85% of Bulova Employees Are Women

02/18/2013 16:47

Now that I have your attention, I want to share with you a bit of history.  While perusing newspaper ads from the 1940s today, I came across this article about some of Bulova's activities during World War II.  It's a wonderful story--like so many others--about how intelligent, hard-working women did whatever needed to be done to support the war effort and were highly successful in those endeavors.  This is also a story about Bulova's patriotism, innovative spirit, technical expertise, forward vision, and flexibility. 


I've included the article in it's entirety below, but the low resolution makes it a bit difficult to read.  Therefore, I also transcribed the text in full below the image.


I hope you enjoy this look back into Bulova's past--and another great women's success story--as much as I did.


Published in the Greenville Delta Democrat, November 28, 1943


Here's the text transcribed:


Greenville Delta Democrat, November 28, 1943


THE JEWEL BEARING INDUSTRY was pioneered in this country by the Bulova Watch Company.  Here, in this new Bulova plant, these tiny white sapphires are cut, ground and polished in Jewel Bearings for precision war instruments.  Today, these Jewels are the most valuable in America—for without them no plane could fly and no battleship could navigate!


New York, N.Y. – The transition of the Bulova Watch Company from fine watch manufacturing to outstanding records in the production of precision war instruments has been accomplished in a little less than two years.  All Bulova Watch Company plants have now been completely turned over to the production of war material.




305 Bulova employees are now in the armed forces, and, as a result, more women have been trained in precision instrument work.  Now, 85% of the employees are women.  The age brackets generally are between 17 and 35, since it has been found that good eyes are required for this type of precision work.


The tests given to employees at the Bulova training school are very simple, yet indicate to the instructor the dexterity of the new employee.  These tests also indicate whether an employee is best fitted to operate a machine or perform the important work of inspection.


Because of the skill and craftsmanship required there isn’t much of factory atmosphere in Bulova plants.  A beautifully landscaped park surrounded with rustic benches provides a gathering place for the girls.  Two recreation halls are available—one the “Victory Chalet,” which is designed as a meeting place and also for parties, dances, etc, the other a new cafeteria which has just been completed.




One of the outstanding records Bulova has established is in the production of jewel bearings for precision war instruments.  A few years ago, no jewels were produced in America.  Today, Bulova is turning them out by the thousands!  The Bulova Watch Company realized we would be dependent on Switzerland for jewel bearings in the event of war.  This company, therefore, developed the furnaces in which synthetic sapphires are made and now produce this material in large quantities in a new plant on Long Island.  In these furnaces, synthetic sapphires are created by fusing aluminum oxide under the terrific heat of 3600 degrees Fahrenheit . . . the same process nature used in making her sapphires and rubies—by fusing the aluminum oxide in her own furnaces—the volcanoes.




Jewel bearings are essential to America’s precision war instruments.  Without these jewels, no bomber could fly—no battleship could navigate—this war could not be won.  These jewels, flawless white sapphires, are synthetically made.  Each one is cut, ground and polished on machines pioneered by Bulova—an intricate job requiring the utmost in high-precision craftsmanship.


Bulova also manufactured hundreds of machines for making jewels and turned these machines over to other countries now engaged in making jewel bearings.




Many precision instruments are now being produced in ever increasing quantities by the Bulova Watch Company for the Ordnance Department and the United States Army Air Forces.  These instruments include telescopes, rate-of-climb indicators, altimeters, navigation watches and clocks, conoscopes and other war material.


The parts of an altimeter must be accurate to one ten-thousandth of an inch, and every altimeter is tested in specially constructed chambers which simulate climate and pressure conditions of twenty thousand feet altitude.


The navigation watches, made for the Army Air Force, must survive severe tests.  They are baked in an oven for hours, chilled in a refrigerator for hours and submerged in watch under pounds of pressure.  And even under these conditions, these Bulova watches keep accurate time.


The small precision navigation clocks are vitally needed by the Army Air Forces, helping to synchronize operation and making possible navigation of United States Army planes.




Telescopes, now being manufactured by Bulova, are used as sights on 75 millimeter tank guns.  They are made to microscopically exact standards by precision, and are assembled in air-conditioned, dust-free rooms.  Although engaged in production of these instruments for only a few months, Bulova is already exceeding its quota!  Each telescope is carefully inspected and put through rigid tests.  They must be sturdy and perfect in every detail for no gun is any better than its sighting equipment.


The rate-of-climb indicator is another essential precision instrument now being manufactured by Bulova for the Army Air Corps.  As its name indicates, this instrument shows the rate at which a plan ascends or descends.  Here, too, precision and accuracy are essential.


Bulova is the type of company doing an outstanding job in the production of war material.