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S.2 Bulova

Due to the aggressive sales and advertising campaigns, as well as the quality of their products, Bulova has been the biggest watch manufacturer in the USA for several decades. The highlight in the company's history, was the introduction of the first watch with a tuning fork as a timebase and with a transistor instead of mechanical contacts, developed by the physician Max Hetzel in the Bulova laboratories in Bienne and New York. Today, Japanese technology is being used as the factory does not conduct any research of its own anymore.

1875Joseph Bulova starts a jeweller's and watch-repair shop in New York and begins to import Swiss watches. His son, Arde Bulova, expands the firm and becomes a famous manufacturer of watches with a lever escapement.
1920Bulova USA starts a company to produce watches and parts in Switzerland.
1953Max Hetzel makes the first tuning fork prototype. The first patent on the tuning fork watch is filed in Switzerland on July 19. (no. 312290)
1958A Trade agreement with Citizen Watch Co. of Japan is struck.
1959On July 20, a Bulova tuning fork clock is used for the first time in a spacecraft, the Explorer VI.
1960The Bulova Accutron caliber 214 is launched on the 25th of October. This was the first wrist watch in the world with an electronically maintained tuning fork as a timebase as well as the first one with a transistor as a switch device. At the same time an extensive training programme was set up for the watchmakers. Bulova starts the sale of cheaper watches under the brandname Caravelle to counter the pin-lever movements of Timex.
1966Co-operation between Bulova and Universal-Genève.
1967The renewed Accutron movement caliber 218 is launched. Production of the first Universal watches with the Bulova movement starts. The watches are released under the name 'Unisonic'.
1968Designer watches named 'Christan Dior' are retailed in the USA and Canada. Sales in Europe follow in 1971. On October 11th, Ebauches S.A. obtains the licence to use the Bulova tuning fork technique, in order to manufacture an improved tuning fork movement and to sell these watches under the name of E.S.A.
1969The Apollo II astronauts leave scientific equipment, including a Bulova Accutron watch, on the moon.
1970Presentation at the Basle Fair of the Bulova 'Accuquartz' wrist watch with the Bèta-21 calibre of CEH and without a tuning fork.
1971Introduction of a quartz pocket watch with a quartz crystal with a length of 1 cm. On December 6th, the Bulova 'Accuquartz' (caliber 224) is launched; a watch with a quartz crystal as a time base which synchronizes the vibration of a tuning fork. The pawl on the tuning fork drives the wheeltrain.
1972Introduction at the Basle Fair of the prototypes of Bulova watches with a liquid crystal display and of the asymmetrical steel Accutron tuning fork watch (cal. 224). The Southern Pacific Railroad Co. decide to use the Bulova Accutron for correct timekeeping. Seventy-five railroad companies all over the world will follow their example. The 'Bulova Citizen Watch Co. Ltd' is founded.
1973Introduction of the lady's Accutron, caliber 221, with the tuning fork tines surrounding the battery.
1974The first Bulova LED watches, the 'Bulova Accuquartz Digital' (cal. 228) with a 'Hughes Aircraft' module are presented at the Basle Fair. Bulova participates financially in Synertek USA, producer of 'chips'.
1975On the occasion of their hundredth anniversary, Bulova issues a series of Accutron watches with a tuning fork shaped case. The strap was marked '100 BULOVA'. The movements were the 214, 218, 224 and 230 in either solid white or yellow-gold cases or in gold or chromium-plated cases. Agreement between the Bulova Watch Co. and Integrated Display Systems (founded by General Electric and Solid State Scientific Inc.) to develop a complete range of LED and LCD watches. The new joint-venture is named 'Computron Time'.
1976The end of the Accutron production. Five million watches with a tuning fork having been sold.
The first Bulova LCD watches are introduced. Stelux Manfacturing Co.Ltd in Hong Kong becomes the largest single shareholder (27 %) of Bulova and acquires world-wide control over the company.
In January, the sale of the trapezoid-shaped 'Bulova Computron', with LED module 2293.10 and 2294.10 starts. Later on Bulova issues the LED-module 2544.10. Both had automatic calendar adjustment.
Introduction of the 'Accutron SM Quartz' with the 'Accuset': when a special button is pushed, the seconds' hand accelerates or decelerates until a perfect time synchronisation has been achieved.
1979The 'Bulova Combitron' with hands and with a small LC display is marketed. Centralisation of the entire production of watch movements in Bienne, Switzerland.
1980First prototype of the 'Thermatron' is shown at the Basle Fair.
1982After four years of reseach, the Bulova 'Thermatron' is produced commercially in Bienne, Switzerland.
1988Bulova launches the 'Benetton' line.

Date codes on the back of the case: L = 195; M = 196 ; N = 197.
L3 is the code for 1953 and N1 for 1971.
A more recent code: 304 means 04th or fourth month in 1993.

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Copyright © by Pieter Doensen

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