Bulova was founded and incorporated as the J. Bulova Company in 1875 by Bohemian immigrant Joseph Bulova (b. Joseph Bullowa, son of Nathan Bullowa and Barbara Kraus in Louny, September 7, 1851 – November 18, 1935). It was reincorporated under the name Bulova Watch Company in 1923, and became part of the Loews Corporation in 1979 and sold to Citizen at the end of 2007. In 1912, Joseph Bulova launched his first plant dedicated entirely to the production of watches. Manufacturing watches at their factory in Biel (Switzerland), he began a standardized mass production new to watchmaking. In 1919, Bulova offered the first complete range of watches for men. The 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 imperative for Bulova. In 1927, he set up an observatory on the roof of a skyscraper located at 580 5th Avenue to determine universal time precisely. 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. 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 became the first solo 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. Women working in the pinion department of Bulova Watch circa 1937. 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 (equivalent to $70 in 2019) to $9.00 (equivalent to $156 in 2019), displayed a WNBT test card modified to look like a clock with the hands showing the time. The Bulova logo, with the phrase “Bulova Time”, was shown in the lower right-hand quadrant of the test pattern while the second hand swept around the dial for one minute. In the 1940s, Bulova made a few examples of their complex four sided, five-dial per side “sports timer” analog game clock for use in NHL pro ice hockey games and for the nascent NBA pro basketball league of that time. They were put in indoor sports arenas such as Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium and the Detroit Olympia. The last example was taken out of service in Chicago in 1976, all replaced by digital-display game timepieces.In 1945, Arde Bulova, Chairman of the Board, founded the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking 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.
On January 10, 2008, Citizen bought the Bulova Watch Company for $250 million.
Currently Bulova designs, manufactures, and markets several different brands, including: the signature “Bulova”, the stylish “Caravelle” (formerly “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 (0.32ppm) and has a smooth sweeping second hand rather than one that jumps each second.
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