Bulova Accutron Watches – An Icon of Mid-Century Design

Bulova is an American watch brand founded in 1875 and currently owned by Japanese conglomerate Citizen Watch Co. It manufactures watches and clocks and is based in New York City. Bulova's Swiss-made line is known as Bulova Accu•Swiss and was formerly known as Bulova Accutron.

Bulova produced the world's first television advertisement, on July 1, 1941 (the first day that commercial advertising was permitted on television in the United States).

A technical breakthrough in watch design

Bulova’s "Accutron" watches, first sold in October 1960, use a 360 Hz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the timekeeping element. The tuning fork was powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator circuit. Instead of the ticking sound made by mechanical watches, the Accutron had a faint, high-pitched hum which came from the vibrating tuning fork. A forerunner of modern quartz watches which also keep time with a vibrating resonator, the Accutron was guaranteed to be accurate to one minute per month, or two seconds per day, considerably better than mechanical watches of the time.

A Bulova watch makes it to the Moon

In the 1960s, the company was involved in a notable rivalry with Omega Watches to be selected as the 'first watch on the Moon'. In 1971, a Bulova chronograph was carried on board Apollo 15 - the fourth mission to land men on the Moon - by mission commander David Scott. All 12 men who walked on the Moon wore standard Omega Speedmaster watches that had been officially issued by NASA. Those watches are deemed to be government property.

However, transcripts from the Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal attest to the fact that during Scott's second excursion on the Moon's surface, the crystal face on his Omega watch popped off. So, during his third lunar walk, he used his backup Bulova watch. The Bulova Chronograph Model #88510/01 that Scott wore on the lunar surface was expected to fetch more than $1 million, as it is the only privately owned watch to have been worn while walking on the lunar surface. There are images of him wearing this watch, when he saluted the American flag on the Moon, with the Hadley Delta expanse in the background. The watch sold for $1.625 million, which makes it the most expensive astronaut-owned artifact ever sold at auction.

Vintage Bulova Accutron watches are highly collectable and make an excellent gift that is sure to be appreciated.