On October 25, 1960, Bulova released the first and most advanced electric watch that continues to influence our culture today. Watch companies began to experiment with the first generation of electronic watches in the 1950s, such as the battery-powered designs introduced in France and the U.S. to the first electronic watch introduced by Hamilton. These early models functioned like a mechanical watch with an added motor and battery, but they were prone to failure and difficult to repair.
Then Bulova developed the Accutron through several innovations. Louis Francois Clement Breguet patented the tuning fork timepiece in 1866 which Max Hentzel recruited to miniaturize the technology. He created a pawl-and jewel system attached to one end of the tuning fork with vibrations pushing microscopic teeth on a tiny gear to track time. The Accutron was later released as the world’s first fully-electronic watch.
The window model gained popularity so quickly that it was introduced as the official Accutron Spaceview in 1961. Afterwards, movement-view watch designs became so popular that existing watch dials were changed to allow views of the inner workings. Over 200 models of Accutron have been released, and over five million Accutron “tuning fork models” have been sold worldwide by 1976. The continues to evolve even today while paying homage to its original design.
Not only did Accutron technology keep time, it even reached the moon. The Accutron Astronaut was developed to meet the demands of high speed flight and space travel, and Accutron technology was adopted by the U.S. Air Force, CIA, and NASA. In fact, the moon missions would not have been possible without the accuracy of Accutron technology.
On earth, the Accutron Spaceview continued to inspire cultural movements, like the creation of the Pompidou Centre in Paris with its “inside out” design inspired by an Accutron Spaceview. Eventually, the Accutron Spaceview inspired Tinker Hartfield to create the Nike Air Max 1, which is considered by many to be one of the greatest sneakers in history. Inspired by the exposed inner workings of the Pompidou, Hartfield added a transparent air bubble element to the sneakers.
The Air Max 1 gave rise to culturally relevant norms that have resonated with the sneaker community for generations, such as staying popular with the hip hop subculture and an official Air Max holiday being established in 2014. Iconic collaborations were also centered around this shoe. Through the Air Max 1, Accutron’s legacy continues to persist in the aesthetics of our future.