esearchers studying 20th century watchmaking have an invaluable resource at their disposal: the archives of specialist periodicals. They make it possible to observe history as it happened, almost like time travelling. Take Europa Star, for instance. Across the decades, the magazine’s various international editions have featured articles on manufacturers, news, technology, trade fairs and sales techniques – not to mention thousands of advertising pages. These ads capture the spirit of the times in a way that mere commentary cannot.
The images, graphics, writing styles and even the choice of typefaces uniquely and unmistakably express how the manufacturer perceived its product, and how it wanted the public to perceive it once available in stores. It’s like witnessing history in real time. Moreover, these ads from the past also illustrate how design and public tastes have evolved, providing reference points for enthusiasts looking to accurately date vintage watches.
In short, there are many compelling reasons to explore the images and slogans that showcased manufacturers’ creativity, beyond the purely industrial and technical realms. To make it easier to follow, we’ll explore this history chronologically, across nine distinct periods.
About the author Marco Strazzi is the author of a two-volume work on 20th century watch advertising. Published by Pressision SA, Watch Ads 1900-1959 and Watch Ads 1960-2000 are bilingual English-Italian and can be purchased online. PDF previews can be consulted online at 10e10.ch.