Bulova "Wig-Wag" 1933 automatic watch.

Submitted by bobbee on November 27, 2014 - 4:30am


  As mentioned here:  http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1927-unknown-6987?page=1

I recently watched an excellent Webinar hosted by the NAWCC guest wrist watch curator, Adam R. Harris.

In that Webinar, among the many interesting and unusual watches, this one especially caught my eye, and my full attention.



"Very unusual" you may think, and it is. This watch is wound automatically by the movement of the whole of the watch movement/dial inside the case! These slide up and down, thus winding the watch.

What is more unusual is the fact that it is actually a Bulova watch and movement, the dial has been refinished with an incorrect name!

Adam mentions this is so, and his regret in not buying it when he had the chance is also mentioned during his display.

What is further facinating is that this is not the only Bulova 1930's auto model he has seen, there is another that uses another unusual method of winding, almost exactly the same as the one in the below Webinar snippet. This one uses a "pendulum" system that moves side to side, and invented by Frey.


Amazing I think you will agree, and something to look out for!


References, photographs,  Adam Harris.


Reverend Rob
Posted December 2, 2014 - 8:23pm

How bizarre. I can only assume that the patent for the bumper was sewn up and held by Harwood, although they went bust in 1931.  Rolex bought a patent for a rotor winding watch in 1930, I believe. Rolex adverts credit Perrelet and Harwood for pioneering the technology, but the truth is, Perrelet was not the first, and Hubert Sarton was the inventor of the automatic winding function. I also remember reading somewhere that Le Roy also designed an auto wind function before Perrelet. Regardless, It appears that a variety of companies tried to come up with different ways for a watch to wind itself, and eventually the patents became public domain and everybody was making automatic watches. 

Bumper movts based on Harwood can be found in Midos early on, and these are manufactured by AS. 

I don't recognize that Bulova movt with the Bucherer dial, any idea what it is? 

Edit: Rolex did not even file the patent til 33 and was granted in 34. No ads exist before 1934 mentioning a 'perpetual' rotor winding watch. They stole the name 'Perpetual', as it was patented before by Harwood. I watched the Webinar, and I must say it was very good. We researched auto winding while we were still in school, and our efforts indicated that Sarton produced the first rotor, but prior to that, his designs were seen by Perrelet, who was inspired to make his own self winding watch. Rolex still prints ads and booklets of their history with incorrect information. 

Posted November 27, 2014 - 3:53pm


I don't see any mention of Bulova on the case or movement. How did Mr Harris determine that is a Bulova product?

Posted November 28, 2014 - 10:03am

Adam had the watch in hand six years ago, and mentions that it is made by Bulova, not Buchere, in the Webinar. The other one with the 'pendule' movement is just a movement that he has already found a case for.

Harwood started another company in 1931 utilizing very similar technology to that in his old watches. If you actually watch the Webinar, all info about the early automatics with ads, photos and patents is shown.

Posted November 28, 2014 - 10:24am

ob, Rolex actually claimed to invent the perpetual winding system for years, crediting Emil Borer.

Not until Harwood sued did they give recognition, and change their ads to show John Harwoods face, and published a public apology in the press.

Here is one of those early Swiss ads giving Harwood the recognition.



Reverend Rob
Posted November 28, 2014 - 10:29am

That's the ad  I was thinking of, Bob. I know Rolex wasn't and still isn't a company that is easy to get along with. 

Posted May 5, 2015 - 5:08am

In reply to by Reverend Rob

[quote=Reverend Rob]


That's the ad  I was thinking of, Bob. I know Rolex wasn't and still isn't a company that is easy to get along with. 



Did you notice the date that Rolex claim their patent was from? 1931.

They actually applied in 1932, granted in 1933. The patent number they claim as the correct one from 1931 is (I am told) actually for a hand winding movement!

Posted December 2, 2014 - 1:29pm

Here is an example of another style of Bulova self winding from the 1930's. This compresses the movement via a pin in the back with a "bellows" effect. The movement is signed Bulova, as is the dial.


Thanks to Paul (paleotime) for putting me onto this.




This same type of movement is mentioned in Adam's Webinar as being made by Wyler, but the watch in the link is signed Bulova. I am trying to get permission to use the photos here.

Reverend Rob
Posted December 2, 2014 - 8:24pm

Anyone who hasn't seen the Webinar, it is still available at Bob's link above, and well worth watching. 

Posted December 20, 2014 - 6:18pm

In reply to by bobbee

Saw it a couple of weeks ago, put in several bids.

Didn't even come close to the final bid price!!

I think that the $720 final would be closer to a fully serviced and running piece.

Posted December 20, 2014 - 6:08pm

That is THREE different styles of previously unknown/unseen 1930's Bulova automatic watch.

What next?

Posted December 20, 2014 - 6:40pm

Someone tried to buy it for ME! The bid they put in made my hair curl, and in a way I'm glad they didn't get it.


Posted April 20, 2015 - 8:16am

Recently during research of early self-winding watches, I found this patent.



I found the entire patent, all text and further diagrams.

I'm keeping this info under my hat for the moment, but will post entire in time with a link to the original.

Posted April 20, 2015 - 9:44am

Here is another, the patent is for Bulova but invented by F. Barbezat.

This looks like one of the above.



Posted April 20, 2015 - 11:38am

...and another, by Georges Jacot for the Bulova Watch Co.!!!


William Smith
Posted April 20, 2015 - 3:39pm

How did I miss this thread.... I'm gonna go watch that NAWCC web seminar at link supplied above....when i get the time....Hopefully soon, before the link no longer works.
Thanks Bobbee and Rev Rob.

Posted May 5, 2015 - 5:22am

In reply to by William Smith

[quote=William Smith]

How did I miss this thread.... I'm gonna go watch that NAWCC web seminar at link supplied above....when i get the time....Hopefully soon, before the link no longer works.
Thanks Bobbee and Rev Rob.



Here is a link to the new NAWCC Youtube site. The tutorial videos hold all three of Adam's webinars, and are much better than the link above. Those are huge, as much as four gigabytes!

Much easier to access on this new link.


Posted April 21, 2015 - 6:49am

Yet another Bulova patent from November 1930.

Here is the translation of the title from French to English:

"Time-setting mechanism for self-winding watches."