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The window to watch: 1960s

by Michael Weare
6 July, 2011
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Michael Caine

What clothes, what watches and what music were people into in the 1960s?

This is the first in a series of feature articles that walks through the decades in terms of changing tastes in these three key areas.

Fashion: John Collier’s Saturday Night Suit

John Collier

John Collier was a chain of menswear stores with a famous jingle: ‘John Collier, John Collier the window to watch.’ They produced fashionable clothes for men on a budget.

One of their bargain buys was an item of clothing known as the Saturday Night Suit. Of course John Collier is long gone now, swallowed up by rival Burton, but veteran DJ Brian Matthew, who promoted the brand, can still be heard on BBC Radio 2 on Saturday mornings.

Movie stars and even rock stars all wore suits in the early 60s so naturally everyone wanted to copy the latest designs.

For a little over £10 you could have a new suit knocked up in fire hazard terylene or wool worsted to go out and look the part on a Saturday night.

If you had more money, like Michael Caine, you went to Savile Row and had a suit immaculately tailored for you by Dougie Hayward, the wardrobe staple of the 60s set.

As Michael Caine would often state, he derived pleasure from knowing that the suit was perfectly tailored even if to others it just looked totally understated.

Watches: Omega Seamaster in 18k gold

Omega Seamaster 18k Solid Gold

Omega was as much a symbol of good taste and good quality in watches in the 60s as it is today, and the Seamaster is still one of the most sought after watches for men.

If you wanted to impress a girl on a Saturday night (also known as a ‘bird’ in 60s parlance) you had to have not only the suit but the watch to go with it.

The 1959 Omega Seamaster in the picture is reassuringly expensive; made of solid 18k gold and it would get you a long way with any lady.

The watch was made for the English market and has an Omega signed Dennison-made case. Unlike a lot of the lighter, cheaper Omega’s this one has real weight to it.

The idea was to flash the watch around as much as possible without becoming too blatantly obvious, and not to get so plastered that you would have it nicked following a punch-up in the gents toilets.

If you had borrowed it from your dad and got it nicked you’d be better off leaving home.

Music: The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

The Beatles were huge, but the real rebels were more into the Rolling Stones. The Stones were promoted as bad boys, a gimmick that stuck as an indelible image (because it was true).

Their music started as a gruffer, faster version of Chicago blues, but eventually the Stones pioneered British rock’s tone of ironic detachment and wrote about offhand brutality, sex as power, and other taboos.

Talking of ironic detachment, see the clip below from 1964 where they sing ‘Carol’ from their first album. It’s just wonderful. It shows the lads in Paris taking the piss with borrowed instruments.

Charlie Watts’ rock solid drum beat holds the whole song together. You just know that later that evening they’re going to go out and score with their pick of stunning Parisian ‘birds’. Looking back they still seem incredibly cool.

Bill Wyman got through well over 1000 ‘birds’ in his rock and roll career. Nowadays rock bands employ a health and safety manager just to ensure they don’t get injured opening a packet of peanuts.

And as a sign of advancing age, the Stones have oxygen and defibrillators on hand at all their concerts.

Do you have any watch related memories of the 60’s to share with us? We’d love to hear them.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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