Rebecca and Asher Loftus began importing Swiss timepieces in 1938. At their shop in London's watchmaking district, Clerkenwell, the Loftus family eventually decided to start their own brand of watches.
The Accurist brand was created in 1946. The name is a combination of “accurate” and “wrist” and can be seen as a British equivalent of Timex in the United States. The company quickly focused on jewel count as a differentiator, promoting the benefits of a 21-jewel Swiss lever movement. Like Bulova, the brand quickly turned to television to reach a national audience, and it became quite well-known.
In 1967, Accurist launched the Old England brand. Focused on fashion watches, Old England was an overnight sensation, driven by Richard Loftus' bright pop-culture designs. Soon, watches with the Union Jack or the logo of popular brands like Pepsi were on the wrists of stars like the Beatles, Twiggy, and Princess Anne. The brand launched new designs every six months, presaging the fashion watch industry, and rising to become the sales leader in the United States and UK by 1970. But Old England watches were more expensive than many alternatives, using Swiss components and based in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Accurist and Old England embraced quartz watches in the 1970s, especially LED and LCD models. The company's range of 9 karat gold and gold filled watches gave a sense of luxury at a bargain price. The broad range appealed to men and women, and were the standard for pilots of the new Concorde jet plane.
In 1983, Accurist began sourcing entire watches from Japan, further reducing prices and increasing sales fivefold in the 1980s. The company also sponsored British Telecom's “Speaking Clock”, becoming a household name thanks to the phrase, “at the third stroke, the time sponsored by Accurist is…”
In the 1990s, Accurist would capitalize on the enthusiasm for the millennium by sponsoring a Millenium Countdown clock at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Starting in July, 1996, a GPS-synchronized clock at the meridian proclaimed that it “records the time for the world.” The company capitalized on this with a line of Millenium timepieces, including a grand complication with a perpetual calendar, repeater, and split seconds chronograph.
Other brands by Accurist included Accu 2, a fashion watch line with Swarovski crystals, and Regency, a domestic equivalent of Old England.