It’s that time of the year again to give thanks to those who have helped us make our lives better. So thank you to our regular readers and contributors. Without you, the NAWCC would not have an active website devoted solely to wristwatches.
WatchNews will be on holiday break until January 3, 2017. Until then have a safe and happy holiday. Not to leave you hanging completely, I’ve gathered a handful of vintage wristwatch ads for your merriment. I pulled these ads from the archives of our Library & Research Center at the NAWCC headquarters in Columbia, PA. As a graphic designer by profession advertising is my thing so for me these ads hold an endless fascination.
One thing that struck me when looking through these ads is, up until the 1970s, the almost exclusive use of illustration. Why would advertising agencies rely so heavily on illustrators when camera photography was being regularly used by the late 1800s? There are two factors that influenced this: color and money.
Even into the 1970s professional photography was a hugely expensive ordeal and those who understood and could afford the technology were handsomely compensated. Paying a photographer took a huge bite from a client’s budget, so they used illustrators who were more affordable and more creatively flexible.
Color was being added to photography since its inception, but it took a long time to compete aesthetically and affordably with the talent of a commercial illustrator. There could have been a cultural factor as well to advertising’s slow adaptation of photography. Perhaps, the consumers needed time to warm up to the “new look” of photographed ads.
It’s important to note that the Christmas element is heavily downplayed in the war-time ads. The Ingersoll ad is especially shocking, showing a detonator sitting underneath a Christmas tree. The Hamilton ad only a hints of a wreath in the background of the two couples kissing. Instead, Christmas is referred to more in the ad copy. The overuse of holiday elements might have been considered insensitive during this difficult time in US history.