mismatch of years

Submitted by jeffb on February 10, 2019 - 10:15am

I can understand how, say, a 1944 movement can pop up in a 1945 case: One factory is making the movements to be used as needed in a number of models, another is making new designs of cases to fit standard movements. You might even get a couple of years off. But the watch I'm lookintg at is a 1954 Craftsman carrying not the expected 1954 8AE 21j movement but a (very similar-looking) 1944 8AC movement.

The first solution that springs to mind is that the original movement was damaged, so some jeweler replaced it with a working one from 10 years earlier. But the case and movement are in equally lovely shape. Is it reasonable to think that the factory came across a few unused 10-year-old movements and put them in the appropriate new cases? Or that they were out of the 8AE movements one day and used some old 8AC movements they had on the shelf, knowing that they would fit perfectly in the watch? Have experienced Bulova folks seen this sort of thing occasionally and decided that it wasn't a Frankenwatch after all?

Many thanks. The collective wisdom (and good humor) on this site has provided me a delightful education as I wade into Bulova collecting.


Reverend Rob
Posted February 10, 2019 - 4:31pm

That's a large spread of years. We are only speculating, of course, but I sincerely doubt Bulova or any other reputable company then or now would utilize ten year old movements in a new watch.

Besides the obvious, the movts would be so dried out that they would need to be serviced completely before being used in any watch, and this would be a major stumbling block. 

When a watch movement dries out, it leaves behind lubricant residue, and this must be thoroughly cleaned out and this can only be done by fully disassembling the movt. Oiling a dirty or dried out watch does not work and is not an acceptable service procedure. 

Your theory that a damaged movt has been changed to one that fits well is right on the money. 

Posted February 10, 2019 - 8:52pm

With Bulova we have learnt that anything is possible, but I would tend to side with Rob on this one and suggest it's just a replacement movement that fit the bill. 

Posted February 10, 2019 - 8:56pm

Well, mismatch or not, it's a handsome thing: **************Active eBay listing removed, not allowed per site rules****************(admin)

I have a very sharp Craftsman in white gold with the charcoal face, and this is just as attractive.

Posted February 11, 2019 - 11:00am

Hi Jeff,

I am in agreement with Rob's opinion and your movement swap hypothesis as stated above.  Back when the watch was only a few years old, not much thought was put into what collectors would think or how it would affect value 50 years in the future. You went to the jeweler and said "my watch quit....make it run again".

M Watchman
Posted May 20, 2020 - 3:05pm

I have seen these situations as well, and wondered......particularly if the movement was say a 21 jewel adjusted and the case model generally was advertised with a 15 or 17 jewel.......even the thought of cleaning the older dry movement back in say 1950 was not at all as comparatively expensive as now.....labor was much cheaper then.

And I also wondered if one were to heavily damage a case......and the movement was still n good shape....WOULD the jeweler re-case your movement in the "latest model" case you liked that would fit that movement?

How common could that be.........to re-use someone's good working perhaps nicer grade (though much older) movement from a damaged case and sell a new case for $10-$15?

Likewise, could the jeweler have a unused somewhat older "21" and say.....this model usually comes with a 15, but I can service this unused adj  21 and give you a "better" watch for that same $10 -15 more.....??


We seem to have many watches with matching cases and movements differing by a couple of years.....that seem were sold new together.....why not these scenarios.


Was looking for answers ant thought I would revive this thread.......

Geoff Baker
Posted May 20, 2020 - 10:24pm

I think it's he same answer as above. The watch, to most people, is the case, they have no idea (or concern) what the insides look like.

"Mr Jeweler, it's broke, can you fix it?" "Of course I can, it will be ready next Tuesday." That watchmaker put in anything that fit (within reason).

On the other hand I had a chance recently to spend a day with the fellow who was head of the Bulova service department, he worked there 40 years and confirmed readily that watches that came in for service were generally given new movement with no regard to the year. On the production line however I suspect there was much more rigor as to matching movements with proper (as in advertised) movement.

To answer your second question - about damaged cases, YES there were companies that made cases and dials to fit movements of the major manufacturers. For example, you will find these watches generally labelled on the dial as "Bulova" with the word 'Movement' beneath the word Bulova. We do not consider these examples as true Bulova watches as they do not have Bulova made cases.

Posted May 22, 2020 - 3:53am

For me the bottom line is, no one can say for certain what happened to a watch during the last 50+ years. Which was original to the owner, the case or the movement? We may never know.

When it comes to ID'ing a watch however we need to have some guidelines in place.

One of the guidelines that we tend to employ is that if a case was only ever released as one model, then regardless of the movement we can ID it as that model, noting that the movement is likely not original.

It is still an interesting question if we think about a 1940s watch that houses a 1950s movement. Did jewelers have the ability to swap out old broken movements with the latest? Did they have stock access from Bulova for repairing such watches?

Was it only Bulova that did 'full' movement replacements?