Bulova 1960 Accutron

4/10 votes
Model ID rating explained.
2.7525
Manufacture Year: 
1960
Movement Model: 
342
Movement Jewels: 
14
Movement Serial No.: 
unknown
Case Serial No.: 
unknown
Case shape: 
Round
Crystal Details: 
unknown
Gender: 
Mens
Additional Information: 

Hello, I have recently inherited from my grandfather's estate this 18k solid gold Accutron 214. I am still researching it and trying to get more information about it. I do not know which year it was made as I have not been able to open the back case yet and there is no indication on the back. From what I have learned I am pretty sure its is a 214. I had a jeweler look at it and the band and movement case are 18k solid gold. The watch itself weighs almost 95grams and the jeweler estimated that around 70g of the weight was in gold. I do not have a proper battery for it but I tried a similar type battery in it and all the movement does work. I didn't want to leave a wrong voltage battery in it and risk damage. There is no case or documentation. If you have any questions or can provide me with additional information about this watch please write to me.

Edit/Update 1/3/12: I brought the watch to a reputible watch store. The head repair specialist opened and looked at it. He has 20+ years of experience and went to school at Bulova hq. It is a 214H model Accutron, movement 342 and item# possibly 14369232 (could not be 100% read from inscription). The watch was last serviced in 2010 and looks clean inside. It has 14 jewels and works great. The only thing we could not specifically identify was the year, but it has to be between 1960 and 1964. There is no year code anywhere we could find.

This watch is for sale. If you have any questions please feel free to message me. Thank you.

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OldTicker
Posted December 6, 2011 - 7:01pm

Newguy,

Look at the caseback with a loupe, there should be a datecode consisting of a letter (M) if it is a 214, and a number...example M6 = 1966

Once you figure that out, then we can work on other details.

BTW, If your Jeweler couldn't tell you the year of this watch...Find a different Jeweler, and don't run this watch with the wrong battery...It could cost you big itme if it burns out the coils.

 

mybulova_admin
Posted December 7, 2011 - 5:31am

Club 5000Panel Member

Agreed, knowing the age of the watch will help us track down any information about it.

It has that signature cross-hairs on the Dial which makes me think 'Bulova President', but it would be nice to find out for sure. A date code on the back case is a good starting point.

newguy30
Posted December 7, 2011 - 6:02pm

There are no alpha numerical codes on the outside backing of the watch. The only things inscribed are the words patented, waterproof, Bulova, 18k.t. gold around the circular edge of the back plate. I am assumming the date code you are referring to will be marked on the movement once I open it. However I am hesitant to attempt to take the back off without the proper tools and so I have to get to a jeweler that is familar with Accutrons to do it safely.

firebaron90
Posted December 7, 2011 - 6:09pm

Wow that is a beautiful watch!

tmaca's picture
tmaca
Posted August 2, 2013 - 11:22pm

First, it's a 214, not a 218. Much more valuable, the 214 was the first model made and is much more desirable than any other Accutron model.  Also, it's a Bow Tie case, very rare and valuable.  Further, you may have really hit the jackpot.  The only Accutrons I've ever heard of which did not have a date code on the back of the case were solid gold ones made by Bulova and used in the first ads and sent to select jewelers as display models to "kick off" the Accutron in 1960.  I have heard that some or all of that batch of Accutrons were not date-coded.  I believe there were only some 500-odd of them made.  You MIGHT have one of the very first Accutrons ever made, and in a highly desirable case, at that.  DO NOT use a modern "Accutron Replacement" battery. they are 1.5 volts, and the Accutron was designed for a 1.35v battery, which is no longer made because it contained Mercury. The higher voltage can damage or even destroy the coils, and the chances of that actually happening are highest with the oldest 214s.  This watch is too valuable to take any chances whatsoever.  You can get a modern battery that has beeen modifeid to step down the voltage and produce the correct 1.35v.  The least expensive place I know of to get them is at Boomertime.com.  That guy even had, the last timeI knew, some original Accutron batteries that he'd managed to preserve through some combination of vacuum and refrigerated storage, but he was getting over $40 each for those.  The modified ones are just as good for actual use.  Personally, I'd give my left you-know-what to have this watch.  Congratulations, and take REAL good care of it.

mybulova_admin
Posted August 3, 2013 - 5:31am

Club 5000Panel Member

Its a shame we could not narroew down the date of this model. We have a 1965 advert showing this watch as an Accutron 26102 with 18KT case and an Accutron 21259 with stainless steel case.

We have no evidence as yet that its dated 1960.

Nikola88
Posted April 23, 2016 - 12:46pm

I have the exact above watch. It is for sale if anyone is interested.

 

Nikola88
Posted April 23, 2016 - 12:46pm

I have the exact above watch. It is for sale if anyone is interested.

 

tmaca's picture
tmaca
Posted April 23, 2016 - 6:49pm

It most likely IS a 1960.  Some of the first 1960 Accutrons were shipped without date codes.  While I cannot say with absolute certainty that 1960 was the only year that happened, as far as I know, and as far as I've ever heard from anyone, there was no other year when Bulova shipped non-date coded Accutrons.

Batteries:  Although I said this about 3 years ago, I'll say it again.  DO NOT PUT AN "ACCUTRON 214 REPLACEMENT BATTERY" IN ANY ACCUTRON 214!!!!!!!!!!  You could possibly destroy the coilset, which is both expensive and hard to find.  The last ones were manufactured in 1976, the only still existing ones are "leftovers" from old stock that jewelers had when Bulova stopped making tuning fork Accutrons.

Accutron 214s used a 1.35 volt mercury oxide battery.  Mercury oxide batteries were outlawed in Europe in 1991 and in the US in 1996.  The possible replacements for small electronics were zinc-air, alkaline, or silver oxide.  Because of various characteristics of these 3 different types, the silver oxide became the replacement for watch batteries.  But the silver oxide is a 1.55v battery.  In most cases, that doesn't matter.  But in an Accutron 214 it can be disastrous.  It will often make the watch run fast, which can be fixed by rephasing the watch.  The real problem, though, is that the older 214s, which used the very first commercially available transistor, can actually be burnt out by that extra .20 volts.  The Accutron 218, 219, 232, etc. don't have a problem with silver oxide batteries, just the 214.  And not all 214s have a problem, especially ones made after 1965.  But given the difficulty in replacing a coilset, it isn't worth taking the chance even with a "newer" 214.

Most "Accutron 214 replacment" batteries are just a 1.55v silver oxide in a case that fits the 214.  However, using a Schotky or germanium diode can drop the output to the correct 1.35 volts, preventing any problems, and some compsnies are making such batteries.  If you need a battery, make sure the one you're buying DOES have a 1.35v output.  If it isn't labelled as such by the seller, it's going to be the regular 1.55v battery, something you don;t really want to put in a 214.  If you want a recommendation, I get mine through Boomertime.com, a guy that specializes in vintage watches, especially Accutrons.   Unfortunately, while his prices for watches is seriously less than most sellers, his 1.35v batteries are a couple bucks more than a lot of places charge.  On the other hand, I know they're going to be exactly what they're supposed to be, are reliable, and will not harm, say, my 1960 Assymetric w/14K inlays.

ALSO:  If the watch doesn't run, it probably IS the coilset.  Accutrons are extremely well made and have very few moving parts to wear out, and the coilset is almost always what eventually fails.  A few years back you could pick up a tested and working 214 coilset for sometimes as little as $55.  Now it'll be over $100.  Here are some tips:

If it's a 2 wire or 3 wire coilset isn't really important.

Only buy a "tested and working" coilset.  If there's a money back return policy, that's nice, but you're not likely to find that.  It's too easy for someone to buy a coilset then return it claiming it didn't work, but the one he returned isn't the one he received. They don't have serial numbers or any other way to identify a specific coilset, and they're so hard to find that quite a few people have pulled that scam, so sellers usually can't afford to offer a money back guarantee.  So don't think that the lack of a money back guarantee means the seller isn't honest of his coilset(s) isn't/aren't any good.

I personally am skeptical of any Accutron parts coming from Eastern Europe.  I'm not saying that something from Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, etc. will be phony, just that a lot of it is, so it's risky.  And I won't touch anything coming from China.

NO  geographical source, even in the US, is automatically safe.  I know, for example, of one pretty large Accutron sales, repair, and parts operation in NY that's been around for a long time and that  frequently sells "'original vintage" Accutron parts & accessories (bands, buckles, etc.) that are actually counterfeits made in China.  Including "gold filled" items that are actually just electroplated.

NEVER buy a "not tested" or "untested" coilset.   That might be someone who came across some and just hasn't tested them, but it's much more likely to be code for "not working".  It only takes an Ohm meter to test them, so why wouldn't the seller test them?  People who don't know any better buy them, hoping one will be working.   You probably have a better chance of being the next Powerball main prize winner.

So be careful.  If possible, check out the seller with someone else if you can before you buy.

A couple places I can recommend are Mybob.net and Boomertime.com, both of which sell Accutrons and do repairs. Mybob isn't exactly inexpensive, at least as far as buying an Accutron is concerned, but does good repair work at fairly reasonable prices, and Boomertime might not have what you need, whether it's a coilset, a band, a crystal, or whatever, but both places are honest and reliable.  Oldfathertime sells Accutrons, does repairs, and sells some things like bands, and while I've never dealt with them myself, I've never heard anything bad about them.  Except that their prices for Accutrons are, shall I say, somewhat excessive.  At least in my opinion.