We Make – Specialist luxury diving Watches, MilSub & Time Pieces
OWC – Orange Watch company – is a small watch company making classically inspired and original watches and time pieces.
Our passion and vision is to build the best watch we can at the price point without excess. We focus on value and hence we only deal direct. We deliver value by not allowing retailer or authorised dealer margins.
We are driven by the Bauhaus and our mantra “Less is More”. Hence our watches are fit for purpose, conservative and competent.
We value technical ability above fashion, quality above hype and traditional values over marketing. We are “Old School”. OWC Watches evolve. But change only when we have to.
We are not limited or restrained by illogical and emotional attachments to local, state or national borders. Hence we source globally from suppliers who offer quality and value.
OWC produce “montres sans frontières” (watches without borders).
We inspect each part and assemble each assembly from its component parts (excluding movements). Each watch is individually tested, inspected and timed. OWC assembles watches in small numbers locally and in Switzerland.
OWC interprets, refines and evolve and we think we make a better watch.
Our range of luxury precision watches in our opinion, more than exceed specifications of many watches costing far more. We marry inspiration with contemporary specifications.
OWC – Orange Watch Company – was born out of passion, frustration and the obsessive compulsion of one man – Daniel Fock – who is now following his dream and the legacy of his “overgrootvader” Willen Hugo Fock who studied at the Ecole d’Horlogie in Neuchâtel in the early part of the 20th Century.
Dan grew up in the USA, Singapore & Australia, he has a Masters Degree and spent far too much time in Banks and Corporations both here and abroad.
He has now planted his Dutch roots in a special place called Orange (a rural centre famous for cool climate wines and now watches). He has started a family, not of Orange Men, but of Orange Women, with a wife and 3 daughters. Life is a little slower and simpler, with the day punctuated by school drop off and pick ups.
It is a marriage of global experience tempered or sometimes lead by his obsessive compulsive nature to make what he likes to call, bespoke small production runs of time pieces. He has become the “Time Lord of Orange”. (Apologies to the BBC)
Dan’s initial focus has been on the ISO range of watches – In the Spirit Of. Other more “Orange” designs will flow from the OCD (Orange Centre for Design) where he will create “classic” designs all with an Orange flavour.
Production and design is influenced (obsessed) by the Bauhaus, Fibonacci and the Robert Browning mantra “Less is More”. Hence OWC time pieces are clean, fit for purpose, overly engineered, inspired by divine order, CNC executed, juxtaposed with hand assembly and human testing.
Dive watches are a love of mine that is no secret. I am obsessed with the sea and all things sea related. There is something magical about the deep, unexplored depths of the ocean. I just imagine all the old shipwrecks and treasure that lay on the floors of the deep. OWC has created a nice treasure of their own which is a military submersible dive watch or MIL-Sub for short. During my review process I have had the opportunity to speak with owner Dan Fock. He is very passionate about watches and you can truly see that when you hold the MIL-Sub in your hand. The Mil-Sub caught my eye when I was relaxing one night on my couch, perusing the on IG and FB. Looking at watches really helps me to relax. I manage to get an hour of TV a week in and I don’t even want to try to calculate my time that is devoted to watches. There was something fascinating about Dan’s watch that really got my attention. As we delve into this review you will see what I am talking about.
The packaging is very unique for the Mil-Sub. It is a large, heavy engineering grade acetyl puzzle case. Puzzle case you ask? Yes, a case that you need to solve in a way before you open it. I am not going to explain how to open it, because it is part of the fun trying to figure out how you are going to get into this box.
The box is black with an orange circle with the letters OWC. This case is very thick and heavy duty. It feels like it could withstand a bomb blast and not even be scratched. You can be assured that your Mil-Sub is protected well while it is in this box during the shipping process. The box is held together like a puzzle, with pieces that interlock. This style of box is a first for me and it is very unique indeed.
The case on the Mil-Sub is solid stainless steel with a nice combo of brushed and polished finishing. The sides of the case on both the crown side and non crown side is where you will find the polished finishing which nicely continues onto the sides of the links on the bracelet. A very nice detail that I quite enjoy and what makes it even better is that the top of the lugs are brushed which continues down the top of the links on the bracelet. Very uniform and precise. The finishing on the case of the Mil-Sub is very well down. Done so well in fact that the quality of finishing can be found on watches that cost 5X as much as the Mil-Sub. It is 40mm and it definitely wears true to its size.
The crown has a high polished finish that ties into the case sides. Matches beautifully. The crown is a screw down style crown that flawlessly operates both screwing/unscrewing and when setting the time and date. The crown is signed with a raised OWC and it perfectly lines up when the crown is completely screwed down. The crown is very easy to grip because of the gear style machining that encircles the entire outer edges. Don’t worry about protection because the crown has two body guards in the form of polished finished guards that seamlessly extend from the case.
The lugs are relatively short and this is a good thing for sure. Watches that have overly long lugs run into aesthetic problems. For example, the end links that connect to the case via the lug holes become excessively long and quite unpleasing to the eye. Longer lugs also make the case over hang the sides of the wrist which won’t allow the watch to sit nicely or comfortably on the wrist. The lugs on the Mil-Sub are perfect in length and have a nice slight curve shape to them and also have holes that come all the way through the outside of the lugs where the screw in bracelet screws attach the bracelet to the case.
The case back is held in place by 6 screws that are securely fastened to the case. The screw heads match all the screw heads that are found elsewhere on the Mil-Sub. Another nice small detail that is usually only found on higher priced watches. The case back is simple on on this watch and I really think it works well. It contains a small amount of information which included OWC watch company, the movement inside, the serial number and the origin of the movement. I really love the simplicity of this case back for some reason. The engraving is a throwback to the engravings found on dive watches of the 1960’s. Awesome stuff. The case is a compressor style case. This means that due to it’s layered structure as pressure increases, the layers are compressed together. OWC really evolved the compressor principle by placing a retaining ring for the crystal, teamed up with the six screws on the case back, allows both the crystal & case back to move inwards as pressure increases. This actually increases the water resistance of the case itself.
The ceramic bezel on the Mil-Sub is also awesome. A detail that is gaining popularity with me is when a bezel has lume on it. The lume on the bezel of the Mil-Sub is like a flashlight at night. Beautiful like a firefly dancing across the yard in summer time. The bezel features the numbers 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 and a nice triangle at the top center. Large rectangle indices are located on the numbers in between and smaller hash lines are in-between those making for a lovely display when charged by a light source before entering the dark. The 60 click unidirectional bezel rotates very smooth. It sits tight against the case itself and all the indices line up with the dial perfectly. You can tell that a lot of care, thought and quality went into the build of the Mil-Sub. The case is solid for sure. Well done OWC.
BMA sums up the dial on the Mil-Sub. What does BMA stand for you ask? Black Matte Amazingness. A real technical abbreviation in know throughout the watch industry. The execution of the dial on this watch is brilliant. Nothing is overdone on the Mil-Sub that is part of the wonderful appeal of this watch to me. Simple details that work together in harmony. The dial itself is matte black with a combination of circle and rectangle hour markers. There is a large triangle at the 12 O’clock hour and large rectangles at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. The other hours are marked by circles. All of the hour markers are coated with lume(super luminova) that glows bright and beautiful. When fully charged it will glow throughout the night. Quite possibly the brightest lume that I have personally experienced.
Along the outer edges of the dial is a treat that might be my favorite part of the dial. There is white “train track” style minute markers with military time hour markers. Giving this watch a real tool watch/military feel and style. This detail is very fine and doesn’t overtake the dial by any means. It is large enough that it can be read, but at quick glances it almost blends into the inner stainless steel chapter ring becoming a stealthy feature.
Under the 12 o’clock position you will find the OWC logo which is an orange circle with OWC printed in white across the center. Above the 6 o’clock position you will find a 2 line printed info which is 300M and Automatic. Neatly tucked between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions is the small date window. I applaud OWC for not taking out one of the hour markers to include the date window. This keeps the balance and harmony flowing throughout the dial. The date window contains white numbers printed on a black wheel. Here we find another well thought out detail on the Mil-Sub that maintains that simplistic harmony that makes it so incredibly hard not to love this watch.
There are a few choices that you can pick from on the Mil-Sub. This version for review contains the sword style hands. The sword style in my opinion gives the Mil-Sub it’s own identity. The polished hands also are coated with lume which glows as bright as all of the other lume on the watch. The long second hand extends to the “train track” style minutes ring. The tip of the seconds hand is coated with lume as well and it has an arrow style tip & tail.
Just as the rest of the watch, the bracelet does not disappoint on the Mil-Sub. The links are thick solid stainless steel. Each link is held in place by screws that are very secure. During my time with the Mil-Sub none of the screws loosened up which is very common on bracelets with screwed links. Dan takes a lot of pride in his screws and you can read all about this on OWC website. The bracelet is a combo of brushed and polished finishing just like the case on the Mil-Sub. The bracelet clicks into place thanks to a very sturdy butterfly style folding clasp. The Oyster style bracelet has a very silky smooth finishing on it that feels like butter between the fingers. This adds to the long list of details on the Mil-Sub that you typically find on much higher priced watches. The last link has OWC engraved on it in the same unique font found throughout this watch.
Ticking inside the watch is the Sporad A-10 automatic movement. It can easily be compared to the ETA 2892-2. During my review process and accuracy testing it was -/+2 seconds per day. It’s considered a higher grade movement by many in the watch community and it is not known to have the winding problems the ETA movements have been know to have. Everything that you need to know about this movement is below:
The A-10 specifications:
- Diameter: 25.6mm
- Height: 3.6mm
- Date: Quickset
- Jewels: 25
- Power Reserve: 42 Hours
- Frequency/Hr: 28,800
- Hacking: Yes
- Shock Absorber: Incabloc
- Regulation: 4 Positions
- Swiss Made
This watch is a solid offering from OWC that is made with such care and attention to detail. It really stuns when handling it for the first time. You would think that is was a watch from a much higher price point. In fact, this watch impressed me so much that its quality is easily on par or better than watches that I have handled at the $5,000 and above mark. I am very impressed by this watch and everything that it encompasses in terms of it’s movement, case, finishing, dial, the bracelet, there is not a single detail that I would change here. Why? Because every detail on the OWC Mil-Sub was planned, thought out with extreme care and executed without flaw.
The highlights of this watch for me would have to be the lume and the dial. The lume is so bright and lasts so long when charged it’s hard not to love it. This may sound strange, but the OWC logo is my favorite detail on the dial. In fact, the logo is what caught my eye first when I came across the Mil-Sub for the very first time. I can’t explain why I love it so much or why it caught my eye, but I can tell you that I really enjoy looking at it.
I would definitely recommend this watch to anyone who is looking for a watch that has all the finishes of a high priced dive watch but doesn’t want to break the bank. The Mil-Sub comes in at $1100 USD delivered and you get your moneys worth here. It is the perfect watch that can transition from the office right to date night and into the weekend outdoor adventures right to going out to the bar with your friends. In other words, it works well in all settings.
I want to personally thank OWC for allowing me the honor and opportunity of doing this review. I was pleasantly impressed by the Mil-Sub and it far exceeded my expectations.
Thanks for reading my friends.
- Diameter (no crown) 40.5mm
- Thickness 12.9mm
- Lug Gap 20.0mm
- Lug-to-lug 51.0mm
- Crown 7.0 & 8.0mm
- Crystal (sapphire) 4.5mm
- Bracelet 20.0 x 4.0mm (non-tapering)
- End links Solid
- Bezel 40.5 – 41.5mm
- Bezel Insert Ceramic or steel
- SuperLumiNova Luminescence (if applicable)
- Base model $725 USD ST-1812
- A-10 Sporad $1100 USD
Additional Information from OWC:
Torx head screws are technically superior to the other designs. (They also look cool).
Torx screw head/drivers were developed by Camcar Textron in the late 1960’s. Torx heads are characterised by a 6-point star-shaped pattern. ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) specification ISO 10664:2005 – specifies the shape and basic dimensions of the hexalobular internal driving feature for bolts and screws, including the gauging method.
Torx screw are found in engineering, electronics and applications requiring precision and high torqueing abilities. Sometimes related to applications requiring “tamper resistance”, since they are not as widely used as more common types.
Torx head screws resist cam-out better than other types like Phillups head or slotted head screws.
Phillips head design causes the driver to cam-out, preventing overtightening. Cam-out, while seemingly possitive, risks damage to the driver, screw head, workplace and application. Torx heads are desing to prevent cam-out
One can understand during the widespread automation of the early 20th Century, cam-out can be beneficial to speed up construction. With the development of torque-limiting devices and automatic tools that precisely measure and stop at the desired torque, this benefit has diminished.
The Torx design facilitates the application of higher torque with a similar sized tool without damaging the head, tool and application compared with other designs.
In a hex head design, if the radial force is too great for the material, the corners will be rounded off and the part/tool may fail. In the Torx design, the internal sidewalls are straight and internal facets angles are much smaller than in the hex design and this is greatly minimised.
Hence for a given torque, the potential for damage is much lower. This allows the head of the fastener to be smaller for the same required torque. This is an advantage where space is limited.
Practically, the Torx design facilitates the application of higher torque on the same fastner before the occurrence of cam-out. Simply put, the Torx head is more precise, avoids cam-out, requires a smaller driver, reduces damage to the tool, fastener and application.
There is always a price to pay for good design. But we think this is worth it.
Those unfamiliar with the Torx design have a disproportionate expectation of the necessary torque required to secure the fastener. While not an issue with automotive sized fasteners that most of us are familiar with. But with small precision horological sized screws this can be an issue.
In practice this means those unfamiliar with the required torque, will apply far too much torque to Torx heads. Worst case, the head will be sheared off and/or the thread is damaged – this happened with our case backs from an unnamed Swiss Assembly house. So it can happen to the experts, (we will not use this house ever again).
As a side note, our Compressor Case has been designed to move. That means it gets more water resistant the higher the pressure. This means that all our case/bracelet screws, retaining rings, etc. do NOT need to have the f@#* tightened out of them.
The underlying hydrodynamic theory is that: as a vessel is subjected to pressure the structure is compressed. If the structure is made of layers, the layers will be compressed towards each other.
The basic principle of a Compressor Case is that the case back can move towards the middle case, thus increasing water resistance.
Parts of the Compressor Principle can be found in many watches: Bulova and Russian watches with their 2-part case backs; the original Omega Seamaster ProPlof with its crystal retained by a ring allowing it to be compressed with rising pressure (but the back was solid and did not move).
E. Piquerez S.A. (ESPA) filed a number of Patents for a “Fluid-Tight” watch case. As I understand from the documents, the case back screws down against a spring assembly located inside the rim of the case back. The case back is “tight” before fully compressing the O-ring. This allows the case back to move inwards as it is exposed to water pressure at depth. Theoretically, increasing the compression pressure on the O-ring for a more water-tight seal. It also minimizes stress on the O-ring by keeping it at lower compression levels until full compression is needed.
OWC takes the theory to the next level. Our crystal has a retaining ring and the case back is retained by 6 screws. Both crystal and case back move inwards as pressure increases and makes the case more water resistant. Simple but effective.