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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The Spaceview Reborn: The Accutron II Alpha


IMG_6621This past Christmas, my wife and son thoughtfully gave me a new timepiece that I have actually wanted for some time now but kept allowing other watches to get in the way. Sometimes a gift is the only way to get something that you keep putting off yourself and I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful new Bulova Accutron II “Alpha” watch waiting for me under the tree. Bulova should be pretty happy with me as this is the third Accutron II watch to come into my hands since they hit the market late last summer.

I’ve reviewed the first two that I purchased myself here on Measure of Time in recent months, beginning with the Moonview, an homage to the old Accutron Astronaut and the Snorkel, which is a dead ringer for the original Accutron diving watch. In both cases, however, my review came only after a day or so of use, just long enough for me to get a good feeling for them and to write something credible to evaluate them. This time around, I decided to wait until after I had worn the watch for a while before writing a review and I’m glad I did. This Accutron II has become my favorite of the three and indeed has become a favorite in my collection.

AlphaThe Alpha is based on one of the original Accutron watch designs from late 1960, when the revolutionary tuning fork watch was first introduced to the public for sale. The 1960 version of the Alpha was a halo model for the new brand, available only in white or yellow gold. Some came with dials, others went without, earning the “Spaceview” designation and it is that particular watch that this new one is based upon. The updated Alpha incorporates a very close approximation of the styling and shape of the original model, resembling a rounded shield design with 60’s looking lugs on the bottom that conform nicely to the shape of the case.

Coming in at a modern 42mm, the size is more in keeping with today’s watch trends without being overly large and unwieldy like some designs have become. The stainless steel case features a variety of sculpted surfaces that work harmoniously together, both polished and brushed. The upper case surrounding the crystal features a brushed finish that radiates outward in a sunburst pattern, a vintage touch not usually found on today’s watches, while the sides feature both a beveled polished finish and a brushed flat side. The variety of surfaces, polishes and angles make for a watch that photography has a hard time capturing the beauty of, yet in person it is quite striking and different from anything that is run of the mill.

IMG_5319The overall construction of the case is unique as well because it is formed of two separate pieces, upper and lower. The lower piece comprises both the back and the lugs as one solid piece while the upper piece forms the sides and top of the case and holds the crystal. The movement is sandwiched between these two pieces and held together by four screws on the back. It feels very solid and substantial and the crown at the 3 O’Clock position tucks neatly into the side of the case, virtually hidden from view.

Original Alpha 214 models featured the crown on the back of the case, further highlighting the difference between an Accutron and conventional wristwatches that required frequent winding and time correction. The case is water-resistant to 30 meters which means if you accidentally submerge the watch it should be fine. Just don’t swim in it.

IMG_3626Here also is a picture of the inside of the case back. Note the construction, stainless steel, and the lugs which are part of the case back. This forms the composite watch with the movement and top shown above.

A raised and domed K1 hardened mineral crystal is seated tightly into the case, allowing one not only to read the time but to get a glimpse of the exposed electronic movement that recalls the original Accutron Spaceview. Imprinted on the underside of the crystal are the words “Bulova Accutron II” in white. While some may wish for sapphire glass, I have found the mineral crystal to be substantial enough and clear. There is some refraction at extreme angles but it adds to beauty of the dial, or lack of dial if you prefer.

IMG_3628There are no exposed tuning forks in this modern version but you do get to see the copper wire coil and the movement is seated in green plastic similar to the original Spaceview. Covering the movement is a gold metallic plate that highlights various apertures for seeing jeweled pinions in place. The plate features a radiating sunburst pattern that plays nicely with the finish of the case. A solid anodized aluminum chapter ring, rendered in a deep and beautiful shade of green, features the minutes in white hash marks with a round marker set at each hour. The Accutron tuning fork logo is featured at the 12 O’Clock position and all hours markers are filled with luminous material. The chapter ring, along with the white pointed hands make it very easy to read the time. The hands are identical to those used on original Spaceview models and they are filled with luminous material as well. The second-hand features the Accutron logo as a counterpoint and this is what brings out the best aspect of the movement.

The watch is fitted with a BA101.10 movement (this is engraved on the gold plate, along with the tuning fork logo) that is the latest movement to spring from the Bulova Precisionist technology introduced in 2010. To create the Accutron II line and keep the watch size within reason, Bulova needed to have a smaller movement while retaining a battery lifespan of 2-3 years. This new movement lowers the operating frequency down to help the smaller battery achieve that. While this had the effect of decreasing the Precisionist’s accuracy somewhat, the Accutron II is still considered to be an ultra high frequency watch that is considerably more accurate than a standard quartz movement, up to six times more accurate to be, well…accurate.

This class of movement features a proprietary quartz torsional resonator that uses a three prong quartz crystal and not the usual two and beats 16 times per second, resulting in a second-hand that sweeps in a fluidic, continuous motion, the hallmark of an Accutron watch. The name, which originally meant “Accuracy through Electronics” has once again been realized.

IMG_3625The watch features a black leather strap, embossed in an alligator pattern which is both padded, yet pliable. While it is a bit long, it is easy to customize the size via the adjustable butterfly deployant clasp, a pleasant surprise at this price point. I will admit that I wasn’t a big fan of this clasp at first and immediately wanted to put a traditional buckle on it but I didn’t have one that worked so I decided to wear it with the included clasp. Having worn the watch for four weeks now, I’ve grown to appreciate it a lot more and have gotten used to how it works with the leather strap. I like them on metal bracelets but it takes a little getting used to when dealing with leather. The clasp itself is nice and features a polished tuning fork logo raised in a surrounding circle of bead blasted finish.

Speaking of the tuning fork logo, it is featured no less than six times on the watch: chapter ring, dial-plate, counterpoint, crown, clasp and back. Bulova has discontinued the use of the tuning fork logo on its other lines of watches for the most part, bringing the logo back for use exclusively in the Accutron II line, a decision I agree with. That logo was once what set an Accutron apart from any other kind of timepiece and it is now back where it belongs.

So what are my thoughts on this new Alpha? Simply put, I love the entire package. It is well crafted, substantial and unique in design. The fit and finish are superb, especially in a watch that retails for under $500.00 USD. The movement has not lost nor gained a second in four weeks of daily wear and the strap is well made, comfortable and adjustable. Like the other watches in the Accutron II portfolio, it looks like an Accutron that recalls the 1960’s in a package designed for 21st century. Plus it’s mesmerizing to look at. The combination of polishes and finishes, the rare look at a quartz based movement, the beautiful green and gold tones of the movement, the smooth second-hand and the interesting design of the case all work well together.

IMG_5316From what I have been able to determine, the watch features a Swiss made case and is assembled in Switzerland while the movement is crafted in Japan. This would explain why the case is so well made with such excellent fit and finish. This picture shows the case back inside.

Fans of the original Accutron should be very pleased with this new version of an iconic watch design. All of the Accutron II watches I have seen and reviewed indicate that Bulova is headed in the right direction with this series and I look forward to seeing what else they come out with. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this beautiful homage to a historic line of watches that literally changed timekeeping over 50 years ago.

Note: I should have included a word about the accuracy of the Alpha. After one month of wear, I found no deviation of time from the atomic clock signal I used to set it initially. I’m sure there will be some differences among Accutron II owners due to different types of wear, exposure to magnetic fields, etc. but overall, the accuracy if the watch is dead on the money for me. 

Follow Up: Ten Months

I have to say that the most surprising thing about the Accutron II Alpha after ten months of ownership is the surprising amount of wrist time it gets. Quite often, I’ll get a new watch, wear it for several weeks and then begin to lose interest in it. Other watches beg to be worn and eventually the once-coveted timepiece ends up in a drawer where the battery will eventually die. Such has not been the case with the Alpha.

While my initial enthusiasm for the watch has diminished somewhat, I would prefer to think that it has mainly just leveled off. The Alpha generally gets some amount of wrist time every week. I’ll open the box, look through the collection and that green dial and sweeping hand always gets my attention. Unlike most Bulova watches, this one is definitely a unique look and it stands out. More often that not, I’ll leave home with it on my wrist for the day.

Having worn it a lot over the past ten months, I’ve been impressed with the accuracy of the watch. Despite what they may claim, the Accutron II Alpha might gain one second every four months. That’s it. It set it on Christmas Day, I reset it when the time changed in March and as I write this just days before the fall time change, the watch is exactly 1.5 seconds faster than my atomic clock signalized digital clock. That is impressive for any watch and certainly for one that is under $500.00.

A few things I don’t like about the watch or rather, I would change if I could.

  • I still wish the watch was just a little bit smaller. It’s still vastly right-sized when compared to the Precisionist models and their Incredible Hulk sized cases but I wish it was about 40mm and it would be perfect.
  • I have come to wish that it did have a sapphire crystal, even if it drove the cost up. The clarity of sapphire is just so much better than any mineral crystal. Make the crystal sapphire, remove the Bulova name from the crystal and increase the font a bit on the Accutron II. Call it what it is, just like the originals.
  • With a slightly reduced case size, decrease the lug width to 20mm. With a 21mm lug width, you are going to have considerably less choice out there in aftermarket straps and bracelets. Most of them are sized in even-numbered sizes, which means for a really nice leather strap, you are going to have to force a 22mm strap to fit or go with a 20mm strap which leaves the spring bars visible. Same with a mesh or metal strap-there are very few 21mm metal bracelets out there and with metal, your only real choice is to go down a size to 20, which means it will fit loosely. The Accutron II Moonview I have has a 20 mm lug width and gives me a wide array of choices. Changing bands and bracelets is like changing neckties and can bring a whole new look to a watch.

Having said all that, I’m still very impressed with what Bulova has done and I really hope they will consider doing a few more Spaceview homages of other models in the future.

Bulova Accutron II “Snorkel” Review


B7A8CF4C-FD66-4794-93DF-19D0706A5CB4_zpsxwuw0zicThis week, I’m reviewing another great watch recently released by the Bulova Watch Company under their new Accutron II line of watches. Just to recount some previously covered ground, Bulova ceased producing watches under the Accutron name earlier this year and reintroduced that line as “Bulova AccuSwiss” to denote their high-end line of Swiss-made watches. Doing this accomplished two things. It righted a wrong in the minds of many purists who just could not connect the dots between the original Accutron tuning fork watch of the 1960’s/1970’s and the present day Swiss automatic watches that have now carried the Accutron name for many years. To many, it seemed that the watch that pioneered ACCUracy through elecTRONics had nothing to do with a mechanical wristwatch. It also freed up the Accutron name for use on something more befitting it’s heritage, which was the introduction of the Accutron II line in the Bulova portfolio.

Accutron II, the name of which implies a totally new generation of Accutron wristwatches, blends what is old with what is new. The line, which appears to be positioned between the standard Bulova line and the Precisionist line, is comprised of five distinct versions in a variety of styles, all of which are drawn from the original Accutron archives and updated to appeal to a modern audience. This particular review will cover one of the most interesting versions, the Accutron II Snorkel which, in the 96B208 version is a pure homage to the original in almost every way.

The Snorkel line is the only line of Accutron II watches that are rated to a 200 meter water resistance level. At this rating, the watch is acceptably designed for swimming and light diving. The original Snorkel was rated to a depth of 666 feet or roughly 200 meters so Bulova stayed the course with the updated version. More on that later.

Original Accutron Snorkel

Original Accutron Snorkel

First, the case of the watch is crafted in stainless steel, shaped to resemble the original. It has a distinctive 1960’s/1970’s style that was popular at the time but which went out as quartz watches and their new thin designs became prevalent. This funky retro, colorful watch style has come back in recent years, especially in brands such as Zodiac and Bulova has perfectly captured the design of the original while upsizing the case to 43mm to conform with the larger styles of the 21st century. The original was about 38mm, which at the time was considered to be a large watch.

0f91d29b-2632-45e4-addd-ce8cc5714dfe_zpsa834638aThe surface of the case is mostly rendered in a light brush finish with polished highlights such as the thin bezel ring around the crystal and a polished chamfer that runs up both sides of the case. The right side features two crowns like the original, the lower one used for setting the time and date while the upper one rotates an internal elapsed time bezel that surrounds the main dial. Oddly, the lower crown is  screw-down style while the upper crown is not. The lower crown also features the Accutron tuning fork logo introduced on the original Accutrons in 1960.

The back of the watch is a screw-in type back, which is not surprising given the watch’s 200m water resistance. It is simple, brushed with polished accents and is signed with the serial number as well as the year production code (B4 for 2014). So is it a serious diver’s watch? I don’t think it is but at 200m, it should be fine swimming, snorkeling and light diving.

The dial is black with thin chrome indices filled with luminous material. It is a stark and simple dial with the slightest hint of a sunburst pattern and is signed “Bulova Accutron II” with the Accutron logo above it. The bezel ring, in orange and white, surrounds the dial and rotates in either direction you turn it. The hour and minute hands are white with luminous materials while the second hand is bright orange and stands out noticeable against the black dial.

Protecting the dial is a K1 mineral crystal. According to various watch sources, K1 mineral is a type of watch crystal that is hardened, more shatter-resistant than sapphire crystal, and more scratch-resistant than regular mineral crystal. This will not deter those that won’t consider a watch unless it has a sapphire crystal but I suppose that Bulova was trying to keep the price as reasonable as possible. On this example, the crystal is slightly raised and domed, which adds to the vintage appeal of the watch in a way that a flat mineral crystal could not.

The movement of this watch is one of the defining factors that makes this a unique timepiece. To get the size it wanted from the new Accutron II watches, Bulova built a new movement based on the Precisionist model, but smaller and thinner. To accomplish this and use a smaller battery, they had to make some modifications that lowered the accuracy rating from that of a Precisionist (accurate to within 10 seconds a year) but is still up to six times more accurate than that of a standard quartz type wristwatch. The torsional resonator movement beats at a rate of 16 beats per second, which gives the second hand the appearance of a completely smooth sweeping action, a hallmark of the original Accutron.

photo copy 31This particular model is only available with a mesh bracelet, which works well for this design. There are other versions of the Snorkel with different dial configurations and these feature a 60’s style coffin-link bracelet. The mesh bracelet, while attractive and vintage appropriate, fits oddly on my wrist. Rather than use a conventional clasp, Bulova elected to use a butterfly clasp and the bracelet is a combination of solid mesh with several removable bar links on either side of the clasp. Removing more than 6 links (the bracelet is quite large) resulted in difficulty closing the clasp as the bar links do not bend to conform to the shape of it. I decided to remove the bracelet and replace it with a period appropriate rally strap which I think goes well with the watch.

Overall, I think that Bulova has developed a credible vehicle from which to launch a reimagined Accutron watch line. The combination of proven designs from the 1960’s, accuracy much higher than probably 98% of the watches made today from a unique movement, a good price point ($450 to $650 USD), quality construction and a company with a storied history makes for a watch that should be a home run for Bulova.

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.

Rod-Serling-Hamilton-Wristwatch

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.

ElvisVentura

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.

VenturaElvis

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.

Elvis50g

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.