The Idle American: The Face of Time

Vintage Bulova watch

 One old-time radio ad  pitched the timepiece to be “on your wrist faithfully forever.”

Now and again, a news story piques our consciousness with greater impact than carefully prepared ads. Such was the case a few months ago when ABC News ran a story about a couple whose appreciation for a physician runs deep. They credited a doctor for saving both the mother’s life, as well as the baby she birthed. Months later, they were indebted for his saving the infant’s life a second time. To express their thanks, they gave him a handsome wristwatch. A close-up provided by TV cameras revealed the “Bulova” name on the watch face.

This account evoked many long ago memories. It served to remind me how much I missed my Bulova Accutron watch I’ve worn for more than 25 years. No, the watch didn’t fail, but a well-intentioned drugstore sales guy did almost two years ago when he insisted on installing my new battery. Figuring I’d botch the installation–and was several hundred miles away from my jeweler in Texas–I appreciated the offer. Hours later, retiring for the evening, I noticed the back of my watch was missing when I placed it on the nightstand….



Don Newbury

Striving to remain optimistic, I sought a jeweler with an extra back for a watch manufactured almost 30 years ago. For months, I struck out, until chancing to visit “Best Jewelers” in Tyler, Texas. There, owner Aaron Berry offered a glimmer of hope, suggesting that the part might be found on the Internet. It wasn’t.

However, Bulova officials in New York City thought they could locate one, and sure enough, they did. It was sent immediately to Aaron, and my watch is now back on my wrist.

I consider it a Christmas present to myself, and am grateful that Bulova’s Robert Christiano, Executive Vice President, Global Marketing, was immediately empathetic. As we spoke on the phone, he said he was viewing his own favorite wristwatch; it happens to be an Accutron….


   This vignette ignited memories of “growing up” years in Brown County, Texas, when we gathered around radios (dining on frozen radio dinners, of course) for nightly entertainment provided by network programming (mostly 30-minute comedy shows).

Bulova ads led the way. One proclaimed, “Bulova watch time–B-U-L-O-V-A–is 7:30 p.m.,” or whatever time it was.

Another one pitched the timepiece to be “on your wrist faithfully forever.”…


   Modest research reveals that Bulova watches date back to 1875 when Joseph Bulova introduced what has become an iconic brand.

Bulova remains headquartered in NYC and now has eight international offices and distribution in 65 cities. It remains at the forefront of the timepiece industry.

“Firsts” by Bulova include radio and television ads, 1926 and 1941, respectively. They proclaimed that “America runs on Bulova time.” The company introduced clock radios in 1928 and has provided timing instruments for satellites. Also, pilots in the fastest airplane ever made have depended on these timepieces. (More about the company’s “history of firsts” at….


   I know. There are many ways today to learn exact time. Grandchildren today cock their heads when I speak of asking my late grandfathers to pull out “pocket watches” so I could hear them tick. (They don’t care that my Accutron is the first watch I’ve owned that doesn’t tick, and probably wouldn’t be impressed if Niagara Falls started running backward.)

I recall asking silly pre-school questions, such as, “What happens when the watch quits ticking?”

Each grandfather’s answer was, of course, “I wind it.”…


   As more than a “Christmasy twist,” I offer these suggestions. Don’t try to impress grandkids with your watch, unless it does animal tricks. Use the children mostly to help out with computer and smartphone usage.

When your watch battery “kaputs,” visit a jeweler. If I’m in Tyler, I’ll visit Best Jewelers. If in Burleson, TX, my hometown, I’ll head to Bobby Woolard’s store.

I trust them both, but may apply Scotch tape to the watch back for a few days, just in case….


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.

Don Newbury is the author of When the Porch Light’s On, the humorous and inspirational story of his life. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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