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Evidence that the early numbered Bulovas were of the Lady/Hudson Maxim w/watch line


  The idea that the early Bulova wrist watches belonged to the Lady/Hudson Maxim lines is not a new one, it has been discussed on this and other sites for quite some time.

Until recently, this has stayed in the "ideas" department, as there was little proof to back it up.

With the finding of actual Lady/Hudson Maxim adverts dating from mid-1921 right up until 1924, we have a basis for some debate and some of the ads even back up the above "idea".

After finding the below clip in an advert from the "Amarillo Daily News" of 14/12/1922, we have an image of a Bulova "150", and this has the words "Lady Maxim" on the dial.


"Not much in the way of proof" you might think, but other recent finds have turned up, and along with these we have older finds that correlate to give us some idea of what Bulova was doing regarding the naming and designating of these early Bulova watches.


The first of the Bulova watches we can find in adverts with any real identity are the "Rubaiyats" several of which have been  found in adverts from September 1919, until early 1921.

These consisted of only four style found so far, in round and octagonal, and engraved or unengraved.




In May of 1921, we see for the first time an advert for the "Hudson Maxim" watches, and the "Ladys Hudson Maxim" (these are probably the first of the Lady Maxims, yet to be named as such).




These ladies watches are poorly reproduced in this ad, but still recognizable models of which we have examples in the watch and ads databases.

These early adverts give us a clue to the development of the Bulova watches, and the models.

Above we see the first advert for the Maxim line, and below we see another early September 1921 advert that shows an octagonal engraved LM.



Another with an engraved octagonal LM, this one from December 1921.




  Now see this October 1921 ad, where it says "round or octagon case"? This suggests these are the only shapes available at this time.

Also so far, we have found only engraved  models in these two shapes definitely identified as the Lady Maxim.



November of 1921, we see new shapes appearing for the first time in the adverts, a lozenge and a hexagon alongside the usual round and octagon. No examples have been found in either of these new shapes definitely ID'd as LM's as yet.





Now we move into March of 1922, with yet another new shape, the cushion LM.




June 1st.1922, the Tonneau.




This shows us that from May until November of 1921, the Lady Maxim line appears to be "using up" existing remnants of the old "Rubaiyat" line of round and octagon watches, after which we start to see a couple of other shapes alongside these older ones. In early 1922 we see a couple of new shapes appear, and these are familiar to us as "numbered" Bulova models from the Saturday Evening Post and other publications.


Now we come to September of 1922, and this is the first ever viewing of the naked dancing lady logo we all know and love.

Although the painting was first mentioned in the September issue of the Jeweler's Circular, it was not until the October 4th. issue that we see the actual photos of the watercolour painting "TIME".

Commisioned by Bulova for the princely sum of $3,000, the famous artist Clarence Coles Phillips painted this beautiful and now famous picture. Below is a link to more information, and examples of his work.,c.htm


Here is the Jewelers' Circular September article and October photograph.



Here is the first S.E.Post advert with an actual copy of the painting from October 28th. 1922:




By the way, as more evidence, compare the legend in the top left of the above advert, and compare it to many of the LM adverts like the one below that the dancing lady is standing on.

It is the same one, "The Most Beautiful Watch In The World".

Compelling, isn't it?





  I have gone into the history of this logo for a good reason; because it is also seen in this Lady Maxim advert in November 11 of 1922!


The model seen in this ad is also known as a "numbered" model too in the regular Bulova ads.


Concerning the "regular" Bulova ads, we see that these ads seem to conform to a regular image, and would appear to be all produced by Bulova, as we have seen in other forums in extensive debates.


 Now, we also see at this time as mentioned already many adverts that do not say in so many words that the watches are Lady/Hudson Maxim watches, but several mention at the bottom "Makers of the famous Lady/Hudson Maxim and Rubaiyat watches".

We also have many more Lady/Hudson Maxim adverts, both here on myBulova, and at Watchophilia.

Some of these adverts are remarkably alike, and indeed some use the exact same image/advert, with only the words "Lady Maxim" swapped for "Bulova", and the company "spiel" being slightly different as in these two examples below. We can also see that the surround for the advert is identical, showing that these are in fact mat images from Bulova.

Notice how the bottom ad has the word "Bulova" inserted between the words "17 jewel" and "movement" beneath each model?

See how the dancing lady logo is standing on a banner containing the legend "LADY MAXIM, 'most beautiful watch in the world" in the top LM advert, yet in the second "numbered" ad she is standing on a banner with the words; "BULOVA WATCHES, 'as serviceable as they are beautiful"?

December 13th, 1922 LM ad.

Above, December 7th. 1922 ad.

See the similarities and slight differences? The LM ad was also posted in the newspapers after the bottom one!

The prices are the same too.

This is because these watches are one and the same. Lady Maxims.

Bulova may have been "dipping a toe" in the wrist watch world, by not using the company name in their earlier ads, so as to be able to stop advertising these new watches if their popularity waned, and people went back to the old standby pocket and chatelaine watches. The company would not have come under fire in the press for making these wrist and wristlet watches, because don't forget, the wearers of these had been constantly ridiculed in public, and in the papers. Cartoons, poems, articles and even the law had been against the wearing of wrist watches, one high court judge even going so far as to ask to see lawyers' and jury members' service records, as he believed only members of the military should wear them!

Upon the realisation that wrist watches were indeed "The Future", Bulova starts to use it's own name in advertising, even going so far as to put  the revelatory message in several early ads "makers of the famous HUDSON/LADY MAXIM and RUBAIYAT watches", just to let the public at large know that Bulova were actually the manufacturers.

We see this transitional period in the above October 4th. Jeweler's Circular article, as Bulova used the new Coles Phillips painting in  "the big national advertising campaign that Bulova has scheduled for this Fall and Winter". From this period, we start to see the numbered models, as popularity rises and Bulovas sales escalate.

More ads that show similarities.

1922 ad.


1923 ad.


1924 ad.




Now do you see where I am going?

All these Lady Maxim ads show that the exact same watches are being sold as numbered models, but are in fact exactly the same cases and designs, advertised at the same time as each other in magazines and newspapers, until at least 1924 for the LM ads, and  the same for the "numbered" watch ads, after which we start to see these same watches being individually named late December 1924, although at least one advertiser used the "numbered" ads up until as late as 1926.



 October 1924 Numbered advert.




  Three December 1924 adverts with the same watches having individual names now.





From this we can see that at least until they were individually named, the two lines are in fact not two but one, the Lady Maxim.

To differentiate from each model, they have simply been given individual numbers, just as some time in the 1930's the watch models with names were given "variant" numbers and letters for the different designs within each model range.

From these later variant numbers and letters we can see that Bulova simply continued as they had started, using this as a way to differentiate between variants in different model lines, only in later years the model lines alone became vast.

From this we can possibly extrapolate that the early numbered men's watches would also come under the Maxim name, the Hudson Maxim. This is not definite of course, but the evidence is quite overwhelming in the instance of the Lady Maxims, but as we have no collaborating Hudson Maxim wrist watch adverts, only a few "trench" style watch examples with the Hudson Maxim name on the dial, this is simply a theory.


Please add  your comments either for or against, as this is still a fledgling theory after all, and I need all the help I can get!

Thanks, Bob.




Posted September 21, 2014 - 10:19pm

Very interesting and sounds reasonable bobbee.

bobbee's picture
Posted September 22, 2014 - 1:59am

Thanks my friend. :-)

Club 5000Panel Member
Posted September 22, 2014 - 2:52am

Good write up Bobbee. I think it's fair to say that this is no longer an idea as we certainly have enough evidence to paint a very plausible picture of how Bulova marketed and named their very early models as they exploded into the watch market. Exploded might be the wrong word, but they certainly became very popular very quickly.

My only comment to add is that I believe that most of the men's Hudson Maxim's during this period were pocket watches, with the first (and possibly only) men's Hudson Maxim wrist watch appertaining in 1922.

The wording used in their early advertising is very consistent as you say and this is something Bulova have always done well. Pitch the product in a certain way and keep that pitch going for years so it's entrenched in people's mind and becomes synonymous with the name Bulova.  Bulova did this time and time again... Excuse the pun.

A good example of this is the 'Graduation' pitch. This pitch was consistently used all the way through to the 1960s and for me is a really big factor into the overall success of Bulova.

They hit the female market early, aiming at both the young graduating girl and the mature modern lady. This capturing the female market place early on and maintaining it over the decades I honestly believe is what made Bulova so successful. Yes they made men watches, but so did everyone else. What set Bulova apart from the crowd back then and for decades to come was their marketing to the female market and every loving father and husband.

We can certainly see this in most of Bulova's early adverts...... it's all about the ladies :-)



bobbee's picture
Posted September 22, 2014 - 4:10am

Thanks Stephen, and yes, Bulova certainly pitched hard at the fairer sex, so to say!

The variation in models, including "budget" lines as well as those for the higher end of the market, shows just how switched on Bulova were, and certainly had their finger on the pulse of the public.

From what I can make out, it is Adolph Bulova (later to change his "public" name to Arde for obvious resons) who spearheaded this advertising, along with his second in command, J.H.Ballard. This was certainly the way to go, as future  records show, especially the H.H. Taub article of 1930, and some of the records and articles shown in this thread:


Certainly Bulova were not advertising men's wrist watches early in the game, as they were exceedingly cautious regarding these. Indeed, their rivals in the US watchmaking fraternity were not as cautious, I have found many ofthese early adverts from Elgin, Hamden, Illinois, Gruen, Ingersoll, Waltham and Hamilton, going back as early as 1912 for men's military style watches.

It is possible that Bulova made just a couple of early Hudson Maxim models, as we have seen examples of trench models, but did not advertise them as such. We may have them being advertised under yet another name, one I can't find yet!

The company timeline spiel says that Bulova released the first line of men's wrist watches in 1919, but this is hearsay. We certainly see no other models until 1922, maybe the "first line of men's wrist watches" are in fact these trench watches? Bulova have said that these first men's w/w's were a;

"complete line of men's jeweled wristwatches, advertised to the masses across America with an iconic visual style that matched its product".

What more "iconic visual style" the year after the First World War ended than the ubiquitous "Trench Watch"? We see no other ads as yet for anything other than these until 1922.

That is of course just my take on this statement.


Club 5000Panel Member
Posted September 22, 2014 - 4:43am


I think I may have said this before, but I'm 95% sure the original old Bulova website said that it was a new full line of ladies watches released in 1919. It looks to me that Bulova changed the wording when they updated their website.

bobbee's picture
Posted September 22, 2014 - 7:08am

mybulova_admin wrote:


I think I may have said this before, but I'm 95% sure the original old Bulova website said that it was a new full line of ladies watches released in 1919. It looks to me that Bulova changed the wording when they updated their website.


According to the earlier Bulova timeline that is still projected here on myBulova, this is what it said before:



During World War I, the convenience of wristwatches (as opposed to pocket watches) is discovered. In 1919 Bulova introduces the first full line of men's jeweled wristwatches."


The "official" party line, of course, and probably pure bull.

Club 5000Panel Member
Posted September 22, 2014 - 4:23am


Re-reading this again (it's amazing what you miss the first one thousand times) here is further proof of Bulova's 'explosion' into the market place.

The words '....big national advertising campaign....' and '....scheduled for Fall and Winter to be shown in full colour....' This gives us a timeline of October 1922 which is when we finally start to see the first real full page/mat advertising appear in publications such as the 'Saturday Evening Post'.


Early Bulova 1920s exhibition stand



bobbee's picture
Posted September 22, 2014 - 5:52am

mybulova_admin wrote:


Re-reading this again (it's amazing what you miss the first one thousand times) here is further proof of Bulova's 'explosion' into the market place.

The words '....big national advertising campaign....' and '....scheduled for Fall and Winter to be shown in full colour....' This gives us a timeline of October 1922 which is when we finally start to see the first real full page/mat advertising appear in publications such as the 'Saturday Evening Post'.


Early Bulova 1920s exhibition stand




Sorry Stephen, I should have mentioned earlier that I had edited my write up to mention this campaign.


William Smith's picture
William Smith
Club 5000Panel Member
Posted September 22, 2014 - 5:14am

Great writeup.  Nice to have all in one place and in good chronological and logical order.

bobbee's picture
Posted September 22, 2014 - 5:46am

Concerning the popularity (or revulsion) of the wrist watch at this time as mentioned above.

Here are a few articles concerning it.


January 1919, Boston Globe.




February 1921.




July 1921.



July 1921 continued, from above.



There are many, many more of such articles, I just show a few.

Hope you enjoy these, and now understand how much of an uproar the wrist watch caused.

bobbee's picture
Posted September 22, 2014 - 6:06am

Here is proof of the earliest wearing of "wristlets" by British Officers and Non-Coms, During the Hazara Campaign, 1888.

These were leather straps made to contain pocket watches, and were made from such things as sealskin and sometimes more exotic leathers.




Earliest advert for wristlet watches and ladies bracelet watches, these would have been Swiss imports probably. Strangely enough, this advert is from the US! Earlier by some four years than anything from Europe.

Date and source can be seen along the bottom.


bobbee's picture
Posted October 4, 2014 - 6:09am

Two poems, more evidence of public dislike of wrist watches, especially for men. Stopping short of calling them "effeminate", but implying this.


January 1914, pre-WW1.




1918 Stars & Stripes (Paris, France edition).


William Smith's picture
William Smith
Club 5000Panel Member
Posted October 4, 2014 - 11:10am

These guys probably went on to be what Rogers called the Laggards.

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Club 5000Panel Member
Posted March 5, 2015 - 4:55am

This is a great detailed summary which helps us with possible new ID's like this 1922 Lady Maxim 6513 - currnetly only ID'ed as a 1921 6714.  The new early case serial number patterns let us suggest 1922 (vs current 1921 date).  

Club 5000Panel Member
Posted May 28, 2015 - 7:13am

Both December 14 1922, showing variants of the Bulova Lady Maxim.

Bulova Lady Maxim 1922Bulova Lady Maxim 1922

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Club 5000Panel Member
Posted May 28, 2015 - 12:05pm

Can anyone make out the signature on the dial of the watch in left ad?

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Panel Member
Posted May 28, 2015 - 9:29pm

It would have been safe and smart to introduce and heavily market women's wristwatches, because if the trend suddenly stalled or reversed for the men, they would still have the women to sell them to. Despite all this back and forth about what was and was not a real man's watch, it is important to note that the Spanish soldiers had been wearing wristwatches as far back as 1885? I have to check this date, but their use predates the usual start point of WWI. 

bobbee's picture
Posted May 29, 2015 - 5:59am

Will, the image is the same one as posted at the top of this thread, and is 'Lady Maxim'. It gave the evidence for the whole thread, because it had a variant number.

Rob, that early photo is British soldiers from 1888. Here is an earlier one dated to between 1878 and 1880. That is dated by the photographer himself, and the source is the National Army Museum in London.

I have many such photos in my records, many of women wearing this style watch too, and own a genuine Boer War albumen photo, and a doughboy from WW1 wearing what appears to be a cushion case Waltham Khaki model, it has the same strap and shape seen in adverts.



1900, this is mine, the guy on the left seated and the one reclining both wear wristlet watches.