Earlier in the year we learned that Bulova (owned by Citizen in Japan) has appointed Sir Richard Branson as a new brand ambassador. That seemed a bit strange to me. Not that Bulova wouldn't want Branson brandishing their watches, but rather that Branson - being mega-rich, and owner of the large Virgin group - would have zero need to establish the connection. I still don't know the details of the relationship (blackmail I am thinking), but Branson is going to be the Bulova poster child for a while.
Clearly the "Virgin knight" doesn't need the cash. He has indicated that money made from his relationship with Bulova will go straight to his Virgin Unite charity, and some of the proceeds from the sale of the watches will also go to the charity. To honor their relationship there is a new limited edition watch.
Bulova's marketing campaign with Branson seems to focus on his business success. "Men like Branson wear Bulova" is apparently the message they wish to convey. The phrase duo "Swiss Made (referring to the watch), and Self Made (referring to the man)" is clever and ought to get a lot of attention. Citizen has a rather astute marketing agency so this level of marketing quality is expected. The irony of course is that Bulova might technically be Swiss made, but it isn't a Swiss brand.
While I anticipate there to be a range of Bulova Branson watches coming, the first is a rather sober limited edition traveler's watch. It is called the Bulova Accutron Sir Richard Branson Limited Edition watch and comes in a 46mm wide titanium case. Bulova isn't being very clear on what movement it has exactly, but it is a Swiss automatic with a GMT hand. Likely a 2893 if I had a guess. Bulova further COSC Chronometer certifies its. The watch also has an inner rotating bezel with a city indicator that can be used to tell the time all over the world in collaboration with the GMT hand (if the GMT has is set to synchronize with your local time). This makes for a rather decent traveler's watch (but it is hardly unique).
The Bulova Accutron Sir Richard Branson Limited Edition watch dial is fine. Nothing spectacular, but attractive with its blue hands and longitude and latitude lines engraved into the dial. Notice the Accutron Spaceview style lugs used on the case. One change I would make is nixing the crescent moon style end to the GMT hand. Not only do I not like these hands, but they are typically used for static indicator that jump (like a periphery date indicator). In this case it is being used for a constantly moving hand which in meant to precisely point to one spot - not frame something. This feels like a rather large design oversight in my opinion.
Bulova is announcing the watch rather early in my opinion. According to them the limited edition of 500 pieces Richard Branson watch will be available in about a year from now in the Fall of 2012. Price will be $3,500. Try wearing on on your next Virgin Atlantic flight and see if anyone notices it.
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