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 pocketwatches, Bulova was one of the first brands to see a tidal wave coming in the space of wristwatches. Joseph took a very American approach to 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 pocketwatches. 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 it 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.
Many years after the Lone Eagle, Bulova had taken a firm hold of the watch market into the 1950s when in 1952, two competitors introduced “the greatest advance in the field of watchmaking in 450 years.” Elgin and Lip had created the first electric wristwatches. Arde Bulova, still president of his namesake brand, was immediately worried that the new technology would cut into his market share and ultimately his business. Arde asked his best man, Max Hetzel to look into the watches Elgin and Lip created. Hetzel found that the movement’s battery simply powered a conventional balance-wheel movement, leading to no accuracy improvements. However, he believed the idea of an electric watch could work and in 1952 the idea for the Accutron was born. For the next eight years, Hetzel and Bulova’s best engineers work on the project to introduce, in 1960, what would become one of the most innovative movements in watch history, the Bulova Accutron caliber 214.
After much work had been completed on the project and the Accutron introduction was only a matter of time, Bulova began a separate project in order to show it off. Rather than a classic skeletonized watch where holes are cut into the dial surface, the brand’s engineers developed a way to rid of the dial surface completely. By printing all that was needed onto the inside of the crystal, no dial plate was needed. This process allowed the Accutron to be unveiled in all of its beauty, dial-less with a “Spaceview” crystal. Initially, the Spaceview was distributed to dealers and used in advertisements only to allow consumers to better understand the Accutron’s technology but after one too many “can I buy the one in the window and from the ad” requests, Bulova scrambled to create Spaceviews at scale, meeting the demand.
The Case and Bracelet
Case condition of this Bulova Accutron Spaceview is good to great, showing few areas of the 10kt gold plate wearing to the base metal. Due to most of these watches being found in gold plate, this is very common.
The caseback is stainless-steel and presents nicely with few scratches. All correct markings are seen. The Spaceview crystal is correct, presumed original, and shows no flaws.
A Bulova signed gold plated bracelet accompanies the watch along with integrated horned endlinks. The bracelet’s condition is slightly worse than that of the rest of the watch, more wear is seen to the gold surface.
The Dial and Hands
Although the Spaceview is technically devout of a dial, this model has a small minute ring along the outside. The ring is in great condition with its presumed original luminous material still mostly intact.
The handset is correct for the model and presumed original but the luminous material has aged to a different hue than that of the dial. Condition outside of the lume is great to excellent with no noticeable imperfections.
The Bulova Accutron caliber 214 is currently running. Service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Electric, Bulova Accutron cal. 214|
|Case Material||10k Gold Filled Bezel, Stainless-Steel back|
|Band Material||Bulova signed YG plated JB Champion|