One gift can have an enormous impact. The Bulova Accutron watch is one of these gifts, sparking a creative movement that lasted decades.
Accutron hit the market on October 25, 1960. Accutron was the first fully-electronic watch, priding itself on its accuracy and innovation. Consumers appreciated the watch and Accutron gained renown.
Bulova furthered its brand with the release of the Accutron Spaceview in 1961. The Spaceview capitalized on the success of the open dial demonstration model, which salesmen used to show potential buyers the watch’s inner workings.
The Spaceview became so popular that watchmakers made conversions to existing watches to allow view of the inner workings. It gained further fame as celebrities and sports icons such as Joe DiMaggio and Paul Newman sported their own Accutrons.
Accutron didn’t just impact fashion; it was a key technology on NASA’s Apollo missions. Accutron’s impressive accuracy made it the preferred timekeeping device for astronauts and rockets alike. It was also more durable and functioned at high speeds and zero gravity.
Now firmly established in culture, Accutron continued to make waves. Architects implemented open dial ideas in their buildings, creating transparent structures. These buildings also inspired shoe designers at Nike, who implemented the same ideas in the Air Max 1 sneaker, which incorporated a visible air bubble that allowed people to see inside the shoe.
The Air Max 1 went on to become Nike’s most successful sneaker and has a strong role in culture. It gave rise to culturally relevant norms and remains popular with hip hop and gabber subcultures. Originally, the Air Max sneakers retailed for $75. Since then, they have appreciated 28% per year, revealing its lasting popularity.
All of these major cultural moments and symbols have roots with the Accutron watch. Accutron is a stirring example of how one small design can have a profound rippling effect on the larger culture.