Time has come for Accurist
A UK watch firm is making the most of the Millennium, says Roger Trapp
Sunday 30 March 1997
Another gimmick on the way to what many believe will be little more than a massive merchandising event? Maybe. But it is the latest step in a surprising success story for a small, family-run British company. For this timepiece was not made in Switzerland or Japan, but in London.
Accurist, which has just moved into a smart international headquarters in West Hampstead, will have its pride and joy positioned on the Meridian that has become the baseline for the world's time. A state-of-the-art digital affair, part of the Global Positioning System with links to up to eight satellites, the clock will reveal at any given time the number of days, hours, minutes, seconds, tenths of second and hundredths of seconds to the end of the 1990s.
Managing director Andrew Loftus sees it as a wonderful international branding opportunity for a company that has already promoted itself in Britain by sponsoring the speaking clock: since 1983 nearly 2 billion callers have heard its name.
"Internationally, most people do not associate Britain with watches, but the association with Greenwich made it an instantly credible proposition," he says.
The Accurist story began just after the Second World War, when Mr Loftus's father, having sold watches, decided to go into business making his own. Marketing experts of the time suggested that the company choose a name obviously connected with Britain, such as Mayfair or Grosvenor. But Mr Loftus senior and his wife opted for Accurist on the grounds that it denoted accuracy in an item worn on the wrist - a point amplified in the Seventies by John Cleese's award-winning "Accur-ankle, Accur-wrist" commercials.
In the Sixties the company had made a name for itself with its "Old English" range, which won Mr Loftus's brother, Richard, the title "Young Exporter of the Year". Not long after, its digital quartz watches became the official watches for the pilots of the newly launched Concorde supersonic airliner.
Since then the company has become Britain's biggest watch brand in terms of value. It has seen sales soar by well over 1,000 per cent since the early Eighties, with more than 1.5 million units accounting for group turnover of more than pounds 25m.
The UK watch market is worth about pounds 500m, but is highly fragmented. However, Accurist has established itself as a leader with 40 per cent of sales of watches worth more than pounds 40.
As well as selling its mid-range products through 350 outlets around the country, the company - which employs 75 people - has developed a worldwide distribution network. And having secured a prominent position in what is arguably one of the most eagerly awaited events of the decade, it is not about to miss out on promotional activities.
The Greenwich link began when the Old Royal Observatory - home to Greenwich Mean Time and the International Meridian Line - was refurbished earlier this decade. In a typically bold move, Accurist saw offering the site a special clock as a way of demonstrating how it was pushing forward its technological developments - as well as being in on the official centre of the world's Millennium celebrations.
The arrangement, which has laid the foundations for a partnership with Greenwich Millennium 2000, organisers of the big event, has already led to advertising slogans such as "Accurist. The standard by which all watches are set" and "Accurist Mean Time". And, with a budget of pounds 5m for the next couple of years, more of the same can be expected.
Meanwhile, the company is preparing to launch worldwide a range of replica Accurist Millennium Countdown Clocks as corporate and personal gifts and is already selling countdown watches to a host of countries - including Japan and Switzerland.
"We're looking to take advantage of great opportunities," Mr Loftus says. "These are very exciting times."
Malaysia Airlines plane crash exposes alarming flaw in airline security: over one billion flights made last year without stolen-passport check
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Oil slicks in South China Sea ‘not from missing jet’, officials say
Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete throws up as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's autopsy
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote in North Korean elections
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 5 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
iJobs Money & Business
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£55000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Corporat...
£80000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Opportu...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Mixed Ta...