Bulova is an American watch brand dating back to 1875 with many watchmaking innovations under its belt.
From being the first brand to produce an electronic watch to creating the unique Precisionist movement, which is still used in many of their watches today, the brand is not short on prestige.
But, with so many watches on the market, how do they stack up? Are they worth adding to your collection, or are they just another fashion brand that is overhyped, and overpriced? Let’s find out.
Where Are Bulova Watches Made?
Although Bulova’s headquarters are in New York, Bulova watches are made in Switzerland, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Higher-end Bulova watches are made in Switzerland, often using Selita mechanical movements, or from Japan, using Miyota movements. In contrast, Bulova’s more affordable watches are often made in Hong Kong.
Bulova watches are manufactured in the same country their parts are sourced from, e.g., Bulova watches with Swiss movements are completely made in Switzerland.
Are Bulova Watches Swiss-Made?
Most Bulova watches are not Swiss-Made, but some are. Swiss-made Bulova watches will often have “Swiss Made” written on the bottom of the dial.
Are Bulova Watches Waterproof?
Depending on the model, some Bulova watches are more water-resistant than others.
Bulova’s most affordable watches have just 30 meters of water resistance, only suitable for washing your hands.
Some Bulova watches, like the Oceanographer “Devil Diver” series, are water resistant to 200 meters, more than suitable for swimming or recreational diving. Most people, even professional divers, will never push the 200-meter depth rating.
Even more impressive, Bulova has a select few watches that have a whopping 300-meter depth rating. Overkill? Maybe. Very reassuring when washing your hands? Definitely.
Are Bulova Watches Respected?
Yes, Bulova watches are very well respected amongst watch and horology enthusiasts. In the watch community, Bulova is well-regarded for its noteworthy watchmaking innovations, like its Accutron and Precisionist technologies, and its involvement in supplying watches for WWII.
Bulova may not be as respected by the luxury watch crowds who prefer high-luxury brands or are more focused on brand status.
Are Bulova Watches Expensive?
While there are some expensive Bulova watches on the higher end, most Bulova watches are on the affordable side. Bulova watches range from $50 – $2,000 and beyond.
Is Bulova Made by Citizen?
No, Bulova watches are not made by Citizen. Bulova Watch Company was sold to the Citizen Watch Group in 2007. Citizen Watch Group is now the parent company of Bulova.
Is Bulova a Luxury Watch Brand?
No, Bulova is not a luxury watch brand. Generally, luxury watch brands are hand-finished in some regard, are built in-house, and are much more expensive.
Since Bulova watches are generally outsourced to third-party manufacturers and on the relatively affordable side of the spectrum, they are not considered luxury watches.
Do Bulova Watches Hold Their Value?
Because Bulova watches are easily accessible, in both availability and price point, Bulova watches don’t hold their value very well. However, some of Bulova’s more well-known models, like the Bulova Lunar Pilot, are in high demand and may be able to be sold at only a slight loss on the secondhand marketplace.
Are Bulova Watches Worth The Money?
Generally, Bulova watches are well worth their price tag. With innovative technologies, interesting designs, and reasonable price points, many collectors love Bulova. Dollar-for-dollar, these watches offer great value for the money unless you’re specifically looking for automatic and mechanical watches, as Bulova only has a few in their lineup.
Bulova watches are often built very well for their price. Where other watch brands may cut corners to save cost, Bulova pushes for quality.
Their watch cases often use 316L stainless steel, which is quite common. They’ll use scratch-resistant sapphire crystals at price points in other watch brands would use mineral, which is much more prone to scratches. They even use reputable Swiss or Japanese mechanical movements at price points where other brands may choose to use cheaper quartz.
Variety of Designs
Some people find Bulova designs to be a bit over-the-top or flashy. But they have many straightforward designs that are a bit more subtle.
Best of all, they have tons of watches in their current catalog and even more in their backlog. At this time, they have 248 watches in their men’s collection alone. Even more, if you dig into the vault of decades of watches, you can discover the many watches they’ve released over the years.
Price and Value
Bulova watches isn’t the first brand that comes to mind when looking for the best watch for the money. But, they are relatively affordable and have a wide variety of watches across different price ranges. Most of them can be purchased for $50 – $2,000 and beyond.
Their Caravelle lineup is their most affordable, with many models under $100. They use more affordable parts, like mineral crystals and quartz movements, to keep costs down.
On the other hand, some of their more expensive watches can cost upward of $2,000. Watches in this price range often include limited edition, automatic Swiss watches or high-end versions of their Curv line.
Bulova is rich in history and has designed some of the most innovative watches in the world. From supplying military watches in WWII to innovating with a unique tuning fork movement in the Accutron to the Precisionist and Curv lines, there’s no denying that Bulova has played an important part in horological history. One of their watches was even worn on the moon.
So, what’s not to like about Bulova?
Their Watches are Too Large
Well, their modern watches are quite large, at least by watch enthusiast standards. Let’s take the Bulova Lunar Pilot, for instance. At 45mm, that’s larger than most dive watches, making it nearly unwearable on my puny 6.5” wrists (does anyone know some good wrist exercises?). Sure, not every watch needs to appeal to me, but they don’t have a large variety of more conservatively sized watches, either.
And even when they released a newer, smaller version of the same watch, it was made only 2mm smaller, 43mm in total, which is not humongous, but not super wearable, either.
Some of Their Designs are Questionable
Most people seem to love their complicated design that pulls elements from the past in contemporary packages, but, some watch enthusiasts can’t stand them. The enthusiast community (basically, those who frequent blogs, and participate in watch forum discussions) tend to lean a bit more conservative with their styling preference.
But, if you like the way the watch looks, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’re the one who’s going to be wearing it, after all.
Best Bulova Watches
Bulova Lunar Pilot
During his final moonwalk during the Apollo 15 NASA mission, astronaut Dave Scott wore the Bulova Lunar Pilot after his NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster broke. Sometimes it pays to have a backup! The Lunar Pilot he wore then was similar to the one we know today.
And now, Bulova has released a modern reinterpretation of this legendary chronograph with an engraving on the case back to commemorate this historical event. The Lunar Pilot uses Bulova’s precisionist movement, oscillating at 262Hz, with an extremely smooth second-hand sweep.
Bulova Accutron Spaceview
In the post-war 1950s, watch brands decided to focus on the development of one thing: accuracy. Many companies competed to develop electrical-powered watches, but Bulova’s Accutron technology won out by creating a watch that was far more accurate than any other mechanical watch up to that point.
The Accutron uses an innovative tuning fork and transistor combination with just twelve moving parts, operating at 360Hz. The result is an extremely smooth second-hand sweep and split-second accuracy.
Accutron is a technological marvel that continues to live on today in new, modern reinterpretations of the legendary watch. The Spaceview, in particular, uses an open-work dial that allows you to see the marvelous tuning fork movement within the watch.
However, in 2020, Accutron separated from the Bulova brand, independently releasing its own Spaceview lineup.
Bulova’s precisionist movement uses a quartz crystal to oscillate a tuning fork at 262Hz, or 16 times a second, resulting in one of the smoothest sweeping second hands in all of watchmaking. Most mechanical watches can’t oscillate that frequently, typically oscillating between only 6-8 times per second. The Precisionist is extremely accurate, too, boasting an impressive accuracy of +/- 10 seconds per year!
Bulova first used the precisionist movement in the Lunar Pilot, which has been worn on the moon. Still, more recently, it has expanded the lineup to include a wider variety of models.
Bulova’s modern military watches pay homage to its roots of supplying watches to the Military during WWII. Most notably, the Hack series is a direct modern interpretation of those watches with their classic field watch design, making them perfect for everyday casual wear.
The Bulova Computron is a modern reinterpretation of digital watches from the ’70s. With a geometric design and a bracelet that leads into the case, the Computron looks retro and futuristic simultaneously.
While some love its unique and stylish appeal, some dislike the fact that the watch’s display is not always on. You need to press a dedicated button to read the time. If that doesn’t bother you, the Computron is an awesome timepiece that won’t look like the watches you see on everybody else’s wrist.
Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver
The Bulova Oceanographer is an ISO-certified dive watch, meaning it’s certified for professional divers. Of course, with fun, bright colors, and a sporty design, it would work just as well poolside in a tank top or just out on the town.
The Bulova Curv series is the first-ever curved chronograph complication. It has a somewhat futuristic look with its integrated bracelet. This is the watch you’d expect to see on the wrist of Tony Stark.
Bulova Marine Star
With a name like Marine Star, you’d think the lineup is a series of waterproof dive watches, but that’s not the case at all. While some Marine Stars do have some water resistance, 100m, to be precise, the lineup mainly features sporty watches with a variety of complications like chronographs. The Marine Star is a modern-looking, sporty everyday watch for someone who wants something with a little more visual interest — and function.
The History of Bulova
- Founded by Joseph Bulova in 1875 as the “J. Bulova Company”
- In 1912, Joseph Bulova Launched his first watch production facility in Biel, Switzerland
- In 1919, Bulova introduced a line of wristwatches (instead of pocket watches)
- Reincorporated as “Bulova Watch Company” in 1923
- Became part of the Loews Corporation in 1979
- In 2007, Bulova was sold to the Citizen Watch Group
Bulova is a reputable brand with a rich history. Their countless innovations have pushed the watch industry forward, and many are still used in their lineup today.
They have a large lineup, both in their currently sold watches and in their backlog of vintage models, so there’s no shortage of options to choose from.
Still, they’re not all perfect. Many of their watches are too large for the average wrist, and some of their designs are a bit over the top. Of course, these are both very subjective, and you might not find these are problems, at all.
So, to answer your question: yes, Bulova watches are pretty good. Let us know what Bulova watches you’ve owned, and how you felt about them, in the comments below.