US military presence in Southeast Asia, and specifically Vietnam, had been increasing ominously throughout the early ’60s. In March 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the deployment of combat units for the first time, and the same month saw the start of ‘Operation Rolling Thunder’ — an air campaign against tactical targets in North Vietnam. Another significant escalation came just four months later — on July 28th — when, speaking in a black-and-white televised address from the east wing of the White House, President Johnson committed a further 50,000 US troops to the conflict, taking the total to 125,000. Demands would be met by conscription, with monthly draft calls rising from 17,000 to 35,000.
Over in Zürich, at their modest factory and shop premises, 55 Stocker Strasse, Joseph Ollech and Albert Wajs could not have anticipated the impact the announcement was about to have on their watch company. It was only a fortnight or so later that the first batch of mail orders started to arrive from the US. Ollech & Wajs had already built a solid customer base amongst US military personnel, but to receive this many orders — on a daily basis — was unprecedented. It was just the beginning of the deluge of business that was heading their way.