Updated August 2022: Since resurrecting the Alsta brand in 2017, finding information on the history of the brand has typically led us to fragmented anecdotes, dead ends, and images of old pieces. This is until a fascinating inquiry from a woman named Rita, the daughter of the founder of Alsta, Joseph Alstater. We would like to personally thank Rita March for helping us piece together the history of Alsta and her wonderful storytelling.
The founder of Alsta Watch Corporation, Joseph Alstater, was born in 1910 and emigrated with his wife from Belgium to the United States in 1940 to start a new life away from the horrors of WWII ravaging Europe.
He moved to New Jersey in 1942 where he bought a chicken farm and worked for the benefit of the US war effort. During this time, when watches and watch movements were difficult to import during the war, he was traveling back and forth to New York City three times a week to learn and build a career in the diamond trade. In 1946 Joseph and his family finally moved back to NYC and established the Alstater Watch Corporation.
By this time America had a booming watch industry and focused mainly on military and utilitarian watches. The elegant and practical watches on the market came mainly from Switzerland and Alstater set about establishing his brand. He travelled regularly to Switzerland to meet with suppliers and to develop new Alsta models.
In the 1950s, Alsta focused mainly on dress watches. The shift to sports watches in the 1960s led to designs that are still recognizable today. By 1961, Alstater was semi-retired and running Alsta Watches part-time. During this period, he produced some of the best-known watches and, along with the likes of Breitling, Omega, and Heuer, led the zeitgeist of sports and activity watches.
In 1971, Joseph Alstater retired completely from the watch business and Star Watch Company of Los Angeles continued releasing fashion watches under the Alsta name until 1978.
The Alsta name laid dormant for over 30 years until technology entrepreneur Angus MacFadyen revived the brand. By 2017 Angus and the resurrected brand released the first Alsta watch in nearly 40 years. Since then the brand has continued to release new pieces, some with a nod to history and others with a pioneering first step in new directions.
Alsta was revived to bring back the romance of watches. Much like when under the guidance of Joseph Alstater, Alsta does not seek to ride the wave of short-lived fashions or trends but focuses on design, craftsmanship, style and aspiration. All our timepieces are designed, manufactured, assembled, and distributed in Switzerland and the UK.
The Alsta philosophy, which has not changed throughout the years and which we are upholding, is to produce high-quality and beautiful Swiss timepieces using the best quality materials and technologies, as well as reliable service for the lifetime of the watch.
The new Alsta was created to bring romance back to wristwatches. We don’t simply carbon-copy old models and rely purely on our past. For sure we are inspired by our fabulous portfolio of timepieces from our past however we believe in bringing modern thinking and design touches to our new watches. We are about style and aspiration but not for mere consumption but for conservation, protection and legacy.
Typical Alsta wearers are independently-minded men and women. They are global citizens, successful, motivated, lovers of adventure and the great outdoors. They will admire explorers of the early 20th century, style icons of the mid-20th century and technology, business and creative pioneers of the modern era. Inspiring those around them, they will be creating their own footprint.
Ideals and ideas drive them as opposed to material wealth. Aspiring and inspiring to learn, teach, conserve and protect the truly important things such as our lands and oceans and all that live on and in them is more important than mere consumption. Sure, they may own and enjoy nice things – we all need a little reward for our efforts – but not because these things are expensive; because they admire their style, longevity and craftsmanship. Equally, he or she may be just beginning to discover and develop their own tastes in personal style signifiers, like wristwatches or may simply need robust “tool” watches that will withstand the knocks and bumps of the sea, surf, snow, rock or even the studio or boardroom!
Don’t confuse the Alsta man or woman with someone who can afford anything but knows the value of nothing. These are people who own and covet what they want and not what others tell them to want. An Alsta wearer cares, dreams, romanticises, aspires and inspires.
The Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers. Proudly representing the best of British innovation, creativity, craftsmanship and quality. Learn more: britishwatchmakers.com