Vintage Bulova questions

Thread: Vintage Bulova questions

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  1. #1
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    Vintage Bulova questions

    After searching the Net for hours researching this watch I stumbled across your forum. You guys seem to know your stuff and I’m hoping you can give me some info on my father's antique Bulova.

    I have no idea when he got it, but it’s a tank that says Bulova 14K Gold both on the case and the band. The movement model is 7AK, manual wind and it runs very well. I’m interested in whether the watch is gold filled, plated or what? Also, hopefully a model and date (1940’s?) and value. It’s not for sale so don’t ask. I’m kind off a watch nut myself and like I said, it belonged to my dad who is long gone.

    I did find some similar watches on eBay, but prices are all over the map.

    Thanks a lot, and hopefully the photos I post will show up and do it justice. Will post other photos if requested.


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    Last edited by Ziggy925; September 16th, 2012 at 01:57.

  2. #2
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    If it says '14K', but not 'Gold Filled' then it's solid. The bracelet looks like an Apex Quadraflex, which by itself is a really cool bracelet, but in 14K is even better! Unless there's a 'GF or such on the bracelet under the '14K', it's solid gold, too.

    The model is, I believe, the Tuxedo, part of Bulova's Excellency series. Probably 1946+/- 2 years. The movement should have a symbol, or a 2-digit year, or a letter and a digit. Most likely one of the first two.

    A picture of the movement and the caseback will tell us more about the movement and confirm that the case is 14K.

    Not sure of value. Bulova made nice, but not great watches, and the collectors market is active, but not huge. The dial looks pristine, and if the rest of the watch is similar, it's probably worth a nice premium over melt value.

    For vintage Bulovas, mybulova.com is the place to ask. There are hardcore vintage Bulova enthusiasts there!
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  3. #3
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    A shot of the movement will help with both age and ID; Bulova was rather liberal with the model names, and you'd often see the same looking watch being referred to by different names depending on the market and the quality of the movement. According to mybulova.com, the 7ak was a 21j model produced between 1936 and 1949, but take that with a grain of salt, since I know there was a 17 jewel version of that movement. Most of the "Tuxedo" models I've seen have two-tone dials though. The "Ambassador" might be closer match if it has the 21j movement; it has the same case style as the tuxedo, but without the "dressier" dial. (did you see what I did there? Tuxedo? Dressier? HA! man, gotta stop posting at midnight...)

    Edit: There's a good thread here http://mybulova.com/watches/1940-craftsman-2834?page=1 that would suggest (to me) that this is a "Craftsman"; all three of the mentioned models (Ambassador, Craftsman and Tuxedo) used the same basic case, but from what I can tell the Ambassador used a rose gold, and the Tuxedo came with a basketweave gold bracelet. The Craftsman came with a leather strap (but since those wear out fairly quickly, it might have been replaced in this case).
    Last edited by AbslomRob; September 16th, 2012 at 06:16.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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  5. #4
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    Very nice...My collection focuses on Bulova but I really can't add much to the excellent information provided above. As mentioned - the case and/or the movement should include a code or symbol allowing the watch to be dated. Based on the style of the dial and hands I would suspect that this watch is late 1940s to mid-1950s. The early to mid 1940s Bulova dials are typically applied numbers with somewhat more prominent hands.

    Great watch and and excellent family connection. Thanks for sharing.

  6. #5
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    Here are more photos of the watch and movement. I tried to get as much detail as I could with the lighting I have, so it threw the color off quite a bit. The watch is gold, not rose gold, and I can supply more info (I can see) or more photos if necessary. Hope this helps, and thanks for all the info to date. BTW, how accurate are these watches supposed to be? I'm sure it needs a service, but when serviced how many seconds per day is acceptable?


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  7. #6
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    AbslomRob,

    Thanks for the great thread. Very informative, but I have no idea if the band on the watch is the original. Since the band does not match any of the bands in the ads, knowing my dad, his friends and our family, I would bet the band was swapped when the watch was purchased. Also, based on an inflation calculator that watch would cost around $2500 in todays dollars.

  8. #7
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    Nice pictures of the movement and such. It appears that the movement is stamped with the square symbol - which makes it 1946. A search of the Bulova ads on the mybulova site - shows a good match to the Craftsman model - but with a bracelet instead of a strap. The watch is solid 14kt BTW. I have attached a screen shot cut from the ad below.
    Attached Images Attached Images


  9. #8
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    Further to Rob's point, if you check out the ads, there are a number that show this watch with a basketweave gold bracelet as the Tuxedo, but also list it with a leather strap for $100 less, still under the Tuxedo name. Then there's what looks like a page from a catalog, which describes the watch with bracelet in yellow, white, or red gold as the Tuxedo. The same watch with a leather strap in yellow or red gold is the Craftsman.

    The Ambassador seems to have the same case in red gold with a leather strap, but given that it's half the price of the Craftsman, it was probably gold filled.

    Of course, since back in the day, jewelers would swap a bracelet for another model if the customer so desired, we don't really know whether your Dad bought a Tuxedo and swapped bracelets, or bought a Craftsman and had the bracelet added. OR he might have added it later.

    At this point in time, without knowing the history, "Craftsman" is probably the best call.

    There's a little mark stamped on the barrel bridge. I can't tell from the picture if it's a circle or a square. If the former, it's from 1944. If the latter, 1946. The first ad on mybulova.com with the Craftsman or Tuxedo appears in 1946, so I bet it's a square.
    Don't take life so serious, son. It ain't nohow permanent - Pogo

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  10. #9
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    Wow! Thanks for all the great info. I'm still curious as to what kind of accuracy a vintage watch of this caliber can attain. I know it will not be close to a modern Swiss chronometer -- right now it's a minute slow per day but the adjuster is centered. Since the watch is running smoothly I'll give it a tweak and see what happens, otherwise I have a friend who's a watchsmith.

  11. #10
    Member Paleotime's Avatar
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    Re: Vintage Bulova questions

    I have a 21J 1937 Bulova President with a similar movement. That watch keeps time within seconds per day. If I wear it all week I never have to adjust the time. So...they can be very good time keepers.

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