Ollech & Wajs Caribbean 1000 Ref. 702
Ollech & Wajs Caribbean 1000 Ref. 702, ETA 2452 Auto, c1965-9
This is the earlier model from mid-late 60’s, as the serial number confirms. It also has the ‘flat’ golden triangles on the bezel. The slightly later models had ‘3D’ golden triangles – I’m not aware of any other differences, but there could well be some subtleties.
I didn’t realise that the ETA 2452 has a semi-quick set date.. simply roll the hands forward to just past 24:00 and roll back to just past 20:30 and forward again to past 24:00. Saves a lot of time!
Update: These were originally supplied on an optional Beads of Rice bracelet, with end links that were angled in to fit those ‘shark tooth’ lugs.. they are few and far between, so I hatched a plan. Armed with a metal file tool, I set about a good quality aftermarket 20mm oyster bracelet… the results were amazing – see the pics of it on the oyster. Personally I think it really suits the watch, like it was ‘meant to be’, it really transforms the ownership experience having a metal bracelet option.
It’s not large by todays standards, at 40mm, but it wears really well and suits leather, tropic and NATO/ZULU straps very well. It has 20mm lugs, and is 16mm thick – it’s a nice compact size. It’s no bruiser, but I think it’s one of the most elegantly designed dive watches from this period.
This watch has a rich history, and I daren’t try to cover all of it. It was one of the first deep dive rated watches, with a WR of 1000m. The case is monobloc, as such, the dial & movement is accessed through the super thick 5mm crystal. One feature of this watch was that users could purchase a special tool (& spare crytals) from O&W and change the crystal themselves, supposedly quite a simple job. The crown was also triple sealed. All these ‘tech boasts’ were quite exceptional for the period, especially when you consider that it’s proven depth rating was x5 that of the Rolex Submariner.
From The Definitive O&W Info & History…
“The movement sits in a movement ring and is placed deep into the case. The crystal is held in place with a s/s screwdown retaining ring. A rubber “O” ring under the crystal and a flat rubber ring under the retaining ring insuring proper water tightness. With the bezel on, the crystal has a very low profile, the edge is barely 1/32nd above the rim and sit’s about 1/8″ higher in the middle.
The crystal is a slab of plastic, 1/8″ thick on the side, with a 1/8″ thick lip which the retaining ring presses down on. It’s the top that’s interesting. Due to the lower sitting movement. The crystal has a very shallow curve on the underside matching that of the top. Between inside and out, is a 5 MM thickness of plastic.”
O&W wanted to offer a robust and capable dive watch to the US, but be cheaper than rivals by cutting out middle-men. They were advertised in outdoor sports, military and aviation type magazines. As such, they became quite popular with US soldiers & special forces who were off to Vietnam. I received correspondence from someone (I forget where – I’ve got a new laptop and lost the source) who said something along the lines of “Seiko usually takes the honour of being the ‘popular mil watch’ during Vietnam, but many failed, and the O&W was the ‘must have’ watch”. (Seiko fans – these are not my words!)
In March 1968, Robert D Howard, Diving Supervisor for Global Marine Inc. wrote a letter to O&W regarding a 4 month extreme field test of two O&W watches, the Ref. 702 being one of them. They were tested without any special precautions in various tough deep dive environments and didn’t miss a beat. (Scans of the letter in the link below).
Courtesy of ‘The Definitive O&W Info & History’ thread on thewatchforum.
For those interested in 70’s TV.. Bodie & Doyle apparently wore this model in the show ‘The Professionals’
More info on this watch is available here on the excellent Scubawatch.