Cleaning up old Bulova
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  1. #1
    Member JohnnyKarate's Avatar
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    Cleaning up old Bulova

    Hey guys, my Grandfather passed years ago and i always held on to this Bulova he used to wear. I bought a cheap 18mm leather band for it and i would like to replace the battery and clean it up a bit. My question is, is it possible to buff out the scratches on the (plastic?) crystal ? If so what would i expect to pay to buff the crystal and replace the battery at a watchmaker ? Never done it before. I was going to polish the steel case on my own.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    You can easily remove the scratches yourself, by using polywatch or similar product. https://www.amazon.com/Polywatch-Pla.../dp/B0014R9V9O

    A battery change is something you probably can do yourself, but if you don't feel like it it should cost you around 10usd give or take a bit. A watch maker would probably rather replace the crystal than polish it.

    Be careful with the case, it doesn't look that bad and an overpolished case isn't desireable.
    Last edited by KasperDK; March 7th, 2017 at 10:38.
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    Hello! I suggest that you take your Bulova in for a Service...there's some debris between the crystal & case, and the crystal must come out to clean it. A good shop will go through the movement ( analog quartz movements DO need to be taken apart to be cleaned & lubricated!), and ask if you'd like the case to be buffed ( don't over-do it...just a little 'freshening-up' ). The cost varies from place to place, but should be 'reasonable'...say, around $100. (?!) Try to find what I like to call a Real World shop, that charges what Real People can afford...there are some places that seem to feel all their customers were born into some ancient European family, where it's considered poor form to even talk about money...Weird.

    Good luck with your nice, old Bulova.
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  5. #4
    Member JohnnyKarate's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    Thanks for the info guys. Anyone know what year the watch is from ? Looks to be model R.R.955Q.

  6. #5
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    Polywatch is the thing to use, but that might not do the job alone. I do the following with acrylic crystals (which I learned here in the forum): I start with ultra-fine sand paper grid 1500. That is a bit scary when you first do it, as the crystal goes totally blind. Then I take even finer paper, grid 2000. Then I use Polywatch and the crystal becomes shiny and clear like a miracle. You can do all polishing by hand with a cotton cloth. The problem with scratches, what many people do not understand: They are IN the crystal and not on top like a surface contamination. The old housewive's problem when they want to polish away scratches in the chromium sink.

    Now, you don't get the polywatch for free nor do you get the sand paper by single sheets of a few square inches, so let a watchmaker do it. Battery replacement should be 10 bucks at most, the polishing of the crystal perhaps 5 if you don't have it done in Central New York City or Beverly Hills. Even a new crystal should be very cheap. I have them in all sizes and shapes as complete sets, the average price per acrylic crystal is something like $ 2.50. A watchmaker would then have to add his working time, possible he would need to order the crystal first. The case could also be polished for a song.

    R.R. stands for Railroad, Q for quartz, 955 is the movement caliber, not from Bulova, but from ETA, the 955 – the workhorse of the better quartz watches.

    If that watch really means something to you, you could get an ETA 955 movement (the right type) as a spare replacement, they are all over the place at eBay etc. and that would keep your watch running for a long time to come.
    Last edited by Border-Reiver; March 7th, 2017 at 13:08.
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  7. #6
    Member JohnnyKarate's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    Oh ya interesting. I'm actually looking online now, could i just take out the crystal and measure it and buy one for a few dollars on Esslinger ? This one is pretty bad around the edges.

  8. #7
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    I forgot to mention the dating of the watch. On the back you should find a letter and a number like P7 f.i., P stands for 1990, so that would be 1997 in this example.

    Sorry, I see you are located in Canada, so you would not look for expensive watchmakers in New York or Beverly Hills, but rather in Vancouver...
    Last edited by Border-Reiver; March 7th, 2017 at 13:14.

  9. #8
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyKarate View Post
    Oh ya interesting. I'm actually looking online now, could i just take out the crystal and measure it and buy one for a few dollars on Esslinger ? This one is pretty bad around the edges.
    To do that, you need a crystal lift. That thing can also be found on Esslinger's site with instructions how to do that. There are also some cheap Chinese versions of that thing around at eBay. If you just want to change one crystal and throw that things away afterwards, you could try that...

    Who said watchmakers can't be attractive.... but, don't do the replacement with the watch upside down as shown, leave the watch flat on the table face up and then come down with the crystal, especially as a beginner...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rd9m2EXqSA
    Last edited by Border-Reiver; March 7th, 2017 at 13:23.

  10. #9
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    Quote Originally Posted by Border-Reiver View Post
    I forgot to mention the dating of the watch. On the back you should find a letter and a number like P7 f.i., P stands for 1990, so that would be 1997 in this example.

    Sorry, I see you are located in Canada, so you would not look for expensive watchmakers in New York or Beverly Hills, but rather in Vancouver...
    Oh ya cool, this says Bulova Watch Co P9 on the back. Geez i didn't know men were wearing 33mm watches not even that long ago. I wouldn't even call that vintage i thought it was older maybe 80's. But ya i got an idea of where i can take in the city here.

    So buying a new domed crystal should be fine from Esslinger once i measure the old one ? I'm thinking i should just buy a battery from them too and try this myself.

  11. #10
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    Re: Cleaning up old Bulova

    Oh ya ok i got it now. Awesome thanks. Ya for that i will just pay the watchmaker to do the crystal.

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