wat info over de pontiac
In Belgium in the city of Gent a watch making company started to produce wristwatches in the early 1940’s.
Pocket watches were not produced. All parts were ordered from Switzerland or France and put together in Belgium.
With most of the part and blank movements (ebauches) coming from Switzerland the “Swiss made”
marking could be added onto the bottom of the dial. Watches that were equipped with a French (or other country)
movement were not marked. The earliest watches were of Pontiac logo with a large “P” that ran over the entire word “Pontiac”.
It was accompanied by one star. In addition the dial was marked with the technical innovation of that era, like antimagnetic (see below).
The watch range produced enclosed chronographs (one and two buttons), triple date watches and even chronographs with triple date.
Also there were normal 3 handed ladies and gentleman’s watches.
Watches were sold to jewelers in Belgium and later on the market was broadened to countries around Belgium.
Pontiac watches were sold through jewelers in Germany, Luxemburg, France and The Netherlands, this was around the 1950’s.
The brand they come so big they were able to sponsor the Dutch team in the Tour de France.
In the same time there were commercial advertisements on the radio using the Pontiac slogan “Tic-tac Pontiac” over and over.
It is so well known in Belgium that it became a saying for “Time is ticking”!
In 1950 a Dutch runner called Wim van Est (born 25 March 1923 - died 1 May 2003)
and the first Dutchman to wear the yellow sweater as overall leader of the runners in the famous Tour de France.
Two of his nicknames were “The Locomotive” and “Iron Willem”.
In 1951 Pontiac decided to sponsored the entire team with a Pontiac wrist watch.
That year on 18th of July, while coming down a mountain he fell and dropped 70 meters down.
He was not injured seriously and best of all for Pontiac. His watch was still ticking.
This gave rise to a new commercial campaign aimed at the Dutch using the slogan:
“Zeventig meter viel ik diep, mijn hart stond stil, maar mijn Pontiac liep …” which translate to:
“Seventy meters I dropped, my hard stood still but my Pontiac never stopped…”.
It made Wim and the Pontiac brand ever so popular.
These were the days off course when the entire male population was watching the Tour the France every day for almost a month.
When he died 80 years of age a plaque was place in his honor commemorating his drop.
Also several watches by Pontiac were made with reference to the Tour the France.
The company made good commercially use of the above fact and flourished in the decade after that.
Using the watch to promote the hard fact that a Pontiac never stopped. Tic-Tac Pontiac.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s in general the technical possibilities grey,
making it easier to work on materials and as a result of this watches were fixed with brand signed crowns,
also Pontiac joined in an put crowns on their watches with a logo.
In the middle there was a star and written around it in a circle was the brand name written in full.
Also around this period they stared to offer leather straps with their own brand name, complemented with a Pontiac signed buckle.
Being from Belgium a bilingual country in which both French and Dutch are the common language it was easy to expand from.
The every growing watch ranges got their own names like "naguer” which is French for “swimmer” and names like “international”.
The date models were named Memodate and Memomatic,
even thought the Pontiac watches were not sold in English language countries but the international aspect was there.
In addition to the type name Pontiac stared to use 1, 2 or 3 stars on the dial under it.
What exactly the indication of these stars is, is not known.
But a customer could think that more stars would indicate a higher quality watch or movement.
In the 1980’s several quartz watches were produced under the Pontiac brand.
After that it became completely quiet around the Pontiac brand.
Possibly because of the retirement of the founder or just because the company was no longer
profitable due to the hard price wars in the quartz era.
The last know information about the brand is that has been registered in 1994 (for a period of 20 years)
by a large Belgian firm called TWC-Tapernoux & Cie S.A. - N.V.
that is in the business of import and export of various goods including laboratories items and also watch
related items for Casio and Mondaine upon today. It is probably just a question of time when we see
Pontiac reintroduced in (western) Europe.
watch from Wim van Est
Model names and types used on Pontiac dials
Diadatic (day, day display, automatic)
Diadatic jumping (chronograph day/date automatic)
Hydraulica (Super compressed case)
Hydraulica 20 (super compressed case, waterproof until 20 atmosphere suitable for diving
Maillot Jaune (special model chrongraph to commemorate winning the yellow shirt in the “Tour de France”)
Memodate (handwind model with date)
Memomatic (automatic model with date)
Nageur (water tight case)
Other words you can find on Pontiac watch dials are those that tell you what kind of technical improvement
you can find in the specific watch. You find this also with most other watch brands.
These names are used from the period that it is a new invention up until most movement has this as a standard feature.
Found on Pontiac dials are:
Balance staff is support by extra friction jewels and often the first kind of anti-shock spring is installed
(since the 1950’s pretty standard and mostly the Incabloc or KIF shock protection is used.
The fact that the influence of natural magnetism (like with a compass)
is completely reduced by using non-magnetic material in case and movement parts (like the balance).
The use of quartz movement stated on the dial. Up untill then all watches were
mechanical so you still see this on watch dials today (only Pontiac watches are no longer produced).
Please check the watchipedia for more details on the technical terms used.
Stars on the dail
From the earliest models on there are one or more stars on the dial, under the dial name.
Not al watches have these, but most have. The earliest ones are chronographs with just one star under the name.
There are also watches with two and 3 stars. This leads te believe that there is some sort of system.
One may conclude that more (or less) starts indicates a better watch.