Bulova USN dive watch

Thread: Bulova USN dive watch

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  1. #1

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    Bulova USN dive watch

    This is a Bulova dive watch made to military specification MIL-W-22176, CIRCA 1957. It has a manually wound, American made, 17 jewel, center sweep 10 BPCHN Bulova movement. This watch was a follow-on to the Elgin Grade 647 UDT dive watch in service from the early 1950s. A similar watch to the Bulova is the USN Tornek-Rayville Model TR-900 made to MIL-W-22176A specifications, circa early 1960s. You will see many similarities between the two. One difference is the strap width. This Bulova is a throwback to the US military watches from WWII in that it has a lug width of 5/8 inch (16mm). The TR-900 had the more modern width of 3/4 inch (18mm). From what I have been able to find and infomation sent to me by other collectors, it seems that this watch migt have been a prototype

    http://stinet.dtic.mil/oai/oai?&verb...fier=AD0777669

    http://stinet.dtic.mil/stinet/jsp/do...28s%29&MC=&PE=

    of the MIL-W-22176 specification that did not pass the qualifications and never made it to the point where it was actually issued. This is very plausible and believable but from the wear on the case back you can see that this watch did see some wear, more than what you would come to expect from military trials. When I got the watch, the movable bezel and insert was missing and the movement did not run. After looking at the movement, I noticed that the winding gear's center screw was loose and was not allowing the mechanism to engage properly. After alighning the gear and tightening the screw, the movement was started to run. After winding it up fully, I was truly amazed when after 24 hours had elasped that it was only 2 seconds off of my computer's internal clock! Not bad for a 50 year old movement having never been opened and serviced. I plan to have the movement fully serviced and a new bezel and insert are currently in the process of been created by my watchmaker/restorer. He will also try to have the crystal polished to remove the many scratches and divots. I would like to keep the original crystal if at all possible.





    What a classic dial and still very good looking today. It definitely has the look of the US military watches from the Second World War and not the later 1960s on US military watches.



    Notice the strap wear pattern on the case back? This watch definitely saw some heavy use.



    The spring bars are original to the watch and are surprisingly heavy duty.





    You will notice that the movement serial number (0127) is repeated on the case back.



    The original crystal is lead soldered and is quite thick and highly domed.





    The inner movement holder is machined from brass. It looks like it was custom made and a assembly line made part.







    I don't know how many of these watches were made but after 18 years of collecting military watches, this one was the first that I have ever seen. Shortly after aquiring this example, a friend of mine contacted me and sent me pictures of the watch that he had. He had bought the case (with bezel) sans movement and thinking it was some type of Blancpain, he had a Blancpain movement and dial/hands installed. It was only after seeing pictures of mine that he thought his might be similar. Unfortunately, he did not have a movement, dial and hands or inner movement holder. As luck would have it, a complete movement and dial/handset popped up on the radar and he bought it. The odds of something like this happening are astronomical! So now all he needed was an inner movement holder and all that I needed was a bezel and bezel insert. We made plans to have measurements made of his bezel and my movement holder and now we are both waiting for the parts to be created so that there will be two examples of this very rare watch. I hope to have my watch completed maybe by the end of the summer and I'll post pictures of mine then. I hope this was of interest to others.

    Best,

    James Delgado
    Last edited by Quattro_Assi_Kid; April 14th, 2007 at 14:26.

  2. #2
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Hi -

    Congratulations, James, on such a fantastic find! Please, please, please do post more pictures when you get the watch completed!

    That is a truly amazing find for you and your friend! To have the case and then the movement suddenly appear: the odds of that are truly astronomical...

    Best regards and keep us informed!

    JohnF
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  3. #3

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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
    Hi -

    Congratulations, James, on such a fantastic find! Please, please, please do post more pictures when you get the watch completed!

    That is a truly amazing find for you and your friend! To have the case and then the movement suddenly appear: the odds of that are truly astronomical...

    Best regards and keep us informed!

    JohnF
    Thanks John. I sure will post pictures of the finished restoration when it's done. I'll also see if my friend will post pictures of his as well. Even though there is a military forum here at watchuseek, I felt it more appropriate to post here on the vintage forum. I've visited the military forum but they seem to mainly talk about military styled watches and more modern military issue watches. Here is a picture of the Bulova along with a few other military watches from my collection. My main interest is vintage US military issued wrist watches and as a side, US issued pocket watches. I might start posting more pictures of other military examples if there is more interest.

    Best,

    James



    Last edited by Quattro_Assi_Kid; April 15th, 2007 at 06:57.

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  5. #4

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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Here is a write up from my friend after he completed his watch before he saw mine...

    http://forums.timezone.com/index.php...=2024375&rid=0

    His is now in the process of being restored similar to mine with the Bulova parts he aquired and the movement holder that is being made for him.

    Best,

    James

  6. #5
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Hi -

    Fascinating, what a collection! I see that you have one that I have - the british issued Hamilton - but that I have one you don't: the elusive 24-hour face Elgin...

    Thanks for posting here: I appreciate it! I just acquired a Bill Yao hommage to the Benrus Type I which is lovely. I've been searching for a Type I that I could afford in pristine shape, and haven't been able to find anything that I was willing to pay...you've been collecting these for 18 years now?

    Wow. :gold

    JohnF
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  7. #6

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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
    Hi -

    Fascinating, what a collection! I see that you have one that I have - the british issued Hamilton - but that I have one you don't: the elusive 24-hour face Elgin...

    Thanks for posting here: I appreciate it! I just acquired a Bill Yao hommage to the Benrus Type I which is lovely. I've been searching for a Type I that I could afford in pristine shape, and haven't been able to find anything that I was willing to pay...you've been collecting these for 18 years now?

    Wow. :gold

    JohnF
    :thanks Yes, I started collecting US issued military watches back in 1989. Mainly I collected some of the more modern examples, Adanac, Hamilton, Marathon, Stocker and Yale. About 1992, I made a decision to concentrate on the earlier US made and issued wristwatches and haven't stopped since! I still occasionally find examples of watches that haven't been seen of recorded before, with the Bulova dive watch being the latest. That is what makes collecting so rewarding for me.

    I currently have one of each of the related Type 1 Hamiltons (RAF 6B both hacking and non-hacking, SAAF 6B, British GS, British GS 24 hour dial, Kenyan Army GS, ADDF GS, US Type 1 and RAAF Type 1.) I don't know of anyone else having all of these different types. It took me probably 5 to 8 years of searching to find them all. The pictures I posted show about 1/4 of my total collection, all US military. For instance, I have approximately 10 different Elgin Type A-11s, all different examples. Regarding the 24 hour (called the Type A-13) faced Elgin, I am afraid that that watch has been created by mating an Elgin Type A-11 case (sometimes using a Star or Keystone 3 piece dust proof case, and sometimes using two piece cases by any of a variety of manufacturers, none of which are correct) and Elgin instrument clock movements, Grade 539, 647, 685, 804, 805. I've seen all of these movements used in the 24 hour watches. These were never made by the Elgin factory, even though that is what is commonly thought. I used to believe this myself but from all of the research that I have seen and done myself, have now come to believe that these are all bogus. I've even seen some Type A-13s with fake specifications engraved on the case backs made using NOS Star Parkerized 2 piece, waterproof cases and instrument movements as above. I believe these were made for a collector in Japan. Your example looks to have a Star 3 piece case. I am curious, what movement is in yours? I am currently working on a book specific to US issued military watches with tons of pictures that will be backed up with extensive research, data and documents that I have collected and gathered over the years.

    I do have a Benrus Type II, Class A but it's not in any of the pictures. I probably won'y buy a Type I unless I can find one for a good price. I do have quite a few scarce US military examples. I'll try to post pictures of these on this forum in the near future if there is interest.

    Best,

    James

  8. #7
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Hi -

    Does look like a three-piece case...

    Movement inside is marked

    A

    Elgin 685 USA
    Adj'd 18 jewels

    Engraving on the back is:

    A.F. U.S. Army
    Type A-11
    Spec. No. 94-27834-B
    Ser. No. AF45-37864
    MFR'S PART NO. 2114
    Ord.No.W33-038ac-6600
    ELGIN

    Inside case:

    "CASE AND TIMED BY ELGIN NATIONAL WATCH CO." in a 4/5-circle.

    Inside the circle: "WATCH STAR CASE COMPANY", with a star between "STAR" and "CASE"

    6140088

    So you're saying that the 685 movement is an instrument clock movement? And that I've got a Frankenwatch?

    I acquired it on eBay with what the seller called the original packing tag (printed "Elgin", red-white-blue, stamped "2114"), for around $150, here in Germany. The face is also labelled Elgin (in black glossy on flat black).

    If it's bogus, it's *really*, *really* well done. But you're really gonna have to convince me...

    Oh, and it is in Shugart #25, page 743: that's what I checked when I first saw the eBay auction. I know that Shugart's not perfect, but he usually is fairly thorough...

    JohnF

    PS: on an unrelated note, do you know what the markings at 4, 8 and 12 on the minute totalizer on the Benrus SkyKing signify? There's an old post on PilMil where we're still trying to figure out that one...

    PPS: I will be offline for the next week, but please do follow up. I'm very interested in seeing more of your vintages, as well as your book plans: that could really be a canonical work!
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  9. #8

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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    So you're saying that the 685 movement is an instrument clock movement? And that I've got a Frankenwatch? Unfortunately, yes, that is what it looks like.

    I acquired it on eBay with what the seller called the original packing tag (printed "Elgin", red-white-blue, stamped "2114"), for around $150, here in Germany. The face is also labelled Elgin (in black glossy on flat black).

    If it's bogus, it's *really*, *really* well done. But you're really gonna have to convince me... The tag is actually for an Elgin Type A-11 with a Grade 539 movement. These tags were only supplied with replacement cases, not completed wrist watches. Since the seller stated that the watch came with this tag, that pretty much makes it a certain that your 24 hour watch is a put-together "Frankenwatch". Here is what the case would have looked like with the tag still attached.



    Notice that the tag states the grade as 539? That was the only movement that Elgin used in the manufacture of the Type A-11, WWII issued wrist watches. Here is a picture of the case back of that same watch.



    This matches your example with the exception of the serial number.

    So you're saying that the 685 movement is an instrument clock movement? Not exactly. The movement was also used in the Type A-17A but more than likely the movement in your watch was taken from a 24 hour instrument clock. The only other US issued wrist watch that used this movement was the Elgin Type A-17A and it dates to the mid-1950s. The Elgin G-685 movement was the first in the Shockmaster series with production begining in 1952. It is highly unlikely that the US government would have taken one of these movements new in 1952 and had their watchmakers install it in surplus WWII Type A-11 wrist watch cases. There is no way that the Elgin factory would have done so. There is no definitive proof to what I have found (there just aren't any records of this watch that I can find) but the likelihood of this happening is just so remote. If they did, they sure wouldn't have left the previous hang tag on it denoting a Grade 539 movement.

    The face is also labelled Elgin (in black glossy on flat black). The dials on the instrument clocks were printed as such. I also collect instrument clocks and have Elgin instrument clocks if Grade 532, 539, 647, 685, 804 and 805 in both 12 hour and 24 hour dials. Most of them have Elgin printed in gloss black on a matte dial. The examples that don't have Elgin printed in white.


    Oh, and it is in Shugart #25, page 743: that's what I checked when I first saw the eBay auction. I know that Shugart's not perfect, but he usually is fairly thorough... I've never followed Shugart's valuations so I can't comment on them. What I would say is... how do they back-up what they have listed? I have been collecting and researching military watches, specifically US issued military wrist watches for quite a few years, and have not found any supporting documentation for the 24 hour (Type A-13) wrist watch other than an unreferenced mention in Ziggy's book. As I was writing this I received an email from another friend of mine with a response to the question "What do you think of Shugart?" He's a big time collector of vintage US made wrist watches. His opinion is reflected in the staement that "the guide is very lacking" and that he "almost never uses it". That's his opinion, not mine.

    PS: on an unrelated note, do you know what the markings at 4, 8 and 12 on the minute totalizer on the Benrus SkyKing signify? There's an old post on PilMil where we're still trying to figure out that one... Sorry, I specialize in mainly US issued military wrist watches and some Hamiltons.

    Hope this helps. I will probably include a section in my book showing a large variety of Frankenwatches and will discuss these 24 hour Elgins. If you search eBay you will find these 24 hour Elgins using all kinds of Type A-11 case manufacturers from Keystone to Wadsworth, in two piece and three piece cases. None of them are correct and all of them get passed off as original. Buyer beware!

    Best,

    James
    Last edited by Quattro_Assi_Kid; April 18th, 2007 at 15:24.

  10. #9
    Member JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Hi -

    Sorry to reply so late, was in the hospital getting my gallstone taken out.

    As you can imagine, this is a bummer: why oh why isn't your book out already????

    Seriously, thanks for the information. I use Shugart as a quick reference to check on watches, not much more, as the quality of the photos leaves to be desired and I've also found errors.

    What we need is a complete and total archive, of course, of all watches ever made with all horological information regarding them. And something like that is more than a little daunting...

    Again, thanks for the info: and where were you two years ago???

    JohnF

    PS: fundamentally, the real point is that indeed: buyer beware!
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  11. #10

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    Re: Bulova USN dive watch

    Hi John,

    "Sorry to reply so late, was in the hospital getting my gallstone taken out. As you can imagine, this is a bummer: why oh why isn't your book out already???? " No problem, hope you are doing well.


    "What we need is a complete and total archive, of course, of all watches ever made with all horological information regarding them. And something like that is more than a little daunting..." Yes, that would be ideal, wouldn't it? As I posted before, I am working on a book but it will only cover US issued wrist watches. It will have lots of good color pictures. It's coming along well, maybe by the end of summer. We'll see.

    "Again, thanks for the info: and where were you two years ago??? " I've been around for quite some time (since 1996 maybe?) over on the MWR website but have pretty much stopped posting over there due to a few bad apples (psycho doctor nut job types) and also most on that website seem more inclined to discuss Frankenwatches and mil style. Nothing wrong with Frankenwatches and mil style, just not an interest of mine. Also, lots of bad information being put forth over there with respect to US issued watches and I don't want to spend my time correcting it all.


    "PS: fundamentally, the real point is that indeed: buyer beware!" Yes, that has always been the case.

    I haven't posted much on here but there doesn't seem to be much interest in vintage US issued watches, at least going by the replies to this thread. It looks like this forum mainly focuses on obscure makes and brands.

    Have a good one,

    James

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