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Bulova Watch Company
Subsidiary of Citizen Watch
Industry Watch and clockmaking
Predecessor J. Bulova Company
Founded New York City, U.S. (1875 (1875))
Founder Joseph Bulova
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Area served
Key people
Jeffrey Cohen, President
John Wille, Chief Financial Officer
Products Bulova, Bulova Accu•Swiss, Caravelle New York, Wittnauer, Clocks
Revenue US$ 164 million (2013)[1]
Parent Citizen Watch
Website Bulova.com

Bulova is an American manufacturer of watches and clocks. Its headquarters is located in New York City.[2] Bulova's Swiss-Made line is known as Bulova Accu•Swiss or formerly, Bulova Accutron. It is owned by Citizen Watch Co.


Bulova was founded and incorporated as the J. Bulova Company in 1875 by Joseph Bulova (1851 – November 18, 1936),[3] an immigrant from Bohemia. It was reincorporated under the name Bulova Watch Company in 1923, and became part of the Loews Corporation in 1979[4] and sold to Citizen at the end of 2007.[5]

In 1912, he launched his first plant dedicated entirely to the production of watches. Manufacturing watches at their factory in Biel (Switzerland), Bulova began a standardized mass production never seen in the world of watchmaking until then. In 1919, Joseph Bulova offered the first complete range of watches for men. The iconic visual style of his first popular advertising made its watches popular with the American public. But beyond the original style, precision and technological research also became an endless quest for Bulova. In 1927, he set up an observatory on the roof of a skyscraper located at 580 5th Avenue to make measurements that would enable him to determine very precisely universal time.

Bulova established its operations in Woodside, New York, and Flushing, New York, where it made innovations in watchmaking, and developed a number of watchmaking tools.[4] Its horological innovations included the Accutron watch, which used a resonating tuning fork as a means of regulating the time-keeping function.

December 1942 ad for Bulova watches from Canada.

Bulova became a renowned watch company in 1923. Bulova produced the first advertisement broadcast on radio in 1926, announcing the first beep of history: ‘At the tone, it’s eight o’clock, Bulova Watch Time’, an announcement heard by millions of Americans. In 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh was the first pilot to cross the Atlantic nonstop. His crossing earned him a Bulova Watch and a check for $1000, and it became an emblem for the brand that created the model "Lone Eagle" in his likeness. Bulova claims to have been the first manufacturer to offer electric clocks beginning in 1931, but the Warren Telechron Company began selling electric clocks in 1912, 19 years prior to Bulova. In the 1930s and 1940s, the brand was a huge success with its rectangular plated watches whose case was strongly curved to better fit the curve of the wrist.

Bulova produced the world's first television advertisement, on July 1, 1941 (the first day that commercial advertising was permitted on television), before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies over New York station WNBT (now WNBC). The announcement, for which the company paid anywhere from $4.00 to $9.00 (reports vary), displayed a WNBT test pattern modified to look like a clock with the hands showing the time. The Bulova logo, with the phrase "Bulova Watch Time", was shown in the lower right-hand quadrant of the test pattern while the second hand swept around the dial for one minute.[6][7]

At one time in the 1940s, Bulova made a few examples of their complex four sided, five-dial per side "sports timer" game clock[8] for use in NHL pro ice hockey games and for the nascent NBA pro basketball league of that time, used for indoor sports arenas such as Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium and the Detroit Olympia through to the last example being taken out of service in Chicago in 1976, all replaced by digital-display game timepieces.[9]

The Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking was founded in 1945 by Arde Bulova, Chairman of the Board, initially to provide training for disabled veterans after the Second World War. The school later became a full-fledged rehabilitation facility, an advocate for disabled people nationwide, and one of the founders of wheelchair sports in the United States. The school closed in 1993.

In 1967, Bulova bought the Manufacture des montres Universal Perret Frères SA at Geneva and sold it in December 1977. The factory in Biel was closed in 1983.


Accutron Movement. The tuning fork is between the two electromagnetic coils at the top of the watch, which drive it.

Bulova’s "Accutron"[10] watches, first sold in October 1960,[11] use a 360 hertz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the timekeeping element.[12] The inventor, Max Hetzel, was born in Basel, Switzerland, and joined the Bulova Watch Company of Bienne, Switzerland, in 1948.[12] The tuning fork was powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator circuit, so the Accutron qualifies as the first "electronic watch". Instead of the ticking sound made by mechanical watches, the Accutron had a faint, high pitch hum which came from the vibrating tuning fork. A forerunner of modern quartz watches which also keep time with a vibrating resonator, the Accutron was guaranteed to be accurate to a minute per month, or 2 seconds per day, considerably better than mechanical watches of the time.[12]


In the 1960s, the company was involved in a notable Space Age rivalry with Omega Watches to be selected as the 'first watch on the moon'. In 1971, a Bulova chronograph was carried on board Apollo 15 – the fourth mission to land men on the moon — by mission commander David Scott. All twelve men who walked on the moon wore standard Omega Speedmaster watches that had been officially issued by NASA. Those watches are deemed to be government property. However, transcripts from the Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal attest to the fact that during his second excursion to the moon’s surface, the crystal on his Official Omega watch had popped off. So, during his third lunar walk, he used his backup Bulova watch.[citation needed]

The Bulova Chronograph Model #88510/01 that Scott wore on the lunar surface was expected to fetch more than $1 million, as it is the only privately owned watch to have walked the lunar surface. There are images of him wearing this watch, when he saluted the American flag on the moon, with the Hadley Delta expanse in the background. That Apollo 15 third excursion lasted 4 hours, 49 minutes and 50 seconds. The watch shows “significant wear from exposure while on the moon, and from splashdown and recovery.”

The watch sold for US $1.625 million, which makes it the most expensive astronaut-owned artifact ever sold at auction.[13]

Present day[edit]

On January 10, 2008, Citizen bought the Bulova Watch Company for $250 million. Together they are the world's largest watchmaker. In 2013 Gregory B. Thumm was named the president of Bulova, after having previously held the senior vice president post at Fossil Group heading product development since 2004.

Currently Bulova designs, manufactures, and markets several different brands, including: the signature "Bulova", the stylish "Caravelle New York", the dressy/formal Swiss-made "Wittnauer Swiss", and the "Marine Star". In 2014 Bulova ceased the sale of watches under the "Accutron" and "Accutron by Bulova" brand, eliminating some Accutron models and subsuming others under the "Bulova" brand.

In 2010, Bulova introduced the Precisionist, a new type of quartz watch with a higher frequency crystal (262144 Hz, eight times the industry standard 32768 Hz) which is claimed to be accurate to ±10 seconds per year (0.32 ppm) and has a smooth sweeping second hand rather than one that jumps each second.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bulova Corporation". InsideView. InsideView, Inc. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Contact Us". Bulova Corporation. Retrieved 13 September 2009.  "Bulova CorpOne Bulova Avenue Woodside, New York 11377"
  3. ^ Find a Grave .
  4. ^ a b Kenneth T. Jackson (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City. The New York Historical Society. Yale University Press. p. 168. 
  5. ^ Citizen to buy watchmaker Bulova from Loews, Reuters news agency, 4 October 2007, retrieved 14 December 2013 .
  6. ^ Stewart, RW (July 6, 1941), "Imagery For Profit", The New York Times .
  7. ^ WNBT/Bulova test pattern (JPEG), Early television .
  8. ^ Arena clock (JPEG), Rireds .
  9. ^ Fenway (March 2, 2012). "What season was this clock retired?". HF Boards. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Bulova Accutron" (in German). Watch wiki. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  11. ^ "History", About, Bulova .
  12. ^ a b c Day, Lance; McNeil, Ian (2013). "Hetzel, Max". Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology. Routledge. p. 597. ISBN 1-13465020-5. 
  13. ^ "Astronaut's watch worn on the moon sells for record $1.6 million | collectSPACE". collectSPACE.com. Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  14. ^ "Bulova introduces the most accurate watch in the world, the Precisionist". Crunch gear. 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 

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