Sunday, November 22, 2015

Decade Envy: Accurist Watches and London's Swinging '60's

I envy the 1960's, especially not being old enough to be a young London fashionable. I was a pre-teen when the decade began, just 11 years old.  Yes, by the time Time Magazine's "London: The Swinging City" cover story had appeared in April, 1966, I was in high school. But sadly, not mature enough in my Midwestern home town to fully comprehend, internalize, enjoy, and adopt with abandon, the revolutionary fashion changes that were taking hold.

What might I have been if my Mt. Pleasant, Michigan Main Street had been instead Chelsea's King's Road?

So yes, I have Decade Envy of the retro, GPS-type. To partly remedy the situation, I set out to answer the question most appropriate to this blog: What was happening with English watches mid-'60's? What was popular among the youthquake set, celebrities and common trenders? The answer:  Richard Loftus' Accurist Old England Collection line.

Accurist Watches was launched in 1946 by husband and wife, Asher and Rebecca Loftus in Clerkwell, an area in central London. According to Accurist Watches' own history, its products "were made entirely from Swiss components;[had] a positive sales point that guaranteed quality, and which coupled with competitive pricing helped establish a reputation for value."


Building on the company's solid reputation, but breaking with its conservative design base to attract the newly-affluent, younger 60's hip set,  Richard Loftus, Asher's brother launched the Old England Collection in 1967.

In doing so, contemporary fashion and wristwatches became conjoined timemates forever. They remain so to this day.  Old England watches were over- sized, had dials with big numerals and bold colors, PVC plastic bands, and iconic images including the British Union Jack and stylized flower petals.

OLD ENGLAND Richard Loftus Accurist London Pop Art Watch Vintage 1960s. Image courtesy of Jeanne at Art of Style, Colorado Springs, Colorado,


As  Petula Clark would sing in 1966, "It's a Sign of the Times":


I'll never understand
The way you treated me
But when I hold your hand
I know you couldn't be the way you used to be.

Oh so, prescient! Old England watches were affordable and fashion forward.   You could dance wearing one design and go shopping wearing another. Bottom line:  They were frivolous, fun and fab!

They gained iconic wrist status by being the brand collection of choice by such celebrities and royals of the time as Twiggy, the Beatles, and Princess Anne. 

 
Twiggy (Lesley Lawson) wearing a Richard Loftus' Accurist Old England Union Jack Design. Photo source unknown.

One design in the collection was sold at the Apple Shop, the Beatles-owned, short lived London boutique on Baker Street (December 1967-July 1968).

 

1968 Beatles Apple Records "Old England" Watch With Original Box. Image from [online] Rock & Roll Pop Art Auction, August 2009. http://www.gottahaverockandroll.com/1968_beatles_apple_records__old_england__watch_wit-lot1367.aspx



In a 1968 interview with Richard Loftus, he stressed that a watch "is anything you want it to be." 

 


That can apply to all of us no matter where we fall on our own life timeline. That includes smartwatches; time/action measurable wrist wearables like Fitbit; and of course the everlasting attraction of mechanical masterpieces embodying engineering expertise and incomparable artisan design. 

If any of you are fellow decade envy travelers and want to share your mod watches or stories, send me images, stories or comments.