Bulova "Joseph Bulova" Breton

Why The Joseph Bulova Collection Is The Art Deco Mechanical Masterpiece You Didn’t Know You Needed Until Now

Joseph Bulova collection offers a ton of bang for one's buck, especially those searching for a well designed mechanical.

By Josh Shanks

Since founding his eponymous brand in New York City over 144 years ago, Joseph Bulova has become somewhat of an icon of American watchmaking. Still to this day, when driving to LaGuardia airport you can see Bulova's original Queens, NY HQ. Bulova has deep roots in the American market, and while the company is now owned by Japan's Citizen Group, it always pays careful dedication to its past.

Today we're looking at a collection that pays homage to the early 1900s. The new Joseph Bulova collection is a wide-ranging series of Art Deco-inspired mechanicals. Comprised of distinct case shapes: round, tonneau, and tank, the Joseph Bulova collection was definitely a standout of this year's Baselworld fair, and Watchonista was delighted to get some hands-on time with the pieces.

About Joseph Bulova

Joseph Bulova's origin story is a bit of a mystery wrapped in an enigma. What we do know is that he was born around 1851, likely in the Czech Republic. At some point between his birth and 1875, Bulova immigrated to the United States. It's highly likely that Bulova landed in New York City's Ellis Island, although the official Ellis Island records only show Bulova making a voyage aboard the Bremen in 1913, where he would've been 61 years old. 

What we do know is that Bulova started a small jewelry shop in New York City around 1875. This jewelry shop, located in New York's Maiden Lane specialized in jewelry and the repair of clocks and the occasional pocket watch. Ever the entrepreneur, Bulova saw the future of the watch industry not on the wall, but on your wrist and in your pocket. As Bulova's timeline shows, around 1911 Bulova began producing table clocks and pocket watches. The new 'Bulova' branded novelties were such a hit that just a year later, in 1912, Bulova setup a manufacture in Bienne, Switzerland.

Despite a Great Depression, two World Wars, a Quartz Crisis, and countless other conflicts, Bulova has survived. And not just survived! The brand has downright thrived! Bulova has always maintained its American roots via their headquarters in the Empire State building and facilities in New York's Long Island. In 2008, the Citizen Group purchased Bulova for a reported $250 million. Most remarkably, Citizen has given Bulova the autonomy to do what it does best, produce accessibly priced (mostly) Swiss Made watches with design codes that are uniquely American.

Enter the Joseph Bulova collection

It's hard to say that Bulova had a 'heyday' since the company has a history of production which spans over 140 years. But being that Joseph Bulova passed away in 1935, we can look to the companies wristwatches from the period of 1920 to 1940 to get a glimpse of what Bulova had in mind for the future of his wristwatches. Bold designs with daring case shapes and a daunting amount of mechanical movements all made in-house at Bulova's Swiss facilities. It's fitting that Bulova would take inspiration from Joseph Bulova's final decades.

The new Joseph Bulova collection is comprised of three models, the Banker (tonneau case), the Breton (tank case), and the Commodore (34mm or 38mm round case). Within each collection, Bulova offers a variety of dial, case, and strap options which comprise 16 new styles in total. My favorite would have to be the salmon dial Breton. 

Each model is powered by the Selitta SW200 movement, which is viable via the half-covered crystal caseback. Each caseback is inscribed with Joseph Bulova's signature and stamped '1875' to honor the founding date of the brand. Tye styling and design codes of the Joseph Bulova collection offer re-interpreted Art Deco stylings for the modern consumer. 

While impossible to chronicle all 16 variants of the Joseph Bulova collection, it's perhaps easier to break the collection down via the dial, case color, and strap options. For each of the three designs, Bulova is offering a white, black, and salmon-colored dial. You have the option of brown and black leather straps, or you can opt for the full metal bracelet. Additionally, a plated yellow gold variant is available in each design. 

Pricing and availability is as follows, $995 to $1,495 USD (depending upon configuration). The Joseph Bulova collection will be available on Bulova.com and your nearest Bulova retailer. Each of the 16 variants will be limited to 350 pieces. In my opinion, the Joseph Bulova collection offers a ton of bang for one's buck, especially those searching for a well designed mechanical. 

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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