The Lone Eagle's Bulova Watch - Charles Lindbergh
In 1926 Ardé Bulova, the son of Joseph Bulova, offered a prize of $1,000 to the pilot/s who first succeeds in a nonstop flight across the Atlantic.
On June 11, 1927 upon his return to the US aboard the Memphis, the Bulova Watch Company presented Charles A. Lindbergh with a Bulova watch and the $1000 prize money for making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.
Lindbergh later wrote a letter to the Bulova Watch Company thanking them for the prize, stating that "The Bulova Wrist Watch, which it is my pleasure to wear, keeps accurate time and is a beauty."
The letter for Bulova no doubt catapulted sales of the now famous Bulova Lone Eagle Watch back in 1927 to the point were it (along side that of the Accutron Spaceview) is considered one of Bulova greatest watches.
The Bulova Lone Eagle watches of the late 1920s and 30s, which had 4 confirmed models and 6 variants, certainly became a prize possession of many during this period.
As a modern day owner of one of the original 1927 5000 Lone Eagle watches I became fascinated with its history, both known fact and theoretical guess work.
My inital investigations lead me to believe that the original "Corner Cut" model seen above which was derived from an ealier model, the Conqueror was the model presented to Lindbergh as mentioned in the above letter. For many years this theory held plausable and uncontested, until recently.
As time ticked by on my ever faithful 1927 Bulova Lone Eagle watch I hoped that one day through this site and with the help of others I'd be able to piece together the mystery of what made this watch so famous and popular.
On the 22nd April 2010 a large piece of the puzzle came my way in the form of an email from a gentleman by the name of Gordon Bell.
Gordon Bell is a 76 year old Texan, who back in the 1950s served in the US Army. Around 1948, at the age of 14 Gordon's great aunt bestode upon him a great treasure, a treasure that has lay hidden for 50+ years in a locker box.
Gordon Bells great aunt was married to one Richard Blythe, a Canadian World War I & II pilot who died serving his country in a Royal Canadian Air Force training accident in 1941. Shortly after Richards death his wife returned to Texas, were some years later she passed on to her 14 year old great nephew a now treasured family possession....a Bulova watch.
Along with the Bulova watch Gordon also received from his great aunt a book. The book is one of the most famous and widely sold books and has also endured the test of time as a popular read. The book was simply entitled 'WE', although what made this book particularly special was what was written inside.
A hand written message to Dick Blythe from Charles A. Lindbergh that reads "To Dick Blythe With best wishes Charles A, Lindbergh". This signed book is now in the safe keep of Gordon's son-in-law, one Major General Larry New (USAF retired) who was also an renowed F15 pilot.
Richard Blythe was not only a well renowed pilot but was also one half of a famous duo, Blythe and Bruno. Harry Bruno and Richard Blythe ran a public relations firm which was employed by the Wright Whirlwind Company that made the engine for the 'Spirit of St Louis' to assist Lindbergh with the press and public events, both in the lead up to the flight and afterwards. In fact it was Richard Blythe that sailed to Paris on the USS Memphis shortly after the famous flight to fetch Lindbergh back to the US. This photo shows Blythe standing off to the left of Lindbergh aboard the US Memphis upon his return to Washington on June 11, 1927.
Over the next decade or so both Richard and Charles remained close friends. It was this friendship that brings us this story today and the watch and book that was given to a young 14 year old Gordon Bell back in 1948.
This photo shows Richard Blythe with Charles and another shows a signed autograph photo of Lindbergh to both Dick and Harry. Full images can be found on the Wisconsin Historic Society's website.
How it was that Richard Blythe (Gordon Bell's great aunt's husband) came into possession of this watch is not exactly known, but from the friendship that existed between both Charles and Richard one might assume that it was simply a gift. Thankfully the forsight of a 14 year old boy now sees that the watch has survived some 83 years and reminds us of this great event and friendship. When Gordon received the watch from his great aunt it was well worn, missing the crystal, a hand and the crown. It has since been fixed by a local jeweler, although sadly with the wrong hands.
However, what makes this watch a truely amazing and historic timepiece (well in my opinion it does) is what is engraved on the back case.
myBulova.com is both pleased and honoured to present to you the 1927 Bulova watch, as presented to Charles A. Lindbergh by Ardé Bulova for the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.
You can also read more about the Bulova Lone Eagle watch here.
Many thanks to the owner of the watch Gordon Bell and to David Garren for the photos.