Revival of The Chronograph

Treasure Trove For Vintage and Watch Story Lovers

Watch (hi)story lovers beware! I may be leading you down a gold mine here
Sky Sit
July 15, 2019
MIN READ
Treasure Trove For Vintage and Watch Story Lovers

Our world is moving at a pace faster than people flipping their watches. Things come and go as easily as your Tinder swipes. Longevity is a rare quality.

The word didn’t exist in my dictionary until I fell into the watch world. My then boss lectured me on ‘longevity’. Without grasping the meaning, I brushed it off.

Guess what, over a decade later, I’m still in watches. Now I get to work with Robert-Jan and the Fratello ring leaders who are trusted old friends and go way back, from the site’s inception. We don’t need to start counting. Longevity sounds better, doesn’t it!?

Fratello was among the first handful of pioneering bloggers in watch media, the only one to start independent reviews and collector-centric opinions alongside professional photography. A host of print and online magazines, as well as forums,  have since dwindled. Not many can last the distance. These days, everyone also has to tackle the mobile and social game. You fall behind, you die.

So it may surprise you that, there is a publishing house in the watch industry that has stood the test of time for over 90 years. Europa Star has been the trailblazing and specialised industry press, producing global coverage professionally since 1927. That’s almost as old as Forbes!

Imagine, with all that their publications have witnessed, recorded, reviewed, and reported for nearly a century, what you would uncover and discover in their archives…

Europa Star

Archive image © Europa Star

Let’s start with the Moonwatch. As the week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing, you probably hear enough of it in the news. And you know what happened leading up to the historical event? There was a heated controversy over Omega vs Bulova’s involvement in the space programme. Europa Star obtained an official statement from Bulova and listed the timeline to separate facts from fiction. Meanwhile, Omega started running commercial copy to their retailers as early as 1968, even before the watch made history. Revealing, eh?

What’s more revealing (literally!), is the time when it was no taboo to tout watches in overtly sexualised images, flaunting scantily-clad models. While we may think we know, and love moaning about, how conservative the watch industry is, think again. Sex sells. Sure. It certainly was a reflection of the social norms and cultures of the time. At least in Europe. How could they get away with it in the watch media now? Not sure.

Tracking the decades through Europa Star magazines, it is enlightening to discover the chronograph was deemed as a ‘niche’ product in the 60s and a major revival campaign ensued. In the 70s, the quartz crisis hit the Swiss watch industry, as we all know. The 80s saw the mechanical watch rising from the ashes, followed by the renaissance of the manufactures in the 90s. Then came my favorite milestones when an “independent watchmaker” was noted for the first time in a 1992 issue, featuring Claude Meylan, and the “Independents” being reported as a burgeoning force in 2000.

I cannot get enough of how fascinating it is to be able to journey back in time for the stories and references of watches or brands I am inquisitive about, with the possibility of drilling down to a specific year, specific country or city, specific brand, or even specific model. Those who read my bio would know that I write a guest column for Europa Star. The perk is that I get to dive into the back issues to research, check facts, and satisfy my curiosity.

Alas, this perk is no longer a privilege. Europa Star has recently opened the digital library of its archives to the public. I mean, I should keep quiet about it and be the super cool one to have insider access to it. But then you think: you just want more people to know about it, so you deal with fewer ignorant fools, and it’s more fun when you talk watches!

Europa Star

Archive image © Europa Star

As an independent and highly respected Swiss publishing house, Europa Star is still family-owned and currently in the hands of its fourth-generation. Publisher Serge Maillard pursued formal training and a professional career in journalism before taking the helm. Just like the founder of ES almost a century ago, Serge voyages and trots the globe, often for extended periods of time to immerse into local cultures, and to go deep on issues with a balanced and intelligent world view. Not to mention he has the most wicked sense of humour and story-telling talent of the whole of Switzerland!

Having come to appreciate longevity, I respect heritage, just as mechanical watches are meant to last and mark significant times. I admire the editorial stance ES takes, its legacy, and its integrity of being an unfaltering independent voice.

For collectors, the ES digital library is a treasure trove of coverage and records of watches dating as far back as 60 years ago. Any vintage and history lovers may easily have a field day roaming around the archives.

To access, join the ES Club: https://www.europastar.com/club.html

Europa Star

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Sky Sit
About the author

Sky Sit

Sky is the founder of SKOLORR, the curated hub dedicated to the pedigreed independent watchmakers. SKOLORR is official partners with Farfetch and Quintessentially, handpicking fine watches from independent brands for tastemakers and coolhunters. Sky has operated at the heart of... read more

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