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Bulova manufactures aesthetically splendid watches for very reasonable prices. Their diverse collections range from sporty dive and pilot wristwear to exquisite golden and Swarowski-covered timepieces.
Inevitably, one starts to wonder whether the bucks would be well spent as the looks of a watch often seem to surpass the market average at a given price point.
So, are Bulova watches good quality and worth purchasing? Will they last longer than typical fashion watches by not disappointing in terms of reliability?
We aim to find answers in this Bulova watches review by covering various factors that define the credibility of the brand.
By the end of this post, you’ll also be aware of the brand’s places of production, quality of calibers, and some of the top models in store.
For those, who prefer a quick glance instead, we’ve conducted an easily readable overview of the study in the following infographic. Not everything is possible to showcase on an image, so make sure to keep reading if you’re interested in a thorough analysis.
Also, make sure not to miss out on our list of the best men’s Bulova watches currently available.
- History of Bulova
- Where Are Bulova Watches Made?
- Watch Movements & Overall Quality
- How Much Is a Bulova Watch?
- So, Are Bulova Watches Good?
- Bulova Watch Collections
- Conclusion: Bulova Watches Review
History of Bulova
Bulova started in 1875 as the J. Bulova Company by Bohemian (Czech) immigrant Joseph Bulova. He opened a small store in downtown New York City with a quest “to craft supreme quality timepieces for an ever-changing and dynamic landscape.”
The brand succeeded in its quest when quality, accurate, and visually stylish timepieces started to fill the market. A lot of the progress can be accredited to the opening of a manufacturing plant in Biel, Switzerland that saw the mass production of watches, an unusual approach in the mid-1910s.
Radio & TV Commercials
Another success factor for Bulova was an innovational marketing approach.
As the watches had already gained admiration for the reliability and appealing looks, it was about a time to take it to broad masses through the first-ever watch commercial on the radio. In 1926, the announcement “At the tone, it’s 8 o’clock, Bulova Watch Time” was heard by millions of Americans.
Bulova continued its quest in an ever-changing and dynamic landscape the world offered by airing the world’s first legal television advertisement on July 1, 1941, before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.
Although lasting 10 seconds and reaching only about a couple of thousand people (apparently, not many TVs were around at the time), Bulova had pushed the boundaries of innovational approaches to product marketing yet again.
The Birth of Bulova Accutron
In 1960, the brand introduced an exceptional Accutron watch that used a 360 Hz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the timekeeping element. The tuning fork was powered by an electronic oscillator circuit, becoming the second electronic watch after the Hamilton Electric.
However, Bulova Accutron offered a whole lot more than Hamilton Electric did.
An essential advantage was that it was much more accurate (if not to say, the most accurate) due to the higher frequency resulted from the tuning fork. It also had a humming sound instead of ticking and a perfect sweeping second’s hand movement.
Bulova – A Space Brand
The magnificence of Accutron paved the way for Bulova’s involvement in America’s space programs when it competed with Omega Speedmaster in becoming the first watch to “set foot on the Moon.”
Omega got the nod. However, astronaut David Scott decided to take his personal Bulova Chronograph with him as a backup for the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.
After the Omega’s crystal had popped off during his second excursion, he used his Bulova during the third.
Later on, the same watch was sold for more than a million dollars, becoming the most expensive astronaut-owned artifact ever sold at auction.
In 2008, Citizen bought the Bulova Watch Company, becoming the parent for this world-famous American brand. The two have a lot in common when both emphasize super accurate watches.
When Citizen has the world’s most accurate quartz movement in Caliber 0100, Bulova has the Precisionist – a watch with a 262 144 Hz crystal that is claimed to be accurate +/-10 seconds per year. The achievement was introduced in 2010 and is one of the trademarks of the brand.
Today, the Bulova Watch Company manufactures several brand watches, including Bulova, Caravelle, and Wittnauer Swiss.
Where Are Bulova Watches Made?
The international diversity of Bulova inevitably raises questions over the origins of its watches.
Although Bulova is an American watch company, its wristwatches are produced in Japan, Switzerland, and Hong Kong. Depending on the budget and model requirements, Bulova orders the watch from a factory that can produce it at a given cost.
Higher-end timepieces, such as Accu-Swiss watches, are manufactured in Switzerland, including movements, cases, and final assembly. Mid-tear watches, such as those in the Bulova brand, come from Japan, while the cheaper-end Caravelle pieces arrive from the Hong Kong factories.
However, when it comes to product development, it is carried out in both of the headquarters in New York and Fribourg, Switzerland. The latter, in fact, was lately acquired to enhance its global position while keeping the virtue of its name.
It is noteworthy that Bulova’s Swiss line of Accu-Swiss, which is formerly known as the Accutron, has had an up-and-down journey lately with watches coming and going from the sale.
The identity crisis the line is facing is clearly visible from Bulova’s homepage, where there’s no reference to these watches at the time of writing.
Watch Movements & Overall Quality
Bulova is considered to produce good quality watches. Of course, comparisons with luxury companies are inappropriate, but given the price point the wristwear is marketed, the bucks spent receive adequate and often more than expected outcomes.
The flagship movement of the brand is, without a doubt, the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) quartz mechanism with a 262 kHz frequency you’ll find from several collections. Produced in Japan, it is one of the most accurate quartzes around.
The Swiss-origin Accu-Swiss watches employ ETA and Sellita automatic and quartz movements, whereas affordable watches come with movements produced by Miyota.
However, many customers have found the basic Miyota quartz movements to be below-par, considering the overall quality of Bulova itself. Thus, the lower-end wristwatches, which, obviously, cost significantly less than others, are not as appreciated.
Bulova is also known for introducing the world’s first curved chronograph movement – a never-before-seen innovation where a slim case is engineered to the contours of the wrist.
Although the movement doesn’t offer anything spectacular in its operation, other than the high-accuracy quartz, it still shows Bulova’s continued commitment to producing user-friendly and convenient timepieces.
As regards to the materials Bulova employs, then watch cases are primarily of stainless steel, while a mineral crystal covers the dial. Sapphire crystal, one of the strongest in the industry, can be found from slightly pricier pieces.
A 3-year warranty, as opposed to a market average of 2 years, is evidence of the brand’s mission readiness to guarantee the buyers the highest reliability.
How Much Is a Bulova Watch?
Given the flashy appeal, which is coupled with very decent quality, the prices of Bulova watches are more than just appealing.
For example, simple and classic Bulova watches cost around $100-$200. The major part of the Harley-Davidson collection, which is neither of them but rather fashion-oriented with a world-known name stamped on it, is priced about the same.
Chronograph-featured quartzes and cheaper automatics cost anywhere between $200-$300. When adding a skeletonized look and a bit of visual flair, the value reaches $400-$500.
The flagships of Bulova, the Precisionist and CURV lines, are priced at $500-$700. Older models are available for a couple of hundred less.
Concluding the prices, Bulova watches cost conveniently between $100-$700, making them accessible for a broad segment of buyers.
Bulova Watch Reputation
However, not only the prices and visual appearance make Bulova watches so sought-after, but also the high reputation they hold.
The most significant driving force behind Bulova’s success has been the brand’s dedication to introducing something new every once in a while. From tuning fork featured Accutron to high-accuracy Precisionist, Bulova’s achievements have earned them numerous sponsorships and cooperations.
Bulova’s technologies have been in use during 46 NASA missions from the mid-1950s to 1970s in instrumental panel clocks and timekeeping mechanisms. The military has employed the watches for timekeeping purposes, as has the Air Force One.
Bulova has also been the official watch for several U.S Olympic teams.
Since it’s largely up to personal preferences in determining who’s producing better watches, let’s just take the most crucial piece of conclusion out of it. That is, Bulova has a solid reputation for producing quality and accurate watches for affordable prices.
So, Are Bulova Watches Good?
Now, the main question: are Bulova watches good and worth purchasing? Yes, they are good and worthwile investments. Why?
The brand has been producing accurate and quality watches throughout its history. Various partnerships with precision-critical requirements don’t just fall into the lap but is earned through consistent hard work.
And considering the valuation of Bulova watches that have gone through numerous innovations and quality assurances, buyers will receive an impeccable price-quality ratio that only a few can match.
Regardless of the shortage of high-end movements, except for the high-accuracy quartzes, the company is highly appreciated for aesthetically beautiful watches, besides being accurate and reliable. Flashy and detail-rich dials are common features among the wristwatches, with vintage reproductions providing a similar effect.
Therefore, Bulova can freely be considered among the best watch brands selling affordable timepieces.
Bulova Watch Collections
Bulova offers more than 300 watches in various styles, from classic and vintage to dive and skeleton. Following, we’ll cover five bestselling collections and models that have received all but positive reviews.
Bulova Precisionist Watches
Out of all the Bulova watches, the Precisionist line is the most advanced. Now being the new flagship collection of Bulova, the watches feature a 262 kHz-frequency quartz movement. By enhancing a typical frequency for more than eight times, the watch can keep an astounding accuracy of +/-10 seconds a year.
A pleasing extra coming with the movement is the gliding motion of the second’s hand, making the Precisionist one of the smoothest sweeping second hand watches in the world.
The standout model is the Precisionist 96B175 with multi-layer black carbon fiber and multi-colored dial. The yellow second’s hand with its sweeping motion (16 beats per second) is the icing on the cake, making the timepiece a visual masterpiece.
46mm case is large enough to accommodate four chronograph subdials that measure to 1/1000th of a second, while water resistance is guaranteed to 300m (990ft), offering the possibility for mixed-gas diving.
A number of these watches are mesmerizing with their eight-hand movement. Gripping aesthetics of the construction in combination with striking stainless steel/rubber bands make sure the Precisionist will impress, no matter the occasion.
Bulova CURV Watches
One of the recent innovations from Bulova is present in the CURV collection.
Ingrained with exquisite craftsmanship, the CURV is the first curved chronograph watch movement. The wristwear is designed to fit conveniently to the wrist, whether it be flat or slender.
The collection features another Bulova’s innovation, the high-accuracy quartz. Thus the two combined make the CURV watch one of the most advanced out of Bulova’s production line.
One particular model that has received uncountable positive reviews is the Bulova CURV 98A161.
Cased in stainless steel, this watch comes with anti-reflective curved sapphire crystal and 262 kHz frequency for precise accuracy. three-hand chronograph, where one of the hands is contrasting blue, is another example of Bulova craftily attracting attention.
An extra feature is the exhibition case back displaying the quartz mechanism, although it’s not as mesmerizing as an automatic movement.
Bulova Marine Star
As the name suggests, the Marine Star collection is suitable for water sports. The line comes with both quartz and automatic movements, and you can expect chronograph functions and open-heart skeletonized dials as well.
Typical water-resistances are 10 ATM and 20 ATM, which are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and shallow diving.
The Bulova Marine Star 98B104 stands out for its aesthetics with the black and rose-gold ion-plated exterior.
The black-patterned dial is covered with mineral crystal, while luminous hands provide visibility in the dark. The Japanese quartz movement is packaged in a 44mm stainless steel case, offering water-resistance to 10 ATM.
Despite being unsuitable for scuba diving, it still makes a perfect watch for water activities.
Bulova Lunar Pilot
This small line in the Archives collection is dedicated to the famous Apollo 15 mission, where an astronaut wore a customized Bulova chronograph.
The Bulova Lunar Pilot 96B251 is also called the Moonwatch. Coming with a six-hand movement and a large 45mm stainless steel case, it runs on a proprietary high-performance UHF quartz caliber.
Anti-reflective sapphire is used as a crystal, while super-luminous hands provide the visibility in dim conditions.
Water-resistance is up to 5 ATM, so only mild contact with water is allowed for the watch to run as expected.
Bulova Maquina Watches
Bulova Maquina is a line out of the Automatic collection, offering wristwear with full skeleton apparel. These adventurous models feature a 21-jewel Japanese Miyota movement and sapphire crystal.
Several of Bulova Maquina pieces feature on our list of the best skeleton watches. So, feel free to check them out.
One of the models, the Bulova Maquina 98A179, catches the eye with its sporty gunmetal style, and a large and rather thick 46mm stainless steel case.
The golden tip of a second’s hand, as well as the golden balance wheel inside the automatic movement, add a special spark to that timepiece. Another unique feature is the watch knob’s location at 2 o’clock.
However, one of the downsides of this model is the short time of afterglow from the luminous hands, which often makes it difficult to read the time in the dark.
Despite the shortage, this Maquina is still one of the most sought-after Bulova watches.
Other Notable Collections
The number of collections that Bulova offers is vast. Since covering all of them in this post would make it a mammoth to read, we’ll make it short and concise.
Besides the previously mentioned five collections and notable models, Bulova has emphasized honoring famous former timepieces in its Archive Series.
The likes of Bulova Chronograph A, a diver’s watch from the 1970s, or Bulova Computron, a digital LED timepiece also from the 70s, bring back the glory days when the watchmaking industry was experiencing enormous changes.
Bulova’s Futuro collection has, as you would expect, futuristic design with perfectly round or perfectly rectangular visual. Quartz and automatic movements come in golden, black, and silver cases. The wristwear make a perfect dress watch for festive occasions.
Bulova Oceanographer, a vintage dive collection from the 1970s, has been remodeled for today’s demands. The “Devil Diver” watches are ISO-certified to 200m (660ft) and feature the characteristic orange, blue-red, and green dials.
There’s also the Crystal collection comprising diamond and Swarovski crystal watches. In fact, the diamonds in Bulova watches are real, and the timepieces look simply stunning.
Other smaller collections, such as Harley-Davidson, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Grammy, are dedicated to the fans of Harleys, architecture, and the red carpet, accordingly.
All the watches come with a 3-year limited global warranty from the date of purchase, covering the parts of the watch that have failed due to original defects in materials or craft under normal use. The company leaves the right to replace the faulty watch with another comparable model.
For profound conditions of the warranty, visit Bulova’s Global Warranty page.
Conclusion: Bulova Watches Review
We hope this Bulova watches review has given you confidence that the brand is more than capable of offering reliable timepieces for the bucks spent.
Bulova’s long and illustrious history, international background, and steadfast reputation are the factors for knowledgeable buyers to convince them that it’s no typical fashion brand. Yes, the timepieces are very fashionable, but the company is not there to earn easy money just for the looks.
So, concluding the review and answering the central question of whether Bulova watches are of good quality – yes, they are! For the luxurious aesthetics of Bulova’s wristwatches, there’s enough quality to last for years to come.
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