Bulova and Admiral Byrd

Hi all,

I need some help.  I realize Westfield is not a favored brand on this site, even though it’s a Bulova product.  In any case, I’ve been researching a Westfield watch American Boy Watch that I recently acquired that came in a case labeled the “Admiral Byrd Award”.  Rather remarkably, my research has uncovered what I believe is an unknown unauthorized use of Admiral Byrd’s name and endorsement for the watch by the Bulova Company.  Among the documents I’ve acquired is correspondence from 1930 from John H. Ballard, which his letterhead identifies as Vice President and General Sales Manager for both the Bulova Watch Company and Westfield Watch Company Bulova, seeking to market the Byrd Award/American Boy watch to jewelers.  I also have documents from Admiral Byrd’s representative, seeking to put a halt to Bulova’s use of Byrd’s name on the watch and even complaints from the Hamilton Watch Company about Bulova’s attempt to use Byrd’s name. 

 In addition, at one point in 1930 Bulova also made an attempt to register a trademark for “Byrd-Antarctic” wrist watches.  This trademark registration was brought to Byrd’s representative’s attention by the advertising manager of the Hamilton Watch Company.  After Byrd’s representative complained to Bulova and said they would file an opposition, the registration was abandoned.   In the letter advising they would abandon the registration, Harry D. Henshel of Bulova wrote to the Byrd folks stating that Mr. Bulova didn’t want to “…do anything which might in any way offend the Admiral.” 

I’ve put together a draft of an article for the NAWCC’s Watch & Clock Bulletin that I’m in the process of refining.  Their publication process apparently takes from 9 to 12 months after submittal.  Anyway, I’m still doing some follow-up research and was wondering if anyone on this site has heard of this matter.  I find it fascinating that Bulova, which used many of the aviators and heroes of the day to market its watches, would try to do so without proper authorization, and ultimately had to abandon the effort when they were called on it…

Also, I’d like to cite  to some advertisements that are on the mybulova site in footnotes.  Is this acceptable?  Do I need permission, or can I just cite to the name and date of the publication it came from?  How do I cite them properly to give credit to mybulova?



Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted August 26, 2016 - 11:23pm

Panel Member

'Byrd- Antarctic' was also registered by Benrus Watch Co. I hadn't heard of this matter.

The site owner is Stephen Ollman, I've sent a PM.

Geoff Baker
Posted August 27, 2016 - 4:59am

Club 5000Panel Member

Fascinating story David, I look forward to you article. I have three or four American Boy watches, this one was redialed a couple years ago.

Posted August 27, 2016 - 8:12pm

Club 5000

Thanks Geoff,

I was very surprised at what I found out about Admiral Byrd and Bulova. Given all of the expertise on this site, I felt it was important to check and see if anyone here had heard about Bulova's attempt to use Byrd's name, before finalizing the article for submission to the NAWCC.  it's really interesting, since Bulova was so masterful at marketing and used so many of America's heroes who were making aviation history during the 20's and 30's, to endorse and publicize their watches (Lindbergh, Post and Gatty, Corrigan, etc...). 


Posted September 11, 2016 - 1:59am

Club 5000Panel Member

This was Bulova marketing 101, to capitalise on the events of the day. It looks however as though Bulova may have missed the boat on this one, in securing the naming rights. 

I wonder how many were produced and if stock was pulled from stores?

Another nice little piece of Bulova's history.

Posted October 2, 2016 - 9:01pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Not sure if you've seen this, but I just stumbled across it by accident. It Bulova's request for the renewal of the patent for the name 'American Boy' since its original registration of 1928.

Bulova - Westfield - American Boy Patent documents since 1927 (PDF 3.4MB)


Posted October 5, 2016 - 10:41am

Club 5000

Thanks Stephen,

No I hadn't seen it... Thanks for passing it along.  BTW, I submitted my draft article to the NAWCC.  The editor told me they were currently on deadline and would review it in mid-October.  I'm hoping they find it acceptable and move it to the next step, which as I understand it is a peer review process...