Accutron II “Lobster” Revealed


Bulova-Lobster-96B232This past week, Bulova revealed a new model in the Accutron II lineup that will be presented at BaselWorld this month. Dubbed the “Lobster” after a 1970’s model of the same style, the new watch shown features an oval case in stainless steel with a blue dial and an internal rotating bezel. The bezel is controlled by the upper crown while the lower crown is for setting the time. This particular model comes with a mesh bracelet and there is also a version in a black PVD plated finish. Prices have not been confirmed but are expected to be in the range of the current Accutron II models ($450-$650 USD)

One new feature noted on the reimagined Lobster is the “262 kHz” printed on the lower half of the dial. This is indicative of the vibrational frequency of the special Bulova quartz crystal used in the Accutron II line. Unlike other quartz crystals, which usually are a two-pronged arrangement much like a tuning fork, the Accutron II crystal is a three-prong crystal. The torsional resonator movement uses the stepping motor of the watch to produce 16 beats per second, which translates into the gliding, smooth rotation of the second hand, much like the original Accutron watches.

Updates will posted as they come available.

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Bulova Accutron II Astronaut Homage


AstronautOriginalThere once was a time when the name “Accutron” meant something very significant to people. When it was introduced on October 25, 1960, it was the most significant technological leap in timekeeping since the invention of the clock…the world’s first electronic watch that keep time to the precise vibration of a tuning fork. There was nothing else like it when it came out and it had the effect of rendering watches like the Hamilton Electric, as well as all mechanical watches obsolete in the dust from an accuracy standpoint.

For ten years, it dominated the watch scene and was “the” watch to have. Even when quartz came along at the end of the 1960’s, the Accutron tuning fork movement soldiered on for another seven years or so, finally giving in to the realities of the market, which quartz would, somewhat violently, reshape. Bulova would continue to use the Accutron name on a variety of watches including both quartz and mechanical, all the while squandering seventeen years of hard-earned brand equity in the process.

A significant attempt to revitalize the Accutron name occurred around 1989 when Bulova begin to market Accutron as a high-end, Swiss-Made division of Bulova but there was nothing innovative or unique about them and legions of original Accutron fans cried foul. It was considered heresy for a watch which which had broken the mold by not being a conventional, mainspring-driven watch to have its name ascribed to the very watches Accutron was created to outperform in every way. These watches, while very well made and worthy of the “Swiss Made” title were never considered to be the logical successor to the original Accutron…that honor went to the Bulova Precisionist when it came out in 2010. The Precisionist was the first quartz based watch whose second hand did not hack but which flowed with the smooth motion of “a satellite in orbit”, the most noticeable attribute of an original Accutron.

Moonview1If the Precisionist had the technology DNA of a true Accutron, it never had the appealing design and looks of one, going mostly for oversized, overly designed cases that turned off many would-be buyers. It also left many asking the question: why didn’t Bulova utilize this revolutionary new movement to completely relaunch Accutron instead of creating an entirely new line under a different name? Fast forward to 2014.

Bulova announced in March of 2014 that Accutron would be relaunched as a line of vintage inspired watches borrowing designs from the original Accutrons and featuring a new Precisionist-based “UHF” or “Ultra High Frequency” movement that would allow the use of more conventionally sized watches. Dubbed “Accutron II”, these watches are now the only Bulova product that carries the Accutron name. Several months before the introduction of the Accutron II, Bulova quietly began removing the name from its Swiss line of watches and replacing it with a new branding called “Bulova Accu-Swiss”. I’ll leave that particular name alone for this review.

For this review, I’m writing about one of the five lines of the new Accutron II series, the Moonview. Anyone who knows the original Accutron Astronaut (pictured at the top of this article) will recognize the Moonview because it is directly inspired by the Astro and Bulova has been somewhat faithful to the design of the original. Here are the particulars:

Moonview2Build: The case and bracelet are Swiss made (the movement is made in Japan) and is crafted in stainless steel and the bracelet is pretty solid for this price range, nicely finished and it well made. All links are solid and polished on the ends and once sized to the wrist, it fits nicely. The bracelet is modeled after the old “coffin link” bracelets that some Astronauts had, brushed outer links and polished center links. It has a butterfly clasp with push releases on the sides and claps snugly together when closed.

The case is round and features a bezel which has engraved numbers for the hours and hash marks for the half hour. It is brushed and looks nearly identical to the original, although it is a twelve hour scale and not a 24 hour scale. It is stationary as this is not a GMT like the original. It is serrated around the edge of the bezel and brings the width of the case to 42mm. The crown is neatly tucked away at the 3:00 position, hidden from sight. Purists will no doubt long for a GMT version but that would likely require engineering a new movement just to add that feature. Still, a rotating bezel would allow the watch to be used for tracking two time zones if desired.

Moonview3The back is a snap-back, nicely polished and includes the various markings including “Water Resistant”. According to the manual, unless the watch is marked this way with a depth number next to it, it is not suitable for swimming. The lowest number in the manual with a depth rating shown is 50m and anything under that is suitable only for splashes, washing or cleaning. Another Accutron II model, the Snorkel, is rated to 200 meters if you want one for swimming and diving.

The original Astro’s cone-shaped lugs are not present here but there are vestiges of them. This was a missed opportunity to create a truly unique case design for the watch.

Dial and Crystal: The crystal is mineral but seems to be very thick, somewhat raised and nicely domed, giving it a vintage appeal. It does not warp the dial at an angle like some do. There is no A/R coating but the dial is matte black which, when combined with the dome effect helps cut down on reflections. The lume is decent, glowing brightly when energized for a few minutes but growing pretty dim after more than 15 minutes. The dial has applied silver markers and silver hands and is signed “Bulova Accutron II”. A date window appears at the 6:00 position. It is very readable and somewhat simple. The feature missing here is the original model’s use of alternating rectangular and triangular hour markers, which was a hallmark of the original design. If I had designed the dial for this model, I would have added these back, as well as signed the dial “Astronaut” on the lower part of the dial to break up the expanse of empty space. I would have also increased the font for the “Accutron II” designation and reduced the “Bulova” font.

This watch is thinner than any of the Precisionist models I have had and the depth of the dial is pretty good so the new movement must be thinned down a good bit. The second hand also seems to glide along smoother than the Precisionist as well. It was very hard to detect any trace of incremental hacking…think of an old electric clock and you get the idea.

Moonview5Things I like: Good build quality, nicely sized case, vintage looks and appeal, gliding Accutron second hand, highly readable dial with decent luminosity, nicely executed coffin link bracelet, machined bezel, hidden crown.

Things I would improve: I would have made the dial to as closely resemble the original Astronaut, including adding that name to the dial. I would have also gone to the extra expense to machine the lugs exactly like the original, giving that true original look in a modern format. Accutron did this with the Limited Edition Astronaut introduced in 2007 and reviewed on this blog separately. I would have made the watch water resistant to at least 50 meters and preferably to 100. I would have also used hands exactly like the original. The new one has hand which are close but obviously not the same as the original. A sapphire crystal would be nice too but all of my improvements would have added more to the overall price.

Summary

The first modern watch to bear the Accutron name that has a movement worthy of Accutron. The gliding second hand really brings back the feel of the originals and the accuracy and reliability should be a lot better. For the money, the watch has a lot of appeal and the battery life should be twice as long as the original, if not longer. It is good to see the Accutron name back on a watch that can truly claim direct lineage to the original. I’ve also noticed that since the Accutron line was introduced, the Precisionist line had been greatly reduced and, hopefully, will be laid to rest for good. Accutron is the true direction.

Authors Note: This is an expanded version of my article that appeared this month on Timezone.com

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.

Timeless Designs: The Hamilton Ventura


Ventura1957The year 1957 wasn’t an especially significant one in the decade of the 1950’s but like most all years, it had its claims to fame. In the month of January alone, two events in particular are noteworthy: the inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower to his second term of office as President of the United States and the introduction of the world’s first commercially available wristwatch powered by a battery. The Hamilton Electric was born and no other wristwatch in the new Electric line summed up the “Fabulous Fifties” like the Ventura.

Consider the time in which it was born. The 1950’s saw an entire new wave of design come into maturity that mirrored the optimism of the times. Everything, from appliances to furniture, accessories and even homes, reflected the future modern touches of the designers of the time.

Tail fins soared on automobiles, the rocket era was in full swing and with the introduction of the Electric line of wristwatches, Hamilton wanted something that beat with the times. They turned to industrial designer Richard Arbib and from his pen a number of striking designs found themselves rendered into precious metals. The Ventura was the first such design and it has been the most enduring.

The original Ventura, referenced in sales literature of the time as the Ventura I, was introduced on January 4, 1957, along with a more traditional design model, the Van Horn (a safe-bet watch, just in case the new design didn’t go over well with the public) and from the moment it hit the stores, it was a runaway success, despite its somewhat lofty price of $200.00 Crafted entirely of 14k gold (US market versions), the Ventura featured a case design unlike any others of the time with a bold, triangular shape and lugs reminiscent of automotive fins.

Originally fitted with the somewhat troublesome Hamilton 500 electromechanical movement, the Ventura, when properly maintained and cared for, was accurate and never needed winding, although battery replacements were fairly regular, usually about once a year. Within a short time, the more refined and improved Hamilton 505 movement found its way into the Electric of watches.

The first Ventura wristwatches were made available in a yellow gold case with either a black or a silver dial that featured the hours denoted by golden dots with tracer lines that radiated inward. A jagged electric line transected the center of the dial, connecting the 3 and 9 together, the total effect of which suggested electricity with a hint of the atom. A unique two-tone leather strap in black and gold came with the first Venturas but was quickly phased out due to manufacturing costs and a tendency to not hold up well.

The following year, a white gold version was introduced, although it never sold in numbers like the yellow gold versions and consequently is a rarer find today. Additionally, an 18k rose gold version was produced at some point for export only, making it probably the rarest of all Hamilton Ventura watches.

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Rod Serling with his yellow gold, silver dial Hamilton Ventura

In a sea of ubiquitous wristwatches, the Ventura and most of its electric brethren stood out and this uniqueness soon found its way onto the wrists of some notable television and movie personalities. While this was unintentional at the time, product placement was something that Hamilton would take advantage of in future decades.

Rod Serling, the producer of “The Twilight Zone” wore a gold Ventura with a silver dial in his opening and closing monologues on many episodes of the show.

The futuristic, space-age design of the Hamilton Ventura was a perfect fit for both Serling and his hit TV series and he wore the watch for many years after its small screen debut but it was undoubtedly the big screen debut of the Ventura that immortalized the watch in the minds of many fans, linking it forever with the biggest name in the music industry, Elvis Presley.

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Elvis Presley on the set of Blue Hawaii, wearing a yellow gold, black dial Ventura

Presley wore a yellow gold Ventura in the movie “Blue Hawaii” and the watch was highly visible in many scenes, including one brief closeup. It is unknown if the watch was a studio supplied watch or not but apparently Presley liked the Ventura because he added a white gold version with a dealer-installed expansion bracelet to his personal collection. The Ventura later became known as the “Elvis Watch” because of the association with Presley.

The Ventura was produced for six years and was sold by Hamilton jewelers until all the supply was used up. Eventually Hamilton discontinued the Electric line after significant inroads had been made by Bulova’s humming Accutron, as well as the advent of the Quartz controlled wristwatch but the Ventura story was far from over.

Fast forward a quarter of a century to 1988. Hamilton, which had been purchased by the forerunners of today’s Swatch Group in Switzerland was looking to get their name back in the minds of watch buyers. In a market flooded by mostly inexpensive quartz watches of boring design and questionable pedigree, Hamilton had to find a way to both penetrate the existing market and to do something that would stand out from the crowd.

Instead of looking at the existing trends, they decided to look inward at their own history and from their archives, they drew inspiration that started a new trend. Pulling designs that had proven popular in the past, they came out with a new line of old watches, authentic reproductions of timeless classics, reissued to resonate with a modern world.

VenturaAdFrom the 20’s came the Piping Rock and from the 30’s, the Boulton, Ardmore and Wilshire were reborn, among others. Topping the range of models, Hamilton reintroduced the Ventura to a new generation of watch fans who had never seen it before and were immediately taken with the design. The vintage watch trend was born and has continued more or less unabated to this day.

Hamilton made four versions of the “new” Ventura available for purchase by mail order in magazines and later, in retail stores: yellow gold-plated with silver or black dial, white gold-plated with black dial and rose gold-plated with black dial. These new versions of the Ventura were authentically detailed based on the original designs and a very close approximation of the original Ventura. Each came with a color coordinated Teju lizard skin strap, depending on the dial color.

Powered by a modern Swiss quartz movement, the new Ventura was the perfect blend of modern, reliable timekeeping technology encased in a proven, classic vintage design. The wearer of a Ventura was virtually guaranteed that his watch would draw attention when worn and over the next nine years, the new Ventura became a staple in the growing portfolio of the Hamilton Watch Company, now a part of the Swatch Group. Although the appearance changed little, the yellow and rose gold-plated models were eventually phased out as the white gold-plated version with black dial became the standard-bearer.

In 1997, the release of the feature film “Men in Black” reintroduced the Hamilton Ventura to the movie going public as part of Hamilton’s campaign to get their watches on the big screen. The movie became a big hit and the Ventura became a bigger star as the watch of choice worn by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, the stars of the movie.

A chronograph version of the Ventura was released for the sequel, as well as new versions of the classic model, now in stainless steel with dial choices in black, silver and salmon color. While constructed of better grade materials, the post-MIB Ventura models differed from the original Electric models in details as well as movements. Dials were now flat instead of gently domed and the word “Electric” had never appeared on a modern Ventura. The back of the watch was thoroughly modern in design and the tang buckle was replaced by a modern deployant buckle.

In 2007, Hamilton celebrated a milestone with the 50th birthday of the Ventura and released two special editions of the watch. The 50th Anniversary Ventura came in two versions: a larger sized version with an automatic movement and a skeletonized dial for viewing the movement and a traditional version with a quartz movement.

Ventura50The quartz movement version drew the most attention, featuring a case that much more closely approximated that of the original 1957 Ventura, both front and back. Stamped from new dies, this 50th anniversary edition included a sapphire crystal and a domed dial with a unique pattern not seen on a Ventura before. While still evocative of the times in which the Ventura was born, the new dial was different and for the first time in fifty years, the word “Electric” reappeared on the dial. This version is the only quartz powered Ventura to ever feature that word on the dial. A slightly wider 18mm crocodile strap with a vintage tang buckle rounded out the package, as well a commemorative box.

Only 1,957 examples of the 50th Anniversary Hamilton Ventura were crafted for the US market, making this version of the watch one of the rarest of the Ventura line. The automatic also came in a strictly limited and numbered run of 1,957 examples.

Two other versions of the 50th Anniversary Ventura also were produced by Hamilton but these were made for the Asian market and were never sold in the United States. Two runs of 1,957 watches were crafted, one in yellow gold PVD plate and the other in rose gold PVD plate, both featuring dark bronze dials with the original atomic dial indexes of the Ventura I. These were the first new Hamilton Ventura watches in several years to feature a gold tone case and some of these found their way to the US via online retailers like Ebay. Both are considered to be very rare in the western hemisphere.

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2010 Stainless Steel Elvis Presley Ventura

Not one to let a good thing end, Hamilton decided in 2010 to issue two new special editions of the Ventura to commemorate the 75th birthday of Elvis Presley and these are considered by many to be the most authentic reproduction of the original Ventura to date.

The first one was crafted in stainless steel with a steel expansion bracelet similar to the style of bracelet Elvis wore on his personal white gold Ventura purchased in the 1960’s. The black dial retained the signature jagged line across the center and the atomic themed dial of the original Ventura.

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2010 Gold PVD Elvis Presley Ventura

A yellow gold PVD plated version, also with an expansion bracelet in gold, was available, it too with a black dial and a unique red second-hand similar to the ones found on the rare 18k gold models of the past. Even more unique, both watches could be had with a two-tone leather strap in either black and silver or black and gold, depending on the case material. This was the first time Hamilton had offered such a strap since the original 1957 model debuted. The strap, many collectors believe, show the watch in the true way that its designer, Richard Arbib, intended for the Ventura to look….cool, futuristic, striking and unique and on that front, Arbib and Hamilton succeeded.

Ventura21Today, the Hamilton Ventura is considered to be a truly iconic watch of American design and enduring style. It is available in a variety of versions, sizes and features, from the original design reproductions to the automatic, the chronograph and, since 2010, a modern 21st century reinterpretation that redefines the Ventura in a modern world. No other American watch design is as well known or as long lived as the Ventura and its popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing at all.

If you want to own a watch that is both reasonably priced, iconic in design and steeped in history, look no further than the Hamilton Ventura.

Affordable Style and Quality: The Bulova Adventurer Chronograph 96B137


Bulova is an old name in the wristwatch industry and it certainly has enjoyed its share of time in the spotlight over the past 136 years of its existence, the most notable being the introduction of the world’s first electronic timepiece, the Accutron, in 1960 and the world’s first quartz watch with a continuously sweeping second-hand, the Precisionist, in 2010. While “Made in USA” hasn’t appeared on a Bulova watch in many decades, the company still proudly carries on in its Woodside, New York headquarters as an independent American subsidiary of Citizen Watch Company. The beauty of what you get with a Bulova watch today is a venerable name, a healthy dose of quality construction and a price that won’t break the bank. In 2011, these are all good things. More than that, you can find a variety of designs that make it pretty easy to find something that will catch your eye.

Such is the case with the Bulova Adventurer Chronograph, model 96B137. This beautiful chronograph is a pure blend of vintage and modern that will appeal to anyone that craves the style of “the good old days” but desires the convenience of a modern, accurate timepiece. Executed in a solid stainless steel case, this classy, round style chronograph immediately gives you the impression of an automotive speedometer such as what might be found on an old Hudson or a Cadillac from the 1940’s.

The tri-compax dial is a creamy golden color designed to play with the light and set with contrasting black arabic numerals outlined with silver accents-very art deco in appearance. The subdials are set at the 3, 6, and 9 positions and display a variety of information such as elapsed minutes (9), seconds (6) and a non adjusting 24 time display (3). Their positioning strikes a very balance of harmony that is only slightly marred by the tiny date window cut into the dial at the 4 o’clock position. It’s so small however that it doesn’t really take anything away from it. A black inner track circles the dial and denotes the military hours that correspond with their normal time counterparts. This is more decorative that necessarily needed because the 24 hour time subdial provides this information as well. Adding to the art deco appeal is a raised grouping of concentric circles that connects the Arabic hour numerals from 1 to 11. At the 12 position, it is signed “Bulova” and crowned with the old Accutron line tuning fork logo that is now used across the Bulova line of watches as well.

The central hour and minute hands are displayed in a matte finished aluminum finish, highly stylized and embedded with a liberal amount of luminous material. Both remind me of some kind of old fashioned cutlery, looking like a dagger and a sword and contrasted by an all-black second-hand, tipped with luminous material and offset by a large round counterpoint. This hand remains stationary at the 12 to 6 position until the chronograph mechanism is engaged, after which it counts off the elapsed time in one second increments. A beveled outer minute track and a dark charcoal colored tachymetric scale completes a very classic, vintage inspired watch dial, all protected by a flat mineral glass crystal.

The stainless steel case is polished on its flanks and brushed on its surface, contrasting with a polished and subdued bezel. A brushed finish, screwed-in caseback ensures water resistance up to 50 meters. On the right side of the case are two simple chronograph pushers and a large, vintage crown that is easy to grasp and manipulate, featuring the tuning fork logo etched into its side. A thick padded black leather strap with a chrome tang buckle and logo completes the package.

The high quality, Japanese chronograph movement has been used and tested by both Bulova and Citizen watches and is very accurate. It will time events up to one hour-long by pressing the top chrono pushers and can be paused by depressing the same pusher. Pushing the bottom pusher resets everything to zero again.

The Bulova Adventurer line combines modern technology with just the right splash of retro styling in one very appealing package. If you are connoisseur of old cars or just like old watches, the modern Bulova Adventurer 96B137 should definitely not be overlooked. Even though it is not an expensive Swiss chronograph, it is well designed, constructed of quality materials and should provide many years of trouble free timekeeping. It is also available in other dial and strap variations should you prefer a different look. I personally find it a very striking watch that stands out from the run of the mill crowd of watches that can be found in today’s market.

SUMMARY:

Case: Stainless Steel, about 44mm

Dial: Creamy gold, iridescent with matte finish tri-compax subdials

Movement: Quartz, Chronograph

Functions: Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Second and Minute Counter, 24 hour counter.

Crystal: Mineral Glass

Strap: Black Leather with Tang Buckle

Improvements: At this price range (Under $400), there isn’t much you could ask for to improve this watch. A domed crystal would certainly add to the vintage look of the watch but might make the tachymetric scale harder to read. Otherwise, it would be hard to improve upon.