Bulova is a name that has become synonymous with precision, style, and innovation in the world of watches. The company has been producing high-quality timepieces since the late 1800s, and its watches have become sought-after collectibles among enthusiasts and collectors. From their military range watches made for the US Army during World War II to their NASA commissioned watches which have been to space, there’s a whole range of classic vintage watches to be inspired by.
If you’re interested in buying or selling a vintage Bulova watch, it’s important to do your research, be cautious of counterfeits, and consider having the watch appraised by a professional. Most vintage Bulova watches sell for between $100-$200 depending on several factors including condition, age, rarity and provenance. However, some may value in the thousands of dollars while others top auction records at up to $50,000!
We’ve broken this article down into a number of key questions concerning the value of vintage Bulova watches: Why are Bulova watches so special? How to identify a genuine Bulova watch? What makes vintage Bulova watches valuable? How to buy and sell old Bulova watches? And most importantly we have assembled a chart of the most valuable vintage Bulova watches.
Why Are Bulova Watches So Special?
Bulova was founded in New York City in 1875 by Joseph Bulova, a Czech immigrant who had a passion for watchmaking. The company quickly became known for its innovative spirit. In 1912, it introduced the first-ever watch with a complete factory-produced movement.
Throughout the 20th century, Bulova continued to innovate in the field of watchmaking, introducing a number of “firsts” in the industry. In 1927, the company released the first-ever clock radio, and in 1960, it introduced the Accutron, the world’s first electronic watch. Over the years, Bulova watches have been worn by celebrities, politicians, and even astronauts on NASA space missions.
Fun Fact: The A-11 And World War II
During World War II, the United States Army approached Bulova with a request for a new kind of watch that was durable, accurate, and easy to read, but also lightweight and compact so that it could be worn by soldiers in the field.
Bulova developed a new type of watch called the A-11. It made with a lightweight metal case and a simple dial, powered by a Swiss-made movement that was accurate to within 30 seconds per day. The A-11 quickly became the standard issue watch for US Army soldiers, and over one million A-11 watches were produced during the war.
During the war, many American watch companies were forced to shift their production to military timepieces, which helped to develop their technical expertise and manufacturing capabilities. After the war, these companies were able to apply their newfound expertise to the production of civilian watches, which helped to fuel the growth of the American watch industry in the postwar era.
So, the A-11 not only helped the US Army during World War II, but also played a role in the growth of the American watch industry!
How To Identify A Genuine Bulova Watch?
As with any popular brand, there are often counterfeit or fake Bulova watches out there on the market. When buying or selling an old Bulova watch, it’s important to authenticate the watch. Here are some top tips on how to identify a genuine Bulova watch:
1. Find The Bulova Maker’s Mark
All genuine Bulova watches will have a maker’s mark somewhere on the watch. The maker’s mark consists of the name “Bulova” and a stylized letter “B” that forms a triangle. This mark is usually found in the upper portion of the dial but it may also be found on the case back.
2. Find The Model & Serial Numbers
You can also find the model and serial numbers engraved on the case back – you may need a magnifying glass and good lighting for this! Try searching for these on the internet through vintage Bulova catalogue sites like this one. If the watch doesn’t have model or serial numbers it may be because it was made before 1924, before Bulova began engraving these details. If the numbers look fake or poorly engraved, the watch may be a fake.
There are a series of symbols from 1924 up to 1949 which indicate the type of movement used in the watch. For example, movements from 1924 are marked with an asterisk, and those from 1944 are marked with a circle. From 1950 onwards, the symbols were replaced with the letters L, M, N, P and T. You can find identification charts here.
Undertake some careful research to find the model you are interested in. Locate photos and descriptions of the watch from reputable sources so you can cross-check your old watch against them. Details including color, dial design, the shape of the hands and hour markers are key in achieving a positive ID.
2. Quality Check
The quality of a Bulova watch is a good indicator of its authenticity. Genuine Bulova watches are typically made with high-quality materials including stainless steel, gold, and sapphire crystal. The materials should feel solid and substantial in your hand, and the finish should be smooth and even.
3. Movement Examination
The movement is the internal mechanism which powers the watch – it can be a good indicator of a watch’s authenticity. Genuine Bulova watches are made with high-quality movements, such as Swiss-made quartz or automatic movements. If the movement looks cheap or poorly made, the watch is likely to be a fake.
What Makes Vintage Bulova Watches Valuable?
Vintage Bulova watches represent a piece of watchmaking history and are a testament to the brand’s long-standing reputation for quality and innovation. Vintage watches are often sought after by collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate their craftsmanship, design, and rarity.
Some of the key factors that can affect the value of vintage Bulova watches include:
- Age –the age of a vintage Bulova watch can have a significant impact on its value. Watches that were produced during certain eras such as World War II, or that have a specific design aesthetic then to be more valuable than others.
- Rarity – Watches that were produced in limited quantities or that have unique features, such as special dial designs or rare complications, can can command a premium price.
- Condition – Watches that are in excellent condition and have all their original components are worth more than those that are damaged or have been heavily restored.
- Materials – Many Bulova watches were made with stainless steel, while others were crafted in precious metals like platinum. Whether a watch is gold-plated, gold-filled or solid gold will also affect the value of a watch. Watches made from platinum or solid gold, as well as those decorated with precious stones like diamonds are the most valuable.
- Popularity – Some models, such as the Accutron or the Spaceview, have a dedicated following among collectors and enthusiasts and can be worth a significant amount of money. Popularity created market demands which usually drives the price of vintage watches up.
- Provenance –Watches that have an interesting story or a notable previous owner may be worth more than those that have no recorded history.
Popular Vintage Bulova Watch Models
Bulova Accutron: The Accutron was introduced in 1960 and was the world’s first electronic watch. It was known for its accuracy and was even used by NASA in space missions. Today, vintage Accutron watches are highly sought after by collectors.
Bulova Spaceview: The Spaceview was a variant of the Accutron that had an open dial, allowing the wearer to see the watch’s unique tuning fork movement. Like the Accutron, the Spaceview is highly collectible and can command a high price.
Bulova Chronograph: Bulova has produced a number of chronograph watches over the years, including the popular “Surfboard” and “Devil Diver” models. These watches are popular due to their unique design and functionality for use in water.
Bulova Military Watches: Bulova produced watches for the US military during World War II, and these watches are now highly collectible. The watches were designed to be rugged and reliable, and their military history adds to their value.
Most Valuable Vintage Bulova Watches Chart
Let’s go through some of the most valuable old Bulova watches. We’ll tell you a bit about them, state their average value, and provide a top auction record for each. Please note that values stated are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to fluctuations through time. Ensure you complete thorough research when considering selling or buying you own Bulova watch to confirm the correct current value. Those watches which had a notable previous owner have an “N/A” average price since they are unique!
|Bulova Watch||Year Produced||Average Price (in excellent condition)||Auction Record|
|Elvis Presley’s RCA Records “Merry Christmas” 14K Yellow Gold Bulova Accutron Watch||1972||N/A||$50,000 in 2022!|
|Solid 14kt Gold Diamond Bulova Accuquartz Wristwatch||c. 1980s||$7,000||$10,250 in 2017!|
|Solid 18kt Gold Diamond Bulova Accutron Wristwatch||c. 1970s||$1,000-$5,000||$7,750 in 2022!|
|Art Tatum’s Watch, from Frank Sinatra||c. 1960s||N/A||$5,000 in 2018!|
|Bulova 18kt YG, Quartz and Diamond Watch||–||$3,000||$4,100 in 2022!|
|Stainless Steel Bulova Sea Hunter Divers Chronograph Wrist Watch||c. 1970s||$2,000||Approx. $3,600 in 2017!|
|Bulova Marine Star Chronograph Watch||c. 1970s||$2,000||Approx. $3,600 in 2021!|
|Bulova Accutron Marco Polo Moon Phase||–||$1,000||Approx. $3,100 in 2019!|
|Bulova Accutron Wrist Watch With Space View||c. 1970s||$500||$3,000 in 2022!|
|Bulova Stars and Stripes Chronograph Watch||c. 1970s||$1,500||$2,999 in 2023!|
|Bulova Accutron 214 Ss Astronaut Mens Watch||1968||$1,000-$2,000||$2,898 in 2023!|
|Bulova, “F” Chronograph, ref. 31007, Self Winding||c.1970s||$1,000||$2,600 in 2020!|
|18 KT Victorian Inspired Bracelet Watch||–||$500-$1,500||$2,500 in 2017!|
|Bulova Marine Star 50 M Chronograph Watch||1979||$1,200||Approx. $2,500 in 2016!|
|Bulova White Prince Jump Hour Deco Mens Watch||1932||$1,000||$2,125 in 2023!|
|Solid 14K Bracelet Watch Case with Diamonds||c. 1990s||$1,000||$2,100 in 2023!|
How To Buy And Sell Old Bulova Watches?
If you have a vintage Bulova watch that you want to sell, or if you’re interested in getting your hands on one, there are a few key things to keep in mind…
1. Do your research!
Look up the model and serial number of your watch, or the special features and materials used. Try to find out as much information as possible about its history and value. This can help you set a reasonable price if you’re selling. It can also help to determine whether the price is fair if you’re buying.
2. Buy from a reputable seller / sell responsibly
When buying a vintage Bulova watch, be sure to ask the seller for detailed photos and information about the watch’s condition and history. If possible, try to see the watch in person before purchasing to ensure that it’s in the condition you expect. Go for listings from reputable sellers with 5 star ratings.
If you’re selling a vintage Bulova watch, consider having it appraised by a professional. An appraiser can give you an accurate estimate of the watch’s value, which can help you determine an appropriate asking price. In your listing, include lots of close-up photos of good quality, details about the watch and it’s provenance, and information and images of any damage or repair work done. Be transparent!
3. Beware of fakes
When selling or buying vintage Bulova watches, it’s important to be cautious of counterfeits. There are many fake Bulova watches on the market, and it can be difficult to spot them if you’re not familiar with the brand. Look for signs of poor quality, such as cheap materials or sloppy craftsmanship, and be wary of super cheap watches with prices that seem too good to be true.
4. Try these sites
If you’d rather sell using an online platform rather than in person or through an auction house, you can try these sites:
- eBay – The Bulova vintage watches section of eBay is excellent. You can filter by type of watch, movement, case size, condition, price, and much more!
- Live Auctioneers – This site is a great place to search for upcoming items or sold lots, helping you check the price of your watch of interest and surf for interesting models.
- 1st Dibs – This European site is a great source for a great deal of valuable vintage Bulova watches at a range of prices.
- Etsy – Etsy is home to a whole load of unique and interesting vintage items including Bulova watches that you may not find easily elsewhere.