Last December, Martijn van der Ven distributed the book Time For A Change, Discovering Vintage Enicar. Although he launched his book without the assistance of a distributer, it has ended up being a beautiful and well-informed endeavor. In addition to the fact that it describes the ascent and fall of this remarkable watch company, yet it also features great adverts of the time, individuals behind the brand and the troublesome times the watch business had to suffer during the quartz emergency. It is, therefore, in excess of a watch book. We addressed Van der Ven to discover exactly what kind of book is this?
Flipping through the pages of Time For A Change, Discovering Vintage Enicar is in reality an excursion through time. Enicar was established by Ariste Racine in 1913 in the famous watchmaker’s town La Chaux-de-Fonds. Like most watch brands from that time and place, development was assured in the principal decade. At its heyday, it possessed two factories, in Lengnau and Oensingen. Together, they delivered around 800,000 wristwatches each year. And it was a remarkable company. Take for example its name, which is essentially the last name of its author composed backwards. The last watch left the factory in 1987, as Enicar declared financial insolvency in the wake of the quartz crisis.
‘I’ve always cherished the accounts of underdogs‘, explains van der Ven. ‘That attracted me about Enicar. Not in the way that they became bankrupt, but rather by the way they were thinking. They made very a few innovations and did some great marketing stunts, however they never reached the statures Rolex or Omega have. That simply speaks to my imagination.‘
A abnormal obsession
Van der Ven (44) understands what it is to speak from the situation of the longshot. He has worked in advertising for about twenty years, as creative and marketing specialist. First at a bureau, later he started his own company. In 2018, he quit that as well and returned to basics. Which was (copy)writing and narrating. This book, he advises me, is an aftereffect of that decision. ‘It’s really a passion project. I don’t earn an euro with it. I did everything without anyone else, from idea to distribution.’
The book isn’t just a compilation of great images and advertisements. The research he did in this book is amazing. It is developed around five pieces van der Ven chose because he thought those watches are representative of what Enicar represented. In 2014, he started an Instagram account completely dedicated to the wiped out brand . In 2018, he traveled to Switzerland to discover the foundations of this company and to talk with former representatives. ‘I also went to see the old factory. It presently houses a site company, a kitchen store and two watch companies: Atlantic and Epos watches. I attempted to speak to as many individuals as conceivable to get a broader perspective on the company. I got a great deal of cooperation, yet initially, the family beneficiaries didn’t want to talk to me about it.‘
Speaking to Racine III
In 2019, van der Ven got back to Lengnau, where he met the major of the city. He associated him to the grandson of the originator of the company, Ariste Racine III, presently 76 years old. ‘It took some persuasion to gain his trust,‘ says van der Ven. ‘I imagine the conclusion of the company left its scars in the family. So initially they weren’t extremely able to talk much about the past, which I completely understand. He revealed to me they had obliterated all the archives after the bankruptcy. In any case, before the finish of our gathering, he gave me a heap of old papers, which ended up being the company announcements. From 1954 to 1973, they had a company journalist working for them, so the historical backdrop of the company was all around archived. He gave me all the access I expected to jump further into the corporation. And it affirmed what I had already felt: they really did astonishing things.’
Van der Ven several marketing stunts Enicar did. ‘We all realize Rolex was on the Mount Everest in 1953. Before long, Enicar did basically the same with a watch they gave the name Sherpa, presented in 1956. In 1957 they went above and beyond with that watch. An Enicar Sherpa was attached to the bow of the Mayflower II boat, which went sailing from England to New York. After this 51 day trip, the item manager of Enicar took the watch from the bow and assessed it. No water damage, and no time lost.‘
A genuine recommendation
It is stories like these, and many others, combined with beautiful new and old photography, that give Time for a Change, Discovering Vintage Enicar its appeal. Van der Ven employed some great photographers, to create the pamphlet this company never had; an excursion through the company history. The book is ‘hybrid‘, as its author calls it. ‘It is part watch book, part marketing case study and part photobook‘, he says. It is in a way as eccentric as Enicar itself.
The book checks 280 pages book and combines the company history with great imagery. The book is out now and costs EUR 65. For more information and orders, visit enicar.org .
Photographers Geertjan Cornelissen and Nancy Ostermann, of Versebeeldwaren , did five item shoots and photographer Maarten Coolen did several additional photoshoots and portraits in Switzerland.