. The watch is weighty, first of all, and that'll make an impression from within the box before you even see the thing (though this is normal to some degree for a 1,000m water-resistant dive watch). It looks great on all kinds of straps and general legibility is good, but a bit stronger lume would be an improvement.
Who It's For: The OW C-1000 makes most sense for two groups of people: Collectors will enjoy its uniqueness within the context of the watch industry, as well as the history behind it. They’ll also have other watches to swap when they want a break from the C-1000’s heft. The other group is serious divers who (though they know that they don’t need 1,000m of water resistance) can appreciate a hardcore watch that's meant for serious use.
Alternatives: There are several other brands that channel a similar 1960s/1970s tool watch vibe and continue to offer the likes of retro-themed divers that might appeal to the OW C-1000's audience. Doxa's Sub 300T collection has history, distinctive vintage styling and a range of vibrant dial options. Its chunkiness is also comparable to that of the C-1000 but it has a depth rating of 1,200m and costs just a little more at $1,890.
Nearly any watch among Zodiac's Super Sea Wolf collection would seem to offer an alternative in some sense, but the 53 Skin Diver specifically has a similar case size to that of the C-1000 as well as certain comparable visual cues, such as triangular indices. It's only rated to 200m compared to the C-1000's full kilometer of water resistance, but it's also priced at just $1,295. More options for tough divers with a '60s disposition are available from brands including Yema and Alsta.
The OW C-1000 is first and foremost a sober, hefty dive watch with no less than a kilometer of water resistance. However, it draws upon a historical Ollech & Wajs model that was particularly notable in its time for that same extreme depth rating. Much of what makes the modern C-1000 watch interesting and compelling is its unique character as a modern dive watch, but it can't be fully understood or appreciated without that background.
In the early 1960s Ollech & Wajs was among the first brands to release a dive watch available to the general public with a rating of 1,000m, which was called the Caribbean 1000. While such a rating goes hand in hand with durability and solid construction, this level of water resistance is uncommon even today — as no diver needs a watch that can dive deeper than the human body itself can withstand. While Ollech & Wajs remained a relatively quiet brand, the Caribbean 1000 became their most notable model and enjoyed cult appreciation among vintage enthusiasts.
A range of elements distinguish the modern OW C-1000 from a historical Caribbean 1000, as it isn't meant as a direct remake of that model. Rather, Ollech & Wajs combines elements of 1960s-'70s watch design that make the OW C-1000 feel like a variation of the Caribbean 1000 that might have actually been produced in that era. Of course, as with any vintage-inspired modern watch, the OW C-1000 benefits from modern tech, materials and construction.
What would have been an acrylic crystal back in the day is replaced with sapphire for the OW C-1000. Like the original, it's thick and highly domed, and is guaranteed to frustrate any would-be watch photographer with its near fisheye range of refections. That doesn't mean legibility for the wearer is impaired, however, but low-light visibility could be improved with a stronger luminescent than is found on the C-1000's hands, cardinal indices (3, 6, 9, 12) as well as the bezel.
What would have been considered a large case back in the '60s now feels retro and restrained, as the new OW C-1000 measures very close to the original at 40mm wide and 15.8mm-thick. For the Caribbean 1000, Ollech & Wajs was among various brands that used a robust case famously made by the company Jenny (the German “j” pronounced here like an English “y”). This was a single piece of steel, meaning the case back didn't open and the movement was loaded from the dial side. Here, the ETA 2824-2 automatic movement seems like an appropriate analog to the original's ETA 2452.
While the Jenny case had a bulbous profile with short lugs, the modern Ollech & Wajs case (used in many of the brand's current watches) is on the long side at 49.5mm — stretching nearly to the edges of this reviewer's 6.5" (17cm) wrists. Shorter lugs would help the watch fit on more wrists as well as pair with more strap options and broaden its appeal, but the watch remains wearable and takes to rubber straps like a fish to water.
There's nothing about the OW C-1000 that's flashy, but its serious look on the wrist does feel like a subtle flex at times in the way that certain luxury dive watches might. You can wear it to dinner or take it deep into the ocean, if so desired, but the coolest thing about the OW C-1000 is that it's got grit. That's something you can't say about many modern watches, but Ollech & Wajs manages to evoke a simpler time with a modern tribute to its most notable historic watch.
Verdict: So many reissued and vintage-inspired watches today seem self-conscious, contrived and focused on style. That’s not the OW C-1000. Ollech & Wajs isn’t the only watchmaker leaning into heritage and midcentury nostalgia, but the brand overall as well as the OW C-1000 feels genuine and unique. Its design and personality seem to channel the mentality of another time, idiosyncrasies and all, and the result is a hardcore tool watch that makes no apologies.