Bulova Corporate Center
from the display in the Bulova Corporate Center building
The Bulova Building
The Bulova Corporate Center began its life as the headquarters and factory the The Bulova Watch Company, In 1953, Bulova built this advanced assembly complex on the former 25 acre Holmes Airport. Built originally as a defense plant, the new factory housed 2,000 manufacturing employees and 140 of the nation's foremost research scientists. The facility was completely air conditioned, providing a dust-free, humidity-controlled environment to satisfy the precise tolerances required for the manufacturing of Bulova's precision timepieces and equipment.
The building was designed by Alexander D. Crossett and Associates. The minimal design was inspired by the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C. Its design is reminiscent of 1930's Art Deco recreation centers designed in New York City since the consulting architect was Aymar Embury ll, who was the chief architect for Robert Moses and designer of many of the Works Progress Administration funded recreation centers and polls built throughout the city during the Great Depression, including the Central Park Zoo.
The building is constructed of the same Indiana limestone as the Federal Reserve building. The interiors, designed by F.V. Gerstel, include 1930's style murals depicting watchmaking, which have been preserved and can be seen today here in the building's north lobby. The building was awarded the Queens Borough's Outstanding Award for 1953 and presented with a Special Bronze Plaque.
Company Highlights: It Happened Here
The Bulova Watch Company was started by Joseph Bulova, a Bohemian jeweler and watchmaker, in Manhattan in 1875. From its beginning, Bulova was known for innovation. In 1912, Bulova built the first manufacturing plant devoted solely to watchmaking and introduced a standardization for watch mass production. This small company quickly became known as a pioneer of timekeeping technology.
Throughout its history, Bulova made significant contributions to America's Military and Space efforts. Bulova played a key role in the country's WWll effort, providing precision airborne equipment. Given the company's history and service to the US Armed Forces, it was no surprise that Bulova asked General Omar Bradley to serve as it Board Chairman for 1953 to 1973 and to oversee operations at this new factory. General Bradley, a decorated WWll veteran and the first-ever chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had a special executive suite in the north side of the building and remained with the company until his retirement. In this location, Bulova expanded on its Research and Development Laboratories to build upon its WWll airborne instrumentation and antiaircraft artillery fuses and created an Advanced Systems Department.
Bulova continued to innovate creating its revolutionary timekeeping advancement - a tiney battery that operated a tuning fork, replacing the "tick" of a clock with a "hum". The timepiece would become known as the Bulova accutron, the most accurate watch of its time, and this technology would launch the company into space on 46 space missions as part of NASA's space program.
From this building, Bulova continued to make advancements and revolutionize the watchmaking industry: the Caravelle line of jeweled watches would become the largest selling jeweled watch in America; the Bulova Satellite Clock - the first public clock regulated by satellite time signals; the first quartz base clock - the Accuquartz, and the first quartz crystal wrist watch available commercially in the US. In 1973, Bulova developed three specially designed Accutron portable alarm clocks that were placed on board of NASA's Skylab, the world's first space laboratory.
Restoring History: Renovating Bulova Building
The Bulova Building was purchased by Blumenfled Development Group in 1985 who transformed the building into an ultra-modern office center, while respecting its rich heritage and exquisite design. In 1989, the Bulova Corporate Center opened with a new 35,000 square foot, three story tall, sky lit atrium. The atrium was created by opening the interior core of the building to natural light to flood into the building's expansive footprint. Within the atrium, streams, waterfalls, plantings and walkable areas with seating provide a serene setting to view the artwork provided by the Queens Museum in addition to the building's permanent art collection. Three glass elevators, granite floors and open corridors provide the ultimate corporate environment. The creative renovation incorporates an interior lobby area that resembles the inside of a clock. Also, located within the Bulova Corporate Center building you will find: a restaurant, health club, and an auditorium that complement the office experience.
Did you know....
- In honor of Charles Lindbergh's epic flight, Bulova shipped 5,000 Lone Eagle watches with Lindbergh's picture. The watches were available for sale the day after the landing and sold out in three days.
- Bulova created the first radio and television advertisements. Bulova created the first television commercial. "America runs on Bulova," said a voice on the commercial, which aired in 1941 during a Brooklyn Dodger-Philadelphia Phillies game, ran for 10 seconds and cost Bulova $4.
- Bulova created the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking to teach disabled veterans the skill of watchmaking. The school, which operated at no cost to the government or the veterans, was the first school of its kind to establish a training program devoted to assisting veterans returning from WWll.
- In 1960, Bulova was invited y NASA to incorporate its Accutron technology in NASA's space program computers. Bulova's Accutron was used on 46 US space missions.
- When Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, it carried with it an Accutron watch movement. The piece was left behind to control the transmission of data that was to become the basis for future space and time experiments.
- An early example of a public-private partnership - the building required a zoning change to permit light manufacturing and was approved by the City Planning Commission and the Board of Estimate.