A very fine and historically important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch, presented to President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Bulova Watch Company Chairman, Arde Bulova

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  • Manufacturer: Bulova
    Year: 1941
    Case No: 214’797; underside of lug additionally stamped 797
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 13 AH, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Gay Frères beads-of-rice bracelet
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel deployant clasp, signed Gay Frères, stamped 4.61
    Dimensions: 32mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, and movement signed. Movement additionally stamped "BXW" for import to the United States and marked with an asterisk, dating the watch to 1941.
    Accessories: Accompanied by a signed provenance letter and a photo of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie Doud Eisenhower.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The story of Bulova fits securely within the archetypal American success story. Founded in 1875 by Bohemian immigrant, Joseph Bulova, the firm would become vital to the American economy, with important ties to the U.S. government. Indeed, Bulova would provide watches to NASA, the CIA, and the U.S. Navy. Bulova was an innovative force, producing the world’s first radio advertisement in 1926 and the first television advertisement on July 1st, 1941. The Bulova jingle, as much as the watches themselves, was ubiquitous in mid-20th century popular culture

    Arde Bulova, son of Bulova founder Joseph Bulova, rose to the level of vice-president of the Bulova company in 1911 at age 26. It was Arde who shepherded Bulova through the turbulent times of the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Great Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. Bulova became an ardent supporter of the American military and the government. After WWII, he established the Bulova Watchmaking School, which employed veterans, particularly those wounded or disabled. Arde Bulova’s brother-in-law, Henry D. Henshel, had served under General Omar Bradley in WWII, and Bradley would become Chairman of the Board from 1958 to 1973.

    Bradley and Dwight D. Eisenhower both graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1915, part of the class known as “the class the stars fell on”. Of the 59 of 164 graduates who became generals – two were five-star generals - Bradley and Eisenhower, General of the Army and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, respectively. Later, as President, Eisenhower would go on to increase the tariff on imported watches, a move passionately supported by Bulova, an American watchmaking company.

    Though it is uncertain when the present watch was presented to General Eisenhower, the caseback engraving is similar to others Bulova presented to luminaries of the time. How it left Eisenhower’s possession, however, is documented in the accompanying provenance letter. First Lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower was a native of Boone, Iowa and her uncle, Joel Carlson was given the watch by Eisenhower during one of their frequent visits to Boone. The watch was then given to a local jeweler, Walter Donald Eckstein, for repair. After years of ownership, Carlson no longer wanted to maintain the watch, and Eckstein offered him a new Bulova wristwatch in exchange for the chronograph given to Carlson by Eisenhower. The watch was sent to Bulova for cleaning in the 1970s and was subsequently returned to Eckstein with the note “no charge, courtesy of the factory.” The watch remained in the Eckstein family until this year.

    Aside from its important American provenance, the present chronograph is delightful, boasting a beautiful black glossy dial with gilt printing and luminous hands, ideal for five-star general. The movement, a Valjoux VZ ébauche finished and signed by Bulova, is marked with the Bulova date stamp for 1941 – the year the United States entered the WWII. The current lot presents a unique opportunity to own a part of American watchmaking history.

45

Bulova

A very fine and historically important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch, presented to President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Bulova Watch Company Chairman, Arde Bulova

1941
32mm Diameter
Case, dial, and movement signed. Movement additionally stamped "BXW" for import to the United States and marked with an asterisk, dating the watch to 1941.

Estimate
$10,000 - 15,000 
CHF10,000-15,000
€8,700-13,000
HK$78,400-118,000

sold for $25,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 212 940 1293
pboutros@phillips.com

STYLED. Timeless Watches & How to Wear Them

New York Auction 5 December 2018