Enicar (Sherpa) Vintage Watches: History and Representative Models

Click here to watch the video to see ENICAR's history and representative works.

A watch brand that almost no one knows in Japan.

That will be Enicar.

If you've opened this, it probably means that you've heard of it before, but don't know much about it, so you want to hear more about it.

But one look at the Enicar and you'll quickly understand why it is so desirable to vintage watch collectors.

Even if you are not a fan of Enicar watches, I believe that by learning about the brand's history and its representative models, you will come to understand the greatness of Enicar watches themselves, so please read to the end.

The table of contents is as follows:

1. The History of Enicar Watches

2. Enicar from the Quartz Shock to the Present

3. Enicar's "innovation" and advertising

4. Explanation of Enicar's representative works

The History of Enicar Watches

Enica's predecessor company was founded in 1854 by the Racine family in Lengnau, Switzerland.

Later, his descendant Ariste Racine and his wife Emma Blatt came up with the brand name "Enika" in 1913.

Although it would have been fine to keep the name Racine, the Racine family, relatives of the Garretts, were already using the name "Racine" for their products as a brand name for the American market , so Ariste decided to give them a different name.

This may be a little difficult to understand, so to put it simply, the Garrett family had a relative named Jules Racine , and Garrett, Racine, and Enica were all founded by the same family.

His wife Emma was concerned that a name for the American market would cause confusion about the brand, so she came up with the idea of ​​spelling Racine backwards, and thus the brand name Enicar was created.

A picture of the Enika factory
Enica Factory Photos

The Enicar factory in Longeau: painting (left) and a 1950s photo (right)

Initially, Aliste and Emma used their home in La-Chaux-de-Fonds as an assembly facility, but later moved to Emma's mother's house in Longeau (now Lengnau).

In 1919, a new factory was established in Longjo, and from that time on, the brand name "Enika" began to be used on all watches.

Ariste's son joined the business in 1934 and was just as successful a salesman as his father.

By developing its own movements (while also using movements from Valjoux and Adolph Schild), the company was able to offer Swiss made watches at prices and quality that could not be matched by others, and this made it a huge success around the world.

Enicar Watches

A wonderfully designed watch from Enica / @northshorechrono

If you look back at the history of mountaineering, car racing, diving, aviation (Japanese airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Swissair and the Polish Navy), you'll find Enica watches.

Enicar from the Quartz Shock to the Present

I think Enica has almost no name recognition in Japan, but in America the brand still exists.

However, although the brand name is the same, vintage Enicar watches must be treated as completely different items from current ones.

Like other brands, Enicar found itself in a critical situation during the 1980s due to the quartz crisis.

In 1981, the company was forced into bankruptcy and relaunched as WMEnicar.

Unfortunately, however, the company went bankrupt in 1987 and was ultimately forced to sell its assets.

In 1988, a company obtained the rights to use the Enicar name at auction. However, apart from using the name Enicar, this company did not continue production using the same processes as the original, nor did it use any products, parts, or processes from the old inventory that were connected to the original Enicar watches.

Maybe they just wanted the brand name.

In fact, if you look at Enica's current watches, there are no attractive ones.

On the other hand, vintage Enicar watches (up to the 1970s) are becoming increasingly popular because the watches are made to a level that is incomparable to current Enicar watches.

The biggest factor in Enicar's success was the high quality of its watches relative to their price (especially in China, where Enicar was popular).

However, there were also several other events that helped make the Enica name instantly famous.

This was before the days of Instagram influencers showing off the watches on their wrists, so small watch companies had to get more creative to get their name out there.

Now let's take a look at Enicar's watches and the public relations activities that raised their profile, focusing on the watches themselves.

Enica's "innovation" and advertising

If there was one thing that Enica excelled at, it was its watchmaking, but another thing was its advertising prowess, taking advantage of every opportunity to advertise.

As a small family-run brand, we didn't have a huge advertising budget to start with, so we just had to make the most of what we had, and sometimes that meant rolling up our sleeves and doing the promotion ourselves.

Enica's car race advertising

Philipper Erhard's Enicar-sponsored Renault Alpine/ @vandervenus

We all know the beauty of the Monaco advert, where Heuer featured the world's first automatic movement in a motor racing scene.

However, in fact, Enicar had been using the same motor racing venues even before that to raise awareness of the Enicar watch brand and to increase the company's name recognition.

Let's take a look at these watches with their advertisements.

Let me start by talking about Sherpas.

The Beginnings of Enicar Sherpa

Enicar Sherpa

A 1956 climb from a booklet published by Enicar / enicar.org

In the mid-1950s, Enicar sponsored a group of Swiss climbers attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

This was a huge opportunity at the time and led to a remarkable explosion in Enicar's popularity.

This publicity garnered so much attention that the company decided to refocus its brand name, making great use of it throughout the 1960s and 1970s by prefixing each model with the name of a Himalayan ethnic group called the "Sherpa."

(The Himalayas are located near the border between China and Nepal, and the Sherpas are one of the ethnic minorities of Nepal who live at their foothills.)

Enicar Ultrasonic

Enica Ultrasonic

Enica Ultrasonic advertisement

"Ultrasonic" may sound very high-tech, but the name of this model comes from a simple cleaning process adopted at the Enica factory in 1953.

The movement was cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaning method.

Enicar boasted that this technology would allow the oil to last longer than in conventional watches, allowing for longer intervals between maintenance.

Nowadays, ultrasonic cleaning is commonplace, but at the time it may have been the latest cleaning technology.

Voyage of the Mayflower

Mayflower II

*Mayflower II

One of Enica's most effective promotions was the use of Ultrasonic Sherpa watches on the Mayflower II.

The Mayflower II is a replica of the 17th century Mayflower.

The No. 1 was the ship that carried the Pilgrim Fathers from England to America.

This was recreated in 1957, and the ship travelled the same route from Britain to the Americas.

In 1957, Enicar attached an "Ultrasonic" to the rudder of a ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, England to New York, to demonstrate how durable its watches were.

As the watch used during this remarkable voyage, the Enicar brand successfully captured the public's attention.

Anyka Super Dive

Enicar Super Dive Cal.AR1145

As the name suggests, the Super Dive is a model made for divers.

What makes this case unique is that it has two crowns.

This watch used a case called the Super Compressor made by EPSA, which was a revolutionary waterproof case at the time.

Generally, a bezel is attached to the exterior of the watch, but this is an inner bezel.

This is because if the watch is hit against something during a dive and the position of the bezel changes, the remaining available diving time will change, which could be life-threatening.

Therefore, by turning the crown at the 2 o'clock position, the inner bezel of the watch, called the "inner bezel," is turned.

In addition, the watch is equipped with a large crown that makes it easier to turn even while diving.

The crown at the 4 o'clock position functions as a normal crown.

The Super Dive was actually used as a military watch and was adopted by the Polish Navy.

Enicar - Sherpa - Super Dive - Polish military supply MW stamp

Enicar Sherpa Guide

Enicar Sherpa Guide Cal.AR1146

Enicar Sherpa Guide Watch Catalog

Enicar's Sherpa Guide

Enicar Sherpa Guide / @fadershan_v.watches

The "Sherpa Guide" is a model produced by Enicar as a world clock.

Like the Superdive, you can change the time according to the time zone by rotating the bezel at the 2 o'clock position.

This watch is equipped with an inner bezel that displays 24 hours ( world time ) and also has a GMT function.

The GMT function on a watch is a function that shows the time in two countries (cities) simultaneously .

In this photo, the bright red hand is the "second hand" and the "red and black marbled hand" is the GMT hand .

Although it is a GMT hand, it rotates once every 24 hours to make it easier to distinguish between day and night.

To read the time, use the 24-hour scale on the outer edge.

Super Jet

ENICAR Superjet Cal.AR1146

The Super Jet is the pilot's version of the Sherpa Guide.

The appearance is almost the same, except for the shape of the GMT hand.

Now, in this section, we will explain "AR", which is at the forefront of the movement.

"AR" stands for Ariste Racine, founder of Enicar.

As explained at the beginning, if you spell "Racine" backwards it becomes Enicar.

This was an in-house manufactured movement by Enicar, allowing the company to no longer rely on Adolphe Schild, its previous ébauche (movement) supplier.

In addition, this movement is equivalent to an Enicar chronometer and is characterized by its high quality and precision.

Therefore, Enicar watches with these two crowns are equipped with either the AR1146 or AR1145.

By the way, the Cal. AR1146 has a GMT function, which requires one extra hand, while the Cal. AR 1145 does not.

Enicar Sherpa Graph

Enicar Sherpa Graph Movement Valjoux Cal.72

Enicar Sherpagraph case back

Enicar Sherpa Graph

Enicar put effort into public relations activities, focusing on getting car racers to wear Sherpa Graph.

As a result, their efforts bore fruit, and Sherpagraph appeared in many famous photos related to the race, increasing awareness of Enicar as a brand.

This watch predates other chronograph models by about three years.

Enicar's cutting-edge new motifs and technological advances always seem slightly ahead of their time.

Enica also began having racers wear its watches several years before other big name brands followed suit and began promoting the brand in the same way.

This was an earlier advertisement than Heuer's Monaco, which was the world's first automatic chronograph and became famous in car racing.

Jim Clark wearing an Enicar SherpaGraph

Enicar Aquagraph

Enicar Aquagraph Chronograph Watch Movement - Valjoux Cal.72.jpg
Enicar Aquagraph Chronograph Wristwatch Valjoux Cal.72

*Source: ENICAR official website

Enicar Aquagraph

Aquagraph by Enicar / @colasdam

Enicar launched the Aquagraph as its flagship diving watch three years after the release of the Sherpagraph, but the Aquagraph was trademarked in 1957, so it was a watch that had been planned for a long time.

So, it seems that the decision to make it into a series had already been made by the time the Sherpa Graph was released.

By the way, it is waterproof to 300 feet, which is roughly 90m.

The Valjoux Caliber 72 used in the Aquagraph was also used as the movement in the famous Rolex Daytona, but Enicar has made it more accessible.

As is the case with the Sherpagraph, I think the reason Enicar watches are still in demand today is because of their low price compared to their quality.

Despite emphasizing its use for divers, the Aquagraph has also seen use in racing, thanks in part to the reputation that the Sherpagraph has built up in car racing.

Dane Row wearing an Aquagraph made by Enicar
*Dane Row wearing Aquagraph made by Enicar

Anyka Jet Graph

Enicar Jetgraph Chronograph Movement - Valjoux Cal.724

Enicar Jet Graph Catalog

*Source: ENICAR official website

Enicar Jet Graph

Via Enicar Jet Graph/@wristyourtime

As the name Jetgraph suggests, this watch was created for people who lead a global travel lifestyle.

Its GMT function allows the user to view dials for multiple time zones at the same time, making it popular with airlines and airline workers.

By the way, this Jetgraph also uses an EPSA case, so it is waterproof to about 300 feet (90m) and is equipped with the Cal. 724, an evolved version of the Valjoux Cal. 72 with a GMT function.

Therefore, the Jetgraph is the final masterpiece in the series, bringing together all the watch technologies we have introduced so far.

The Sherpa Jetgraph MK IV was released with a retail price of $125.00.

Nowadays, with the increasing popularity of vintage Enicar watches, it is obviously no longer possible to purchase one at such a price.

In today's market, a Jet Graph in good condition would cost at least 600,000 yen.

Star Jewel

Enicar's Star Jewel

Enicar Star Jewel (above) / via @kimsalls

Enicar's pride and joy, the "Star Jewel" movement, sounds like a very glamorous name, but it was actually named after the small jewel used in the stud at the center of the gears.

Enicar Books and Photos

Are you interested in learning more about the Enica brand?

Or are you dying to own a beautiful watch?

Enica Books

In December 2019, Martijn of enicar.org published a 250-page book on "Forgotten Swiss Brands".

Finally, we would like to introduce an Instagram account that posts many photos of gorgeous vintage Enica watches.

@northshorechrono (photos used in this article were also borrowed from them)


Brands like Rolex and Omega are easy to understand and their stories are often explored.

However, I don't think that the brand Enica that I explained today is necessarily a brand that you will come across just because you like watches.

Was it a small company trying different things to increase its name recognition?

Also, how much effort went into making a truly good watch?

By understanding these things, we may be able to get our hands on a really good watch that no one would pay attention to these days.

I hope that this article will pique your interest in Enicar watches.