On October 25, 1960, Bulova released the first and most advanced electronic watch in the world. This watch has since influenced our culture for over 60+ years. To fully understand how much of an impact this timepiece has given, we must start at the beginning. In 1866, Louis Francois Clement Breguet patented the tuning fork timepiece. Vibrating metal coils are used to mark the passage of time. The vibrations were divided by second into 360 equal parts, having the tuning fork make a distinctive “hum” sound. Additionally, the watch hand made a smooth sweep instead of ticking.
Decades later, watch companies started experimenting with the first generation of electronic watches. In 1952, companies Lip Electronics and Elgin introduced battery-powered designs for their timepieces. These companies functioned like mechanical watches, with an added motor and battery. However, similar accuracy limits the traditional watches coupled with the fact that they were prone to failure and difficult to repair.
One year later, a Swiss engineer named Max Hetzel was recruited to Bulova to take the research that Berget did, and miniaturized it for convenient use to the consumer. Hetzel created a pawl-and-jewel system attached to one end of the tuning fork. Then the vibrations push microscopic teeth on a tiny gear to track time. This led to the release of the world’s fully electronic watch: The Accutron. Learn more about how this watch sparked a creative revolution in the infographic below: