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.
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.