Bulova Caravelle

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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The Bulova Caravelle is the flagship model of one of America's most well-regarded watch companies. In fact, Bulova owns more than a few famous firsts in watchmaking history, which accounts for the manufacturers' popularity today. The company is not only credited with producing America's first radio commercial, but of irrevocably changing the way in which watches are produced.

With an eye toward better standardization, Bulova began manufacturing all its watches to precision specs within a ten-thousandth of an inch. As a result, any part inside a Bulova watch was immediately interchangeable with a part from a different model, a move that revolutionized the way in which timepieces were serviced. But it wasn't just a new approach to engineering that set Bulova apart from other watchmakers. It was style as well.

The Bulova Caravelle's Rise to Popularity

In 1924 Bulova set out the first line of women's watches, many of which came in lavish diamond- and jewel-studded styles. Five years earlier the company had introduced a similar line of jeweled wrist watches for men, but pocket watches were still the preferred mode of personal timekeeping. Many historians credit WWI for launching the wrist watch craze, largely because soldiers now needed a way to tell time quickly and accurately while in combat.

It wasn't until roughly 40 years later that the first Bulova Caravelle came out of the company's New York factory. The Caravelle by Bulova was the manufacturer's first widely affordable jeweled wrist watch, which, at anywhere from 10 to 30 dollars, was priced to compete with many of the finest non-jeweled watches. While today's Bulova can't compete with a Rolex or Tissot in the luxury watch market, it occupies a dominant place in popular timekeeping and, unlike Cartier or Gucci, is readily affordable to most watch-lovers.


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