Bulova is an American watch brand that has been selling affordable but stylish watches since 1875. These days Bulova watches are more and more common and therefore more people get to know the brand. However, are their watches any good?
Are Bulova watches good? Yes, Bulova watches are good. Bulova uses common but reliable materials to produce their watches such as stainless steel and sapphire crystal. Furthermore Bulova watches also come with a 3 year global warranty.
Now that you know that it’s time to dive into the detials. First we’ll discuss what makes a Bulova watch good. Then we’ll see were Bulova watches are made and if they hold their value. Finally you’ll find a list with the best Bulova models that you can get.
Why Are Bulova Watches Good?
In order to assess if a watch is actually of good quality we’ll have to look at a few aspects. First we’ll see what kind of materials are used in a Bulova watch. Furthermore, we discuss their movements, their innovations and the reliability. Finally we look at the amount of bang you get for your buck.
Use Of Materials
When we look at the materials that are used in a Bulova watch then it becomes clear that the company uses quite common materials. Most of the time their watches have a strap or bracelet that is either made out of 316L stainless steel, leather or silicone. All of these materials are quite common though that doesn’t mean they are of poor quality. Quite the opposite actually since these materials are also very reliable.
Furthermore the case of the watch is almost always made out of stainless steel. The dial of the cover is normally protected by either mineral glass which is very scratch-resistant. Some of their more expensive watches use sapphire glass which is generally considered to be the best material for this purpose. That’s because sapphire glass is more scratch resistant than mineral glass.
What you won’t find in a Bulova watch is exotic materials. Gold and platinum aren’t sold on a Bulova watch because this simply doesn’t fit their brand. What the brand is known for is the variety they have in their portfolio. Bulova doens’t really sell one style of watches. Rather, they have manufacture watches in many different colors and styles so that there’s always a watch that fits your taste.
Now it’s time to look at the movements that Bulova uses for their watches. One thing that is for certain here is that Bulova doesn’t make their own movements. They used to but this practice stopped in the 70’s. These days Bulova sources their movements from different manufacturers all over the world.
In general Bulova has three different quality levels with their movements. At the bottom are the movements that they get from their manufacturers in Hong Kong. These are normally cheap quartz movements that fit the price of the watch in which they are sold (+/- $100).
Secondly there are the Japanese automatic movements. Most of the time the time these automatic movements are made by Miyota. Miyota is a company that is owned by the Citizen group which watches I already discussed here. In general these automatic movements are considered to be of good quality but they aren’t anything special.
Finally there are the Swiss automatic movements. These are almost always unadjusted ETA 2824 movements. ETA is a Swiss manufacturer of movements owned by the Swatch group. They produce good quality watches that are arguably better than the Miyota ones but again, they aren’t anything special.
What’s important to know about these movements and their manufacturers is that Bulova doesn’t produce watches themselves. Rather, the manufacturer that is responsible for making the movement is also responsible for manufacturing the other parts of the watch and its assembly. That’s why Bulova basically has three different quality levels (even though they will never market it like this).
Throughout the years Bulova has been a company that was known for innovation. One of their most notable innovations stems from the 50’s when they introduced their Accutron tuning fork. The name Accutron stands for “Accuracy through electronics” and as you can imagine the watch used technological advancements to achieve greater accuracy.
The Accutron was the first watch with an electronic tuning fork. By developing the transistor movement Bulova was able to achieve great levels of accuracy in those days (especially since quartz movements still weren’t invented). The Accutron models were able to keep accuracy within one second per month.
As the decades eventually slipped by the company lost its innovative edge and so did sales. Eventually Bulova was bought by the Citizen group. At this point things changed for the better and the company started innovating again. Their most notable example is the invention of a three fork quartz movement. This made quartz movements so accurate that they were able to keep time within 10-15 seconds per year.
Besides these innovations Bulova is also the first manufacturer to introduce a watch with a curved case, a curved dial and curved crystal glass. This model (known as the CURV) is another feat of excellent watchmaking.
To see if Bulova watches are truly good we’ll also have to take into account their reliability. One of the main factors that comes into play here is the warranty that Bulova provides with the watches that they sell.
Luckily for you and me they have a three year global warranty as long as you buy your Bulova watch from an authorized dealer. This warranty covers any defects of failures that were caused by the materials that were used or that were caused by the manufacturing process.
As you can imagine, defects that were caused by you or the fact that you let your Bulova watch be serviced by an unauthorized dealer aren’t covered by the warranty.
Besides the warranty Bulova watches are also known to last a very long time. The company has been producing watches for many decades and even today there are still example of vintage, working Bulova models. This shows that the watches are built to last and won’t just fall apart after a few years.
Of course this also depends on the kind of watch you buy. A $600 automatic one with the right servicing will likely last a long time. The cheaper quartz ones most likely won’t become vintage.
Finally there’s another strong suit of Bulova watches: their price. The company sells watches on the lower-end of the watch price spectrum. You’ll be able to buy a Bulova watch for as little as $100. If you want to go for a watch with an automatic ETA movement and sapphire glass then you’re more likely to spend $500+.
This means that their cheaper watches can be compared to Casio and Seiko’s whereas their more ‘expensive’ ones can be compared to more expensive Seiko’s or Citizen watches. In general Bulova watches are considered to be worthy competitors to these brands although some will say Seiko’s and Citizens are a bit better considering that they do built their own movements.
Are Bulova Watches Considered Luxury?
No, Bulova watches aren’t considered luxury watches and there’s very good reason for that. In order for a watch to be considered a luxury brand it will have to use some form of exotic materials. Options to choose from are platinum, high-quality titanium gold or jewels such as diamonds. Bulova watches don’t have any of these materials and therefore they aren’t very valuable.
Secondly, each brand that is considered a luxury watch makes their own movements in-house. As was already mentioned Bulova outsources this process to countries such as Hong Kong, Japan and Switzerland. I think everyone can agree that a watch that’s made in Hong Kong isn’t considered a luxury.
Besides the place of production many watches also have a quartz movement. Quartz movements are very accurate but are also very cheap to make. A luxury watch will always have an automatic movement of some sort because these movements require human intervention and craftsmanship. In turn, this makes the watches more expensive and they are therefore considered luxurious.
Will Bulova Watches Hold Value?
No, Bulova watch won’t hold their value. There are several reasons for that but the main one is already explained above: Bulova isn’t a luxury. As a rule of thumb only luxurious watches will hold their value because they have the materials and craftsmanship to be considered collectible.
Besides the fact that Bulova watches have very little collectible value there’s more to the story. You must know that watches in general aren’t very good in holding their value. If you buy a watch new (it almost doesn’t matter which brand it is) it will lose around 10-20% of its value in the first 3 years. This means that you’ll lose about 30-60% of the value of your watch in the first three years.
If you’re indeed looking for a Bulova watch that holds it value it’s best to buy a vintage one. That’s because these watches have already lossed most of their value and they are therefore more stable in price. For example, vintage Accutron watches are a good pick.
Are Bulova Watches Worth The Money?
Whether or not a Bulova watch is worth the money depends on whether or not you like the watch. As I already explained above watches aren’t very good investment opportunities. For this single reason you should buy a watch because you like the looks of it. In the end, you’re the one that will have it around your wrist all day long.
If you’re looking for a watch that has a lot of prestige then Bulova watches most likely aren’t for you. Bulova is a good brand but it certainly doesn’t have a lot of prestige if you compare it to Omega’s or Grand Seiko’s. If you’re looking for an affordable, stylish day-to-day watch and you don’t want to worry about whether or not you’ll lose a lot of money on it then a Bulova watch is most likely a good pick.
A Review Of Different Bulova Models
Now that you know that Bulova watches are affordable, stylish and reliable watches it’s time to see which ones are your best pick these days. Of course this completely depends on your personal taste. However, below I’ve compiled a list of watches that are crowd favorites.
Bulova Precisionist Chronograph (96B175)
If you’re looking for a modern Bulova with a lot of character then the Precisionist Chronograph is likely to fit your taste. The strap or bracelet of the watch can be bought in stainless steel, leather or silicone. The bezel and the 46.5mm stainless steel case are almost always made out of stainless steel. The black dial of the watch is covered by mineral glass which is a very scratch resistant material.
What makes this watch unique is the fact that it has a quartz movement with sweeping seconds. Sweeping seconds means that the hand that is in charge of displaying the seconds isn’t ticking but it ”glides” across the dial. This is normally only seen with automatic movements but Bulova has been able to perform this with a quartz movement.
If this isn’t already impressive enough they have also gone along and made this watch a chronograph. The chronograph is so accurate that it’s able to display the correct time up to a 1/1000th of a second.
Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph (96B251)
Then there’s one of the best watches that Bulova has to offer these days: the Lunar Pilot Chronograph. As the name already says this is a chronograph watch which means it has many features. These include the chronograph itself, date, hour, minute and seconds.
When we look at the design of the watch you’ll find that the watch comes with two interchangeable straps. One is a textured black leather while the other one is made of black nylon with nubuck leather. The case of the watch is made out of stainless steel as well as the bezel. Finally the dial of the watch is protected with sapphire glass which means it’s very scratch resistant.
Finally the movement is what Bulova likes to call a ”high performance quartz movement”. This means the watch uses a three-pong quartz crystal which allows it to vibrate eight times faster than a regular quartz movement. The end result of this feat of engineering is a greater accuracy.
Bulova Essentials (96C105)
The Bulova Essentials is another timepiece who’s main selling point has to be its design. What immediately catches your eyes with this watch is the black enamel dial. On it you’ll find a 24-hour, a date subial and a day subial. All of this is displayed in quite a minimalistic fashion which I personally like a lot about this watch.
Furthermore the 40mm case of the watch as well as the bracelet are made out of stainless steel. The black dial is protected by mineral glass which is the right type material for a watch in this price range. Furthermore you’ll find that a Japanese quartz movement is in charge of making the whole operation run smoothly. You can pick one up for around $300.