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I've been fascinated by the history behind the Bulova Lone Eagle and I’ve learnt a fair bit about the Bulova Lone Eagle watches over the years. This particular series of watches still has my focus and its almost become like finding the ‘Holy Grail’ for actual real information about the first 5000 release and subsequent releases.
Unfortunately Bulova themselves are of no help. I’m not sure their records from the 1920s still exist as they never seem to offer any help when questioned.
From the pieces of information I’ve managed to fit together I think the following happened. (this is all just a theory and would love to find actual evidence)
Pre 1927, Bulova had a particular watch style known as the ‘Conqueror’, a corner-cut, enamel inlay model similar to the first edition Lone Eagle series. I have many low-resolution ads from eBay showing the watch but am not able to really see the description or the fine detail of the corner enamel inlays. A theory I have is that the pattern in the corners varied slightly, but really need to see a good picture of a ‘Conqueror’ to verify this.
The two good 1927 ads that I do have featuring the corner-cut Lone Eagle show a different design than that of all the Lone Eagles I’ve seen on eBay and differs from that shown in the watch price guide book.
18K Corner Cut Design – This is the Lone Eagle design from the two 1927 ads.
14K Corner Cut Design – This is the common design as seen on all popular Lone Eagle sales and literature.
The theory goes that pre Lindbergh’s flight the Conqueror (with the top design) was presented to Charles as a gift from Bulova. A fitting watch with a fitting name. The 1927 ads that can be found did not bother to change the design used by the Conqueror, but when Bulova realised that they could market this watch with the possible success of Lindbergh's historic flight they may have decided to vary the actual design to resemble that of a Art Deco style eagles head (the bottom design). The watch was then released and sold as the same watch as presented and worn by Charles A. Lindbergh. The same looking watch but with the new design depicting an eagles head. Bulova were great marketers.
Again this is just a theory and would love to be proven either wrong or right.
The back case markings of the first releases of the corner-cut Lone Eagles were all stamped with the Pat date of Jun 10 1924, were as later releases (post August 1927) were stamped with the more common Pat date of Jan 11 1927.
Pre August 1927
Post August 1927
Trying to find any evidence of the actual May 1927 marketing release is like trying to finding a needle in a million haystacks. I doubt there still exists any but the search has become my ‘Holy Grail’
If you believe Bulova’s version of history, once the original 5000 sold out in just three days they went on to sell more of this corner-cut design throughout the remainder of 1927 and into 1928. However at some point in late 1927 they changed the dial and hands to use a closed 9 instead of an open 9 and cathedral hands instead of the spade style hands. The cathederal hands became a common feature in most 1928/29 and 30's Bulova mens watches.
I’ve complied a small database of 1920 and 30s Bulova watch serial numbers and have yet to see any real pattern to match a year of release. It would seem that they used old movements with new designs as they were made. I’ll hopefully be able to release this once I’ve compiled enough data to make it worth while.
From 1929 onwards a number of other models were release.
The 1929 Lone Eagle - tonneau shaped model
The 1930 Lone Eagle - stepped model
The 1932 Lone Eagle - stepped model
The 1930 Sky King model
There have been two box releases that I have found for this watch.
The 1927 Corner-cut release
The 1929/1930 Tonneau release
I haven't seen or come across any other Bulova cases for the Lone Eagle Series. The Sky King does have its own but I know of only two types for the actual Lone Eagle models. Both boxes clearly indicate on the inside that the watch is dedicated in honour to Charles A Linbergh.
As I discover more about this series of watches I'll post here. You can view a number of Lone Eagle and other Bulova watches on the myBulova.com website and I invite all Bulova watch ownes to add their watch to the site as a reference for future collectors.
I invite everyone who reads this article to let me know if they have a different point of view and especially if they have some evidence of the real story behind this wonderful watch and in particular the release and marketing of the original 5000 Bulova Lone Eagles.
09-21-2007 11:07 AM
09-23-2007 04:50 PM
04-21-2008 12:43 PM
04-21-2008 10:22 PM
04-24-2008 07:31 PM
11-14-2009 07:05 AM
06-18-2012 09:53 AM
I wanna see!
Please send pics to me email@example.com
Ummm... Charlie posted that over 2½ years ago; I think you're going to need to email him directly at that address he gave (above)...
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