New McGonigle Ogma for 2024: No Watch, No Photos, No Sketches, No Launch, But First Editions Already Nearly Sold Out – Welcome To the New Normal
by Ian Skellern
Rolex is estimated to spend around 100 million dollars on marketing a year and they have built up a superb brand reputation over nearly 125 years. And they make around a million watches a year, which will substantially increase when massive new production facilities are ready.
Yet the internet is still full of conspiracies about Rolex, or dealers, or both (take your pick) holding back stock to deliberately annoy collectors who can’t buy the watch seemingly everyone on the planet wants to buy, rather than accepting the more banal likelihood that thanks to its excellent marketing and reputation, demand simply exceeds supply.
In a parallel universe, independent watchmakers making sensational timepieces struggled to find the handful of clients they needed just to stay in business, and many didn’t and folded.
Then in 2020, COVID hit and shook the world like a snow globe in a cocktail shaker. And while that devastated many business sectors, it transformed the world of independent watchmaking from a horological niche to mainstream acceptance.
The result: it’s now easier to buy a Submariner than a watch from an independent.
It used to be that when an independent launched a new watch, they would show it off at the big watch fairs and desperately wait for a sale. It’s now extremely difficult to get on Akriva’s list for the chance to buy one of their watches sometime in the future, but when he launched his brand in 2012, it took Rexhep Rexhepi a full year to sell his first watch.
Now, if you are interested in buying a watch from an independent, with luck, a fat wallet, and a fast-moving do-or-die attitude, you might be lucky to get one of the few launch editions after seeing a few photos or CAD sketches. But even then, you would still have to be lucky (or very well connected). More likely the watches will already be sold out before there’s even a whisper that they are in development.
So here’s a whisper (keep it to yourself).
Stephen McGonigle (who lives near Neuchatel, Switzerland) and his brother John (who lives in Ireland) founded McGonigle Watches in 2006. John left the brand a few years ago and in 2020 launched his own brand Oileán (Gaelic for island). Their first watch was a tourbillon, which was followed by a minute repeater, and in 2010 they launched their very successful time-only Tuscar.
Now Stephen, who honed his talents working on complicated watches for prestigious brands including Christophe Claret, Breguet (where he worked on the restoration of the famous Pendule Sympathique), and Franck Muller, is developing the successor to the Tuscar: the Ogma. In Irish Mythology, Ogma was the God of Language, Literature and Eloquence, and of Ideas and Knowledge.
The Ogma will be a completely new model with a completely new movement, but it will follow the aesthetics of previous McGonigle timepieces, including the Tuscar, and it will feature the distinctive pincer balance cock with concealed stud and screw as the Tuscar.
While the case of the Tuscar was 43 mm, the new Ogma will have a much more wearable 39.5 mm case, and it will also have a power reserve display.
The Ogma is still in development and will not be launched until 2024 in a limited edition of 20 pieces in tantalum.
Tantalum is much heavier, stronger, and more scratch resistant than steel. It’s also much, much more difficult to machine than nearly any other metal bar tungsten. While having a similar color to steel, it is a deeper gray and has a lustrous hue.
When Urwerk made a watch in Tantalum, Felix Baumgartner swore he would never make another as it was so hard to machine. But he changed his mind because he thought that the metal looked so good.
Delivery of the first Ogmas is scheduled for autumn 2024 and all 20 pieces are expected to be completed by late 2025.
All of the watches will be engraved “One in 20” so there’s no fighting over the numbers.
The price is CHF 79,000 (ex. VAT and shipping) and a 40% deposit is required to confirm an order.
There are no photos (either real or CAD) nor sketches of the Ogma, and there’s been no public announcement; however (surprise, surpise!), most of the watches have already been reserved. How times have changed.
In the words of Dorothy to her dog in The Wizard of Oz after being sucked up by a tornado, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
And there’s more: I also heard another whisper that McGonigle is planning on making two unique piece water resistant minute repeaters, with case metal and design input from the commissioning client. He has form with repeaters having already made a small series called Ceol.
For more information (or aim for a do-or-die order), please visit www.mcgonigle.ch/
Quick facts McGonigle Ogma
Indications: hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve
Case diameter: 39.5 mm
Limitation: 20 pieces in tantalum
Price: CHF 79,000 (ex. VAT and shipping), a deposit of 40% to secure an order
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