Bulova 1920 Rubaiyat

Submitted by mybulova_admin on September 14, 2018 - 10:13pm
Manufacture Year
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American Standard
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Watch Description

Here is a beautiful piece that I'm currently restoring. Part of the movement was very rusted, but is now well on her way to running again.

What I love about this watch is:

  • Those roman numerals
  • 14K solid gold case (approx 6 grams)
  • The very low serial number (lowest number starting with 1xxx we have in the database)
  • The dual stamped movement - Rubaiyat & Marc Favre


Rubaiyat - Bulova watch
1919 Bulova watch
1919 Bulova watch
1919 Bulova watch
1919 Bulova watch
Bulova Watch advert
Posted September 14, 2018 - 10:41pm

I'm still trying to understand and piece together the connection between Marc Favre and Bulova as we see a number of early Bulova movements co-stamped with 'Favre'.

Here's a Lady Maxim I have with an almost identical movement but stamped 'Bulova W.Co'

Bulova Lady Maxim & Favre Co movement

I've seen the following combinations:

  • Favre W Co.
  • Marc Favre
  • Bulova W.Co + Favre W.Co
  • Rubaiyat + Marc Favre

My thinking (somewhere deep down in the darkest corner of my brain) is that both Bulova and Favre shared a factory or supplier, or Favre was in fact manufacturing the movements and supplying to Bulova. Maybe Bulova were using/leasing/purchased Favre's manufacturing equipment.  

We are seeing a lot of cross over in these early movements and Bulova's claim that they were manufacturing their own movements in Switzerland may be (in part) explained by them leasing/purchasing equipment from a local established company in order to do so.

Maybe Bulova bought out Favre's stock as part of a buy out.

It has always puzzeled me how Bulova went from a small time player to a 'force majeure' in such a small period of time in the late teens/early 1920s. Perhaps buying a factory alreay build with the neccessary machinery and stock/parts would explain this.

Rev, any info on this movement type and Marc Favre?

Posted September 16, 2018 - 12:00am

In reply to by mybulova_admin

Same movement with stamping minus the engraved script.

Bulova Favre movement

Posted September 14, 2018 - 11:50pm

So the wiki states that company was registered in 1900, but the brand 'Marc Favre' was trade marked a few years earlier in 1886. Could be that the factory had been up and running for 16 years before Bulova came along.

Did Bulova initially buy movements/stock from them whilst building their own factory? We have never seen any details about when Bulova built a factory that matches up with them producing the Rubaiyat watches in 1916/17?

Many questions and certainly some food for thought and a good reason to do some serious web surfing :-)

Reverend Rob
Posted September 15, 2018 - 12:35pm

The name Favre is a storied one in horological history.

Marc Favre was a serious movement designer and manufacturer. Eventually he became part of Gruen Guild, which was later Alpina Gruen Guild SA. (dissolved in 1939) This explains why Alpina movts overlap Favre ones. Identical movts will be stamped as either, but were designed and produced by Favre. Gruen was also part of Aegler (with Rolex), but dropped out in the 30's, at which time Rolex and Aegler owned Aegler outright. Favre also worked with Universal in Geneva, and this is why Universal movts are also double stamped or identical to Favre designed ones of the period. 

The Favre family connection is all over, the Favre-Leuba co. being one that still resonates, despite the brand being extinct. It was born in 1882.

In 1913 Favre had a line of 9''' ladies watch movts. It is quite possible we will someday find these in the earliest Bulovas. 

I have never been able to find any information as to what factory Bulova purchased in Switzerland; clearly it was geared up and ready to go, and there was probably no hiccup in production, save to re-tool for Bulova ID stampings. Bulova not only standardized the watches and parts that went into them, he designed and manufactured any and all tooling and test equipment to make sure they were standardized.

Bulova's relationship to Favre was the same as with any other ebauche supplier, (There were many that Bulova used) the blanks were modded, sometimes only with the name stamp. Bulova quickly began modding the balances of almost all its ebauches from other firms. This probably served a variety of purposes, not the least of which was importing unfinished movts to the US, which was cheaper. 

I agree with Stephen on this, it is really surprising how quickly Bulova became a going concern in the watch world. He went from scratch, after working for Tiffany, to opening his own Jewellery store (1875) to owning a Swiss Factory (Bienne, 1912) to having the tooling and facilities to finish ebauches in the US, and finally to design movts from scratch and manufacture entirely in the US, to say nothing of the iconic case designs and various patents the company developed. 

The earliest Bulova wristwatches will undoubtedly turn out to be ladies' models, and somewhere out there they are waiting. I suspect they will be a bit of a mish-mash of ebauches and casemakers we are as yet unaware of Bulova partnering with. The oldest watches will be pocket watches, Swiss made in the Bulova Factory, and Ancestors to the Hudson Maxim models. There may not be any name on the dial, or if there is, it may not even be Bulova, or even Rubaiyat. I suspect the movts will be stamped, but even this is uncertain. 

It is no small accomplishment that Bulova at its peak was responsible for 50% of the timepiece market in North America. (1958)

What is also rarely, if ever, seen are the boudoir and table clocks Bulova made prior to concentrating on watches. 

One day we will find them!

Posted September 15, 2018 - 1:30am

Watchophilia has a Rubaiyat watch with case number 1000166, which is only 4 off the subject watch, yet that one is gold filled were-as the subject watch is solid 14K gold.

I'd love to know how they managed their case numbering system during this period.

I truely believe that this is the key to unlocking a better dating system on these early models.

Reverend Rob
Posted September 15, 2018 - 1:36am

Anyway, I'd say this is obviously a Rubaiyat, with an intriguingly low case serial number. I'm not sure what to make of the letter in script: Is it a 'C' or an 'F'? Looks more like a 'C', viewed the same way as the 'Favre Watch co'.

Posted September 15, 2018 - 4:37am

Believe it or not the current thinking among those in the know is that it is someones initials.

View the movement from different angles and see what two letters you come up with.

I'll let you know if you're right :-)

Believe it or not....


Posted September 15, 2018 - 6:21am

Nice piece of Bulova history

Geoff Baker
Posted September 15, 2018 - 10:02am

History, history, history, I LOVE this stuff. If only we really had a time machine, this is what I'd use it for!

I'm fascinated by the way the case fits together. Rubaiyat is my vote. A wonderful watch.