Bulova was founded and incorporated as the J. Bulova Company in 1875 by a 23-year-old Bohemian Czech immigrant by the name of Joseph Bulova, who opened a small jewelry shop on Maiden Lane in New York City.
Bulova started to manufacture and sell boudoir and table clocks as well as fine pocket watches.
Joseph Bulova 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.
During World War I in 1919, the convenience of wristwatches (as opposed to pocket watches) was discovered. Along with this discovery, 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.
The name Bulova Watch Company, Inc. is adopted and became a renowned watch company. 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.
Bulova unveils the first full line of ladies’ watches, including diamond accented pieces.
Bulova produces the nation’s first ever radio spot commercial, Which said “At the tone, its 8 PM, B-U-L-O-V-A Bulova watch time.”
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 then shipped 5,000 Lone Eagle watches, packaged with pictures of Lindbergh. The supply sold out within three days. During the next few years Bulova sold nearly 50,000 of these commemorative watches. 1927 is also the year the Bulova Watch Company went public on the American Stock Exchange.
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.
Bulova produced the world’s first official television commercial, on July 1, 1941, before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies over New York station WNBT (who is now known as WNBC). The announcement, for which the company paid anywhere from $4.00 to $9.00 included 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.
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. However in 1993, due to the advent of quartz watch technology the mechanical watch industry went into a deep decline, the need for professional watchmakers diminished and the school closed.
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.
With 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.
Bulova introduces the “Bulova 23,” a self-winding, waterproof , 23-jewel watch with an unbreakable mainspring, made entirely in the United States.
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.
Bulova offers an unprecedented 1-year warranty on all of its clock radios.
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. Also in 1960, Bulova reintroduces its redeveloped Phototimer clock, improved with updated photographic and electronic technologies. It features an infrared sensing element patterned after those used on heat-seeking missiles. Mounted on the starter’s pistol, the Phototimer senses the flash of the gun and starts a timer clock at the same instant that the runners leave their marks.
Accutron, the first watch to keep time through electronics, is introduced. It is the most spectacular breakthrough in timekeeping since the invention of the wrist watch. 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 declared it the White House’s official “Gift of State.”
The Accutron Tuning-fork watch becomes the first wristwatch certified for use by railroad personnel. 1962 is also the year that Bulova introduces its Caravelle line of jeweled watches. Designed to retail at $10.95 to $29.95, Caravelle competes with non-jeweled watches in the same price range.
Accutron clocks are the only clocks aboard Air Force One. also 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.
The Bulova Satellite Clock, the world’s first public clock to display time controlled by time signals broadcast by orbiting satellites, is inaugurated by Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, President of Mexico. The clock is installed atop the Torre Latino Americana, Mexico’s tallest skyscraper. 1968 also marks the year that Caravelle becomes the largest selling jeweled-movement watch in the United States.
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. also in 1969 Bulova introduces the Accuquartz, the first quartz-based clock.
The Bulova Accuquartz men’s calendar wristwatch becomes the first quartz-crystal watch sold at retail in the United States. Made of 18-karat gold, it retails for $1,325.
Three specially designed Accutron portable alarm clocks are placed on board NASA’s Skylab, the world’s first space laboratory, launched from Cape Kennedy. Also this year, Bulova wins the world’s first design competition for solid-state digital watches at the Prix de la Ville de Genève watch-styling competition, the world’s most prestigious international watch-styling competition. Bulova also wins two of the three honorable mentions awarded at the competition.
Bulova introduces its line of Accutron Quartz movement watches for men. and in 1977 bulova introduced its line of accutron quartz movement watches for women.
The company places national commercials on many television shows including All in the Family, Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch, The Dukes of Hazard and Hawaii 5-0. also in 1979 bulova becomes a subsidiary of the Loews Corporation.
The Bulova Dimension is unveiled. It is the worlds thinnest wall clock, measuring just 5/8 of an inch.
Bulova introduces its first miniature clock. Creating a new category of timepieces, Bulova goes on to produce entire collections of miniature clocks, including limited-edition pieces and themed groupings.
Bulova becomes the official supplier to the U.S. Olympic team, providing watches for both the winter games in Calgary and the summer games in Seoul.
1988 Bulova changes its corporate name from Bulova Watch Company, Inc. to Bulova Corporation. This move reflects the companies growth into new and different product markets.
1995 Bulova enters into a distribution agreement in South America and extends licenses in the Far East and Europe.
1998 Bulova introduces the Millennia Collection, a group of watches featuring innovative technology and materials. The collection includes a solar group, watches powered by light; motion quartz, watches powered by the motion of the wearer’s arm; and vibra-alarm, watches featuring two alarm mode options: sound or vibration.
2001 Bulova acquires the Wittnauer trademark and some of the assets of Wittnauer International. Bulova also acquires the license for Harley-Davidson watches.
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.
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.
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.
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”, the “Marine Star”, and many more.