||This article has an unclear citation style. (January 2015)|
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|Subsidiary of Citizen Watch Co.|
|Industry||Watches and Clocks|
|Predecessor||J. Bulova Company
Bulova Watch Company, Inc.
|Founded||New York City, U.S. (1875)|
|Headquarters||Queens, New York, United States|
Gregory Thumm, President
|Products||Bulova, Bulova Accutron II, Bulova Accu • Swiss, Caravelle New York and Wittnauer watches, Bulova Clocks, licensed Harley-Davidson® Timepieces by Bulova and Frank Lloyd Wright® Collection watches and clocks.|
|Revenue||US$ 164 million (2013)|
|Parent||Citizen Watch Co.|
- 1 Early History • 1875-1920s
- 2 Transforming Marketing • 1920s – 1941
- 3 The War Years • 1941-1945
- 4 Accutron – The World’s First Fully Electronic Watch • 1960
- 5 The Space Age • 1950s-1973
- 6 Bulova Introduces the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Movement • 2010
- 7 Official Timekeeper of Manchester United • 2013
- 8 Bulova Brands
- 9 Present Day
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Early History • 1875-1920s
Bulova was founded in New York City as the J. Bulova Company in 1875 by Joseph Bulova (1851-1935), starting as a manufacturing jeweler in a small establishment on Maiden Lane in Manhattan. Using the skills in engineering and artistry acquired as an apprentice with Tiffany & Company, Bulova quickly distinguished himself with manufactured movements and exquisitely crafted designs. From the beginning, Bulova dedicated himself to excellence, noting that
“When I started, I made up my mind that quality would be the foundation upon which I would build. I can only say that I have always tried with my whole heart and soul to make everything I made as perfect as honest human effort could possibly make it…this same principle upon which I founded the business is still the foundation upon which we build.”
These principles remain as a guiding legacy and inspiration for the company today.
A pioneering force in the industry, Bulova transformed how watches were worn and how time was perceived. Leading the watchmaking world into an age of rapid industrialization, in 1912 the company established the first plant dedicated entirely to the production of watches. Manufacturing watches at its factory in Bienne (Switzerland), Bulova was the first watchmaking company to adopt the new standardized methods of mass production. This dedication to innovation led, in 1919, to the first complete range of watches for men, followed, in 1924, by the first full line for ladies. In 1928, the company also introduced the world’s first clock radio. To ensure the accuracy of its products, during the 1920s the company set up an observatory on the roof of its New York City skyscraper headquarters to make measurements that would enable it to determine the precise sidereal time – a time scale that is based on the Earth's rate of rotation measured relative to the fixed stars. The Observatory was under the direction of a mathematician whose readings were recorded instantaneously, guiding the Bulova watchmakers in the setting and timing unit of the company.
Transforming Marketing • 1920s – 1941
Quick to grasp the potential of modern marketing, Bulova also established a reputation as a leading creative force in the growing field of advertising. In 1926, the company produced the first national radio spot advertisement, reminding listeners that, “At the tone, it's eight o'clock, Bulova Watch Time,” an announcement heard by millions of Americans. Just fifteen years later, on July 1, 1941, Bulova changed advertising forever with the world’s first official television commercial, shown before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies over New York station WNBT (now WNBC).
The War Years • 1941-1945
During World War II, Bulova turned much of its energy toward the war effort, producing both timers and watches for American troops, including the iconic “hack watch,” which provided synchronized timing for crucial missions.
After the war, Bulova continued its support of American soldiers with the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking, founded in 1945, and dedicated to providing training for disabled veterans.
Accutron – The World’s First Fully Electronic Watch • 1960
Bulova’s “Accutron,” the world’s first fully electronic watch, revolutionized timekeeping, changing the concept of timing forever. First sold in October 1960, the Accutron movement used a 360 hertz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the timekeeping element. The tuning fork was powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator circuit, rather than mechanical winding. Instead of the ticking sound made by mechanical watches, Accutron watches had a faint, high pitched hum which came from the vibrating tuning fork. A forerunner of modern quartz watches, which also keep time with a vibrating resonator, the Accutron watch was guaranteed to be accurate to a minute per month, or two seconds per day, considerably better than mechanical watches of the time. The tuning fork movement constituted a fundamental change in timekeeping. Previously, electronically regulated timepieces were limited to scientific instruments, because they were much too large for a personal watch. The Accutron watch was also the first wristwatch precise enough to qualify for U.S. railroad certification. The most famous of the Accutron models, the visible movement Spaceview, featuring a fully transparent dial to display the unique movement, remains a favorite among collectors of fine historical timepieces. Bulova made its last tuning fork movement wristwatches in 1977. That year it also started making quartz watches, continuing, briefly, to sell them under the Accutron label. More than 4 million tuning fork Accutrons were sold by the time production stopped in 1977.
The Space Age • 1950s-1973
Bulova technology was an integral feature of the U.S. space program from the late-1950s on, as the company become a major NASA contractor. Commercial release of the Accutron watch was delayed for several years because the fully electronic Accutron timer was deemed essential technology. All instrument panel clocks and time-keeping mechanisms in the spacecraft on those missions used Accutron tuning fork movements, because at the time, NASA did not know how well a mechanical movement would work in low gravity conditions. An Accutron 214 movement was placed on the moon in a communications relay device by the first moon landing mission, Apollo 11 (1969). The U.S. government had used the 214 in military satellites, and had even prevailed on Bulova to delay the commercial release of the Accutron to prevent the Soviet Union from obtaining the technology during the Cold War. While specialized Accutron equipment became standard for space flight, a production model Accutron chronograph and timer also went into space during the 1971 Apollo 15 flight, the fourth mission to land men on the moon, carried unofficially by mission commander David R. Scott. This disproves the claim that Omega was the only watch included in the Apollo program.
Bulova technology continued to be used on NASA missions through the 1973 launch of Skylab.
Bulova Introduces the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Movement • 2010
In 2010, Bulova introduced the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) torsional resonator quartz movement, a manufactured movement first used in Bulova’s Precisionist collection. Including a continuously sweeping second hand, the highly engineered Bulova Ultra High Frequency (UHF) movement achieves exceptional accuracy by using a unique three-prong torsional resonator quartz crystal, as opposed to the two-prong crystal of standard quartz. These specially cut crystals produce a vibrational frequency of 262 kHz, eight times greater than the 32 kHz of a standard quartz crystal, thereby splitting each second into smaller, more precisely measured intervals.
This high-performance movement was later extended to the new Bulova Accutron II series, reflecting the technological heritage of the original Accutron. The Bulova Ultra High Frequency movement is currently slated to be used in future collections within the Bulova brand, in addition to the Bulova Accutron II designs. Starting in 2015, all watches featuring these movements will be identified by the vibrational frequency indicated above the 6 o’clock position on the dial – 262 kHz.
Official Timekeeper of Manchester United • 2013
In 2013, Bulova became the Official Timekeeper of Manchester United, the renowned soccer powerhouse and one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world with an estimated 659 million followers worldwide. The following year, the company introduced the Treble Collection, as part of its Bulova Accu • Swiss Percheron Collection, in honor of the team’s historic Continental Treble of 1998-99, when the team won the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. The Bulova logo is currently displayed on signage and timers at the team’s storied arena, Old Trafford, as well as on team broadcast, print and online productions. In addition, Bulova is featuring Manchester United players in advertising and point-of-sale promotions.
Chronograph from the Bulova Precisionist Collection
The wide-ranging signature brand, Bulova, providing superb craftsmanship and advanced technology, remains a dynamic force in timekeeping, offering proprietary movements and materials as well as a comfortable, engineered fit. Highlights of a comprehensive selection designed to meet every watch-wearing need include the Precisionist Collection, featuring Bulova's patented Ultra High Frequency (UHF) torsional resonator movement, and the Marine Star Collection, with Duramic™, a new proprietary nylon/ceramic composite. Long at the forefront of diamond watch design, Bulova also continues to present the finest in ladies’ diamond timepieces with the elegantly crafted Diamond Gallery, offering full three-prong settings and sapphire glass.
Bulova Accutron II
From the Bulova Accutron II Surveyor Collection
In 2014, the company introduced the "Bulova Accutron II" series as a new cornerstone of the Bulova brand. Inspired by the now iconic original Accutron designs, skillfully reinterpreted for today, Bulova Accutron II timepieces are fitted with the proprietary Bulova Ultra High Frequency (UHF) torsional resonator movement to reflect the heritage of the Accutron brand as a showcase for the most advanced technology.
From the Bulova Accu•Swiss Murren Collection
Bulova rebranded the "Accutron" line as "Bulova Accu•Swiss" in 2014 to further differentiate this Swiss-made watch brand. Honoring Bulova’s rich heritage of Swiss watchmaking with simple elegance and enduring artistry, Bulova Accu•Swiss features fine Swiss automatic, hand-wound mechanical and quartz movements, representing the utmost in engineering and innovation. A highlight of Bulova Accu•Swiss is the new The Joseph Bulova Collection, which includes only those watches that represent the highest level of watchmaking achievement. The first timepiece in this unique collection is the 24-Karat Gold Special Edition, introduced in 2014 as the world’s first 24-karat 999.9 pure gold timepiece. An unprecedented accomplishment, the 24-karat 999.9 pure gold timepiece is certified by the Bureau Central du Contrôle des Métaux Précieux for fineness and purity, with the case of each timepiece bearing the St. Bernhard dog’s head hallmark, signifying precious metal composition. The timepiece relies on a patented process developed by Bulova engineers to harden 999.9 pure 24-karat gold while maintaining exacting quality standards for finish and fit. Certified as a chronometer by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), this 26-jewel automatic timepiece comes complete with a special hand-made presentation case covered entirely with 24-karat 999.9 pure gold leaf.
Caravelle New York
From the Caravelle New York ladies’ collection
Bulova’s entry level brand, founded as “Caravelle” in 1962, was rebranded "Caravelle New York" in 2013 to reflect the line's renewed emphasis on fashion and the glamour and excitement of New York City. Created in the company’s in-house design lab, with frequent introductions to reflect the latest emerging trends, the brand is dedicated to capturing the energy and spirit of its hometown.
From the Wittnauer ladies’ collection
Reintroduced in 2014, Wittnauer defines the ultimate in bold dress watch styling. Inspired by the energy and elegance of metropolitan nightlife, Wittnauer puts a modern spin on luxurious dress watch style, emphasizing intricate design, the brilliance of diamond and crystal, and the rich lustre of ceramic.
From the Bulova Clocks Strike and Chime Collection
A major source for clocks from the earliest years of its history, Bulova continues to present an award-winning collection of classic and contemporary styles. With a wide range of designs developed to coordinate with home furnishing trends, Bulova Clocks offers an unrivaled blend of creativity and quality.
Currently, Bulova offers four different watch brands – the signature Bulova brand, including Bulova Accutron II; Bulova Accu•Swiss; Caravelle New York; and Wittnauer – as well as Bulova Clocks. Other products include licensed Harley-Davidson® Timepieces by Bulova and Frank Lloyd Wright® Collection watches and clocks. Still based in New York City, Bulova designs all of its watches in-house, emphasizing innovative design and engineering, with manufactured movements, patented processes and creative styling, as it continues to uphold the original mission of Joseph Bulova, to make “quality … the foundation upon which I would build.” A global company, and one of the world’s most recognized brands, Bulova also maintains offices in Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
In July 2014, the company, long headquartered in the New York City borough of Queens, announced that it would be moving its offices to the iconic Empire State Building, returning to its Manhattan birthplace after an absence of over 60 years.