My Review of the Bulova Moonwatch
In October 2015, shortly after Dave Scott's personal Bulova Chronograph that was worn to the Moon was sold for a cool $1.6 million (Link), Bulova announced that, due to their new-found moonwatch heritage, they will be releasing a Bulova Moonwatch Re-Edition, albeit beating with a modern UHF quartz movement (Link)
This proves to be an affordable alternative to the more prevalent moonwatch, released by another commercial entity, whose price inflation in recent years knows no bounds.
I shall provide a short review of the Bulova Moonwatch that comes on a solid metal bracelet (Model #96B258). This is a new version first announced at the recent Baselworld in March 2016 (Link) and is different from the leather and canvas straps version (Model #96B251) announced in November 2015. I had seen the number "1500" being brandished about in the forums, but I still cannot confirm if Bulova meant it to be a limited edition, or if the 1500 quantity belongs to one model only, each model, or cumulatively both.
Let's start the review with a little unboxing.
The watch is shipped on a standard black wooden Bulova presentation box, protected beneath the standard cardboard box with inventory barcodes and the RRP.
Once the box is opened, your heart will be set racing by the moonwatch sitting right smack in the middle on a cushion, in sharp contrast with the blingly steel bracelet. Bulova tags it proudly as one of its own UHF quartz movement.
Taking the closer look at the watch dial, it is entirely framed by the tachymeter scale and protected behind a flat crystal. 3 sub dials can be found symmetrically at the 3, 6 and 9 positions, functioning as 1/10 second counter, running seconds and 1 hour counter. The sub dials are set deep into dial with circular grooves, giving out radial rays of light when reflected correctly. The date window is at the increasingly popular 4:30 position surrounded by rectangular applied indices with a brushed silvered finish and filled with white lume. The hour, minute and central chronograph second hands are slim, lengthy and painted white, filled with an equally white lume material. While some may lament the lost opportunity for Bulova to put "vintage lume" into this watch, I do not find the white lume displeasing me at all.
The Bulova UHF movement is new to me, and I find the running seconds at 2Hz an unique feature. My brain simply can't decide properly if it is a quartz or an auto as I am looking at something split right in the middle. End of the day, I can only describe the running seconds hand as smooth. I shall not comment further on the movements of the various hands and leave you with the review video by Mr Ariel Adams of ABTW below.
Other items included in the box include the big money card - a certificate of authenticity certifying your watch as an "authentic replica (???)" of the moonwatch worn by Dave Scott in the Apollo 15 mission during 1971. This card can ensure high resale potential, should it end up to be a limited edition years down the road.
There is another booklet, trumpeting the "eminent collectivitiness" of the moonwatch I just bought. Nice touch. And also the standard Bulova UHF movement instruction manual, all found in the lower compartment of the box
The bracelet comes with solid end links that fits the lugs nicely. I see that Bulova did not went to replicate the bracelet design of "the other moonwatch" and stuck to its own, something I would describe as a mix of the popular Oyster and President styles.
Now for points of contention that I had came across so far, not from owners, but from "experts" who could form an opinion after looking at photos of watches. There is a mix of polished, brushed and bead-blasted surfaces as seen from the side profile view. It is a matter of design aesthetics, Bulova did not do design by committee, and I do not find the presence of 3 different finishes inducing a nauseated response from me whenever I look at it. In fact, the contrast between the finishes is indeed, quite well executed. But one's man's meat, is another's poison, YMMV.
Another "reason this watch sucks big time" I came across on the interwebs mentioned the high profile sapphire crystal, that could cause problems. Yes, I do agree that the sharp corners of the crystal looks unprotected and the whole thing may shatter when hit at the right angle, but I dun find it more fragile than any other automatic watches I own. I'm sure something will shatter too if I hit my, say Visodate, on something hard. I think owners would be fine as long as they dun treat the Bulova Moonwatch like a G Shock Mudman. The look and position of the crystal is part of Bulova's efforts to replicate as much as possible, the design of the original moonwatch.
The polished signed crown and chrono pushers deserve praise. The pushers are of a not often-seen design that does wonders in preventing the chrono buttons from being accidently activated or digging into your wrist. I think you are not likely to enjoy traditional tall chrono pushers after this.
The back of the bracelet comes with a butterfly clasp with a small signed Bulova logo. Resizing is straightforward with pins and 2 half links are provided for microadjustments. The action is smooth, the bracelet is solid and no discomfort whatsoever.
On the engraved caseback marked a series of words, dates and symbols that describes the Apollo mission. Only to be marred by a protective sticker that says "Japan Movement. China Band". I was cracking my head on which band from China actually jams in Japan. >_< Once removed, it's a beautiful case back. Other details include the WR at only 50m, stainless steel construction, model number, sapphire crystal construction and serial numbers.
I have posted a picture of the lume performance of the Bulova Moonwwatch a few days ago. Here is it again. Being a company under Citizen, I am not surprised by the similarity of it with the standard Citizen blue lume or blue coloured C1 lume. It is not BGW9, pls do not expect that level of performance.
IF intensitylume(BGW9) = intensitylume(C3)
THEN intensitylume(Bulova Moonwatch) = intensitylume(C1)
Ditto for lume longevity.
The moonwatch on bracelet is versatile enough for both formal and informal looks. Fitting under a shirt cuff is not a problem.
Which brings me to the next point, can you change the straps on the bracelet model?
Yes, the lug holes for the bracelet version do look to be at a different position, closer to the watch case, compared to the strap model.
But does it prevent you from installing aftermarket straps?
Nope. I dun think so. That said, care must be taken on the selection of straps. I happen to have a generic thin canvas NATO and thin leather strap lying around, both at 20mm width and they went onto the moonwatch without a hitch. The key word here is "thin". I've drawn a line on the approximate location of the springbar. The gap is so tight that the NATO strap cannot be mounted using the normal way of pulling through, but rather require the removal and reinstallation of the springbars. If you know what you are doing and with the correct straps, the flexibility of different looks is all yours.
Yes. I am talking about mounting a leather strap onto the bracelet version. Look at the model number 96B258 on the caseback. Juz dun attempt to mount the leather strap from the strap version onto this, I doubt their thick leather straps or canvas can be mounted onto this. Not the smartest move by Bulova, but I can live with it.
One watch, three different looks. Yes, the bracelet version is more expensive. But trust me, you are going to have a less painful headache hunting suitable 20mm straps for this version, than finding a nice compatible metal bracelet for the other version.
Some may find this to be an expensive quartz watch, I find it an attractive point of entry for a watch with a classic design. Grab them while stocks last. :)