Bulova is an American watch brand that has been contributing numerous advancements and milestones to the watchmaking industry since 1875. Now owned by Citizen Watch Co., this New York City-based brand has stood the test of time. Well into the 21st century, this legendary brand still continues to produce innovative collections of watches that are well-loved by many.
Bulova: An Iconic Brand of Many Firsts
Throughout Bulova’s long and rich history in watchmaking, it has achieved many “firsts” in the world of watches. This iconic American watch brand served as a pioneer in many ways through the decades — from electronic watches to curved chronographs. Because of this feat, Bulova remains as one of the most significant and recognizable watch brands in the world. It’s among the toughest yet underrated competitors in the world of watches, and it has the history to prove it.
Some Bulova watches may cost a pretty penny, but that’s because they hold a piece of history along with their functionality and elegant designs. Apollo 15 mission commander Dave Scott’s Bulova Chronograph, for example, was among the first timekeeping pieces that have reached the surface of the Moon. Bulova Classic pieces also present nostalgic Bulova vintage watch designs along with modern improvements.
How much is a Bulova watch?
Bulova Precisionist 98B229
Bulova Classic 98A177
|Bulova Classic 96B288||$320 USD||46.5mm|
Bulova Chronograph 98A252
Bulova Marine Star 98A227
Bulova CURV Chronograph 98A185
Bulova Computron Special Edition Archive Series 97C110
31.1mm x 40.3mm
Bulova Marine Star 96B256
Bulova Chronograph 98A246
Bulova’s Watch Collections
Since its foundation, Bulova has produced diverse collections of watches, with each timepiece giving off its own unique style. The brand’s collections take inspiration from more than a century’s worth of rich tradition mixed in with modern innovations. Whether it’s Bulova men’s watches or women’s watches, there’s a quality timepiece for everyone and for every occasion.
Prices for the Bulova Chronograph: A Multifunctional Timepiece for People On-the-Go
A chronograph functions both as a watch and as a stopwatch, and Bulova’s chronographs also boast a calendar feature to further improve their functionality. Like most of the brand’s pieces, the Bulova Chronograph has been around for quite some time and has built quite a reputation for accuracy and reliability. Most pieces in this collection are highly intricate with a modern look to them, perfect for a contemporary lifestyle. Some of their chronographs, on the other hand, still retain the vintage design of their classic watches.
You can snag a modern-looking quartz Bulova Chronograph for only $350 USD. Meanwhile, if you prefer one with a more vintage vibe to it, expect to shell out at least $100 USD more. The Bulova Chronograph 98A252 is priced at $450 USD.
Prices for the Bulova Hack: A Historic Military Timepiece for Vintage Watch Lovers
Throughout the course of World War II, Bulova worked with the U.S. government to supply military watches that boast high precision and superb functionality. To meet the strict demands of the U.S. military, the brand produced the original Bulova A-11 watches. During the war, the A-11 watches provided specialized functions that were crucial to the military. One such function was the use of a hand-wound movement. This allowed the fighters to “hack” the seconds hand and synchronize their movements as they carried out their missions with extreme precision. These watches later became known as “Hack” watches, a staple for vintage watch collectors and history buffs alike.
The Bulova Hack has functionality as its topmost priority, but the brand never takes the style out of the equation. With that said, the “stripped” and simple look of the Hack definitely gives it a unique vintage charm to it. The design is not flashy at all, and its steel has a duller brushed finish which gives off the appearance that the watch is the result of manual workmanship. However, this watch’s clean design still makes it a viable and stylish choice for formal events.
Modern Hack watches kept most aspects of their original design — 24-hour dials, tough stainless steel cases, and a durable NATO-style leather strap. These military watches are tough as nails and last long because of Bulova’s quality materials, which is definitely a bargain for just around $200 USD. Despite not being one of the most expensive Bulova watches, the Hack certainly has a luxurious vintage appeal. The updated design has fairly broad hands that point to a standard index to provide more precision. At the five-minute marks, there are also wider hashes that make it easier to tell time even in the dark. Although the Bulova Hack is a historic piece, Bulova’s updated versions of this watch incorporate modern innovations to fit the contemporary lifestyle. This vintage Bulova watch boasts an automatic mechanical movement with a 42-hour power reserve.
Prices for the Bulova Marine Star: Bold Contrasts for the Modern Man
When it comes to Bulova men’s watches, the Bulova Marine Star is among the brand’s most interesting collections. Although it’s been around for decades now, the Marine Star collection is a classic model of dive watches that still hold their charm. With its bold accents and multiple functions, the Bulova Marine Star collection features timepieces that are both sporty and fashionable.
The Marine Star collection has big, automatic watches that are perfect for people on the go. Bulova Marine Star watches typically have some eye-catching details that give them flair and outstanding character. In contrast to the Bulova Hack’s more simplistic designs, the Marine Star watches have more intricate and complex design elements. Although they aren’t true dive watches and lack enough water resistance for you to dive with them, they do have rotating bezels and some details that give them a more nautical feel. Furthermore, given the emphasis on details and the quality of the brand itself, these watches look more luxurious than they already are at roughly the $300–$400 USD price range.
One of the most highly-coveted models is the Bulova Marine Star 98A227, which has an interesting contrast of a blue dial and rose gold plating, providing an exquisite aesthetic that truly stands out. As the watch’s pièce de résistance, it also has an open aperture within its dial. Although it’s a small detail, it gives the watch a tremendous boost in its overall appearance. To further add to the watch’s excellent visual contrast, the silicone band also has two tones, with the visible side of the band having a blue color that matches the dial and a deep red line on the band’s underside to provide a striking contrast. Aside from the watch’s remarkable visual appeal, the silicone band makes the watch highly suitable for everyday wear.
Prices for the Bulova Classic: Nostalgic and Time-Tested Craftsmanship
The Bulova Classic collection features Bulova’s more familiar watch designs that have stood the test of time. This large catalog of watches showcases the sublime craftsmanship of the brand that has endured for many years. The quality, durability, and well-loved designs that made Bulova successful are highly prominent in this catalog of watches. Because of this large and diverse collection, there are many different styles to choose from. These watches are also highly versatile and are apt for any occasion. Not to mention, the classics age well and never go out of style.
One of the models that stand out in the Classic collection is the Bulova Classic 97A136, an automatic watch that’s as versatile as a vintage Bulova watch gets. With its rose gold case, hands, and markers, it’s a classic that’s as fit for dressy wardrobes as it is for everyday wear. Priced roughly at $300 USD, this watch showcases an automatic Miyota movement through its open aperture and exhibition caseback — details that surely pique the interest of anyone seeing them. They add a modern look to the watch, and some might even say they appear retro-futuristic.
Like many watches in the Classic collection, the Bulova Classic 97A136 also has Bulova’s signature tuning fork logo adorning the 12 o’clock marker. This tuning fork logo, while a small detail in itself, provides another interesting visual point to the watch. Far from being boring, Bulova Classic watches can definitely add an exquisite touch to any wardrobe.
Prices for the Bulova Computron: Contemporary Digital Watches with a Hint of Retro
The Bulova Computron watches are certainly remarkable accent pieces — they’re retro yet futuristic, which is an aesthetic that very few can pull off. This iconic brand surely did, though, because the Computron turned out to be a must-have piece for watch collectors and vintage lovers worldwide. During the quartz crisis of the 1970s to the early 1980s, digital watches became the norm and took reign in the watchmaking industry. As watch companies began innovating in order to meet the changing demands in this disruptive era, Bulova rose to the occasion. In doing so, they released a digital watch that shows the time using light-emitting diodes (LED) and branded it the Bulova Computron.
The Computron was Bulova’s first-ever LED watch, and it certainly is one of a kind. With its trapezoidal case and angular designs, the Computron gave off a clean, sharp look that appealed to many during its launch. With its futuristic look, it’s unique among all the Bulova men’s watches in that it strays far away from the brand’s traditional designs. Its shiny gold color also boasts a luxurious appeal, giving off the appearance of wearing a gold bar for a watch. For those who aren’t a fan of the gold color, the watch also came in a chrome color.
The digital aspect of the watch made it extremely easy for wearers to tell the time. They didn’t have to read the hands and squint to distinguish between the lines. Instead, they just had to read the numbers. To view the time, however, wearers had to push a button. This may sound like a bit of a hassle, but it’s for the best because it means that the LEDs aren’t glaring all the time and draining the battery. When the LED lights are off, the watch still makes for a handsome accessory.
Bulova revived this iconic watch during Baselworld in 2019, to the delight of many patrons. The modern Bulova Computron is nearly identical to the ones popular back in the ‘70s, giving the watch a retro feel. They also began producing the Computron watches in black, in addition to the original color choices of gold and chrome. How much is a Bulova watch with this stellar reputation, anyway? Surprisingly, you can get a modern version of this vintage Bulova watch for around $350 USD, which isn’t a lot to pay for a groundbreaking piece of history. Of course, truly vintage ones may come at a higher price. The interesting juxtaposition between the futuristic and nostalgic aspects of this watch makes it a one-of-a-kind collector’s item and an everyday accessory.
Prices for the Bulova Oceanographer: Vintage Watches that Dive into the Deep
In contrast to the Marine Star, the Bulova Oceanographer is a true dive watch and an exceptional one at that. The brand first released its first dive watches in 1961, right when recreational diving was first gaining popularity. To cater to this rising market, Bulova improved their watches and produced pieces that could top most dive watches at the time. This gave rise to the Bulova Oceanographer Snorkel — otherwise known as the Devil Diver. The Snorkel was a groundbreaking piece that was capable of withstanding depths of 666ft (203m), around 6ft (1.8m) deeper than most dive watches at the time. It was a watch of spectacular durability and functionality, and further paved the way for the brand’s continued success in watchmaking.
The Devil Diver gained significant traction upon its release and became a first in the brand’s succession of iconic Oceanographer watches. This model adopted a crosshair design in its dial, which was a popular choice during the time of its release. It also featured a strong compression case, to which it owes its deep diving capabilities. Because of the Devil Diver’s unwavering reliability, it quickly became a favorite among divers, sailors, and other professionals. Some vintage models of the Bulova Oceanographer watch cost upwards of $1,300 USD, making them some of the most expensive Bulova watches in the market.
Bulova released new Oceanographer watches for its Archive Collection at the 2018 Baselworld. This collection reached considerable success, and the brand eventually added more colors to choose from, such as the Bulova Oceanographer 96B322 in turquoise blue. The modern Bulova Oceanographer watches also feature the popular aspects of the Devil Diver, such as the crosshair design, two-toned bezels, and an anti-reflective coating that protects the dials.
Prices for the Bulova Accutron: Revolutionary Electronic Watches
One of Bulova’s most notable collections is the Bulova Accutron watches. The Accutron, coined from the words “accurate” and “electronic”, is a worthy investment because of its ingenious technology. Although Bulova has a long history of firsts, the Accutron qualifies as the second electronic watch in the world, next to the one the Hamilton Electric, released in 1957.
Bulova first launched the Accutron in 1960 and became a trailblazer in the watchmaking industry. The brand entrusted the Accutron project to Swiss electronic engineer Max Hetzel, who developed the tuning fork mechanism in watches in the early 1950s. The early Accutron watches make use of 360 Hz tuning forks instead of balance wheels as timekeeping elements. An electronic circuit kept the tuning fork vibrating 360 times a second, depending on the model. In contrast to the balance wheels that were the primary timekeeping elements back in the day, this tuning fork mechanism allowed the Accutron to be far more accurate than the mechanical watches at the time. The release of the Accutron proved to be a significant moment in the history of watches, especially because it served as the forerunner of modern quartz watches. Because of its accuracy and resistance to outside forces, many models of aircraft and even spacecraft also used the Accutron technology for their timekeeping devices.
Prices for the Bulova CURV: Ergonomic Designs for a Balance in Style and Comfort
In its long history of firsts, Bulova also released the world’s first curved chronograph movement: the Bulova CURV. The collection features chronographs with curved cases, dials, and hands to better fit the natural contour of the wrist. Bulova CURV cases are also thin and light, providing extra comfort for everyday use.
With the wearer’s comfort in mind, this innovative and ergonomic timepiece also boasts Bulova’s signature Precisionist 262 kHz frequency movement that brings up the watch’s accuracy dramatically — in the seconds per year. These Precisionist movements allow the seconds hand to sweep smoothly across the dial, similar to the original Accutron watches.
The CURV collection features a wide range of both sport and dress styles, making these technological wonders as versatile as possible. With their uniquely aerodynamic shape, the first of their kind, these chronographs are a must-have for any watch collector. Provided these are among the most expensive Bulova watches that aren’t vintage, they’re another worthy investment because of the dazzling engineering that the watches showcase.
Bulova’s Milestones and Innovations
With Bulova’s long history, the brand is responsible for many milestones and innovations in the world of watches. It was the first brand to release a complete collection of women’s and men’s watches in the early 1920s. In 1926, Bulova made history by releasing the first-ever radio advertisement, which said, “At the tone, it’s eight o’clock, B-U-L-O-V-A Bulova Watch Time”. Also, on the first of July in 1941, commercial advertising had just been permitted to air, and Bulova released the first television advertisement ever.
Aside from its trailblazing feats in advertising, the brand also brought many advancements in watchmaking. One of which is the birth of the Accutron, the first to use a tuning fork-based timekeeping technology and was the most accurate watch of its time. The accuracy of Bulova’s watches also made it possible for these wristwatches to earn U.S. railroad certification.
One famous Bulova Chronograph made space history by being the first privately-owned timekeeping piece to operate on the Moon. In the Apollo 15 space mission, the astronauts wore NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster watches as their official timekeeping devices on the Moon. When the watch crystal of mission commander David Scott’s watch popped off during his exploration on the Moon’s surface, he used his personal Bulova Chronograph as a backup device. This watch sold for $1.625 million in 2015, making it one of the most expensive Bulova watches and among the most expensive watches to be ever sold at an auction.
Bulova Phototimer Technology: A First in Sports
In 1948, Bulova made sports history by developing and producing the world’s first photo timer. This device functioned as a precision electronic timing instrument and a photo-finish camera. It took the photographs and times for runners and was crucial in making the call for winners in international athletic competitions. The Bulova Phototimer was the first automatic timing device that found its use in sports competitions.
The Rich History and Heritage of Bulova
Bulova first started during the United States’ Gilded Age, wherein the norm of the era was inventiveness, risk-taking, and growth. The brand, a product of this brilliant era, upheld these values as it showcased innovation after innovation to create elegant watches that certainly get better over time.
It all started with Joseph Bulova, a Bohemian immigrant, who founded the J. Bulova Company in 1875. In 1912, he opened his first manufacturing plant dedicated to watchmaking in Biel, Switzerland. This started the mass production of watches, which was new in the watchmaking industry. Aside from watchmaking, Bulova also set up an observatory on the roof of a skyscraper in Manhattan to precisely determine universal time.
From a small store in New York City, this watch brand eventually gained popularity in the 1920s and began developing its technology further. The J. Bulova Company became the Bulova Watch Company in 1923, and they partnered with big names such as the NFL, NASA, and even the U.S. government. In 1979, the brand became part of the Loews Corporation, and the Japanese conglomerate Citizen Watch Co. eventually bought the brand at the end of 2007.
The Lone Eagle: Charles Lindbergh's Bulova Watch
Bulova challenged pilots to fly across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping, and in 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh accomplished the feat. As the first pilot to make the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Lindbergh received a check for $1,000 and a Bulova Watch. Bulova thus produced a watch line in Lindbergh’s likeness — The Lone Eagle. With Charles Lindbergh’s ties with the brand, Bulova became the first watch brand to ever have a celebrity endorser. The brand continued to produce the Lone Eagle models well into the late 1930s, and these models now continue to be a collector’s favorite.
Other big celebrities that have worn a Bulova watch include Elvis Presley, Bob Haymes, Loretta Young, Gordon Cooper, and John F. Kennedy.
Own a Piece from One of the Top Pioneering Brands
With its rich history of firsts and its continuing innovations, Bulova remains a reputable brand through the years. Any watch collector would want to own a piece or two from this iconic brand, especially because wearing one would mean wearing a piece of history. From its simplest of timepieces to the most expensive Bulova watches, each piece would make a worthy investment for casual watch-wearers to watch-collecting connoisseurs alike.