February 10, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Joseph Bulova

Joseph Bulova arrived in New York City in the years following the Civil War.
In his native Bohemia, now Czechoslovakia, Bulova had learned the watchmaking and jewelry trade. For several years Bulova worked around town, studying the prospects for a jewelry business. Finally in 1875, at the age of 23, Bulova realized his dream by opening a small jewelry store on Maiden Lane.

Bulova began making timepieces so that his jewelry shop could offer a wider selection of items for his customers. For the next quarter-century Bulova sold pocket watches and jewelry in New York while building his reputation.
In 1911, as he sold fine pocket watches in unprecedented numbers, he began manufacturing Bulova boudoir and desk clocks.

Wristwatches appeared sporadically before World War I but men still preferred the pocket watch. During the war, soldiers discovered the greater convenience of wearing a wristwatch and returning veterans inaugurated a new market. Bulova responded instantly to the new fashion trend. He marshalled his production facilities to design jeweled wristwatches, introducing his first full line of men’s watches in 1919. It was followed by the industry’s first complete line of ladies’ wristwatches and the first collection of diamond wristwatches.

Bulova was an innovator in advertising to promote his new wristwatches.
In 1926 radio stations across the country began announcing the hour as “at the tone, it’s 8 p.m., Bulova watch time.” Bulova cemented his relationship with the medium of radio when he introduced the world’s first clock radio in 1928.

In 1931, Bulova broke all industry records by launching a million-dollar advertising campaigns. He supported retailers by offering Bulova watches on time-payment plans. The campaign culminated on July 1, 1941 when Brooklyn Dodger fans sat down to watch a televised baseball game and were greeted by a simple picture of a clock centered in a map of the United States. Across the bottom of the screen they were told, “AMERICA RUNS ON BULOVA TIME.”
It was the first TV commercial.

Although he never retired before his death in 1935 at the age of 83, Joseph Bulova turned most of the everyday operations to his son Arde in later years.
At the end of World War II, after supplying the United States military with an assortment of precision instruments, Arde Bulova established the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking in honor of his father. The school opened its doors to disabled veterans hoping to become self-sufficient. To this day watchmakers still send already accomplished craftsmen to the Bulova school for advanced training.

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