Now it may appear that I am a big Bulova fan here, being that my third watch is yet another Bulova. Well, I guess you’d be correct as there are a few other vintage Bulovas that I also have my eye on. At the moment though, my collection is capped at 2.
They made some great quality and fun watches in the 70’s. Many other companies were doing similar things and using the same movements but the ones with the Bulova mark don’t have that over inflated price tag (I’m looking at you Heuer). This one came up online and it was a gamble to say the least. The photos and the write-up in the ad did not give much information about the condition. The bidding was quite active but the price was staying fairly reasonable.
The watch was described as working but the chronograph wasn’t functioning properly and there was also no photo of the movement. This is a big red flag when buying a watch. It’s very important to, at least, get a glimpse of the condition of the mechanism. If the movement is really rusted then you can expect to be replacing a lot of parts or simply adding it to the movement donor pile. The seller had stated that they were unable to open the caseback to show the movement, so therefore the watch was being sold “as is”.
The movement in this watch is a fairly common movement (valjoux 7733). You can often find parts online or through different supply houses. This gave me some comfort as I placed my bid. If it was a complete disaster, well, then it would become a project watch, and I’m always up for a challenge. I won the watch with not too much competition. I did, however, pay a little bit more than I wanted. I think I got wrapped up in the chase a little bit….Careful Howie!
When it arrived, I was of course pretty excited (I usually am when a watch comes in the mail, it’s like xmas!). The condition of the case and dial was not too shabby. The crystal had some good scratches but I figured I could get most of the big lines out. The case was scratched up pretty good, but I knew I could remedy that fairly well too. Getting the watch opened though, that was a real problem. It just wouldn’t budge. Jason and I spent a good amount of time taking turns trying to open her up using all the tools we could think of. Both our hands started getting calloused and then our concern started to be that we might break something. Not the watch, but our tools! We were scratching our heads. We then decided to try some penetrating oil on the caseback. This is risky because once that oil gets in, it really gets everywhere, and you don’t want oil touching the dial as it could sink in and bubble up the paint and markers.
So we let it sit for an hour or so in a thin pool of oil (just up to the line of the case back) and then we tried again.
You ever spend 10 minutes trying to open a pickle jar and hand it over to someone else who opens it like it ain’t no thing? Case in point, it opened like it was supposed to. I immediately removed the hands and dial to prevent oil contamination and then took a good look at the movement. It was awesome. No damage, just unserviced!
There was hardly any original lubricant left which was causing the chrono functions to seize. I really got lucky. So I just gave it a good full service and polished up the case and glass. The dial is almost mint condition. Not bad for a watch from 1970.
When all was said and done, I tried it on and was pleasantly surprised. I bought the watch with the idea of fixing it up and re-selling it but it quickly became a watch I couldn’t put down.
The perfect size case at 40mm and the blue dial with the steel case is ice cold!