Bulova 1967 Commander

Submitted by rterra on January 9, 2019 - 12:00pm
Manufacture Year
Movement Model
Movement Jewels
Movement Serial No.
Case Serial No.
Case shape
Case Manufacturer
Additional Information

Commander AO

Date code on case back is M7 under serial number

date code on movement is M7

Dial face is different than others I have seen wondering if dial is a replacement

Inside case back is scribed -  5 [triangle] KH68

I have lightly cleaned this watch but not the movement (I am not a watch guy.) I did lightly remove, with a brush, what appeared to be old adhesive from around dial indiacators and Bulova badge.

1967 Bulova Commander AO
1967 Bulova Commander AO back
1967 Bulova Commander AO 10COAC movement
case back inscription
Posted January 9, 2019 - 12:40pm

Ads shows this case design with 30 jewels in the Commander line, and also with the Time Center 'B' (band specific), and then later in the Sea King line.

I would say that the dial markers match the Commander 'AO', but the print and lume have been removed. Dial otherwise looks to be original. Unless this one started life with the Time Center band, then Commander 'AO' would be accurate. Ads call for a silvertone dial, which this has.

I also think the case number has been removed from the inside back. If it is not etched there, then we would most likely see it ink stamped, especially with a thin metal back like this. The etching there now looks to be from a watchmaker's servicing.

Posted January 9, 2019 - 4:36pm

I agree with Ken on all points, 1967 Commander "AO". Likely cleaned at some point; which removed the print, lume and minutes track from the face as well as the interior printed case number.

Posted January 9, 2019 - 5:15pm


That is pretty cool you folks can put those peices together and come up with a story for this watch. So the cleaning that it probably received in maybe 1968 could have affected the way the dial face looks. The adhesive I brushed away looked like some sort of shelac or something. It just flaked away and made the face look a lot better. When I broke the watch down to clean it (I have a one person dental lab so I like tinkering) I did see an ink stamped code or something on the inside wall of the case. If I ever take this watch apart again I will make note of it. 

So what is a Time Center band?

Also is there suposed to be some sort of sealant inside the crown around the winding stem? when I was steam cleaning the components, I noted a black substance coming out from that area. I stopped when I saw it figuring it must be for waterproofing.

And one last question.... I got this watch for $10 at a flea market and spent a few hours tinkering with it. It has been keeping excelent time depite the fact that I accidently moved then moved back that one adjuster under the balance or regulator thing (sorry - I'm still leaning about this stuff.) Anyway, if I were to take this watch in for a cleaning or tune up, what should I ask to have done?



Reverend Rob
Posted January 10, 2019 - 12:11pm

In reply to by rterra

The black substance is the crown gasket having turned to mush from a possible chemical exposure due to cleaning.

I mean no offense here, but to anyone who feels like taking their movement apart, I offer one critical bit of info.

How do you ruin a hairspring?

By touching it.

I'm just going to go off topic for a moment here-

I encourage anyone interested in the trade to look into taking some courses, either from the NAWCC in Canada or the US, or AWCI in the US. There are pitfalls galore in watchmaking and I spend a lot of time fixing things that have been repaired improperly.

The two adjustments you mention on the balance bridge are for regulation, one is the stud carrier and adjusts the beat error of the watch, and the other is the regulating pins carrier, which adjusts the rate. In order for the watch to be properly adjusted, the rate must be set with the hairspring passing exactly through the centre of the pins, and then the pins are adjusted for timing in positions. The beat error should be as close to zero as possible, but usually on old watches a millisecond is tolerable. Chronometers are adjusted to zero or .1 ms. for example.

The way we measure this is with a Timing machine, and the industry standard is Witschi. One of these will set you back about 4 grand or more. The Chinese ones (TimeGrapher) are not as reliable or as precise. We did a bench test of several a few years ago, and their lifespan is shorter also. I mention this for anyone who wants to dive deeper into horology, and for anyone tempted to move those carriers or touch the balance.

Off topic over!

So what you want to ask for when you take the watch in is a 'CTR' which is a complete overhaul of the movement. Some places will include case cleaning and polishing. Usually referred to as 'a service', ideally you want the work done by the person you are talking to, on site, but if this is impossible you take what you can get. There are listings for watchmakers on the NAWCC site by location. Check your country's horological societies for listings, in the UK it is the BHI and BWCMG. 

I should mention that what you are getting is the full disassembly and cleaning in Industry standard solutions of the movement, with repair as needed, new mainspring usually, and re-assembly with lubrification and demagnetisation and regulation. It isn't cheap, nor should it be. The tools needed (and training) along with the lubes, and various chemical solvents and cleaners are all expensive. The expression 'Just a cleaning' makes it sound very simple, but it is not. 

Posted January 10, 2019 - 1:44pm

In reply to by Reverend Rob

Thank you Rverend Rob for your important off-topic reply. I know this isn't the category for me to ask questions outside of the identification of this watch. I instanlty regretted touching the stud carrier. I guess the fact that this watch is keeping very good time (not calibrated but good for me) is just pure fool's luck. I don't think I will make any real investments in the watch making trade regarding equipment or training. But I do have an appreciation and fascination for it and will now leave the technical work to a professional. I am limited in my location at finding a decent watch repair person and will choose one carefully.


Thank you all who have chimed in to identify my Commander AO. I may now start looking for more Bulovas!




Posted January 10, 2019 - 3:19am

I also thought about Commander "AO", but that it would remove the print, world and minutes track from the face, I do not seem very likely, why anyone would do it

Bulova WatchBulova watch

Geoff Baker
Posted January 10, 2019 - 5:48am

Hi Randy, welcome to myBulova, looks like you're getting hooked on old watches? I'm going along with the Commander ID as well, I think the flakes you removed was the finish over the dial. My guess is that the print came off with it. It's a nice watch, I like it.

1967 Bulova Commander AO

Kathy L.
Posted January 10, 2019 - 11:09am

Certainly looks like a Commander "AO" with the second track and print removed.  

Reverend Rob
Posted January 10, 2019 - 11:25am

Any time you attempt to clean a dial, you need to be prepared to ruin it. I am fairly sure that is what has happened here. The lacquer, along with the numbers and lume dots, have been stripped from this dial. Quite possibly the dial had darkened or gotten very dirty. There is a rather loose maxim in vintage watch repairs, and that is in general, dials cannot be cleaned. They can be refurbished and re-done entirely, but cleaning is hazardous and not usually that effective.