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Bulova Waterproof Tester

I found this at our local NAWCC meet, and it was inexpensive so I thought it would be a good item to add to the DB as a Bulova Accessory or tool/test equipment.

Original box and manual. The idea here is to spread the 'Detectaire' along the seams and around the crown, and then put the watch on the rubber pad. The heavy glass dish is then placed on top, and the handle is pulled down  to create a partial vacuum.

The air pressure around the watch is suddenly less than it is inside, and if the watch leaks, bubbles will be seen in the 'Detectaire'. (Soap)

There is no mention as to what rating this device tests to, and of course, 'Waterproof' is a term no longer used. If I can find a pressure device I may put it on the pad to see what kind of drop there is. My guess would be 3 ATM., which, by the way, is not even sufficient for surface swimming. For that you need a screw down crown and 100m. You might get away with 50m, but you definitley need the screw down crown. Water tests are done statically, and any motion through the surface or under it creates much larger pressure requirements, so the static test is merely a guide.

There is no date on the device or the instruction manual. 




Geoff Baker
Club 5000Panel Member
Posted February 1, 2017 - 6:54am

Good stuff Rev. I've seen these rigs pass by on eBay every now and then and always wondered how, exactly they were supposed to work. (I'm surprised that I had it right).  I expect that the device predates the switch from 'waterproof' to 'water resistant'. I think that change was mandated in 1967 or 1968 so I'd put this thing mid sixties. Truth is, I'm reluctant to get any of my watches wet, even the 'rated' ones with screw down crowns.

I'm curious to know if you've tried it out and what result it delivered.

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Panel Member
Posted February 1, 2017 - 10:54am

I did, I re-hydrated the soap solution and stuck a snorkel in it. Surprisingly, it did not leak. Now I am more curious than ever to see what pressure difference is generated by the device. 

As you can see by the pics, it doesn't look like this thing was used much- if at all, and it works the way it is supposed to. As a quick check to see if the gaskets are doing their job at all, it doesn't get much simpler than this. The one we used in the service depots were over 8 grand, and had a sensor that touched the crystal to check for deformation at high pressures equivalent to up to 300m. 

Posted February 3, 2017 - 7:18pm

Hi, I seen these on ebay too. Found this on another site, 1960 article from Science magazine.

Club 5000Panel Member
Posted February 3, 2017 - 10:51pm

Very cool...and here is me trying to figure out where the water goes and how it works.

I wonder if Bulova still sell the bottles of 'Detectaire' for when you run out :-)