The modern watch landscape has changed throughout the decades: Companies have come and gone, while others drastically changed their philosophy altogether. One thing was definitely certain: Bulova grew from a small American Watchmaking firm to a global success. With a handful of world firsts, the New York firm was a vital contributor to the Art Deco design movement that swept the nation in the early 1900s and provided a memorable history for us to cherish. Let us now stroll into memory lane and relive a piece of Americana.
The American Standard
Created in New York City around 1875, Joseph Bulova started dedicating his life and passion to create accurate timepieces for the people to use in their daily lives. Precision and serviceability were his focus, as he pioneered the standardization of watch parts within the company.
This simple move gave the company the ability to seamlessly transfer and utilize parts within their lineup, providing the customer with timely repair times, and good reliability. It also gave watchsmiths a simple, easy-to-understand system to repair and order watch parts through Bulova. This standardization is commonplace not only in watchmaking, but in other industries as well such as automotive and personal computing, to name a few.
The company also created ‘Accutron’, which used a tuning fork to regulate time in a wristwatch.
The Accutron technology consists of a 360Hz steel fork with electromagnets within the mechanism for regulation.
This is more technologically advanced and accurate than the traditional balance wheel counterparts while providing a calming hum to the wearer (if they put the watch against their ear).
A Desire to Create History
1920’s changed everything for Bulova as they became the first company ever to have a radio advertisement in America. Americans throughout the country heard the famous slogan:
“At the tone, it’s eight o’clock, B‑U‑L‑O‑V‑A Watch Time.”
As radio technology grew, becoming a staple in every American homestead, so did a Bulova watch.
In 1927, Charles A Lindbergh soared and etched himself in aviation history as the first person to successfully cross the Atlantic nonstop. For his feat, he was rewarded with a $1000 cheque and a Bulova watch.
With that achievement, the brand’s popularity grew and had a positive influence that Bulova created the “Lone Eagle” line in honour of Lindbergh, who possessed the same nickname. The “Lone Eagle” watch provides consumers with a classic American design, that became a part of the art deco movement.
As the years went by, Bulova continued to enhance their presence within the watchmaking world and again, created history by being the first company in the world to have a television advertisement.
In 1941, the world saw Bulova projected in their black-and-white screens, seeing America with a watch face and hearing the phrase, “America runs on Bulova time”. History was made and Bulova once again was a part of it.
In the early 70s, Bulova went against Omega to become the watchmaker for aerospace. Battling a Swiss watchmaking giant is no easy feat but in true American fashion, Bulova did not back down and produced stellar timepieces for NASA to review.
Omega ultimately succeeded, but Bulova was part of the Apollo 15 mission as the backup watch for Commander David Scott. It is rumoured that the government-issued Omega had issues in space, and Commander Scott used his Bulova chronograph
(now known as the Lunar Pilot) which are now photographed in space with him saluting the American flag.
In 2008, Citizen Watch company bought Bulova and is now covering the mid-tier luxury market with brands such as ‘Bulova’, ‘Caravelle New York’, and ‘Wittnauer’. By providing customers with a stellar watch that echoes a proud American history, Bulova will be a part of many watch enthusiasts for many years to come.