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Vintage Watch Wednesday: 70’s watches

by Michael Weare
16 January, 2013
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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

1970s watches

The 70’s was a time when men were men and money was money. But it heralded a time of immense change and uncertainty in the Swiss watch industry, and so many of the watches presented here are from once mighty brands that are no more. The so called quartz watch crisis, when Japanese brands invaded Western markets with cheap and reliable quartz mechanisms, very nearly put paid to the entire Swiss watch industry. In fact,  98% of people working in the Swiss watch industry today were not working in the Swiss watch industry of the 70s. See how many names you recognise from this selection from 70s vintage watch specialists Retro Watches

Lanco Automatic

Lanco Swiss Automatic

The Langendorf Watch Company was a Swiss watchmaker known for fine craftsmanship and great attention to detail. Around 1890, it was probably the largest producer of watches in the world. The company produced watches in Langendorf, Switzerland for exactly a century, from 1873 until 1973. The most famous brand of the company was Lanco (short for Langendorf Watch Company) launched in the late 1950s. The brand was discontinued in the late 1960s, and then revived again from 1971 to around 1980. This particular watch has apparently never been worn and counts as a new/old stock having sat in storage for 40 years. Lanco were owned by SSIH  who in turn owned Tissot and the watch is powered by a Tissot Cal 2481 , 21-jewelled movement that gives the second hand a near sweep action .

The look and feel is very 70s retro with a rare shaped case. This chunky watch was made with fashionable for the time ‘TV’ shaped dial in bronze tones and silver at the edges. Furnished with gold batons and hands with quick set date at 3 o’clock . The funky strap is after market but it suits the watch perfectly.

Record by Longines

Record by Longines

For the record, Record was founded in 1903 in Tramelan as the Record Dreadnought S.A. In 1944, the first watches with hammer automatic movements were introduced, rotor automatics came along in 1952. Longines acquired Record in 1961 but the company, like so many others, did not survive the quartz crisis. This is a high quality Swiss watch with an automatic movement. The dial is brushed blue and features large chrome batons and hands with a date window at 3 o’clock. The cushion shaped case is stainless steel with sweeping curves and a real heavy feel.

Sorna Jump Hour

Sorna Jump Hour

Sorna was a well known ’70s brand that produced watches with EB (Ebauches Bettlach) movements. The company went bankrupt in 1996. Now the brand has been revamped and the watches are powered by Sea Gull Chinese movements. The revamped Sorna brand is part of the Germany based Trias Group. This is a jump hourwatch in the old and rare Damas mould, running on a 17 jewel automatic movement.

Tissot F1 Digital Quartz watch

Tissot F1 Sensor Digital watch

A top quality quartz digital watch from Tissot, using an Omega movement Cal 1640. Omega and Tissot are owned by the mighty House of Swatch, who helped to secure the survival of both brands in the 70s. The plastic lug on top of the case is signed ” Tissot ” and the sensor panel is signed  ” F1 ” This watch gives you a taste of how the Swiss watch industry responded to the quartz watch crisis of the 70s. It’s a very rare and hard to find model, and is a most unusual offering from Tissot.

West End Watch Co Automatic watch

West End Watch Automatic

Believe it or not, the West End Watch Company dates back to 1886. The name was created by one Mr. Arnold Charpié who was the Bombay representative of the Alcide Droz & Sons firm, a watch company established at Saint-Imier (Canton of Bern) in Switzerland. The Sowar model featured here from the early 80s is still manufactured today. In Hindustani, Sowar means “warrior” and this name was selected in honour of Sir Thomas Edward Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) because it’s said that he and his soldiers wore West End Watch Company watches during the First World War. This model features an elegant dial with a pin stripe and 2 tone grey with Arabic numerals and arrowed hour markers in gold and quick set day/date window at 3 o’clock.

 

Main picture courtesy of Bartek on Watchuseek Forums

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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