Oberwerk Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Oberwerk 25th Anniversary

April of 2024 will be a very busy month at Oberwerk. Events include the April 8th Eclipse (Dayton is in the path of totality), a move to a much larger building, exhibiting at the NEAF (NorthEast Astronomy Forum) Convention (Apr. 20, 21), and a week-long visit with our business partners from Kunming, China, including a celebration dinner for friends and family at the new building. Somehow all this will happen within the month of April! We will effectively be closed after our return from NEAF for one week as we transition from the current location to the new location at 3880 Kettering Blvd., Dayton, OH 45439. Our 937-640-1040 phone number will not change, and our website will remain up and accepting orders- but those won’t ship until late-April. Our new location will feature a large showroom area, with all Oberwerk products on display. Visitors are welcome, but by appointment only please, simply due to personnel constraints.

Oberwerk Partners with B&H Photo

For most of our 25-year existence, we’ve only sold direct to our customers, the exception being a limited selection of our smaller binoculars that we supply to Amazon. But here at Oberwerk, we’re getting serious about growing our brand. So after much discussion and negotiation, we’ve decided to partner with B&H Photo and Video– the world’s largest and most-respected dealer of optical goods, as well as other high-tech gear for enthusiasts. While Oberwerk celebrates 25 years in the optics business, B&H is celebrating 50 years! As they say on their website “B&H is a group of people who are passionate about the things you’re passionate about”. Their customer reviews are universally excellent and they’re also trustworthy. Our customers know the same is true for us, so we believe this will be a great match- and it will allow us to reach many more new customers than we could on our own. B&H is also as good as it gets with international shipping. For our customers outside the USA, B&H should be able to provide the lowest-possible shipping rates, brokerage services, and options for prepaid duty and VAT.

We also expect to soon have some Oberwerk products on display in B&H’s incredible 70,000 sq. ft. New York City SuperStore. So the next time you’re in Manhattan, be sure to stop in!

Oberwerk Binoculars to be Featured in Homestead

Oberwerk is the official binocular supplier to Homestead, from Angel Studios.  Homestead is a hope-filled post-apocalyptic thriller TV series, based on the best-selling Black Autumn series of books by Jayson Orvis, who was also one of the co-founders of Black Rifle Coffee Company.  It’s an action-packed show that highlights the importance of family and faith after the end of the world. Actor Neal McDonough, most recently seen as “the villain” in the Yellowstone series, plays the lead character Jason Ross. He’s also appeared in Band of Brothers, Minority Report, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The 100. Angel Studios is best-known for their recent box office hit Sound of Freedom. A variety of Oberwerk binocular models are expected to be featured in the series, including the 10×42 SE, the 20×65 ED Deluxe, and a BT-82XL-ED, as well as our 4000 and TR3 tripods- with other Oberwerk models to possibly appear in future episodes.  Watch the trailer for the pilot episode below. Coming in 2024.

20×65 ED Deluxe in the foxhole
20×65 ED Deluxe on TR3 tripod at the lookout

Upcoming Annular Solar Eclipse

Annular Eclipse: October 14th 2023

Are you ready for the next solar eclipse? On October 14th, an annular solar eclipse will be viewable from a swath from Oregon through Texas. The rest of the USA will experience a partial eclipse. An annular eclipse means that the Moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth. Therefore it’s smaller, and won’t totally obscure the Sun. This creates an amazingly bright ring around the moon called the annulus.

In the map below, you can see the path the annular solar eclipse will take. Check out Great American Eclipse for more details if you would like to plan a trip to view this amazing event.

Map showing path of annular eclipse. By Great American Eclipse.
The path of the annular solar eclipse over North America. Credits: ©2021 Great American Eclipse, LLC.

Nothing beats seeing a solar event like this with your own eyes, but it’s no different than looking directly at the sun. Viewing an eclipse with the naked eye can severely damage the eyes. Fortunately, there are ways to safely observe an annular eclipse.

An annular eclilpse
A photograph of an annular eclipse. With the proper equipment, you’ll be able to capture your own image of the annular eclipse.

Solar Filters for Binoculars

To safely view the annular eclipse with binoculars, you’ll need a pair of solar filters. While some create Oberwerk customers have created custom-made solar filters, we offer a more elegant solution. Oberwerk carries Seymour solar filters, which are custom fit for all Oberwerk binoculars (42mm and larger). Seymour Helios thin-film has a consistent yellow-orange solar image, with higher contrast than competitor’s filters. For binoculars capable of magnifications greater than 25x (our XL Series), we also offer Seymour Premium Glass filters, for highest possible resolution. The filters snugly fit over the objective end of the binocular so the sunlight is safely filtered before it enters the binocular. Most sizes are still in stock, but they’re selling out quickly!

Seymour Solar Filters
Seymour Solar filters. Get the perfect fit for all your Oberwerk binoculars.

Check out the products below to get ready for your annular eclipse watch party. Get a digiscoping adapter for photography and a beverage/eyepiece tray to keep organized.

See You at NEAF 2023?

NEAF (Northeast Astronomy Forum), held at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY, is the world’s largest astronomy convention. Oberwerk normally exhibits there every year, but the event has been cancelled for the last 3 years due to Covid. It’s finally back on for the weekend of Apr. 15th. We’ll be there demoing every binocular in the Oberwerk product line, as well as our various tripods and mounts. We’re not bringing any inventory to sell, but we can relay orders to our office in Dayton, OH, and those will ship the following week (no sales tax, free shipping). We’ll be giving away our beloved Oberwerk pens, as well as Oberwerk eyepatches for telescope users- because telescopes are for one-eyed pirates 😉
Our booth location is 123-127, look for the banner below. Stop by and say hello!

Unlimited “No Fault” Lifetime Warranty??

There’s been a recent trend in the binocular industry to offer a “lifetime warranty” or “no-fault” warranty. Let’s think about that. What other products do you buy that come with that kind of warranty- cars, computers, televisions, cell phones, home appliances? Of course none of these come with lifetime warranties, it would be ridiculous to expect that! Why should binoculars be any different? Depending on how well you take care of them, they might last a couple years, or the rest of your life- that’s up to you. The implied message of the lifetime warranty is “our binoculars are so well made that they’ll last forever”. That’s nonsense of course. Speaking as somebody that’s been repairing binoculars for 24 years- no matter how well a binocular is made, it’s a precision instrument, and owners will find ways to break them. The question is, do you want to pay extra up front to cover the cost of an insurance plan, or would you rather pay the lowest-possible price for your binocular, take good care of it, and if you do happen to break it at some point- just pay the cost to repair it, or possibly replace it depending on how old it is, and perhaps upgrade to a new and improved model?

The first step in analyzing a warranty is to read the fine-print and know what’s covered and what’s not covered. Some manufacturers offer a ridiculously-long warranty period- 10 years, 20 years, even “lifetime”- but then exclude anything that’s not a “manufacturer’s defect”. The truth is “manufacturer’s defects” will usually be obvious on day one, and will certainly show up within the first year of usage. So it doesn’t matter how long the warranty period is, if it’s only covering manufacturer’s defects, it’s not likely to cover anything after the first year. After the first year, there are only a few things that can go wrong-

  1. The number one answer- the binocular was damaged from a hard drop
  2. The binocular was left outdoors 24/7 and now there’s internal fogging or water intrusion
  3. The dog chewed-up the rubber parts

If the warranty does not exclude accidents or abuse of product, then you have to ask- who’s really paying for that cost? Is the manufacturer eating it, just because they love their customers? Or did you pay for an insurance policy in the price of the binocular when you bought it? If you’re a manufacturer, and your cost to build a binocular is 30% of the selling price, you could probably afford to replace a binocular for any reason- and still be profitable. If your cost to build is more than 50%, replacing a binocular will make that sale a loss. Oberwerk’s cost to manufacture averages well above 50% selling cost, with higher-end products above 60%. With our thin margins, Oberwerk products can only only sold direct, and not through resellers. We do love our customers- so we offer to them great products at lowest-possible prices. Because of that, we simply can’t afford to replace binoculars that don’t have manufacturer’s defects. What we do is thoroughly inspect each and every binocular, to be sure it doesn’t ship with a defect, and to be sure the alignment is as perfect as possible. We then offer a 15-day satisfaction guarantee, where we’ll replace or exchange for any reason, and completely at our cost- or we’ll simply accept a return. We include a 2-year or 3-year warranty (depending on product) to cover any possible defects that don’t show up right away, which is probably more generous than the warranties on most other products that you buy. Beyond that, if something goes wrong- sorry, you broke it. We’ll take care of it, but we’ll charge a reasonable price to do so. We could change our warranty to a “lifetime limited warranty”- but that would just be a marketing gimmick as there will be no manufacturer’s defects discovered years after the purchase. You’d still pay for breaking it. Alternatively, we could mark up binoculars by an extra 30-50%, and then cover accidents like some manufacturers do- but do you really want to pay a higher price to cover the costs for customers that don’t take care of their things? Or would you rather pay a lower price, knowing that if you break it, you’ll need to cover that cost? If you’re the type of person that buys extended warranties, then perhaps a “no-fault unlimited warranty” is for you- because you’re paying for an extended warranty in the price of the binocular. If you appreciate a good value, and you take care of your possessions, then you might want to avoid paying up-front for “unlimited no-fault warranties”.

Neil English Reviews the new Oberwerk 8×32 SE (Special Edition)

Dr. Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy. His new book, Choosing and Using Binoculars: A Guide for Stargazers, Birders and Outdoor Enthusiasts will be published later this year. When Neil heard the announcement of the Oberwerk SE Series, he asked to be placed on the pre-order list for an 8×32 SE so he could do a product review, and we obliged. It didn’t take long for him to form an opinion, and here’s the link to the full review on his website. It’s not a quick read, so if you’re in a hurry, (spoiler alert) here’s the summary- “It goes without saying that this product gets my highest possible recommendation.

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