Bulova is a New York watchmaker that was founded in 1875. Throughout the years they have made some good watches but sometimes people wonder if Bulova is a high end watchmaker. Let’s take a look at that!
Is Bulova a high end watch? No, Bulova watches aren’t considered high end. Most watches are sold within a $100 – $600 price range. However, that doesn’t mean that the watches are of poor quality. The Accutron and Precisionist series are considered the most high end Bulova watches.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way it’s time to dive into a bit more detail. Let’s first see if Bulova is a good watch brand in general or if you can better avoid them. Furthermore we’re going to see which Bulova watches give the most bang for your buck.
Is Bulova A Good Watch Brand?
In general Bulova watches are considered good watches. The watches are generally decently priced (although some collectors would say their are over-priced). Ultimately, there are a few factors that determine if a watch is ”good” or not and those boil down to innovation, quality and craftmanship. Let’s see how well Bulova does on these fronts.
Looking at innovation it becomes clear that Bulova has definitely had some success in the past. In the 1950’s they invented the Accutron tuning fork. Accutron stands for “Accuracy through electronics”.
It therefore became the first electronic watch with a tuning fork. By developing the transistor movement Bulova was able to develop a very accurate timekeeping mechanism. It was so accurate that it would keep the correct time within a minute a month. That was amazing development for that time.
In 2008 the company was eventually bought by Citizen. At that point quality had slipped and innovations weren’t really made anymore. That changed when the company created a three fork quartz movement. This is the most accurate analog watch movement in the industry with a precision of 10-15 seconds per year.
Finally, Bulova is also the only watch company to introduce a curved model. This means that the case, dial and crystal are curved so they fit better on the arm.
The quality of Bulova watches depends on a few factors. Generally speaking the higher end watches will have better materials, movements and casings.
Let’s first look at the ”heart” of the watch: the movement. Bulova buys their movements in three different countries: Switzerland, Japan or Hong Kong. Their upper-tier watches use a movement that is made in Switzerland.
This is then followed by their mid-tier watches that use a movement from Japan. The most affordable models will use a movement that is made in Hong Kong. As you can imagine the movements that are mass produced in Hong Kong aren’t as good as the ones made in Japan or Switzerland.
The same goes for the casings. If the movement is made in Switzerland then the casing will be made there as well. This means that Bulova basically has three different kind of quality levels.
Finally, assembly is also done in the same country as were the order is placed. This means that when Bulova orders watches from their Japanese manufacturer, this manufacturer is completely responsible for production from A to Z.
Finally there is the factor of craftmanship. In the case of Bulova watches there is very little craftmanship in the products that they produce. All Bulova watches are mass produced which means machines do all the work. That isn’t strange for watches at this price point but it is something to keep into account if you’re looking for a hand-crafted watch.
Are Bulova Watches Expensive?
Bulova watches aren’t very expensive if you compare them to most luxury brands such as Rolex, Omega or Grand Seiko. You can already buy a Bulova watch if you have $100 in your pocket. If you want the most expensive Bulova watch then you’re most likely looking at the $1.000 range.
Depending on your budget this doesn’t necessarily mean that Bulova is cheap, but they certainly aren’t expensive either.
Most High End Bulova Watches
Within the portfolio of Bulova there are two series that are considered to be the most high-end. If you’re looking for a vintage watch then the Accutron series is most likely your best bet. If you’re looking for a more modern watch then the Precisionist serie is most likely the one for you.
The Bulova Accutron is propably the most iconic watch this company has ever produced. As said the Accutron allowed the watch to be much more accurate than it’s Swiss automatic counterparts.
This new technology utilzied a 360-hertz tuning fork in combination with a one-transistor electronic oscillator. This was a revolution compared to the traditional balance wheels that were used at the time.
One of the most interesting feautures about this watch is the fact that it makes a humming sound instead of the traditional ticking sound. This is caused by the vibration of the tuning fork inside of the watch.
The first Accutron is called the Spaceview 214 and features a now-famous open dial which shows off the high-tech movements within the watch. This also deviated from the traditional design of a watch at the time.
Another vintage Accutron is called the Accutron Astronaut. This is because Bulova lent it’s expertise to NASA during the 1960’s space race with the Soviet Union. Bulova helped outfit numerous satellites with Accutron technology.
At the time, all time keeping instruments aboard the manned spacecraft missions of NASA were equipped with Accutron tuning fork technology. This includes the machines that were used during the first spacewalk that was ever made. For this reason Accutron also released the Accutron Astronaut which has Buzz Aldrin’s signature on the on the back of the case.
If you’re looking for a vintage Bulova Accutron Spaceview or Astronaut you’re most likely looking at a price tag between $800 – $2500.
If your looking for a more modern Bulova then the Precisionist series is most likely to fit your taste. The Precisionist features an unique movement. This is unlike any other quartz movement you have ever seen.
The movement is incredibly accurate and uses a smooth sweeping seconds. That’s one of it’s unique selling points. Although the sweeping seconds is probably already enough to set it apart, Bulova also made a chronograph version of this model. The chronograph version is so accurate that it measures the correct time up to 1/1000th of a second.
Looking at the design of the watch it becomes clear that Bulova didn’t really go for a subtle design. The watch itself is quite big and heavy weighing in at aroudn 260 grams. Furthermore the four screws on the face of the watch make the watch quite an attention grabber.
The strap of a Bulova Precisionist Chronograph comes in varies forms. You can pick a stainless steel, a rubber band or a leather strap. This makes the watch very versatile. The watches are generally sold around the $800 mark.