Submitted by JEV1A on October 3, 2021 - 11:28am

Searching a Vintage 214 or 218 Accutron Tuning Fork for sale on E-BAY or elsewhere in Auction?


Prices have quickly become outrageous and you end up with junk so I'm writing this warning to all: 

First off I specialize in Vintage Bulova model Accutron 214 and 216 as well a Accutron Quartz repairs and Restorations. 

Its getting increasingly more difficult to find a Accutron running and in unrestored good condition. So therefore hundred's of non-conforming Accutron's are popping up especially in E-Bay auctions. The Astronaut and Spaceview Models are the most sought after and are also the highest in value. Of course 18k, solid 14k cases are going to be the most expensive but most Bulova Accutron's you see are 218 day or day-date models. 14k Gold Filled or even 18k Electroplated cases.

Now the M on the back stands for 1960 so a M-9 would be 1969 and then a N would be 1970 so a N-4 would be a 1974 the final year of the double coil tuning fork movement. I'm not going to bore everyone by going into specific detail about Coils and Tuning Forks vs Hairsprings and the electronics Bulova used etc. but lets just say these 214 and 218 movements respectably are the most complex timing devices every made on the planet. So therefore when it stops running it could be several different problems. The most I see are improper Battery Installation especially on a 214. Because Bulova originally used there own Mercury cell batteries and the fact these batteries were outlawed, watchmakers had to scramble to come up with a proper voltage solution. So the first thing you need to check is the battery. 

Next you have a shelf life for the coils and I can now say in 2021 the end of life is soon. Proper voltage needs to continue to run through the coils. 

To make a long story short, a dead 214 or 218 movement in most cases is big trouble. Even back in the day a Bulova authorized seller / watchmaker would simply change out to a new movement rather than attempt repairs because it was cheaper to do so. I find that to be somewhat true today.

So now is the BEWARE part of this story: 

Stay away from NON-Working Accutron's. 

Make sure the Accutron is running accuretely and functions as it should.

The DAY-DATE 218-2 or dd Model's over time the calendar's become worn and won't function. Bulova had a problem with DAY-DATE.

The 214'S are the original models, the battery can be accessed through a cowling cover on the case back sealed with an o-ring.

Railroad Models or RR Accutron's were sold to the public. The real Accutron Industrial Model was called the Transportation Model. Sellers are attempting to fetch hundred's of dollars for simple Railroad 214 or 218 models NON-WORKING. 

I get these in my shop all the time. Typical, "I paid $500.00 for this Accutron and it does not work but I knew that when I bought it." 

There are few that will attempt to repair any Accutron and most charge more than what the watch is worth. So buying a working Accutron is far more worth it in the long run.

These are complex timepieces, some of the problems we are still trying to figure out today. NASA for Apollo 11 used Bulova's tuning fork Movements within their instrumentation to get us to the Moon and back. 

So now that I have totally confused you about buying that old Accutron you have your eyes set on, just follow my advise and you should be ok. Just make sure you have a warranty from a vintage dealer even if its just 30 days. 

I recently was wearing my own 218 and a young waitress commented on my watch. I took it off and told her to put it to her ear... "Hear the Humming, I asked? She acted like this was some Alien or paranormal event! 

Vintage ACCUTRON, nothing like it.

John V. / "TIME & AGAIN" 

Comments: here or 




Posted October 3, 2021 - 7:31pm

Thanks John, that is a good post and a friendly reminder that not all things can be fixed (cheaply).

I've always been wary of buying an Accutron, especially if it is not listed as working and keeping good time. Whilst I have confidence in my ability to repair or service a mechanical watch, the Accutrons are a totally different thing. I'd love to pull one apart one day, just the the fun of it, but finding a junker here in Australia is next to impossible.

Still my 218 Calendar is stil running/humming and I enjoy wearing it from time to time whenever I take off my 2020 Accurton Spaceview :-)

Posted October 4, 2021 - 11:39pm

Congrats on your new Spaceview, so far I have not seen any new Bulova's Limited Models in my shop for repairs. Yes, for sure when you purchase a Vintage Accutron you have no idea what you bought or won through an legit auction unless completely serviced. Interesting I find many Euro Accutron 218 cases that are Electroplated come from the West German factory and are marked inside the cases. I still have not tracked down specifically whom actually made these cases. The manual says for your Calendar 218 a drop of oil on the center wheel assembly every year. If your hands stop moving 99% of the time that's the problem. Other than that you can run a volt meter from time to time through your coils via your battery positive and negative points to make sure voltage is flowing evenly. Another trick if watch begins to run a little slow or fast each 218 coil has a inner adjustment wheel that you can turn gently up for slower and down for faster and then check for timing. Sometimes a simple battery replacement will stop the movement from running. You can tap gently at the 3:00 position to jump start a 218. I still have no idea how this works. 214 and 218 Accutrons were incredible in the day but a big pain for Jewelers to repair. Bulova started to ship entire movements to authorized dealers so they could simply change out the movements instead of more costly repairs. I find that solution the best today as well since exchanging, replacement and adjustment of the tuning forks almost a impossible task. 

I will continue to update all to my vintage Accutron advise


John V. / TIME & AGAIN