Bulova: Looking to the Future While Paying Homage to the Past

By Justin Mastine-Frost

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A look at how the storied timepiece brand has navigated the decades with style and innovation.

Once upon a time, America was a legitimate hotbed of watchmaking, yet today only a small few remain standing. Over 140 years strong and still running, craftsmanship and technology have always played a pivotal role throughout Bulova’s history. The brand not only focuses on innovation in watchmaking, but sales innovations as well. They were the first brand to develop an entire collection of women’s watches in 1924, the first brand to have a radio commercial aired in 1926, and also the first brand to fit a mechanical alarm into a wristwatch in 1953. The list goes on, but the focus on progress remains unfettered.

A Tale Of Two Camps

Interestingly, a look at Bulova’s current catalog reveals two distinct paths in their product development. Sticking with innovation and technology, collections like CURV and Precisionist look to the future. The CURV collection has been in the market since 2016, and was the first of its kind to feature a curved movement structure. One of the biggest battles in watchmaking is taking a flat watch movement and casing it in a manner that’s ergonomically suited to the human wrist. Not to say that there aren’t comfortable wrist watches out there—there are—but by curving the movement architecture itself the CURV line has a charming aesthetic and fit that’s unlike anything else in the market. Precisionist, on the other hand focuses around Bulova’s unique high-frequency quartz calibers which are instantly recognizable for their smooth sweeping seconds hands. As a general rule, the higher the frequency of the caliber, the more accurate its timekeeping properties, and the 262kHz operating frequency allows for an impressive timing accuracy down to 1/1000th of a second.

At the other end of the spectrum, one couldn’t expect a brand with such a legacy to not have a collection or two that draws design influence from its archives. In the case of Bulova there are a few spots in which one can find vintage-inspired pieces. Those looking for something a tad more utilitarian will be well served looking at the Military collection, as it pays homage to Bulova’s support to the American war effort of decades past. Then comes the aptly named Archive collection. Consider this your hub for the majority of Bulova’s Neo Vintage offerings. Year after year, a new historical reference is chosen and recreated to modern specification. Last but not least, 2020 saw the arrival of Bulova’s Sinatra collection. Frank wore a Bulova watch through much of his career, and the new four-piece collection covers a range of examples previously worn by the American music icon.

Whether looking forward through innovative design features or paying homage to its rich pedigree, Bulova has managed to not only survive the test of time but also thrive by putting its own unique stamp on a crowded timepiece landscape.