Monday, August 13, 2007

Watch Brands History - Article 3 (Bulova)

In 1875 Joseph Bulova, a 23-year-old Czech immigrant, opens a small jewelry shop on Maiden Lane in New York City. By 1911 Bulova begins manufacturing and selling boudoir and table clocks as well as fine pocket watches. These pieces are sold in unprecedented numbers. Bulova sets up its first plant in 1912 dedicated to the production of watch components and their assembly into jeweled movements in Bienne, Switzerland.

During World War I, the convenience of wristwatches (as opposed to pocket watches) is discovered and Bulova introduces the first full line of men's jeweled wristwatches.

In 1923 the name Bulova Watch Company, Inc. is adopted. Bulova perfects a new concept in the watch industry with total standardization of parts. Every part of a Bulova watch is made with such precision (standardized to the ten thousandth part of an inch) that it is interchangeable with the same part in any other Bulova watch. This revolutionizes the servicing of watches in the industry.

In 1926 Bulova produces the nation's first ever radio spot commercial, "At the tone, it's 8 PM, B-U-L-O-V-A Bulova watch time." In honor of Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927, Bulova ships 5,000 Lone Eagle watches, packaged with pictures of Lindbergh. The supply is sold out within three days. During the next few years Bulova sells nearly 50,000 of these commemorative watches. 1927 is also the year Bulova Watch Company goes public on the American Stock Exchange.

Branching out from the wristwatch business, Bulova introduces the world's first clock radio in 1928 and Bulova engineers and patents a new principle in the construction of automobile clocks a year later. Bulova begins manufacturing the first electric clocks via mass production. The collection includes wall and mantel clocks, and clocks for use in stores, windows, office buildings and terminals. In 1931 Bulova conducts the watch industry's first ever million dollar advertising campaign. Throughout the Depression years, Bulova supports retailers by offering Bulova watches to buyers on time-payment plans. Joseph Bulova, founder of Bulova Watch Company, dies in 1935.

In 1941, continuing its tradition of advertising firsts, Bulova airs the first television commercial: a simple picture of a clock and a map of the United States, with a voice-over proclaiming, "America runs on Bulova time." 1941 also marks the year that the Bulova Board of Directors adopts a resolution to manufacture products for national defense at actual cost. Throughout World War II, having perfected the skill of creating precision timepieces, Arde Bulova, Joseph's son, works with the U.S. government to produce military watches, specialized timepieces, aircraft instruments, critical torpedo mechanisms and fuses.

In 1952 Bulova begins developing Accutron, the first breakthrough in timekeeping technology in over 300 years. Accutron, the first fully electronic watch, promises to keep time to within 2 seconds a day. Recognizing a new trend in the watch industry, the self-winding and shock-proof watch, Bulova adds more of this type of watch to its line. Also added this year is the Bulova Wrist-Alarm, an entirely new kind of watch. A few years later, Bulova introduces the "Bulova 23," a self-winding, waterproof , 23-jewel watch with an unbreakable mainspring, made entirely in the United States.

In 1955 an A.C. Neilson Co. Survey reveals that Americans see more national advertising for Bulova products than for any other products, in any other industry, in the world. Bulova completes negotiations to co-sponsor the Jackie Gleason Show, a one-hour live television show airing Saturday nights from eight to nine o'clock. This is the first time in history that any watch or jewelry allied industry has made a sponsorship commitment of such magnitude.

In the 1960s, NASA asks Bulova to incorporate Accutron into its computers for the space program. Bulova timing mechanisms eventually become an integral part of 46 missions of the U.S. Space Program. In 1961, Accutron, the first watch to keep time through electronics, is introduced. It is the most spectacular breakthrough in timekeeping since the invention of the wristwatch. This revolutionary timekeeping concept of a watch without springs or escapement is operated by an electronically activated tuning fork. The Accutron watch goes on to become a presidential gift to world leaders and other dignitaries. President Johnson declares it the White House's official "Gift of State." An Accutron watch movement is part of the equipment placed on the moon by Apollo 11 astronauts, the first men on the moon. A Bulova timer is placed in the moon's "Sea of Tranquility" to control the transmissions of vital data through the years.

In 1970 the Bulova Accuquartz men's calendar wristwatch becomes the first quartz crystal watch sold at retail in the United States. Designed in 18 karat gold, it retailed for $1,325! In 1979 Bulova becomes a subsidiary of Loews Corporation.


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