Unfortunately, my attempts to decipher this Twen magazine feature and convert it from German into some form of cohesive english proved to be both frustrating and tiresome, to the point where I almost felt the need for an afternoon snooze coming on halfway through. So, Google Translate...you've let me down badly this time! But nevertheless, there are still some really nice examples of the oversized Old England watches designed by Richard Loftus which were produced by Accurist, the watch-making company established by his parents in 1946 on display here. After graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Economics, Loftus spent a year at Stanford University in the United States before returning back home to Britain, whereupon in 1965, he created and developed the brand that was to cause a revolution in the highly traditional watch trade, successfully launching it worldwide two years later. The watches were designed as a fun, low cost, unisex 'fashion' range, and although aimed at the 13-35 age group, according to Loftus were predominantly favoured by girls in their late teens and early twenties. However, his effective use of pop design was so in tune with current trends that they soon became a much sought-after item beyond these social parameters and even made their way onto the wrists of royalty and the jet set, with both Princess Anne and the actress Elizabeth Taylor also reported to have been seen sporting variations from the range—Taylor photographed wearing an oversized black-faced hexagonal watch mounted on a black band, and Princess Anne snapped with a shocking-pink watch on her wrist! Already in demand throughout the UK and Europe, with an Old England showroom in the United States as early as April 1967, the brand quickly became an international success and was eventually sold in 40 countries worldwide, accounting for about 20 percent of Accurist's business—turning Loftus into a tycoon in due course, also winning him the title of 'Young Exporter of the Year' at just 24 and subsequently elevating the status of the watch from traditional timepiece to fashion statement piece! From what I have gathered, the production timeline seems to have run from 1965 to approximately 1971, with the pinnacle of its success taking place in the 1967/68 period. I've included the original Old England Look Book from these particular years in this post to give you some indication of the full range. In addition to wristwatches, there were ring watches, medallion watches, several oversized belt watch designs and a gift pack watch set with four interchangeable wristbands, all of which have now become highly sought-after collectibles among 1960s/1970s enthusiasts. In recent times there were about 30 designs readily available again when Accurist relaunched Old England in February 2011, however, there doesn't seem to have been much activity regarding the brand since early 2012 and all of the items are currently out of stock on the company's website, so I'm assuming at this point that it has once more ceased production.
Interview with Old England watch designer Richard Loftus (1968).
OLD ENGLAND LOOK BOOK 1967/68
|Old England 'Flower Power' watch designed by Richard Loftus, 1967.|
Contestants from the International Cover Girl Contest, on the roof garden of the "Old England Watches" office block in London, 1968.
IMAGE CREDITS & LINKS
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from TWEN July 1967. All photographs by Francis R. Hoff. Except for the Old England Look Book which is courtesy of The House of Accurist. Discover more about the invention and evolution of the wristwatch. View another collection of vintage Old England Watches, courtesy of Andrew Sandoval cometothesunshine.podomatic.com. And finally, links to some of my other posts about Pop Fashion Design: Pop Style (1965); The Picture of Fashion (1972); Pop Fashion (1971); Geometric Pop Design's by John Kloss (1966); John Stephen of Carnaby Street - Womenswear; Rave Magazine How We Made Princess Anne a Mod (1966). And finally, my book review of Mr Freedom Tommy Roberts British Design Hero by Paul Gorman.