Max Hetzel developed the first prototype of the Accutron while working at the Bulova Watch Company's facility in Bienne, Switzerland.
Max Hetzel invented the first acoustic frequency wristwatch, which used a tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the time standard. Born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1921, Hetzel earned a master's degree in electronics from the Federal Polytechnic University in Zurich in 1945. He was hired by the Bulova Watch Company in 1950 to develop automated production equipment for the company's factory in Switzerland. In 1952 he turned his attention to inventing a tuning fork watch at the request of company president Arde Bulova, who was concerned about the recent announcements by Elgin and Lip that they would soon have an electric watch on the market. Hetzel chose the tuning fork as the best option, and by 1955 he had eight working prototypes.
In 1955 Bulova moved the Accutron development project to its plant in the United States.
Chief engineer William Bennett took Hetzel's prototypes to Bulova's facility in Jackson Heights, New York, where work began on a production model. Bennett, along with Egbert Van Haaften and William Mutter worked for four years to produce a commercially viable product. In 1959 Max Hetzel left Switzerland for Bulova's New York plant, where he oversaw the final developments. Finally, on October 25, 1960 the Bulova Accutron inwas introduced to consumers.
When the Accutron was introduced in 1960, it caused a sensation in the watch industry.
The Accutron was an immediate success, and it sold well throughout the 1960s. The Accutron was the most accurate wristwatch before the invention of the quartz watch. Bulova claimed the watch's accuracy to be within only a few seconds per day, ten times more accurate than a fine mechanical watch at that time. The arrival of the Accutron challenged watch companies around the world to create even more accurate watches. From this competition, the quartz watch emerged.
Before 1960 ~