Discovering Vintage Enicar

This Book Chronicles the History of a Fascinating (and Little-Known) Watch Company


March 11, 2020 Watches By
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Poll a group of watch enthusiasts, and chances are good that most of them won’t have heard of Enicar, a company that largely faltered during the later years of the Quartz Crisis (when inexpensive, battery-powered watches began to replace their mechanical counterparts) and lives on as a shadow of its former self. Poll a group of serious collectors, however, and they’ll no doubt be quick to tell you that this little-known Swiss concern was once a powerhouse that made some of the coolest tool watches of the 20th century.

Eindhoven-based Martijn van der Ven set out to change all this. Previously a partner in a small advertising agency, van der Ven discovered vintage watches in 2013 and quickly flocked to Enicar. He quickly became so engrossed in the brand that he decided to leave his job and become a full-time freelance copywriter, concentrating first on a book detailing the history of this once-renowned brand.

Published in the Netherlands, “Time for a Change: Discovering Vintage Enicar” is a vintage watch lover’s dream, the product of one man’s quest to synthesize his passion into a detailed repository of historical and anecdotal information. Filled with interviews, color photographs, old advertisements and catalogs, and above all, enthusiasm for his subject, “Time for a Change” (so called because of the author’s belief that it’s time the world discovered vintage Enicar) is also beautifully designed — unsurprising, of course, given van der Ven’s previous occupation.

Whether you’re knowledgeable about the Sherpa Graph, Jet-Graph, Sherpa Guide or any of the countless other colorful tool watches built by Enicar throughout the 20th century is largely immaterial — hell, you don’t have to be remotely familiar with the brand at all to enjoy this book. Because Enicar is symbolic of so many watch companies that were forced out of business during the Quartz Crisis, its story is largely the story of 20th-century watchmaking taken as a whole, filled with tales of innovation, expansion, glory, and ultimately, of demise.

Thankfully, people like van der Ven have taken it upon themselves to share this story with new generations of watch enthusiasts, and, as a result, countless younger collectors are being introduced to this fascinating brand (and many fascinating brands like it). Prices for vintage Enicar watches are climbing in step with the market, and it would seem that the secret is finally out.

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Oren Hartov

Oren Hartov is Gear Patrol's watches editor. He knows what time it is, and one or two other things.

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