Retro Meets High Tech
Bulova honors one of the most technically important watches in history – the 1960s Accutron – with the Accutron II. This watch series stood out historically thanks to its incredible precision, and this remains the case today.
- Quartz technology vibrating at 262 kHz
- Only 0.8 seconds deviation per month
- Versions with a dial-side visible quartz movement
- Snorkel version waterproof to 200 m
Bulova Accutron II: Modern Technology with a Retro Look
The Bulova Accutron II brings together two opposing forces. On the one hand, the model series has many timepieces with a retro look. They either resemble their legendary predecessor or are reminiscent of the era when the first Accutron was premiered. On the other hand, the Accutron II, with its modern technology, leaves most other quartz watches in the dust when it comes to precision. It only deviates from the exact time by 10 seconds a year, while standard quartz watches deviate 10-15 seconds a month.
Bulova offers a dozen different versions of the Accutron II. Especially noteworthy are versions with a see-through mineral glass dial, which offers a full view of the electronic movement. The stepping motor's copper spool is prominently visible between 10 and 11 o'clock and you can clearly see the movement's bearings. This design has historical precedent: over 50 years ago, the first Accutron Spaceview had visible tuning fork technology.
A tonneau case paired with a round dial was the desired watch style in the late 60s and early 70s. The Omega Seamaster Cosmic, for example, had several versions mirroring that style. There are multiple versions of the Accutron II with this 60s/70s look, including chronographs. Other versions of the Accutron II have a more timeless look; they're three-hand watches with a date display at six o'clock. These stand out thanks to their unusually positioned crown at four o'clock.
Which Accutron II should I purchase?
Are you a techie who has stumbled upon the Accutron II after discovering the tuning fork watch from the 1960s? If so, today's version featuring a visible quartz movement might be the most intriguing for you, as it's most similar to the original Spaceview Accutron. The silver-gray stainless steel version can be found under the reference number 96A155 and the gold-plated version under 97A122. You can purchase a new version of one of these timepieces for around 200 - 300 euros.
Bulova Accutron Snorkel watches are somewhat more expensive; they cost around 300 - 400 euros new. These timepieces are excellent diving watches; they're waterproof to 200 m (20 bar) and feature a bezel with a minute track. However, the Snorkel's bezel isn't rotatable, as would be typical of a diving watch bezel. Rather, it is protected by a layer of mineral glass and controlled by an additional crown. The first 20 minutes on the minute track of the 96B208 has an orange background and the rest has a white background. The Lobster is closely related to the Snorkel; both models have a large tonneau case and a bezel with an extra crown. The current Lobster models are waterproof to 100 m. If you want to wear your watch while diving, however, the Snorkel is the better choice, as it's waterproof to 200 m.
Maybe you want a simple, precise stainless steel watch without any fuss? Then take a look at the Accutron II models with the reference numbers 96B213 and 96B214. Their 41-mm, silver-gray cases look respectable on every wrist. The streamlined timepiece displays the hour, minute, and seconds, and has an additional date display. These simple, elegant watches are available new for 400 euros.
The Iconic Tuning Fork
Bulova placed a stylized tuning fork at 12 o'clock and at the short end of the seconds hand on the Accutron II. The design also serves as Bulova's company logo, but it isn't integrated into every model's design.
The first Accutron (reference number 214) was introduced in 1960. It was nicknamed the "tuning fork watch," as it was powered by a tiny tuning fork. The turning fork vibrated at 360 Hz and was powered by electrical energy. Back then, normal mechanical wristwatches only had a frequency of 2.5 Hz. Seeing as the speed of vibrations is closely related to a watch's precision, the Accutron had a deviation of only one minute a month, which was remarkable at the time. It was the first wristwatch to receive a certificate allowing it to be used for railways. NASA was drawn to the precise Accutron movement and used it in clocks onboard 46 of their space flights. The crew of Apollo 11 even left an Accutron on the Moon in the summer of 1969. In 1977, Bulova stopped producing the Accutron. Cheaper quartz watches with frequencies as high as 32,768 Hz had by then taken over the market.
The Accutron began its comeback in 2010 when Bulova introduced the Precisionist. The company used innovative quartz technology with a three-pronged quartz crystal. This allows the movement to vibrate at the extremely high frequency of 262,144 Hz, meaning it only deviates 0.8 seconds per month, or 10 seconds a year. It was obvious to Bulova that they should utilize this technology in other series, too; at Baselworld 2014, they introduced the Accutron II, featuring the newest 262 kHz technology.