What is a Movement

The movement of a watch is the engine inside of it which “makes it work.” I understand that novices to the world of watches may not even be aware of what “watch movement” means. Watch movements are generally classified as mechanical or quartz (electronic), and are, in many ways, what draw people to purchase or desire a particular timepiece. Drawing an analogy from the world of cars, you don’t necessarily buy a new vehicle simply because of the engine inside of it and its claimed performance, but because of the complete design, driving experience, and mechanical performance put together. Like car engines, when it comes to watch movements, there is no lack of topics to discuss.

Quarzt watchback

Quartz Movement


Mechanical Movement

So let’s start with who makes these movements. There are basically only two types of movements, mechanical and Quartz. Quartz movements are electrical and use a battery and circuits to make the watch functional. Mechanical movements is what we will focus on here today and are made with gears, springs and specially made parts. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of companies out there making watches, but only a handful that are producing movements, especially mechanical ones. You have to understand that even your basic mechanical watch movement has over 100 parts. Some movements have fewer parts, but many have a lot more. Many of these parts are highly specialized, and most are very small. There are very few companies out there that are able to produce all of the parts needed to make a complete mechanical movement. This is an extremely important point because for a brand to product their movements entirely in-house is a very prestigious thing, even though that is rarely actually achieved.

So why is it such a big deal to have a mechanical movement made entirely “in house.” Well that is actually a great question who’s answer it’s entirely obvious as the placement of an in-house made movement in a watch is not always a good or desirable thing. In fact, movements are at the heart of a great irony or contradiction of being a watch lover. For example, when you get a watch, you want something that is accurate and reliable. Arguably the most accurate and reliable watches are quartz-powered. So why, then, are we so obsessed with mechanical movements? Another, more complex, irony is that many of the “sourced” watch movements that companies buy from major suppliers are very good. Often much better and more reliable or serviceable than in-house made movements. So why is it that practical people still want movements which are in-house made?


Patek Philippe “in house” made swiss mechanical movement

What we can say by way of an answer to that question is that in-house movements do a few important things to the desirability of a watch. First of all, people don’t particularly like to buy watches for high prices that contain the same base “engine” as many other watches. The idea is that, if you are going to buy a watch with a generic movement, you better be paying a “generic price.” Also, mechanical watches are more-or-less a product of the luxury industry today. When it comes to luxury, something that is highly valued is exclusivity. There is nothing particularly special or exclusive about a company plopping in a movement from another company into their own watch and calling it high-end.

So, while mechanical movements produced by outside specialists are often very reliable and of a high quality, they simply don’t feel as special. Another irony is that companies that produce their own movements can charge more for their watches. This doesn’t actually make sense in the context of manufacturing. In other industries, when a company brings the production of a new part in-house, it lowers the cost of that part (especially over time). Thus, if the watch industry followed most other industries, most companies that advertise in-house made movements would charge less than those companies that rely on movements from suppliers – but that isn’t the case. The way the industry gets around the “norm” is by claiming that their movements are more complicated, better finished, or simply, more interesting. More often than not, these companies don’t really say anything at all, offering the tacit message to the consumer that, “of course in-house is better!”

There are really two main reasons a watch company wants to produce movements in-house today. The first reason is what I have been discussing, and is related to marketing, building up the exclusivity of the brand, and being able to justify higher prices for their watches. The second reason is far more practical, and that is because, as of today, it is both expensive and difficult to get movements from outside suppliers.

Producing your own in-house made movement is an incredible challenge. It requires an in-house mastery of literally dozens of special trades, as well as a huge investment in machinery and tools. To say that you as a company make in-house movements, if anything, should be an indicator to consumers that you are here to stay, and that you’ve made a serious investment toward the future of your products.

There are very few companies – if any – that truly make all the parts necessary to produce a complete watch case and movement. The Swatch Group can probably claim to be one, but that is simply because they own so many companies that do so much. Another exception might be Seiko in Japan, that even produces synthetic sapphire for watch case crystals. Aside from those two, and perhaps a few exceptions, almost all watch companies rely on at least some parts from outside suppliers.

Most of the companies that produce truly “in-house made watch movements” still purchase certain highly specialized parts from suppliers. These parts can include items like synthetic ruby palettes, springs, and screws. To hold a company responsible for creating these parts (even if some do) is a bit silly. It would be like asking a car maker to produce their own tires.

Designing a new watch movement is often as hard as building one. Today, companies are very lucky to have the assistance of computer software, but the effort required in designing a new miniature machine is very labor intensive. There is a difference between “in-house made” and “in-house designed” that consumers should be aware of, because it isn’t always the case that these two designations go together.

There are companies that produce movements in-house that they did not originally design, or that they perhaps only modified a bit. For many watch companies, the rules of patent law are on their side. Mechanical watch movement technology is often rather old, so when patents expire, many types of movements or parts of movements may be freely produced by anyone with the skill and machinery to do so. There are also a lot of companies that go to specialists to produce movements for them. Some smaller brands with the desire to have unique movements, often go to one supplier to design the movement, and another supplier to produce it. These movements are indeed unique and exclusive, but they are neither in-house made nor designed.

Survey most watch retailers and they will freely admit that the “lay person” buying mechanical watches doesn’t particularly care whether or not the movements are made in-house. Perhaps they don’t even understand the difference. The people who do care are the seasoned and educated watch lovers. So this presents an interesting situation for watch brands.

When a watch brand releases information about a new watch product, they discuss the movement inside of that product and attempt to share details about it. That information – often in the form of a press release – is relied upon by watch journalists, as well as those collectors who are interested in getting the most recent industry information, straight from the brands.

Our friends over at “aBlogtoWatch” have suggested 7 definitions that make distinctions and breaks down the mechanical movement into 7 different categories.

100% In-House Made & Designed Movement

The holy grail of in-house production for watch brands. Indicating that a movement is 100% In-House Made & Designed means that, not only was the movement designed in-house, but also that 100% of its parts are produced in-house as well. This term should be rare to see.

In-House Designed Movement

In-House Designed can be combined with In-House Made, but as discussed above, the terms are distinct. An in-house designed movement is designed internally at a watch company, regardless of where it is produced. Sometimes, the term “Developed” is also used in conjunction with “Designed.” These terms are mostly synonymous, but “developed” can also imply that a watch was tested and that prototyping occurred in-house as well.

In-House Made Movement

Given the practical realities of modern watchmaking, it is not necessary for a watch company to produce 100% of its parts in-house, in order to use the term “In-House Made,” when applied to a movement. As discussed above, given the fact that, even for companies who do “most” of the production in-house, most still rely on outside suppliers for certain parts. There is nothing wrong with this, and this even applies to companies such as Rolex and Patek Philippe.

For a company to use the term “In-House Made,” we prefer that most of the parts are made in-house save for some smaller specialized parts. In-house made movements are typically designed in-house (but not all the time), and tend to suggest that a company has the ability to produce a range of movements and can be flexible enough to develop new movements. If a company is using externally sourced parts, other than simple screws, springs, and rubies, we might suggest the below term.

Movement Partially Made With In-House Parts

Most “in-house made movements” today are actually Movements Partially Made With In-House Parts. In fact, another way of saying “in-house made movement” today, might be, “movement made mostly with in-house made parts.” The term here applies to when a watch contains a movement with anywhere from a few to a lot of in-house made parts, but there are necessary entire parts or systems that come from outside suppliers.

A great example of this is when a company uses a base movement and produces a module in-house that goes over the base movement. Modules are movement-like systems that add functionality to more simple base movements. Some companies produce modules entirely in-house and use entire movements from outside suppliers, or might modify outside movements before using in-house modules.

Movements Partially Made With In-House Parts can also include situations when a company purchases gear trains and other essential parts and then produces some of their own bridges and plates, or even some screws.

Exclusive Movement

A watch company can claim to use an “Exclusive Movement” when it works with an outside movement maker to develop a unique movement that will only go inside that brand’s watches. This is like the situation discussed above, when a watch company works with an outside supplier to, not only design, but also produce a movement. The watch brand itself can easily claim that no one else (as in another watch company) is using the specific movement (thus it is exclusive), but they cannot claim to have been part of the design or production.

Customized Movement

Often times, when a watch maker purchases movements from an outside supplier, they don’t just stick them in their watch cases and call it a day. Much of the time, a watch company will want to enhance a movement with some custom decoration, or even some parts such as a customized automatic rotor. Customized Movements are those purchased from outside suppliers and then given some special aesthetic, or even some minor mechanical modifications.

A high degree of customization might take a watch into the realm of containing a Movement Partially Made With In-House Parts, or might use no external parts and involve many hours of special decoration, engraving, or skeletonization to beautify a base movement. Basically, whether or not a company dedicates a lot of effort to decoration, or just uses a customized rotor, they might be using a Customized Movement purchased from an outside company.

Base Movement

Often times, watch companies refer to the movements they may later customize as, “Base Movements.” Thus, we will use “Base Movement” as the term for what are essentially unmodified movements purchased from outside suppliers. These are either complete movements or kits (ebauches). This means that a company may be purchasing movements more-or-less ready and designed to be cased, or they may purchase movement kits, which their watchmakers must assemble before casing them in watches (though the latter practice without some type of customization is uncommon).

So there you have it. We hope that this was informative to help you understand the different types of mechanical watches available and what some of the terms and descriptions means from the manufacturers.

Breitling’s B55 Watch

Feast your eyes on the 2015 Breitling B55 connected watch that connects via Bluetooth to your smart phone, in a way you want it to. This is pretty interesting news and a very clever (in my opinion) way for an established Swiss watch maker like Breitling to assert itself as a modern brand but also respect the functionality of a standalone timepiece.

Breitling B-55a

The Breitling Cockpit B50 had Breitling produce a new Superquartz movement that was exclusive to them and featured a rechargeable battery and some extra functionality compared to their existing Superquartz-based timepiece with an ETA movement. It was so close to a smartwatch, but just shy of having real connectivity. Now just a few months later, in advance of Baselworld 2015, Breitling more-or-less updates the same watch to the Breitling B55 Connected, and unless the pricing is very different, I’d probably say that the B50 might not be as attractive, depending on what you want to do with it.

Breitling B-55b

So the most important question you should have is, “is this a smartwatch?” Sort of… I tend to think of a smartwatch as a timepiece that connects with your phone in order to display information from your phone such as notifications, etc… For the Breitling B55 Connected, your phone and watch do communicate with one another, and do share some pieces of data, but the Breitling B55 Connected is not about giving you missed call notifications or tracking your daily steps. Think of your smartphone with the Breitling B55 Connected app to serve as a sort of remote control for the watch, allowing you to quickly update the time and calendar, and more-or-less adjust all the settings such as alarms, time zones indicators, and the various time measurement functions the Breitling B55 Connected has (like measuring flight times). This is a pilot watch, after all, so most of the functions revolve around flight.


So why is it a good thing to have your phone control your watch? Basically, it is about making the watch settings and functions easier to use. We all agree that a watch is not only attractive to wear, but a very convenient place to look at information. It is also a very precise instrument. Having said that, when it comes to complex analog-digital watches with hands and two LCD screens, adjusting all the settings and using the functions to their fullest extent certainly requires a bit of a learning curve. With the Breitling B55 Connected watch, Breitling has taken a major and very practical step in allowing your phone to simplify the user experience of a complicated watch…. now, if only Breliting had one of these for their Navitimer so I might actually use that slide rule.


The Breitling B55 Connected comes in a 46mm wide black-coated titanium case. The dial is almost identical to that of the Cockpit B50 but there is a blue “connected” symbol on the dial that looks like a wifi symbol. This element will no doubt be among the more controversial elements of the design. I’m pretty sure there could have been a slicker way to do that, but maybe in person, it will look really cool. Otherwise, you have a rather standard modern Breitling look that is very functional-looking and masculine.

Breitling also refers to the movement inside of the watch as the caliber B55 – and it is claimed as a “manufacture caliber.” I am sure it is exclusive to Breitling, and I believe that some of the electronics are in fact produced in-house at Breitling in Switzerland. Here is the list of movement functions from Breitling: “officially chronometer-certified by the COSC, thermocompensated SuperQuartzTM, analog and digital 12/24-hour LCD backlit display. 1/100th of a second chronograph, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Countdown/Countup (or MET Mission Elapsed Time), flight time chronograph, lap timer chronograph, electronic tachometer, countdown, 2nd timezone, 2 daily alarms, perpetual calendar with week display, battery charge indicator.”


If you are interested in the Breitling B55 Connected, I strongly encourage you to read my previous article (linked to above) on the Cockpit B50 to understand more about the watch, such as how you can tilt your wrist to activate the backlight. Not a new function in the scheme of watches, but we do all applaud when the Swiss catch up (and often do it better… and for more money). I more-or-less see the Breitling B55 Connected as the ultimate G-Shock, and in a sense, it is.

I look forward to playing with the Breitling B55 Connected myself, since I am excited to consider the possibilities. I have a feeling that with an app controlling the timepiece’s functions via Bluetooth, and a battery that last months (as opposed to hours) this is going to be a very interesting merger of the smartwatch world and the traditional Swiss sports watch world. If there is a high-end quartz watch to own in 2015, it just might be the Breitling B55 Connected. No price yet, but I have a feeling it will be similar to that of the B50. So figure a price in the $8,000 range for the Breitling B55 Connected in the black titanium case on a strap.


DRIVE TIME is a recently published coffee table book with stunning pictures and a attentively curated collection of 90 watches that have been inspired by motorcars, motorcycles and motorsports.  Authored by Aaron Sigmond who is one of the leading experts on fine watches with several books on the topic to date.


Aaron Sigmond

Arron Sigmond portrait by Ian Spanier

The book offers an in-depth, lavishly illustrated 240-page overview of more than a century of automobile, automotive industrial design, motorcycle-, race and racer-inspired timepieces, starting with a 1903 Dunhill’s Motorities (today’s Alfred Dunhill) upside-down mounted pocket watch. It runs through the iconic wristwatches of the mid-twentieth century – the Rolex Daytona and Heuer Carrera and Monaco – up through current noteworthy category timepieces such as those found in the Chopard Mille Miglia, Breitling by Bentley, Porsche Design, Hublot Ferrari, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Aston Martin and IWC Mercedes-Benz AMG collections.

Aaron has inlisted many contributors to this book to include:

JAY LENO, Foreword is the current host of Jay Leno’s garage (CNBC) and former host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC). He is also an avid automobile, motorcycle and watch collector.

ELVIS MITCHELL, The Hollywood Factor Chapter, is a film critic, curator of the Film Independent series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and host of the KCRW radio show The Treatment, a pop-culture interview show. He is also a passionate watch collector.

ARIEL ADAMS, The Reason of Rolex Chapter, is the founder and editor of aBlogtoWatch , author of The World’s Most Expensive Watches and the luxury watch contributor for Forbes.com.

BRIAN DAWSON, Copy Chief, DRIVE TIME, SEA TIME and AIR TIME, is a freelance editor with more than 15 years’ experience in print and digital publications. He currently serves as Contributing Editor for Forbes.

LUCAS IRWIN, Creative Director, DRIVE TIME, SEA TIME and AIR TIME, heads an eponymous design studio in Portland, Oregon. His work is at home across platforms ranging from editorial, product and toy design to fine art, illustration, interactive design and motion graphics.


Drive Time book cover

The book offers a detailed look at the development and history of timepieces influenced by automotive design, made in direct partnership with automotive firms or historically important presences in the world of motorsports.  The impetus of DRIVE TIME was as an anthology of Sigmond’s nine-years of reviews and features on motorcar-, motorcycle-, and motorsport-inspired watches (and those who collect them) for Autoweek Magazine, where he serves as the Sr. Contributing Lifestyle Editor. Now after more than two decades in media, one would think Sigmond wouldn’t be as naïve as in fact he was about what DRIVE TIME might become.

On this note Sigmond said, “Early on, I surmised that the watch writeups I’d done for the magazine were far too short on their own for a full book, which would also need some weighty opening chapters to establish the theme. My magazine background, meanwhile, instilled in me a desire for a lavish photo essay.

There’s a Hollywood car culture and style chapter in the book as well; great cars and great watches have graced the films of Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and many other stars.

There are many rather lavish volumes with a fascinating exploration of the interplay between two kinds of beautifully made machines — cars and watches. The book offers a detailed look at the development and history of timepieces influenced by automotive design, made in direct partnership with automotive firms or historically important presences in the world of motorsports.

Rolex Daytona Cosmograph

Edox Chronometer

Bell and Ross B-Rocket

Prototipo Chronograph

In addition to detailed historical chapters on related topics and select brands, DRIVE TIME offers up a comprehensive and thoughtfully curated overview of more than 90 auto-inspired watches from the mid-twentieth century — the Rolex Daytona, Heuer Carrera and Monaco — through current timepieces such as the Chopard Mille Miglia, Breitling by Bentley, Porsche Design, Hublot Ferrari, Jaeger-LeCoultre Aston Martin, and IWC Mercedes-Benz AMG collections. Informative, insightful, and entertaining, DRIVE TIME is a welcome addition to any watch enthusiast’s library.

Some of the reviews, comments and press on DRIVE TIME:

“Aaron Sigmond’s DRIVE TIME is far more than a book on cars and watches. It’s a celebration of the human desire to create mechanical masterpieces, whether a Chopard Tourbillon or a Ferrari F150 – a beautiful book sure to stand the test of time.”

-A.J. Baime

Bestselling author, Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans + My Ride columnist, Wall Street Journal

“Let’s face it: Car guys are watch guys – and vice-versa. Aaron Sigmond’s DRIVE TIME is the new must-have tome of what’s cool in both worlds. Bless you for this opus of desire.”

-Dutch Mandel

Publisher, Autoweek

“A visually arresting experience, DRIVE TIME serves not only as an invaluable reference to the parallels between automotive and horological craftsmanship, but as a love letter to their icons. A must-read for the mechanical connoisseur.”

-Blake Buettner

The Neighborhood Garage on VoyagerShift.com

“DRIVE TIME is a book about cars and watches, but it’s more than that – it’s a fascinating look at the cultural meaning of the interplay between two kinds of beautifully made machines. DRIVE TIME is an immensely entertaining read, but it’s also a piece of serious watch scholarship, with a detailed look at the development and history of timepieces influenced by automotive design, those made in direct partnership with automotive firms, or those that were historically important in the world of motorsports. A unique piece of watch-and-car writing, and a must-have for watch lovers and car nuts alike.”

-Jack Forster

Author, Cartier Time Art: Mechanics of Passion + Managing Editor, Hodinkee.com

“Men love watches and cars for the same reason: mechanical fascination. A book combining those two passions is a dream come true for aficionados in both camps, and DRIVE TIME pulls you into these worlds with such effortless ease that it’ll make converts out of even the uninitiated.”

-Ariel Adams

Author of The World’s Most Expensive Watches + Editor, aBlogtoWatch + Luxury watch contributor, Forbes.com

“Gentlemen, start your watches. DRIVE TIME is an unparalleled look at what the raciest wrists are wearing from the world’s most coveted and collected manufacturers. I want every watch in this book.”

-Bill McCuddy

TV Personality and Noted Watch Collector

Bulova’s History

We are proud to be an official retailer of The Bulova Watch Company.  It’s long and storied history is interwoven with America’s history of accomplishments over the last 141 years. All of our Bulova, Caravelle and Accutron watches are new, warranteed and engraved in house with our precision jeweled engraving process.

The Bulova Corporation was founded in 1875 by a Czech immigrant named Joseph Bulova, at a small premises in Maiden Lane, New York City. Little did anyone know at the time that this tiny fledgling enterprise was to grow into an empire that would irrevocably change the world of time and one day help put a man on the moon.

Joseph Bulova

At that time, accurate clocks had already been built for many years. Said to have been the original idea of Galileo Galilei in 1582, but first built in practice by Christiaan Huygens, in 1656, pendulum clocks could already keep time to within a tenth of a second a day. With the advent of the mainspring, to replace the weights that had traditionally powered these early pendulum clocks, Huygens also invented the spiral balance spring, still found in mechanical clocks and watches to this day. Like the swing of a pendulum, the coiling and uncoiling of this spiral balance spring had a natural periodicity that regulated the unwinding of the mainspring. This new mechanism was able to replace the pendulum and make the clock more compact and portable. By 1761, John Harrison, a self-taught clock maker, had produced a self-contained spring and balance wheel marine chronometer, fully portable and accurate to within a fifth of a second per day.

By 1911, Joseph Bulova had set up a manufacturing business to build and sell high quality boudoir clocks, table clocks and pocket watches. The business expanded rapidly as news of these fine timepieces spread across the American marketplace. By the following year, Joseph Bulova was able to establish his first dedicated watch manufacturing and assembly plant in Bienne, Switzerland, building only quality fully jeweled movements.

At about the time of the First World War, there were many European watch manufacturers that said that the wearing of a watch on the wrist would never be a popular alternative to the pocket watch. Joseph Bulova, creating a pioneering spirit that was to become the ‘culture’ of Bulova, started to experiment with compact spring and balance wheel timepieces that could withstand the impacts and shocks of being worn on the wrist. Out of only a handful of manufacturers of the day, Bulova introduced its first line of fully jeweled men’s wristwatches in 1919; the company started to grow, exponentially.

The link between horology, the study of time, and astronomy, the scientific study of the universe, has always been inseparable. From the first calendars, designed to track the phases of the moon, to the early clocks, designed to measure periods of daylight, astronomers and horologists have been working together to try to define the universe. In 1920 the first quartz clock was invented by J W Horton and W A Marrison and built at the Bell Laboratories. It took up a whole room, unlike the watches we know today, but it kept time to within one second every ten years; it was the most accurate clock of its time.

Our watches today keep time in relation to a ‘solar’ day. A solar day is the time it takes for the earth to rotate once about its axis and to return to the same position relative to the rising of the sun. Because the earth has continued on its journey around the sun during those 24 hours, it takes an extra four minutes of rotation for the earth to exactly reposition itself with respect to the sun. A ‘sidereal’ day is the time it takes for the earth to rotate once about its own axis, without reference to the sun. If our watches ran on sidereal time, about four minutes less than the solar day, we would soon find ourselves going to work during the night. But in 1920, a second was defined as being 1/86,400th of a solar day.

In 1920, Bulova moved to 580 Fifth Avenue, where it engaged in the ambitious project of building the first observatory to ever be constructed on the top of a skyscraper. Ambitious because, although it was now high above the heat radiation levels of the ground which disturb optical clarity in telescopes, it would be subject to the movement of the building. This oscillation in tall buildings is necessary to maintain the integrity of the structure against the forces of nature. Much technical evaluation had to be done to mitigate the natural movement of the building but eventually the observatory was taking highly precise readings of the speed of rotation of the earth, the measurement of sidereal time. In conjunction with the quartz clock at the Bell Laboratories, it was eventually determined that the earth did not rotate at a uniform speed; the definition of the second was fatally flawed, it meant nothing. We now needed a new definition for the fundamental unit of time. It would be another forty years before the world accepted that new definition.

In the early days of watch making, for Bulova as with other manufacturers, the individual components of a watch movement were all made by hand. Each watch was built individually with many adjustments and corrections being made to the components as they were being assembled and tested. The process was time consuming and costly, not only during the manufacturing phase but also afterwards, for maintenance and repair. If a watch needed a new part, it had to be hand crafted and refined to fit the individual watch under repair. This not only added to the cost of manufacture but also made the after sales servicing of watches very expensive and time consuming.

Following on with the company’s pioneering and innovative spirit, which was to become its culture, in 1923, Bulova perfected a new technique in watch manufacturing, the standardization of all parts. Because each part was now built to an exacting specification of within one ten thousandth of an inch, the parts could be freely interchanged with any other Bulova watch of the same model. Bulova had driven a revolution in the watch industry, the rapid and low cost manufacturing, servicing and repair of watches. Other watch making companies quickly tried to change their manufacturing processes in competition with Bulova, but they were too late, Bulova was already ahead and now unstoppable.

In 1924, the President of the United States, President Calvin Coolidge, awarded a watch to Stanley “Bucky” Harris, player-manager of the World Series, it was a Bulova watch and to commemorate the occasion, Bulova created the ‘President’ watch. It was in this same year that Bulova introduced the first full line of ladies’ watches, including diamond-accented pieces. The age of ‘jewelry in watches’ had just begun.

In the 1920s, radio was a new phenomenon, much like the internet today, no one really understood the power of this new advertising medium. No one other than Bulova that was, who, continuing in their rich culture as pioneers and innovators, created the very first radio commercial in 1926, “At the tone, it’s 8 P.M., B-U-L-O-V-A, Bulova time”.

Bulova have always been a company, driven towards scientific and technical advances, helping mankind to achieve new limits with the aid of their inventions. So it was no surprise to the nation when, in 1926, Ard Bulova, son of the founder, Joseph Bulova, offered a prize of $1,000 for the first pilot to successfully make a solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh’s epic flight from New York to Paris, won the prize. Bulova, already convinced of his likely success, were able to distribute 5,000 Lone Eagle watches, complete with pictures of Lindberg, the very next day in Paris. Over the next three years they sold nearly 50,000 of these commemorative watches. It was also in 1927 that Bulova Watch Corporation went public on the American Stock Exchange, giving all Americans an opportunity to share in its success.

In 1928, Bulova introduced the first clock radios to the world. Now America could wake up to their favorite radio station and set their watches to Bulova watch time.

Up until 1929, the clocks found in automobiles and recreational powered watercraft had all been spring driven mechanical clocks, requiring the owner to constantly remember to manually wind these clocks to keep them running on time. There had been some experimentation with the use of miniature electric motors to replace these mechanical spring mechanisms but the generally humid conditions were unfavorable for these early electric clocks. Bulova found the solution by replacing the manually wound mainspring with a solenoid driven short duration spring. The short duration spring would take about one and one half minutes to wind down at which point an electrical contact would be made which would energize the solenoid and rewind the spring. This rhythmic characteristic ‘click’ every one and one half minutes kept the clock continually running without the unreliability of the earlier electric motors. Soon, this new design of clock was to find its way into many of the automobiles manufactured in America and numerous runabouts, the powered watercrafts that were rapidly taking over the inland waterways of the affluent Midwest.

1931, saw Bulova begin to produce the first electric clocks. With the expansion of the power grid, electrical power was now commonplace in many of America’s homes. These clocks not only included mantle clocks and wall clocks for the home but electric clocks for use in store windows, offices, train stations and airports. All across America, Bulova electric clocks could be found, keeping time for the nation. During this same period, Bulova became the first watch and clock manufacturer to start spending more than $1 million a year on advertising. As America entered the depression years, Bulova responded by supporting its retailers and customers in providing payment terms for many of its best selling products.

Bulova continued to pioneer new techniques in the marketing and distribution of its brands throughout the 30s and 40s. In 1932 it ran a competition to challenge its customers to name the latest timepiece in its collection, one of the best quality products of the day. It retailed for $24.75, the equivalent of about $300 today, and the top prize was $1000.

1935 was the year in which Joseph Bulova, the founder and chief innovator of Bulova Watch Company, died, but the legend lived on. The corporate culture he had strived hard to instill was more alive than ever, working towards new heights of technological advancement and achievement that not even Joseph Bulova himself had dreamt possible.

Bulova continued to pioneer the use of radio in the promotion if its products well into the 40s. Bulova were sponsors of all of the top twenty radio shows of the time. When in 1941, the opportunity was presented for television advertising, again it was Bulova that produced the first ever TV commercial. This early commercial was simply a television screen image of a clock and a map of the United States with the voice “America runs on Bulova time”.

America was now in the ‘war years’ and in the same year of the very first television commercial, Ard Bulova, now chairman of the board of Bulova, announced that the board of directors had passed a resolution to enable the company to sell products, vital for national defense, at cost. Already being a leader in precision time technology, Bulova worked with the US government throughout the Second World War to manufacture, at cost, military watches, specialized timepieces, aircraft instruments, critical torpedo timing mechanisms and mechanical timer fuses.

By 1944, a quarter of all radio advertising was being used to encourage Americans to invest in War Bonds and Stamps and so the familiar Bulova radio commercial was adapted to the statement “B-U-L-O-V-A, Bulova Time, Time to Buy United States War Bonds and Stamps.”

After America won the war in 1945, Ard Bulova, in memory of his father, founded the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking. The school was established in order to help teach disabled veterans the skills of watch making. The graduates of this school were assured employment through over 1,500 positions being made available by jewelers all across America. The school was entirely funded by the Bulova Foundation.

In 1948, Bulova began researching and developing a new generation of commercial timing devises combining, for the first time, a photo-finish camera with a precision electronic timer. These were to become the standard instruments of competitive track sports.

Bulova research scientists and engineers had continued to experiment in alternative, more accurate timekeeping technology. Since the days of the quartz clock with Bell Laboratories, Bulova engineers were convinced that a stable constant source of vibration would be the answer to a replacement for the mechanical spring and balance wheel of a conventional watch. The problem was how to make it small enough to fit into a wristwatch. The existing quartz clock was the size of a room and the ability to produce microelectronics, capable of reducing the high vibration speed of a quartz crystal to a regular pulse suitable for controlling a watch, was still many years away.

In 1953, Bulova research scientist, Max Hetzel, working in the Bulova laboratory in Bienne, Switzerland, came up with the solution. Accurate to within two seconds a day, this first true revolution in the watch making industry since Christiaan Huygens’ pendulum clock of 1656, didn’t tick anymore, it hummed. A tiny battery caused a micro tuning fork to vibrate at exactly 360 cycles a second. The challenge was to bring this invention from the research laboratory to the production line as a commercially viable product, suitable for mass-production.

While work progressed on Max Hetzel’s humming watch, Bulova continued to recognize the new trends of the industry by introducing move versions of its popular self-winding watch. In 1953, Bulova introduced the ‘Wrist-Alarm’, an entirely new concept in wristwatches.

In 1954, Omar Bradley agreed to join Bulova as Chairman of the Board of the Bulova Research and Development Laboratories. Bradley was a Second World War general and retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was well know to the board of Bulova from the days of research and development in the war effort and widely acknowledged for his clear thinking in strategic matters. In the same year, Bulova released the now famous, Bulova 23, the self-winding, waterproof, 23-jewel watch with the unbreakable mainspring. Someday, all watches will be built this way.

In 1955, an independent survey by A.C. Neilson Company showed that Americans saw more national advertising for Bulova products than for any other products, in any other industry, in the world. Bulova continued to step up their advertising and sponsorship campaigns and in 1956 they co-sponsored the “Jackie Gleason Show”, the largest sponsorship commitment of any watch or jewelry-related business in history.

In 1958, Omar Bradley, having already made a substantial contribution to guiding the development of Max Hetzel’s revolutionary new timekeeper, and assigning William Bennett, Bulova’s chief engineer in New York, to spearhead the commercialization of the design, became the chairman of Bulova Watch Company. He remained in this position, driving the company to ever new heights of achievement, until he retired in 1973 at the age of 80.

In 1960, the Bulova Accutron, as it was now called, the revolutionary timekeeping breakthrough invention of Max Hetzel, was ready for commercial sales in the US. The Bulova Accutron watch was to set in motion an unstoppable revolution in the watch making industry. Never before had a watch been available that was so accurate, not at any price. This new watch had truly done away with the spiral balance spring and escapement mechanism that ticked, having replaced it with a miniature tuning fork which hummed, keeping time to an accuracy of within one minute per month.

It was with this timekeeping mechanism that Bulova, the same year, entered the space race, having been invited by NASA. to incorporate this new ultra accurate electronic clock, into NASA’s space program computers. The Bulova Accutron was used on a total of 46 missions of the US Space Program and went on to become the White House’s official Gift of State, as announced by President Lyndon B Johnson.

But Bulova never rested on any one invention, and continued to perfect and redevelop its Phototimer clock for track and field events. By now, the technology existed for infrared sensing devises that could automatically detect the flare of the starting pistol and set in motion the event timer. All this could happen at the same instant that the competing athletes left their marks.

Throughout the history of time, the search for standard time and the development of time zones across America, was never more important than is was for the early railroads. It was in 1883, that the railroads first introduced the idea of having a standard time with time zones, but it took until 1918, and the introduction of the Standard Time Act, for their recommendations to become law. The railroad personnel always needed to carry the most accurate timepieces of the day and were still using pocket watches in the early sixties. It was in 1962 that the Railroad Commission certified the Bulova Accutron watch as the first wristwatch to ever be approved for use by the railroad, thus documenting the great achievement of the Bulova company.

It was also in 1962, that Bulova introduced the Caravelle line of jeweled watches, priced to compete with existing non-jeweled watches in the same market. By 1968, the Caravelle was the largest selling jeweled watch in America.

Bulovar continued to promote the expanding sales if its Bulova Accutron watches with commercials on many popular prime time television shows in the mid sixties. In 1967, the Accutron clocks were the only clocks to be found onboard Air Force One.

In 1967, forty years after the standard measurement of time was proved to be inadequate, a new standard was finally agreed. The second was redefined as being exactly 9,192,631,770 oscillations of the cesium atom’s resonant frequency. With the acceptance of the cesium atomic clocks, a new era of time signal generation developed.

In 1968, the Bulova Satellite Clock, the world’s first public clock regulated by satellite time signals, was inaugurated by Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, the President of Mexico. The clock was installed on the top of Mexico’s tallest building, the Torre Latino Americana.

When Apollo 11, landed on the moon in the Sea of Tranquility, in 1969, it carried with it an Accutron watch movement. This Bulova timer was left behind to control the transmission of vital data that was to form the basis of further experiments over the years ahead. One of the experiments in which the moon-based Bulova Accutron was critical was the precise measurement of the distance of the moon from the earth and the changes in that distance over time.

In 1969, Bulova introduced the first quartz-based clock, the Accuquartz. The vital electronic components required to count the thousands of oscillations per second produced by the vibrating piezoelectric quartz crystal, could now be contain within the case of a clock. But the miniaturization process continued at Bulova until, the following year, it announced the arrival of the Bulova Accuquartz men’s calendar wristwatch. This watch, with an 18K gold case, retailed for $1,325 and was the first quartz crystal watch available commercially in the United States.

Continuing with Bulova’s commitment to the NASA space program, in 1973, three specially designed Accutron portable alarm clocks were placed on board the Skylab. The Skylab was the world’s first space laboratory and was launched from Cape Kennedy.

During that year, Bulova won the world’s first design competition for solid-state digital watches at the Prix de la Ville de Gen ve watch-styling competition, the world’s most prestigious international watch-styling competition. Bulova also won two of the three honorable mentions awarded at the competition.

In 1976, Bulova was ready to introduce a complete line of Bulova Accutron Quartz movement watches for men. The National Air and Space Museum was opened by the Smithsonian Institute the same year, and in one of its main features, a replica of the NASA Skylab, was an Accutron “space alarm” clock identical to the ones mounted onboard the actual Skylab. The following year, Bulova released its full line of Accutron Quartz movement watches for ladies.

Bulova became a full subsidiary of the Loews Corporation in 1979, assuring it the support and capital required to compete in the ever more demanding world of time technology and development. The company continued to record firsts in innovation when it unveiled the world’s thinnest wall clock, the Bulova Dimension, in 1983. The depth of the clock measured just 5/8th of an inch. In 1986, Bulova began to create another new category in timepieces when it released the first miniature clock. The popularity and collect ability of these clocks has grown rapidly with Bulova again leading the market with entire classifications of themed groupings and limited edition pieces.

Bulova becomes the official supplier to the U.S. Olympic team in 1987, providing watches for both the winter games in Calgary and the summer games in Seoul.

Bulova watch Company, Inc. changed its name in 1988 to Bulova Corporation to better reflect the company’s growth into new and different timekeeping products. During the nineties it expanded its distribution licenses into South America, the Far East and Europe while reestablishing the Accutron as the premier brand of the Bulova Corporation.

Bulova is one of the most recognized brand names in watches.