Bulova Watches: An American Pioneer

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In 1985, a young immigrant from Bohemia, Joseph Bulova, opened a small jewelry store on Maiden Lane in New York City. In this simple store he made timepieces: clocks, pocket watches, pins. With his old world craftsmanship and some ingenuity, he created watches that soon became the rage of the city.

Known not only for their beautiful workmanship, but also their style, Bulova watches were excellent examples of European time keeping mechanisms. In the early days, pocket watches were used by both the professional working man and the laborer.

Women wore simple watch pins that adorned their blouses. Wristwatches were new and considered avant-garde and worn only by the elites. It would not be until World War I that the wristwatch became an object of everyday use and worn by men, women, and even children.

Between the years of 1875 and 1920, Joseph Bulova devoted himself to designing new styles of clocks and watches. He developed new mechanisms that would provide more accurate timekeeping, down to one-thousandth of a second. He was not satisfied with the beauty of the watch exteriors, but worked to create the most accurate timekeeping mechanisms known to man.

By the end of the First World War, Joseph Bulova and his Bulova Watch Company have produced thousands of watches worn by our soldiers on the battlefields of Europe. He presented a special commemorative watch to Charles Lindbergh when he completed his solo transatlantic flight in 1926. And as the twenties roared, the company presented the first National Radio Advertisement in 1926 at a Dodgers vs. Phillies baseball game.

They continued this trend of being the first in 1929 with the first clock radio and new methods for building car clocks. In 1931, they introduced us to the first electric clock requiring no more winding. These clocks adorned the walls of post offices, train and bus stations, airports and public buildings. The name Bulova could be found all across America.

The "Lone Eagle", a special commemorative watch designed for the Lindbergh's transatlantic flight was snatched up as soon as they hit the ground. Five thousand watches were sold in three days! So fond of the Bulova was Charles Lindbergh, that he appeared in much of their print advertising for several years.

Never forgetting their humble beginnings, the Bulova Watch Company was eager to work closely with our Defense Department to provide our soldiers and sailors military watches. During World War II they provided strong and accurate watches to our military, as well as mechanical devices for torpedoes and other armaments that required precision timing. Being a true patriot, the company would only charge the actual cost of production, making no profit on the war products.

To help our wounded veterans, the Watch Company opened the Joseph Bulova School of Watch Making. This school was designed for disabled veterans with forward thinking accessibility: automatic doors, wider than usual door openings and aisles, lower worktables, and other accommodations.

Upon graduation, the vets would find employment across the country. Most likely one of those jobs was from the 1,500 jobs pledged by the American jewelers. Once again, the company put our country first.

The culmination of Bulova's success has to be the fact that the NASA invited Bulova to use it Accutron technology into the computers being used by the space program. Bulova timing mechanisms were used in 46 space missions and its technology was used in the space capsules panels for the moon mission.

The history of Bulova watches cannot be separated from the history of the United States. Rising to meet the demands of the military and space, while meeting the cultural needs of the population, the Bulova Watch Company is an outstanding representative of American craftsmanship, mens watches, and technology.

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