Bulova Watch Company – An Appreciation and a Bit of History

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One of the most famous names in watches, Bulova, was founded as the J. Bulova Company in 1875 by Joseph Bulova (1851 – November 18, 1936), who came to the USA from Louny, Bohemia.

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Bulova created and sold outstanding watches, importing quality, dependable movements from Switzerland, and placing them in a dazzling array of stylish cases, which were always named and which changed each year, just as auto manufacturers still do.

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Bulova was an innovative company, and is credited with the first commercial radio ad, as well as the first commercial TV ad using their slogan: “America Runs on Bulova Time”.

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For many years the largest lighted sign in New York City advertised Bulova watches. Bulova was in the forefront of creating watches that did not need to be wound up, which they called the Accutron, introduced in 1969.

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Bulova watches are eagerly collected; you can find several outstanding websites where their models are pictured and discussed.

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Joseph and Bertha (Eisner) Bulova’s son Arde Bulova (1889-1958) joined the J Bulova Company in 1905.  At that time the jewelry operations were centered in New York City.  The J Bulova Company was incorporated in 1911, with Joseph Bulova as president and Arde Bulova as vice president and treasurer. In that same year arrangements were made to open their plant in Providence Rhode Island.

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In 1919 a factory was established in Bienne Switzerland, to manufacture watch movements.  A plant was also established in Woodside New York for the manufacture and assembly of watch parts but the majority of the manufacturing continued to take place in Switzerland.  Each year, however, more manufacturing capacities were added to the US operations.

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In 1923 the company was reincorporated as the Bulova Watch Company.  In 1930 Arde was chosen as chairman of the board, a position he held for the remainder of his life.

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In the 1930s, Bulova began to acquire a number of subsidiaries, including: Sag Harbor New York Guild, Westfield Watch Company, a plant at Lac-on-Villiers, France, and Bulova Watch Co, Ltd, Canada.   Plants were built in Valley Stream NY, in1941 and Jackson Heights MI in 1952.

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Bulova introduced their Caravelle line in 1961. The concept was to present jeweled movement watches competing with other watchmakers’ non-jeweled movements, to give consumers a quality product at an affordable price.  These are among the most interesting watch designs of the 1960s and early 1970s, and still a collecting bargain today.

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When you hear the name Bulova, you think of their stylish design, and you think of their lasting quality. Bulova offered both. Bulova was always a leader in creating fashionable watches that were in step with larger design trends. Their vintage watches are always chic, often elegant, with dials, cases and lugs that make them stand apart from other watchmakers’ offerings of the same era.

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These tasteful creations were always named, so it is a relatively easy task for watch collectors to identify their Bulova model. This is a key feature in their desirability today. A vintage Bulova watch is a statement about lasting style that one wears on the wrist.

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The Bulova watches that appear in this post have been part of our collection over the years.  We have found that they are excellent timekeepers. Bulova watches never fail to satisfy.

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We are huge fans of vintage Swiss made Bulova watches – they are comparable to Hamilton or Gruen or Longines/Wittenaur watches in style and quality. In many instances a vintage Bulova’s dependability and aesthetics surpass these and other well known names from the classic era of mechanical wrist watches.

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You may read more about these and other fine vintage Bulova watches by selecting this link: BULOVA

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