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.
Bulova created the Sea King line in 1959 as a line of slim waterproof all-purpose watches for the masses and the line was kept in production for nearly 20 years. During those nearly 20 years the watch world would undergo the most transformative period in the history of the industry as a result of the quartz movement. Bulova was one of the brands, even before the quartz movement, to embrace electrically driven watch movements, but they also saw a strong future in traditional mechanical watches as well. The Sea King was part of that commitment to traditional watchmaking. The traditional ethos extends to more than just the movement. It impacted the overall design of the line. They saw the potential for electric and mechanical watches to live side by side in the eyes of consumers, which was incredibly forward-thinking and would ultimately be the future that came true.
The Case and Bracelet
The 32mm stainless steel case is in excellent new old stock condition with no flaws to note. The watch features a signed crown and 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 the production year of 1969. The watch is accompanied by its original Bladwin hybrid scissor band as well as a new brown leather 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 on the hands and hour markers has aged beautifully to a warm caramel color and is completely intact. Notably absent from the dial is the Sea King name or the associated Whale logo which is a rarity among Sea King watches.
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 "A"|
|Movement||Manual, Bulova cal. 11 BLC|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Original Bracelet and New Leather Strap|
|Clasp Type||Stretch (Bracelet) & Buckle (Strap)|
|Original Papers||Hang Tag|