The Cushion Case Over The Last Century
The cushion case bears no strict standard definition, but we would define it as any square watch with rounded corners. The case shape, which can be seen in this Bulova Sea King “EU”, seems to date back to the early 1920 with brands such as Cyma, Buren, and Omega, but its exact origins cannot be confirmed. The next big moment in the cushion cased watch would come with the production of the earliest Panerai dive watches in the mid 1930s that were produced for the Royal Italian Navy. After that the cushion case seems to have gone out of vogue until the late 60s and early 70s, when bold designs were the name of the game. The resurgence of Panerai in the 90s would bring with it a newfound interest in the cushion case that remains strong today. This Bulova Sea King “EU” is a great example of the late 60s resurgence in cushion case production as part of the Sea King line of watches. For more information on the Sea King line check out this article.
Founded by a Tiffany & Co. employee, Joseph Bulova, in 1875, Bulova Watch Company came to be recognized as a supremely impactful American wristwatch manufacturer, the likes of which there are few. After a period of focusing on pocket watches, Bulova was one of the first brands to see a tidal wave coming in the space of wristwatches. Joseph took a very American approach in refocusing his business. Rather than building handmade watches built on a tradition of craftsmanship a la Ferrari, the brand went the way of Ford by building all of its watch components with as many common parts as possible to facilitate mass production. Amazingly, this focus did not come at the expense of accuracy as Bulova was praised for its simplicity and timekeeping from the outset of its wristwatch business. In 1919 the brand’s first full catalog of women’s wristwatches was introduced and by 1923 the same was the case for men.
Through the 1920s and 30s, Bulova, now under the leadership of Joseph’s son Arde, can be attributed with a large part of a boom in the popularity of wristwatches among Americans. Although hard to imagine today, wristwatches were viewed as childish when first coming to the market because men were attached to their large and status symbol pocket watches. By introducing the product set to women first, Bulova began to build a market and desire for the wristwatch. While the brand introduced wrist watches for men in 1923, popularity only hit after a series of genius marketing techniques. In 1926, Bulova created the first American radio advertisement with the phrase “it’s eight o’clock Bulova Watch time” heard by millions. That same year Arde publicly offered a prize of $1000 to the first pilot to fly nonstop across the Atlantic and privately gifted a watch to Charles Lindbergh. Prior to leaving for his famous 1927 flight from New York to Paris, Lindbergh wrote to Bulova “Many thanks for the Bulova Watch Prize offered… The Bulova Wrist Watch, which is my pleasure to wear, keeps accurate time, and is a beauty.” In 1927, Bulova released their “Lone Eagle” men’s wristwatch with newspaper ads showing a copy of Lindbergh’s letter. The Lone Eagle was a massive success and the mass American watch market was born.
The Case and Bracelet
The 34mm stainless steel case is in excellent new old stock condition with no flaws to note. The watch features an unsigned crown and a signed caseback as well as an acrylic crystal. All of which are original to the watch. The caseback indicates a date code of M9 which correlates to a production year of 1969. The watch is accompanied by its original Kreisler hybrid scissor band as well as a new navy blue nato strap and its original sales tag.
The Dial and Hands
The silver dial is in excellent condition with no flaws to note. The tritium lume plots below the hour markers has aged beautifully to a warm caramel color and are completely intact. The original catalogue description for this watch described the hour markers as “swedged” (see photos).
This watch features a Bulova cal. 11 BLC manual-winding movement. The watch is running and the service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Model||Sea King "EU"|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Original Bracelet and New Nato Strap|
|Original Papers||Sales Tag|