Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Old England Watches - 1967



Google translate..you've let me down badly on this one! My attempts to decipher this Twen 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. But nevertheless, there are still some really nice examples of the oversized Old England watches designed by Richard Loftus and 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 States before returning back home to Britain, whereupon in 1965, he created and developed the brand which was to cause a revolution in the highly traditional watch trade, launching it worldwide two years later. They were designed as a fun, low cost, unisex 'fashion' watch and although aimed at the 13-35 age group, were predominantly favoured by girls in their late teens and early twenties. But 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 Elizabeth Taylor reported to have been seen sporting variations from the range. 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 elevating the status of the watch from traditional timepiece to fashion statement piece! From what I can gather, the production timeline seems to have run from 1965 to around 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 collectible among 1960s/1970s enthusiasts.  In recent times there were about 30 designs readily available again for a while when Accurist relaunched Old England in february 2011, although 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 presuming that it has once more ceased production.































                        OLD ENGLAND LOOK BOOK 1967/68.
















   
                                                              
                                                      IMAGE CREDITS & LINKS
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from TWEN July 1967. Photographs by Francis R. Hoff. Except for Old England Look Book which is courtesy of  The House of Accurist. Watch an interview with designer Richard Loftus from 1968 hereRead about the invention and evolution of the wristwatch here and you can view another collection of vintage Old England Watches here.

3 comments:

  1. That's an absolutely brilliant post! I was so thrilled when I got my Old England and the best thing about them was that they were unmissable. It was like having a sign over your head saying "I'm so incredibly groovy" which was totally fabulous for a 13 yr old in the 60s.

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    1. Thanks a mil! They really are fantastic looking watches! My sister has a couple of them plus one of the oversized watch belts, it's actually quite similar the one in the top right hand corner in the final photograph (Model E) except that her one is red, i'm going to photograph it and add to the post in the next couple of days.

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  2. I've inherited a L1 from my mother who married in 1967 so it's probably was a wedding present.

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