Bulova Unveils the Accutron II


AlphaThe original Bulova Accutron, introduced in 1960 with a revolutionary tuning fork-driven movement was the first truly electronic wristwatch, eclipsing Hamilton’s 1957 electromechanical wristwatch and setting the bar for true accuracy several years before the quartz watch would make the technology obsolete.

Quartz watches, which are more accurate and much less costly to produce, came to dominate the market, resulting in the Accutron brand dropping the tuning fork movement around 1977 and jumping on the quartz bandwagon. All this did was dilute the brand equity of the Accutron name, which wandered on without a true sense of identity for the next few decades. Once the unique movement was dropped, there just wasn’t anything to differentiate a quartz-powered Accutron from the scores of other quartz watches on the market and the Accutron name became little more than just that.

Bulova made a genuine attempt at reintroducing the line in the 1980’s as a high quality, Swiss-made arm of the Bulova family, featuring quartz watches in superbly crafted cases and these enjoyed some success. When mechanical watches became associated again with luxury, Accutron added Swiss automatic and manual winding movements, creating fine watches to be sure, but the irony of having such a movement in a watch whose name first signaled a break from the traditional was not lost on watch collectors at all. Accutron originally stood for “Accuracy through Electronics”, meant as the watch to replace the mechanical movement watch.

In 2010, Bulova introduced the Precisionist line of wristwatches, featuring a new kind of quartz movement that was far more accurate than the traditional kind and which featured, for the first time, a smoothly sweeping second-hand. It harkened back to the appeal of the original Accutron with its unique movement beating so fast that the second-hand appeared to glide like a satellite in orbit, but in the end, it wasn’t called “Accutron”.

Many purists like myself felt all along that Bulova should have used this new movement to reintroduce the Accutron line of watches rather than forge ahead with building a new line from the ground up but in hindsight, I’m kind of glad they didn’t. Instead of the classic good looks of the original Accutron watches, Precisionist buyers were met with a mostly-odd assortment of overwrought, oversized case designs, which turned many buyers off. Additionally, in the nearly four years since the Precisionist was introduced, only a handful of new models have come out, limiting choices. Apparently Bulova management decided to make some changes and while not killing the Precisionist line, Bulova has instead decided to take a new approach and has made some restructuring changes in their upper lineup of watches.

Bulova-Accutron-II-Alpha-Watch-4First of all, the top-of-the-line Bulova, previously known as the Accutron, which is now the Swiss-made arm of Bulova, has changed its name to Bulova AccuSwiss. Ok, so it sounds like a hybrid of a Swiss acupuncturist and it’s not exactly a game changing name that engages the chronometric hormones of watch envy or anything but it does free the Accutron name from being affixed only to a Swiss-made watch and allows Bulova to do other things with it….like maybe pop a modified Precisionist movement (which is made by parent company Citizen in Japan) into a vintage-inspired, successful design of the past and call it the Accutron II. That is just what they did and suddenly Accutron is back again.

Bulova has made some other changes across its line as well such as a new font and the apparent removal of the Accutron tuning fork logo from it’s other watch lines. This puts the logo back in it’s rightful place…on the true successor to the original Accutron. In a recent news release, Bulova stated the following:

You may have noticed that we recently updated our logo, refreshing our graphics and changing our use of the tuning fork symbol to emphasize its proper place in our history. This renowned corporate icon will be featured on the dials of our new Bulova Accutron II exclusively, and will no longer appear on Bulova or Bulova Accu•Swiss dials.

A proud symbol of Bulova’s leadership in technology, the tuning fork initially signified the revolutionary tuning fork movement of Accutron, the world’s first fully electronic watch. Our new Bulova Accutron II brand, like the original Accutron, is powered by a highly accurate electronic breakthrough, the Precisionist-class quartz movement, and features a continuously sweeping floating second hand. As the logical successor to the Accutron tradition, only Bulova Accutron II will include a tuning fork on its dial, emphasizing the meaning of the symbol itself. 

To continue honoring this important symbol of the Bulova story, the tuning fork will continue to function as a corporate icon, appearing on Bulova and Bulova Accu•Swiss crowns, buckles and casebacks, unless the design makes it impractical. 

The new Bulova Accutron II was introduced this past week at BaselWorld, the annual watch and jewelry fair held in Basel, Switzerland. Drawing from the first Accutron introduced in 1960, the case design, known as the “Alpha” (maybe because it was first?) very closely follows the characteristics of the original with its shield-shaped case and lugs. Where it differs though is that this one looks much more like the limited edition Accutron that Bulova built for the watch’s 50th anniversary. You know, the one that had a real tuning fork movement and cost between $4000 and $5000 USD? Way out of most people’s price range for a Bulova, no matter how limited the run.

Bulova-Accutron-II-Alpha-Watch-16Such is not the case with this new Accutron watch. The new model, which I mentioned is driven by a modified Precisionist movement, is intended to retail for between $399 and $599 and comes in a variety of metal colors and straps. One that is sure to be a hit is the stainless steel “Alpha”, which features a “Spaceview” dial that allows the wearer to see the movement. Admittedly, the new movement is not nearly as detailed looking as the original tuning fork movement was but anyone that knows watches will know this for what it is: a Spaceview, reborn for the 21st. century.

The watch features a recessed and hidden crown for setting the watch, which is also in keeping with the original, although the crown is on the side of the new one instead of the back like the original.  That’s quite OK, as the original was known to have problems with water leaking in the area where the setting crown connected with the back of the watch case. The new Alpha also appears to have a generous amount of luminous material on the hands and dial, hands which look identical to those found on many original Spaceviews. A black leather strap embossed with an alligator pattern completes the package.

Bulova-Accutron-II-Alpha-Watch-5Other configurations include a gold-plated model with a brown leather strap, a rose gold-plated model with a white leather strap and a black PVD cased model with a black mesh bracelet. The black metal model is anticipated to be the priciest version at a few hundred dollars more.

All in all, the new Bulova Accutron II promises many things. It has the vintage appeal of the 1960’s era Accutron coupled with the most modern quartz movement available. While it may not be a tuning fork Accutron, the modified Precisionist movement is the legitimate genetic successor to the original movement and promises a smoothly sweeping second-hand that glides effortlessly. It may not hum with the vibration of the tuning fork but those with good ears will likely be able to listen in a quiet room as the little stepping motor purrs rather than ticks. More than this, the reliability factor will be increased considerably. According to sources, the modifications that were required will make this movement slightly less accurate than a Precisionist but still six times more accurate than a conventional quartz watch. That is still far more accuracy than can be attained with any mechanical watch.

Bulova-Accutron-II-Alpha-Watch-3While there are many original Accutron watches still out there working every day, they are getting harder and harder to fix when damaged, as parts become increasingly scarce and Accutron expert repairers become fewer. Those who still wear them have to take extra care and precaution that the tiny transistorized electrical movement is not damaged from the rigors of day-to-day wear. For those who love their original Accutron watches, the new Accutron II promises to be a much more robust watch that is more suitable for everyday wear. Plus, they are just plain cool.

Look for them in stores around June 2014.

Tudor Heritage Ranger Announced at Baselworld


photo.PNG copyIntroduced at Baselworld 2014 is a totally new Tudor, yet not quite so new to longtime fans of the brand. Tudor’s original Ranger, their version of the Rolex Explorer, featured the aesthetic values and look of the Explorer without the heftier price tag and the new Heritage Ranger appears to follow in that lead.

Crafted in stainless steel  with a completely brushed finish, 41mm case, the Heritage Ranger is first and foremost a tool watch and definitely looks the part. It is larger by 2mm than the current version of the Explorer and features a matte black dial nearly identical to that of the original. The Ranger features the ETA 2824 movement, heavily decorated and meticulously regulated by Tudor in their Geneva factories.

The hands are in a white gold finish and the pear-shaped hour hand is an homage to the original Ranger, which also featured a similar hand. A sapphire crystal, domed to resemble the vintage models, protects the dial which is also domed while a screw-down crown, emblazoned with the vintage Tudor rose logo, protects the movement to a depth of 150 meters.

photo 2The Heritage Ranger is available on a variety of leather straps, as well as a stainless steel Oyster-style bracelet with vintage-inspired straight end pieces. All versions feature an additional nylon strap in a camouflage colored material.

Prices have not yet been announced but if the pricing strategy follows that of Rolex, the Tudor Heritage Ranger should come in near the entry point of the Tudor brand of watches. Tudor’s focus of bringing back the vintage models reflecting the history of both its own company and that of its older sister Rolex seems to have hit a positive note with watch aficionados everywhere, especially with Tudor now retailing in the United States once again.

The new watch is a great way to break into the Tudor line of watches. It features a robust, time-tested design made modern for today’s market as well as the vintage aspects that have made these watches, quite literally, stand the test of time.

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Tudor Heritage Black Bay Sings the Blues


photo 5When Tudor, the younger and slightly rebellious sister brand of Swiss powerhouse watch brand Rolex introduced the Heritage Black Bay in 2012, it wasn’t long before they realized they had hit a home run.

The Black Bay, an homage to both Rolex and Tudor Submariners of the past, was part of a lineup that had fans of the brand lining up at dealers and prospective buyers in the United States bemoaning Tudor’s n0t-for-sale-in-the-US status…that is, until 2013 when Tudor returned to these shores.

This year, at Baselworld 2014, Tudor has issued a new Black Bay that will have fans singing the blues soon enough….blue as in bezel that is. The new Black Bay is much like the original with a few subtle differences. First, Tudor has made a new, deep blue bezel available and combined it with a black dial, a strikingly different package from the dark brown dial and burgundy bezel of the original. Like the original, the aluminum flange connecting to the crown is also colored to match the blue bezel.

photo 1-2This latest version of the Black Bay dial is also contrasted from the original by having white gold hands, index surrounds and lettering. The snowflake hour hand, unique to the Tudor line of watches returns as well.

Like the Black Bay in burgundy red, the midnight blue model comes either with a stainless steel oyster-style bracelet or an aged leather strap, in blue with this model. A nylon strap in blue is also included with either choice.

Prices haven’t been announced yet but should be similarly priced to that of the original and should be available in authorized Tudor dealers soon. Stay tuned for more news from Baselworld!

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