Bling me an Accurist

February 2005


Accurist is a unique British watchmaking enterprise. It was founded in London’s clockmaking district of Clerkenwell in 1938 by Asher and Rebecca Loftus, importers of Swiss timepieces. But the real beginning of its growth can be dated to 1946 when they decided to launch their own brand in the UK.
The name they settled upon was Accurist, because, they cleverly argued, their timepieces were both accurate and on the wrist!
Accurist became the first watch company in this country actively to promote the 21-jewel lever movement. Soon it was running national advertising campaigns on television, which was most unusual in the postwar years. Meanwhile three sons were growing up. Today the eldest, Anthony, and the second-born, Richard, are non-executive directors, while the youngest, Andrew Loftus, is the Managing Director.
It was Andrew who came up with the idea of a series of quartz watches branded Old England. They were a huge success in the 1960s with their brightly coloured dials featuring the national flag and brand names such as Pepsi-Cola. Wearers at the time included the Beatles, Twiggy and Princess Anne. In the 1960s London was swinging and Carnaby Street the rage place to visit. Andrew Loftus contends today that in a clear sense his range of watches anticipated the early Swatches of the next decade.
Accurist followed up these successes with a range of 9 carat gold watches at highly affordable retail prices, and then when L.E.D. and L.C.D. movements were developed, the brand got in on the act with a digital quartz watch. It was the preferred watch for all pilots of the newly launched Concorde plane. In 1983 the first Accurist watches to be produced in Japan were launched in the UK market, increasing the company’s turnover by 500% in the following three years.
Accurist has always had a knack for self-promotion, and in the late 1980s this north London company pulled off a masterstroke with its sponsorship of British Telecom’s Speaking Clock. The promotion continues today, and if you dial (in the UK) 123 to find out the exact time of the day, the first thing you will hear is “At the third stroke, the time sponsored by Accurist is…”.
The 1990s saw steady expansion and as the Millennium approached Andrew Loftus had the idea of providing a Millennium Countdown clock at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. (Following the establishment of the International Time Zone system for the whole world in October 1881 in Washington DC, a single world meridian was fixed at Greenwich, in south-east London, as Longitude 0º.) From July 1996 the clock got to work on the meridian line itself at the exact point where the UK officially entered the new Millennium. A few years earlier, in 1993, Accurist became the Royal Observatory’s official timekeeper.
At Greenwich today there is a digital clock proclaiming the name Accurist along with the time. A legend reads “Greenwich Mean Time: This clock records the time for the world”. The connection with Greenwich continues. Accurist has just launched the Greenwich Commemorative Collection. Rear Admiral Roy Clare is Director of both the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory. He says: “I personally thank Accurist for its continuing support and congratulate them on producing a superb new range of watches that commemorate the qualities that have been associated with Greenwich for more than 300 years.” One of the first models is the new Grand Complication with the traditional features such as perpetual calendar, a repeating mechanism, a chronograph, a sweep second giving both split and lap times, a home indicator for travellers and a moon phase display.
However, Accurist is not all tradition! In the last year or so it has been capturing a huge market for a watch under its other brand, Accu.2. It is called The Real Bling. It has a broad cuff bracelet studded with Swarovski crystals in a variety of sizes, colours and styles. It has been quickly picked up by film and pop stars and supermodels. The word “bling” apparently arrived from the Caribbean via a rap performer. It seems to mean “oversized, overstated… sort of in-your-face glitter”. That sort of thing!
Accurist enjoys sales of over 1 million units a year through more than 2,500 points of sale, and does not distribute timepieces for any other company. Andrew Loftus has two sons and fends off constant takeover approaches with ease and pleasure.

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