Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova
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  1. #1
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    Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    Hi everyone. I've recently been gifted a very nice looking Bulova Sea King automatic from my father-in-law. Based on some searching online and looking at the engraved code on the back it looks like it was made in 1970. It has a clean look with a brush textured gold face and original strap. It still runs, but when left on its own it will only operate for about 14 hours. I'm not sure if that's about right for this movement - which I have come to understand is Bulova's 11BLAC Swiss movement. I'd like help deciding if I should get it serviced, if that will restore operation to a higher standard, or if this is about as good as it will get. It looks great and I plan to use it, but it seems like service may cost more than the watch is worth.

  2. #2
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    The power reserve should be greater than what you describe - but it can take a bit of wearing for the auto-wind to build full-charge. However, any watch which hasn't been serviced within the last several years (4-5) should be serviced. If not - it will eventually grind to a halt and the internals will be damaged.

  3. #3
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    Thank you Paleotime. It is a good looking watch. I prefer the smaller case diameters to what seems to be the larger ones of recent years. The band I think will have to be replaced. It's a little small for me and I'm sure my F-I-L no longer has any spare links (if he ever did). The 14 hour run was after I did a stem wind on the spring. Does it sound like this piece is still in a reasonable enough condition to restore? Visually it looks fine.

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  5. #4
    Member odd_and_vintage_fan's Avatar
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    I'll agree that's a little light on power reserve. Would benefit from a service and probably a new mainspring if it's been in storage for a while.

    I'm going to try to stay off my soapbox. If you like it and you're going to wear it and enjoy it, it's worth the service cost even if similar ones are going for $40 on the 'bay. Especially if it has any sentimental value. Do the math: Service Cost / # Wearings in 6 years between service = cost per wear. If you smile every time you check the time, that's worth a few cents.

    Oh, we like pictures around here, too. As a sign of good faith, here's a 1949 Bulova for the fun of it. Welcome to the madness!
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  6. #5
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    Ah, that's a nice looking timepiece. I will try to post pics in the next day or so.

  7. #6
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    So I don't know if it's allowed to talk about who does good service for vintage watches, but I found a place by doing a search online. Says they are experienced in Bulova repairs and use genuine Bulova parts. They're on Long Island in NY. Then there's Bulova itself, but I don't know if they'd service something this old. If recommendations are allowed I'd appreciate hearing from the experienced folk here. I'm on the East Coast in the U.S.

  8. #7
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    A would find a good independent watchmaker near where I live. Parts are readily available still for Bulovas going back to the 1940s - so I wouldn't worry too much about parts access.

    A member here might be able to provide a local recommend - if you tell us where you are located.


    @Odd_and_Vintage...Very nice Bulova. The President "A" model - a classic.

  9. #8
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    New Jersey, right outside of Philly.

  10. #9
    Member Border-Reiver's Avatar
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    If I would get my toll money back which I paid some years ago going over the Verrazano Bridge from and to Staten Island/Long Island I could buy a lower priced Rolex for that.

  11. #10
    Member odd_and_vintage_fan's Avatar
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    Re: Hello - new member needs help with vintage Bulova

    Quote Originally Posted by tony22 View Post
    So I don't know if it's allowed to talk about who does good service for vintage watches, but I found a place by doing a search online. Says they are experienced in Bulova repairs and use genuine Bulova parts. They're on Long Island in NY. Then there's Bulova itself, but I don't know if they'd service something this old. If recommendations are allowed I'd appreciate hearing from the experienced folk here. I'm on the East Coast in the U.S.
    Bulova got sold towards the end of the Accutron's reign in the late 70s, so they're not in a position to service older pieces. Agree with Paleotime that an independent watchmaker can handle this job.

    I'm a few hours North of you, so I don't have anyone local to you to recommend. Good luck with the search. A good watch repair person is like an honest mechanic: everyone's always happy to hear a good recommendation.

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