1927 Bulova Lone Eagle

Submitted by mybulova_admin on February 19, 2010 - 6:27pm

I'd like to start this topic by inviting all who read this to post any information they may have about the release of the original 5000 Bulova Lone Eagle watch series in May 1927.

You can read my article "The Bulova Lone Eagle Story" for an insight into my theory about this amazing watch series.

Some points to consider:

  • Did Bulova really sell 5000 watches within the 3 days after the Lindbergh landing?
  • Where were they sold, America or France?
  • What advertising did Bulova use back in 1927 to accomplish such an amazing feat?
  • Why did the corner design change?
  • Is the design of corner cut model that we see today really an art-deco symbol for an eagle?

I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.

Posted March 30, 2013 - 7:51am

Looks like CAL DID wear a wristwatch on his flight, or at least he wore one to his meeting with the King of England at the end of May, 1927. Nearly half way down the article snippet from the Lowell Sun, May 31st, 1927.

"Finally, glancing at his wristwatch,".

Could this be the Bulova watch he supposedly wore on the flight, or given to him after?


Posted March 30, 2013 - 8:16pm

In reply to by bobbee

If it were a Bulova it would be the Conqueror/Lone Eagle model and not the President style  presentation watch which CAL received upon his return to the US on June 11.

Posted March 30, 2013 - 6:49pm

I've scoured hundreds of photos of Lindbergh during period and for the most it doesn't look like he was a big watch wearer. I've only found two so far, one was very low res and the owner of the photo couldn't get a better image. The other (1932) below shows what looks to be a classic early square wrist watch. Note that he wore a watch on his left hand.

Charles Lindbergh wearing a watch - 1932

Charles Lindbergh wearing a watch - 1932

EDIT: Looking at the watches below, could it be the same watch? Could the watch above actually be rectangle not square like I first thought.

Posted March 30, 2013 - 7:54pm

Just found these two dated 1928 and 1929. Looks like the same watch. Very similar to the president style presentation watch minus the metal bracelet. (Swapped for a leather one perhaps for comfort)

Charles Lindbergh wearing a watch - 1928

Charles Lindbergh wearing a watch - 1929

Comparison. Same watch?

Lindbergh watch comparison

Posted April 1, 2013 - 5:23pm

 Right, we have heard from many advertisements and other sources that Lindbergh was presented with a watch prior to his record flight, and there has been some controversy over the model, if he was indeed presented with a watch. Many ads show that he was presented with the Corner Cut Conqueror model, and this is just about universally accepted as true, I myself can believe it was, though we have conflicting accounts in the price, as seen below in Mr. Ballard's "Eye witness account", $37.50 as opposed to the price in all the ads for this model of $50.




  Taking the above account into consideration, we then have the statement "Bulova, then a comparatively small company, sold ALL 5000 of the watches within three days after Lindbergh's landing in Paris and eventually sold 50,000 of the Lone Eagle model."

 Now, I can believe the sale of 5000 Lone Eagles in three days, but never the three days afte he landed in France. The Lone Eagle name not being used before 21st. May, the day he landed gives the lie to that statement.

  This Article in the Sayville (NY) Suffolk County News of May 2nd, 1930, gives quite different figures, and less than three years after the flight.




    Now those figures above given by the Bulov Executive Mr. H.H. Taub means Bulova sold 146,000 $50 Lone Eagles in less than three years, and within 48 hours of Lindbergh landing the company received orders for 30,000 of those Lone Eagle watches, which had been "one of the hardest seller's"as the Conqueror.

Do you think they had a stock of 5,000 of these badly selling watches? Very hard to believe!

  Someone was telling Porky Pies (lies), but WHO?



William Smith
Posted April 1, 2013 - 7:37pm

I think I kinda figured, based on various articles and accounts, the 5000 watches were ready and awaiting a name/winner, but no one new what to call them yet.  Bulova couldn't have gotten the display boxes printed with Lone Eagle that quickly (within three days of France Landing).  The theory as I remember (or as I make it up), the 5000 unnamed watches (previously the conqueror, which they may have stopped production/sales of 1926 conquerors late in 1926 while they got them ready to sell) - under some unknown name- were ready and standing by to be released as a dedication to which ever person completed the flight first.  I had read Bulova was hedging their bets, and gave a watch (some unknown watch) and $1000 to three or four top flyers who may be the first.  That way the had it covered regardless who actually was first at the flight.  Bet hedging.  

I think the scenario that makes sense and is in one (or two) articles is Bulvoa shipped 5000 dedication watches to dealers/jewelers within the first three days after landing- perhaps named during this time period, but certainly not printed/shipped on paperwork or display boxes as "lone eagle".  Ballard's forgetting or just has it wrong.  The watches post 5000 may have had Lone Eagle printed on the display boxes, but if another 30k were "ordered" that quickly after the flight, they may have shipped some of these without "Lone Eagle" on the box too.
The watch, as a conqueror and hard sale prior to the flight, would become a best seller simply by association with Lindbergh/Lone Eagle, so that parts not hard to digest.  So one of the "lies" or mistruths is Ballard saying the 5000 were rushed to jewelers w/ Lone Eagle cases.  Couldn't have been done that fast.   And Ballard's statement about "comparitavely a small company" is probably relative to Bulova's success during Ballard's tenure.  Remember, Bulova was public ally traded from at least the late 1920's onward, and the one snippet of a company report to shareholders from 1930 indicated they were pretty darned big.   There was also the article by the predecessor to "the financial times" author from around 1930, where author reported J Bulova was among the 10 richest men in America, and also the least well known.  The article went on to tell a story about Bulova trying to get a room in a Fifth Avenue hotel, and when he couldn't, he purchased the eitire building.  LOL maybe an old urban legend, but he and the company were pretty darned big by 1927.  These legends have some basis in fact, it's just usually distorted or exaggerated.

This is all lots of fun, but I sure wish we had at least one documented sale of the cut corner Lone Eagle being sold as such from a date right after the landing.  It wouldn't have the name on the display box IMO, but it could have a bill of sale, or some other provenience which we could use to "set the clock" on just one of the probable first 5000.  Without that one record to "set the clock", it's a good theory, but hard to prove.  

Posted April 1, 2013 - 9:28pm

In reply to by William Smith

Sounds like cherry-picking to me, Will. You say Bulova was a big earner from about 1930, but that is the date of the above article, where Mr. Taub says the LE gave the company $7.3 MILLION worth of revenue, but that is post-June 1927, how could any company afford to stockpile watch cases AND movements on the off chance of someone doing the almost impossible? Two French guys died trying just a week or so before CAL's crossing, so it was not a foregone conclusion, more of a rank outsider.

Lots of theories sound good, and are not only hard to prove, but are impossible to prove.

That does not make them fact.

Posted April 1, 2013 - 8:41pm

You will not get a sale of a CCLE right after the landing because they were not for sale then.

I am not dealing in legends, hearsay or theories, I am dealing in facts.

Let us look at the facts.

1. CAL landed 21 May, 1927, the "Lone Eagle" name had only been used since that day, so could not have been used on any watches or boxes since it would take several weeks at the very least, to get these boxes and watches to the shops.

2. He sent a Telegraph from on board the U.S.S. Memphis dated June 10th. 1927, 9.07 p.m., thanking Bulova for the $1,000 prize and the watch, so could not have received it on landing on U.S. soil on the 11th, as previously stated.

3. Bulova advertise on the 17th June 1927 for the first time the Lone Eagle, and also apply for a Trademark for such, quoting a first use of the name from 13th June, 1927.

4. H.H. Taub states in a public address in 1930, that this watch was the worst selling watch they had, so why would they be stockpiling a poor seller?

These points I have made are not hearsay, or "coulda, woulda, shoulda", but articles in newspapers from the time these statements were made.

At the same time, today there is a well-known sarcastic saying: "If it's on the Internet, it must be true".

We can also use it for the newspapers of the time, as who knows what is fact, and what is so much Corporate Hype.

Let's just end it like this.

Bulova had a commercial axe to grind, we have to try to sort the wheat from the chaff, so let's stick to facts.


William Smith
Posted April 1, 2013 - 9:51pm

Good points Bobbee.  I'm not necessarily dealing in facts, but ideas.  Things thrown out there, and checked against various articles and stuff we have to date.  The articles are sorta facts, but they can be mis-facts too.  Ballard, IMO, was mistaken as they could not have shipped 5000 watches NAMED Lone Eagle on boxes.  Couldn't have happened that fast.  They could have shipped 5000 un-named watches as a dedication watch.  Those could have been the Cut Corner Watch.

agreed with 1:   if your saying they were not for sale named a Lone Eagle.  Some number of un-named watch, maybe a bunch of old Conqueror, could have been setting around waiting for someone to be the first, and then shipped un-named.  Maybe 5000 of them.  We see this number in some of the articles.  

2 could be correct, or he coulda got the watch before and the prize money later.  I don't think the money to which I refer- the post [EDIT change post to Pre] flight sponsorship nmoney- was prize money.  Couldn't be prize money befor there was a prize winner.

3.  Yep, that's what we have to date "first use", but than has no direct bearing on the possibility that Bulova had say 5000 un-named watches shipped and then named them Lone Eagle after the fact, but before the patent/trademark stuff went through.  The First use of June 17th surely doesn't support this, so maybe they didn't have a name until June 17th.  But what was the name post-shipping given to them- Lone Eagle.  Maybe Bulova was referring to them as Lone Eagle, and this would not constitute a "first use".  They may have had to publish/print/use the name to get the first use date, but they sure coulda known what it was gonna be as soon as Lindbergh landed, based on the earlist date for the use of the "lone eagle" reference...which was during the flight.

4.  Rebadging a poor seller as a dedication watch - anything associated with the first person to complete the flight would have immediate popularity.  Perhaps if it wasn't selling that well, they had extra laying around, and because it was a poor seller, that's why they had some "stockpiled"? Folks may not have been innundated with this poor selling model, so they may not have know of it's previous existance. This could result in it being a good choice.  They didn't have to retool for a new watch this way.

And as for newspaper articles being fact, your right there too...these are at least written records by folks. I like your analogy to "I saw it on the internet, so it's gotta be true" LOL  The articles may be used in a fact finding process.   Facts would be production records w/ dates etc.... and we can infer "fact" from a collection of vintage ads and the likes. ...or a bill of sale for a "Lone Eagle" showing a date, watch serial number, and some other documentation to indicate someone was calling the watch by that name, regardless what was stapmed on the dedication box.

It's hard to determine what the facts are, but we have a bunch of stuff to work with.  It's fun to try and figure out, and I'm here for fun and history- even if a fairly educated or analyzed guess at what the history could have been.

I'm still at a loss as to how we "set the clock" for the serial number range for the Conquerors. I gotta look again some time.  Maybe we don't see many 1926 Conquerors (well ID'ed as such) with serial numbers falling after this range...but that still doesn't necessarily set the clock for the range of the first 5000. 

Hopefully we will get more "facts" and other stuff to help us with our ideas....it's good fun.  I've been having fun with this model for five years or so now.  

Posted April 1, 2013 - 11:17pm

Why carry on making a watch that is not selling well, or at all, to the extent that you have a quarter of a million dollars worth (more than three point four million in todays money) sitting around, doing nothing? That does not compute, whichever way you cut it. I can see that, and I am not a business man.

William Smith
Posted April 1, 2013 - 11:37pm

I wasn't saying they necessarily had that many just sitting around.  I was saying if they did have some left over from not selling well, they could have made some more to add up to 5000 units. Same end result- 5000 watches ready for shipping and sales once they have someone who makes the successful flight.  They may have discontinued active Bulova sales/advertising of an unpopular conqueror model in late 1926.  They had some laying around, made a few more- 5000 total- for a future dedication watch.   5000 x $50 is $250k, however that isn't what they had in production costs for this number of watches.  

Your right, or at least I agree, it doesn't make sense to make a bunch of poorly selling watches, unless they were planning on rebadging to a dedication watch in the near future.  Then it may make sense if they had to only make 2000 more to go w/ 3000 they had in surplus.  The key idea for me is, no matter how well or poorly it previously sold, nor what it's name use to be, once it was renamed to relate to this fantastic aviation feat, it was likely to suceed on that merit, vs fail based on previous poor sales/popularity.    

If they existed, I don't think they were "sitting around doing nothing".  They were waiting to be sold upon flight completing- un-named on trademark paperwork until June 17th perhaps, but they could have known what name they would use upon completing of the flight...  There's legal use requirement for a company to claim "in use since....."  They probably had to have several stamped as such, either boxes or published ads etc.  I had seen somewhere what constitutes "in use since" for the catagory 27 trademark registration process...I think 27 was watches and some jewelry.  Until they did these steps, they may not have been able to say "in use since" even if that's what they were planning on calling it.   I'll check on the requirements sometime, but not today :)

Posted April 2, 2013 - 12:01am

Just like Bulova today saying "Lets make 5000 $650 watches, not sell them, offer a big prize for the first man to land on Mars, give him one of these watches as part of the prize, then wait for the orders to come rolling in when it happens".
Sounds stupid, don't it?
It is.

Posted April 3, 2013 - 1:03am

In reply to by bobbee

It is very stupid and no company past or present would do such a thing. However if there were several organizations currently attempting a manned space exploration to Mars you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will be investing in some level of marketing and promotion for it.

It's fair to say that in 1926 and 1927 a number of groups were indeed actively trying to make the flight. So why is it hard to imagine that a company like Bulova who have a history for being great marketers wouldn't try and cash in on the likely event that it would happen soon.

There is a world of difference between putting money into something that is so far off into the future versus something that is actually happening. Bulova didn't simply hope that someone would make the journey oneday, they knew full well that it was only a matter if time.

History tells us that they were indeed smart people as they didn't have to wait long. It was on the cards.

William Smith
Posted April 2, 2013 - 1:42am

LOL  What ever they did way back then, it sure worked out well for their bottom line. The model was a continued money maker, going through  multiple variations for about13 years or so.  It does sound rather funny when you say it that way. However, not so much so if we imagine it discussed by a well informed sales/marketing team around the company roundtable circa 1926:

"Our marketing team has estimated potential returns on a dedication watch honoring the first solo trans-Atlantic flight. We believe this feat will be accomplished soon.  It could be a very profitable marketing strategy.  We also have a watch model that's not currently selling very well.  We have quite a few laying around in surplus.  We can discontinue sales/marketing for this watch, while producing a few more.  This will give us a larger surplus or supply when needed. This also saves retooling expenses to produce an entirely new model based on this speculation.

We believe we can rebadge this older watch and sell it under some yet-to-be-determined marketing phrase or model name associated with whom ever is the first to complete the flight.  We will want to have these ready for immediate shipment to jewelers as soon as the successful flight is completed.  The model name will be determined at or near the time of flight completion, so this first set of dedication watches will not have a model name stamped on their display boxes, but we can add that name to future releases of the model.

In anticipation of the successful event, we can begin a relationship with some of the present-day aviators who are in the competition to complete the first flight. We can offer them some type of financial sponsorship towards their attempts. We can also give them a Bulova watch along with this finincial sponsorship.  This would help us negotiate contractual sponsorship of our product with the person who first completes the flight."

Doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.  It's speculation on my part, but I bet there were company reports with sales/marketing sections - much like the section in the table of content of the 1930 Bulova company report titled "marketing"- and we may be able to find a copy of these earlier reports and find out more about what actually happened (or was discussed).  


Posted April 2, 2013 - 6:09am

Thanks Bobbee for posting such an important piece of information in the puzzle. Here's a better resolution of the advert you posted courtesy of Photoshop.

Bulova watch lindbergh

This will say different things to different people as we can interpret it however we want.

I interpret it to say that there were in fact at least two (2) Bulova watches given to Charles Lindbergh, one pre flight as detailed above by Mr Taub (I suggest the Conqueror model) and another upon his return to  the US aboard the Memphis (the president style watch we see here http://www.mybulova.com/charles-lindberghs-bulova-watch)

I also interpret the statement that Bulova received orders for 30,000, to mean just that. It does not mean they produced 30,000, only that they 'received' orders amounting to that number. I can see that this amount of orders would leave Bulova at a bit of a short fall which is probably why they were able to get the next batch, those with a 1927 10AN or 9AT movement, closed 9 and cathedral hands (probably with the box as Will indicates) so fast to market. As well as the mass marketing of the watch. The 30,000 would explain a great deal as to why this watch went viral overnight.

For the record my take on the original 5000 being sold out in three days after the flight (and I have stated this before), is not neccessarily actual shipping of the watch but pre-sales orders totaling 5000. BUT as we now see according to Mr Taub, the 5000 was actually 30,000. That doesn't change anything really. Perhaps Bulova only completed orders for the entire 5000 they had in stock. Having the 5000 in stock and being 'sold out' in 48 hours or even 3 days would certainly be explained by Bulova receiving orders to the total of 30,000. Still the question begs, how did Bulova pre market these watches to the jewelers to get such a huge demand in such a short period?

Bobbee, you're seeking truths and facts, as we all are and have been for several years. Where we are today is all due to these original theories and ideas. They have sprouted the interest in people like your good self and made us dig through all the data hidden out there to either bring these theories and ideas to light or to dispel them. Either way they are an important part of the process that has happened over the past 7 years since I first wrote the Bulova Lone Eagle article. Others may take credit for new information and to them I say well done, but please don't forget where the origins of this story lay and the effort and journey many people have taken to get us to where we are today. If you insult those theories and ideas then you insult them all. There is no harm in being wrong if it helps uncover the truth.

I have no doubt that more information will be unearthed as more people what to 'help' search for the FACTS.

One things for sure, if Mr Taub's figures are correct, Bulova made an absolute killing!

Posted April 2, 2013 - 7:13am

You wrote earlier of articles you had seen, and things you had read, where Bulova supplied or sold 5,000 watches in Lone Eagle boxes (or cases). All these articles must come from some original source, and the earliest one I have seen that states this, is the 1977 article by the former President of Bulova, the one you yourself say has inconsistencies. The earlier 1930 article strangely does not mention any "5000 sold in three days", but does say that Bulova received orders for 30,000 LE's within 48 hours of the landing, a totally different, yet in a way more realistic statement, as any in stock could be sent, and we see in the June 17th. Torrence Morris ad they say "coming soon", so are awaiting stock.

We see so many inconsistencies in all these reports, that fact is getting to be hard to distinguish from fiction, and when all is said and done, all we have to go by are Corporate "lines" from Corporate high-ups, who are paid to say this kind of thing.

We can also read exactly what we want to into these reports, but I personally think it all boils down to "spin".

Posted April 2, 2013 - 6:53am

'coming soon' or 'awaiting stock' I interpret to be the jeweler awaiting stock to be delivered from Bulova, not Bulova awaiting stock to be made. But again, I see things one way and others will see things another.

The original 5000 number comes from Bulova themselves and if incorrect well I guess we (sorry you) have unearthed a vital piece of their history.

It certainly is great for me to see new information uncovered. Thanks again Bobbee!


William Smith
Posted April 2, 2013 - 7:14am

These older recent ads and articles we are finding are GREAT!  Bobbee you rock on the newspaper search front!!  We get closer all the time, and probably will only be "close" in the end.  

Posted April 2, 2013 - 7:24am

You're welcome Stephen.

Maybe this will result in other people looking for more information on the Lone Eagle story, if anyone requires any help with searches, I will be only too happy to offer assistance.

Posted April 2, 2013 - 7:37am

Question: is Mr Taub saying that the company made $7.3 million from the sale of the CC LE or total sales up until that point in 1930 of all LE watches sold?

$7,300,000 / $50 = 146,000 watches!

The 1929-1930 Series where also massive sellers, bigger than the CLE if you consider how many of then we see for sale, These sold for $37.50 so....

Lets say Bulova hyperthetically sold 30,000 CCLEs @ $50 each = $1,500,000

That would mean they sold $5,800,000 worth of the Series II LEs @ $37.50 a pop = 154,666 watches.

Hyperthetically speaking of course as we have no sales records to date which is a real shame.

Posted April 2, 2013 - 8:22am

If you read my original post, you would see I already mentioned this.

He is stating that they made $7.3 million from the sale of just the one model, presumably the LE as that is the one being talked about in his (MR. Taub's) address, in which he also states that orders for 30,000 were taken for the CCLE, = $750,000, in todays money that is around $9,750,000.

$7,300,000 in today's money = $95,000,000. But it's hypothetical as you say.

Posted April 2, 2013 - 10:58pm

In reply to by bobbee

Bobbee, my question is relating to the LE model but during the period that he is talking about (1927 - 1930) there were two variants, the CC or corner cut model and the tonneau model. There is no way the $7.3 million figure relates to just the CC LE, and its a stretch to even think it relates to all LE models sold between 1927 and 1930. So the question still remains, where did that figure come from and what did it really relate to?

Posted April 2, 2013 - 11:58pm

In reply to by mybulova_admin

Again, in the newspaper article Mr. Taub clearly states that $7.3million was earned in two years eleven months from the sale of one model alone, and as the talk is about the LE at this point this will be the model, at this point in time only two versions has been released, so we can safely say both of these versions will be included in the accrued earnings. Wether the earnings are net or gross, who knows?
You would think a Bulova exec. would know their own company figures, and as this article is contemporary with the statement, unlike Mr. Ballards fifty year old reminiscences, I should think the figures are accurate. Why make a public statement like that, for the IRS to see, unless you have already paid your taxes?
On the 1977 Ballard article, if we think he is mistaken about any part of the statement, like the sale of LE's within three days, the whole statement must be regarded with suspicion.

Posted April 2, 2013 - 10:58am

About the enamelled design seen on the Conqueror and Lone Eagle.

We see it on these models dating back to 1925, but the "original" design, seen only in the adverts, has only been seen once in this site, and that is on a solid gold Conqueror.

There is your explanation right there, it was only used on solid gold Conquerors, and the commonly seen design is used on both the gold plated Conqueror and Lone Eagle.


William Smith
Posted April 2, 2013 - 3:34pm

In reply to by bobbee

That certainly could explain it.  Only on solid gold.  Simple too.  I like simple. It's a good rule of thumb. At first my parsimony statement I just made sounds in conflict to my diatribe about a possible marketing discussion, but the possible discussion is an idea or suggested possibility, so it doesn't have to be parsimonious as such. 

Posted April 3, 2013 - 12:41am

I tried to edit my earlier post concerning the CCLE sales and monies earned, but the edit facility is no longer available on that post, so I will put the revised figures here.
Mr. Taub says 30,000 Lone Eagles were ordered within 48 hours of CAL landing in France on May 21, for a total of $1.5 million, yet does not mention 5,000 sold, as how could they be sold as Lone Eagles if Bulova did not name them the Lone Eagle until JUNE 13, and registered the name on June 17?
This changes the figure from the original 5,000, to the original 30,000, and revisions need to be made to research.

William Smith
Posted April 3, 2013 - 1:34am

Bobby you're getting the date of first use in registered trademark filing confused with the first time they decided to call them Lone Eagles. These can be 2 different dates. to be able to claim first use date in the trademark paperwork Bulova (or any other catagory 27 company filing for a registered first use date) had to have a certain number of products already stamped with the name on it. There were other legal requirements they had to have (past tence) done related to "use" which took some time. The date they decided to call them Lone Eagles could not have coincided with first use filing date based on these legal requirements. Its not the date they came up with the name.

Posted April 3, 2013 - 2:16am

I am not confused.
Bulova did not come up with the name, it was first used by the press, and the earliest use I can find, using a search engine that is currently the biggest newspaper search engine in the world, is MAY 21, 1927, the day CAL landed in france.
Please tell me how, in the first 48 hours, Bulova can print, distribute, and release ANY amount of note, of Lone Eagle cased watches?
Executive decisions have to be made to name the watch POST flight, then orders have to be made for printing the satin liners for the cases (this is assuming they already have the cases ready) with the design, which also needed designing, and fitting
So don't give me any "category 27 files", LOL, as it is logistically impossible to accomplish such a task in 48 hours, unless they got Santa Claus and his elves
to do it!
(Or Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy!)

Posted April 3, 2013 - 2:29am

In reply to by bobbee

Duplicate, please remove.

EDIT by Will Smith:  The comment can't be deleted because all "children" or comments nested under this one would be deleted too :) 

Posted April 3, 2013 - 2:27am

In reply to by bobbee

Please take into account that this is 1927, when there were no computer printers, or near instantanious deliveries.
The fastest thing at the time did about 150 mph, and had Lindbergh sitting in it!

Posted April 3, 2013 - 4:43am

In reply to by bobbee

The fastest man-made thing at the time was probably the telegram, which Bulova heavily used during this period. Getting the word out to jewelers and wholesellers around the country would not have been that hard.

Read this article: http://www.articles3k.com/article/871/246591/Watch_Makers_Use_Mass_Comm… and the section relating to Bulova.

We are talking about orders here only and not actually making or shipping a product. From what we can see below the first time the watch was probably available to the 'public' was 17 June 1927, 3 weeks after the landing. So if anyone believes that a company, any company, can manufacture swiss made watches in that period from scratch, I'd doubt your belief and any factural evidence supporting that belief. Logic (may not be fact) dictates that Bulova had these watch already manufactured and ready to go prior to the flight. They may not have been called the "Lone Eagle" until the 13th of June. All a jeweler is going to be concerned with is that its the 'same watch as worn by Charles A Lindbergh oon his historic flight'. Regardless of name its going to be a big seller and there was money to be made.

 Note that on the 17th of June they had the box and letter sold with the watch.

Bulova Lone Eagle Timeline

11 June 1927
Lindbergh returns to the US

11 June 1927
Lindbergh presented with a Bulova watch

13 June 1927
"Lone Eagle" first used by Bulova

17 June 1927
The term "Lone Eagle" trademark for watches filed by Bulova

17 June 1927
First advert by Castle NY to sell the LE with box and letter
(sometime prior to this date CAL sent Bulova letter of appreciation)

19 June 1927
Drake advert with box and letter

27 June 1927
Huff's Jewelry store advert "watch presented to..."

2 July 1927
Last Saturday Evening Post advert to show the Conqueror

3 July 1927
Milwaukee Sentinel advert with letter and box

15 July 1927
H.A Tibbals advert "replica of the watch worn by...."

27 August 1927
First Saturday Evening Post advert to feature the LE

October 1927
First advert showing the presentation box (factory set)


William Smith
Posted April 3, 2013 - 4:35am

Bobbee  I know Bulova didn't come up with the name. LOL  I meant the date they decided to use that name for the watch. I thought that was obvious based on my myrid posts on the subject over the last five years.

I also agree with most of what you said in the reply.  We are saying the same thing on most points.  The confusion may be on my part.  The way I've read a couple of your comments makes me think your saying Bulova didn't decide to name the watch Lone Eagle until that date of first use based on trademark filings.  Maybe I'm wrong on that assumption.  You said below, in bold:

"Mr. Taub says 30,000 Lone Eagles were ordered within 48 hours of CAL landing in France on May 21, for a total of $1.5 million, yet does not mention 5,000 sold, as how could they be sold as Lone Eagles if Bulova did not name them the Lone Eagle until JUNE 13, and registered the name on June 17?"

Of course the first watches didn't say Lone Eagle on the boxes or paperwork, or anywhere else on these "dedication watches", it took time to print/stamp that stuff on their product. Quite possibly until June 13th, when they met the requirements to claim first use in trademark.

I am saying the date of first use listed in the trademark filling requires the company to have already used the name on their products to some degree- demonstrating reasonble production efforts- with some production numbers indicating they didn't simply take the equalivent of a magic marker in 1927 adn scribble "lone eagle" on the side of a cardboard box and then claim "first use".  It took some time and effort before they could meet those trademakr first use date requirements.  They had to "tool up and use it in a production manner" first.  Someone more familiar with trademark law of the period may know the specifics.  I've read them in the trademark documents- not the ones we use on site, but I go in and read the footnotes on these things and look up those references when I dont' understand some details.  I was wrong calling it "catagory 27", as I think this relates to the class of watches and watch parts for patent, not trademark.   I don't remember what the class or catagory # was for watch model names/boxes etc  for trademarks, but I do remember there were lots of things a company had to do to establish that "date of first use".  
Bulova could have decided to name them Lone Eagle any time after the phrase was used during his flight.  I think it was a radio anouncer who first said "up there in the sky, like a Lone Eagle" or close to that, and the press picked up on that radio-broadcast comment right away-maybe your earliest published record reflects the origin being a radio announcer, but I dont recall if that article cites the radio announcer or not.  Stephen or Lisa can probably find the article right away, but I'm not searching my hard drive for it.  Bulova could have decided to name them Lone Eagle on May 21st, and they could have told dealers placing orderes over the phone the dedication watch will be called the lone eagle, but even that wasn't necessary for very early orders.  Bulova could have simply referred to it as "the dedication watch" while the name got around via phone and radio.   

The confusion: I thought you were saying Bulova didn't know what they would call it until that first date of use. Bulova was calling the model Lone Eagle "long" before June 13.  They could not have met the requirements for date of first use without doing so.  Maybe that's what your saying too. 

Posted April 3, 2013 - 7:05am

For the record I love conversations like this. Thanks Will and Bobbee for taking the time and interest to be engaging. From what we discuss here I promise that we will solve yet another piece of the puzzle. I go to bed at night thinking about the comments made and the possibilities of how these events unfolded.

This is fun!

Posted April 3, 2013 - 2:22pm

In reply to by mybulova_admin


  It is fun Stephen, so let's have some more!

                            Will's Boardroom Scenario, Bulova Watch Co. circa 1926.


"Our marketing team has estimated potential returns on a dedication watch honoring the first solo trans-Atlantic flight. We believe this feat will be accomplished soon.  It could be a very profitable marketing strategy.  We also have a watch model that's not currently selling very well.  We have quite a few laying around in surplus.  We can discontinue sales/marketing for this watch, while producing a few more.  This will give us a larger surplus or supply when needed. This also saves retooling expenses to produce an entirely new model based on this speculation.

We believe we can rebadge this older watch and sell it under some yet-to-be-determined marketing phrase or model name associated with whom ever is the first to complete the flight.  We will want to have these ready for immediate shipment to jewelers as soon as the successful flight is completed.  The model name will be determined at or near the time of flight completion, so this first set of dedication watches will not have a model name stamped on their display boxes, but we can add that name to future releases of the model.

In anticipation of the successful event, we can begin a relationship with some of the present-day aviators who are in the competition to complete the first flight. We can offer them some type of financial sponsorship towards their attempts. We can also give them a Bulova watch along with this finincial sponsorship.  This would help us negotiate contractual sponsorship of our product with the person who first completes the flight."


                               My Boardroom Scenario, Bulova Watch Co. circa 1926.


  Enter Arde Bulova, all the other Execs are already seated.

  "Good Morning boys, I had a great idea about that Conqueror watch we make, you know, the one we can't shift?"

(mutter, mutter, geezum crow, not that old chestnut...money down the drain that one....didn't the guy who designed it jump out the...why does he have a crystal ball in his hand?...)

"Well, you know how Orteig have a prize fund for the first flight across the Atlantic, the one that no-one has claimed in the past five years, I think if we give every flier who attempts it a copy of that watch, make more and more of them until we have 5,000 or more, send them to our dealerships to sit around their storerooms gathering dust, cross our fingers and hope someone crosses soon, then we name the watch after them, then we're Rich boys, Rich!"

 (Wha?.....aren't Elgin recruiting?....oh no, he got the key to the drinks cabinet again......quick, give me a hand....)

"What are you..get off me...Put Me Down!! No, No, not the window!!  AAAAARRRRRRGGHH!!"






Posted April 3, 2013 - 5:37pm

Never a truer word was spoken :-)

Now you're starting to think outside the box. You just never know how right or wrong you are, but its all part of the fun to speculate what was happening during this amazing period at Bulova HQ and that great summary may well be yet another basis for us discovering some factual truth.

Thanks Bobbee.

Posted April 5, 2013 - 10:39am

In reply to by mybulova_admin

 Thanks, I think.

It looks like you can make it up! :^D

 I see you have re-written the LE story, but say there are only four LE models confirmed, then you  feature five when there are actually six models. Why miss this one out?





Posted April 6, 2013 - 4:13pm

In reply to by bobbee

So I don't know that that means?  Are you saying because of the omition of the above ad for what ever reason, that Steve is making things up?

Being funny or snotty?  Which is it?

William Smith
Posted April 6, 2013 - 4:22pm

In reply to by plainsmen

Plains...I think Bobbee was saying one could make up the possible 1926/1927 Bulova conference roundtable discussions stuff. I don't think he was referring to the evolving Lone Eagle story....but I've been wrong before :)

Posted June 2, 2014 - 12:03pm

In reply to by plainsmen

I see my original reply to this post was removed, even though it contained nothing inflammatory.

I merely wanted to know why an obviously genuine find had been left out.

William Smith
Posted April 6, 2013 - 4:19pm

In reply to by bobbee

Bobbee and all.  I think Admin is updating/editing the story in "real time", so he's publishing his edits/updates as he goes along. I believe it's a work in progress, and i bet it changes over the next days/weeks as his schedule allows.  It's great we have the oppurtunity to help with these edits/updates, both with our past comments/research, and this "real time" discussion of the story... Since the story will most likely be evolving, we'll probably see additions/edits in coming days/weeks.  

Reverend Rob
Posted April 6, 2013 - 2:54pm

Just a technical side note, Registering a trademark does not carve it in stone. If it can be shown that the name was in use prior to the trademarking by someone else, your trademark is worthless. I know this because I just tried to trademark some names under my company. Bulova is lucky they managed to hold onto the name at all. 

Now this was 1927, so I haven't been able to trace any differences in copyright and trademark law that would specifically relate to this scenario...

Posted April 6, 2013 - 4:46pm


So according to the "first 5,000 theory", a 10AN movement that is dated to 1926 and has a movement serial number starting with 22XXXX will belong to a CCLE from the first 5,000.

This 1929 Governor has a movement SN of 222365, which would put it just before, or very early in the number range, but it has a date stamp for 1927.

The full thread is here:-  http://www.mybulova.com/node/3772

Stephen made a  comment that it is very near the beginning of the LE 5000 series, but the movement post dates the theoretical series.

How can this be explained with facts, as how can an earlier movement serial number be younger, when it should be older, if the theory is based in fact?

Weren't the movements made and stamped in Switzerland, and sent to the US to be put in watch cases?

EDIT:- Found this 10AN that has an earlier SN, but a 1927 square datestamp.http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1927-unknown-1489

Another 1927 10AN that has an earlier SN:-http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1927-ambassador-4799

Another 1927 10AN with earlier SN that starts with 22:-http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1927-treasurer-3132

Here is a 1928 case CCLE, with a 10AN serial 225XXX that falls within the theoretical 5000, lots of theorising in this thread about the Case SN being incorrect, but the owner got back to Will, confirming the case SN as starting with an 8, and thus putting one of the famous first 5000 that were sold, or ordered, within the first three days, as being sold, in a CCLE case, at least SIX MONTHS after the flight!:-http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1927-Lone-Eagle-379

I checked all 10AN movements in the DB between 1927 and 1928, and the movement serial numbers for 10AN's stamped with the crescent moon for 1928 alone spanned from 30XXXX, to 83XXXX, and were mixed between watch models, none being indicative of watch type.

This spans a potential 530,000 movements, if the case SN theory is to be believed.

Over half a million 10 AN's in one year. And that is only from a handful of watches in the DB.

No way Bulova made that many 10AN 's in one year.

William Smith
Posted April 6, 2013 - 4:58pm

For other watch companies, I know a "range" of serial numbers are alloted for a particular run.  That "run" may not complete all the movements within that range.  This is pretty much the SOP for companies producing more than one product, and even moreso, when they are producing multiple products simultaneously.  Waltham often assigned a range of 2000 SN's to runs, and it was not uncommon that 800 to 1200 of the possible 2000 movements were produced.  The "books" exist to indicate how these Waltham SN's were assigned to runs, and they needed to be sure they didn't have any "overlap", so there were often gaps in SN's for which both no watch existed AND these SN range were never "assigned to any run".  
I'm sure similar SN assignment range procedures were followed by Bulova, we just don't have the books to see this.  So the half million number is the max possible based on Bobbee's comments above. It's a good starting number, but there coulda been a range of SN's within this which were assigned and used on other caliber.  As the watch database grows, and since it includes both "movement model" and SN, we may be able to tease out some of these patters (SN ranges by movement type and year).

Posted April 6, 2013 - 5:06pm

You cannot compare Waltham movement serial numbers to Bulova, as Walthams are very precise, the same as Elgin, and are used to date the movement.

You cannot do that with Bulova, as there is no proof or indication that movement SN's were used that way, in fact if you look at movement SN's in lots of different years, you will see close numbers crossing every which way, and indicates it would be just about impossible for the movement SN to be used to date a movement.

William Smith
Posted April 7, 2013 - 12:12am

Bobbee  For what I was pointing out, we can compare the use of serial number by Bulova and Waltham.  The comparison  works nicely.  Or we could use Hamilton movement serial number, or Elgin, PP, or any other watch mass produced.

Or we could use Schwinn bicycle serial numbers, or Zeiss optical lenses, or Lica cameras, or altimeters made by the same company. Tires manufactured by Firestone, etc....or any ohter company which has some subset of similar products which use SN's.  

I am agreeing there's no way a half million 10AN's were produced that year.  However, this doesn't exclude the possibility of a sequential serial number range occuring within some subset of Bulova 10AN movements made.    

I wasn't necessarily referring to 5000 or 30k sequential SN's, but to a general use of serial numbers.  Either one of those two number could be apply though.  

These companies "assign" a range of SN's to producton runs.  These "runs" can occur at different factories, or different floors in a factory, or different machines on the floor, different subcontractors etc...  This has to be done so the numbers are not used more than once.   Some of these runs don't end up making a unit for each SN in the assigned range.  


Posted April 7, 2013 - 3:40am

Not sure how many times I have stated this before, but I'll say it again.

My research over the last 7 years has found that all the CC Lone Eagles which I have examined (case, dail, hands and movement) and as such believe to form part of the original 5000 group have a movement serial number range from 225751 to 228227.

The cases I believe come from a large group and were also used with the Conqueror model.

If there is a 1927 stamped movement with a smaller serial number than that of the 26 movements I am not supriesed and have seen this alot when recording movement details over the last 7 years.

For example a series of 4AL movements have a serial number of 8844, 9614 and 9620, yet all date to 1930-31. Why? There has to be a reason. One we have yet to discover.

I agree with you 100% Bobbee in that the movement serial number range is sometimes all over the shop. I'm going to start and focus my efforts on trying to decrypt any possible meaning to the numbers similar to the case number which I believe probably still holds more info than just the year of manufacture. As Will suggests maybe both the movement and case serial numbers hold information about the factory or particular assembly line that built the movement/case. This would certainly help identify any issues with manufacturing equipment or QC work if a particular serial number range was prone to faults or breakages.