How to become a Senator (or how to check if the celluloid dust cover on your old 10AN is "original")

Submitted by William Smith on December 16, 2011 - 7:51pm

So if any preiod close Bulova watch can be put in a period correct dispaly box, on a Senator insert...after adding a period correct band......does it become a Senator?

The watch: 

Outside Case Back: Bulova 10k gold filled {w SN} 0490372

Inside Case Back:  Bulova fifth Ave New York.

Movement:  USA Bulova Watch Co. 17 jewel 7AP {w/ 1941 asterisk date symbol }  *

Band:  US Pat 2064760 {no other visible signage}

This is why I should strive to match a complete watch to (more than one) published advertisment.  This watch gets more challanging:  With this watch, I have the pamplet, guarantee, and a receipt from a jeweler dated a year after 1941 movement date code.  Spicifically written on the receipt is "Senator" , along with the serial number from the case back of this watch. 

The gold filled band on the watch is only signed w/ a US patent #.  Is the band original to the watch?   Upon researching that patent number, I find the clasp (extensible connector) was patented by J. Kreisler ET AL in Dec 1936.


So an earliest production date for the band is known.  Did Bulova use Kressler bands around this time? Did any old jeweler use Kreisler bands around this time and just stick one on this watch?   Or did a jeweler (or a collector- heaven forbid) buy an old receipt book in say, 1977, and write up a bogus receipt to go with this watch after adding a period-correct Kressler band to it and sticking it in the period correct box /w a senator insert?

  I purchased this watch from a West Coast collector, mostly for the associated paperwork that went with it (I have another similar watch w/o the paperwork which was much cheaper, but about the same watch).  I would hate to think that for such a small ticket item like this, someone would go through all the trouble of falsifying documentation to sell the set, but when I look on eBay I am not sure now. 

And for ads used in the database, do we use only ads from large circulation publications (which may have had a degree of quaility control and consistency) along with smaller ads from say, a jewelery store which printed up their own flyers/ads for local small publications - in which case we hope it wasn't my hypothetical jeweler above who made this small circulation ad.?  And if we ID a complete watch from a smaller circulation ad, perhaps the only thing we can really say is "this is what jeweler X called the complete watch for sale in his store(s)".

Now for the second part of the forum topic subject- is your 1930 what-ever w/ a 10AN movement "completly original" if the celluloid dust cover has been replaced w/ an aftermarket dust cover (at some point in time)?  This is really nit-picky, but interesting research- skills useful to help correctly ID a complete vintage Bulova.  The dust cover assembly was patented by Bulova in 1924 or 1927- i don't remember which.  The celluloid part of the cover was most likely propriatory, and patent laws "prohibited" others from using, in part, a main component from the patented assembly.  Did Bulova grant use of this patented assembly by others?  If so, when? 

How is replacing this celluloid cover different from say, replacing a main spring? I don't know that it is.  But it's almost debatable.  A nice old watch which has had the mainspring replaced w/ a correct interchangable mainspring sometime in it's life would still be called "original". Mainsprings may need replacing.  Well the "mainspring" itself is not patented per say.  There are types of mainspring which are propriatory, but a jeweler can use interchangable mainsprings.  I am willing to bet the original celluloid dust cover is in fact a restricted propriatory component of the assembly, and there were aftermarket celluloid covers produced both with and w/o being granted "permission" ...but not for a short time after the original patent date. should the original patented Bulova  celluloid dust cover  be on a 1930 somethingorother 10AN for it to be "completly original"....or is it a Frankenbully?  And how do we know? 

For those interested (or those with poor time management skills and strange habits like myself), I'll post some brief steps to help one use patent numbers to aid in ID'ing at least components of Bulova watches - like the band or dust cover.  There are some steps one has to go through to get the detailed patent diagrams and lots of other patent information using only their web browser. 

I'll also post what I find out about the celluloid dust cover component patented in the 1920's.  If for no other reason than to elucidate the process for more useful research in ID'ing Bulova watches.


Posted December 16, 2011 - 8:26pm

pretty simple.

The "Collector" or whoever ( any collector would know this was incorrect ) placed the 'ADMIRAL' into a 'SENATOR' box for which they had documentation, which coincidentally really pisses Me off.

There are more mis-matched Watches to display boxes out there than what are genuine.

Caveat emptor, as they say.

Posted December 16, 2011 - 8:31pm

William, In a perfect world, If one could authenticate every piece of anything ever made by "Man" then that "anything" could be considered "Original". As related to "Bulovas" I seriously doubt that's ever going to happen! You'd have to be able to "PROVE" without a shadow of a doubt that every "nut, bolt, screw, dust cover, crystal, crown, etc.etc.etc." were put there by "Bulova watchmakers". Ain't gonna happen!

As much as we are passionate about our hobby, most of us collect for the fun of collecting, period. The other "Fly in the ointment" to what your questioning is that since the "Bulova Records" were destroyed some years ago there is no way in hell to go back and completely rebuild or authenticate these watches we collect.

To answer one question you posed about does having a non-authentic dust cover make the watch a Frankenbully.......................NO


Posted December 18, 2011 - 12:05pm

In reply to by simpletreasures

I agree with Simpletreasures. I've always considered a dust cover same as a crystal. A normal replaceable item, but as such its replacement or non orignal status should be disclosed at the time of sale.

Posted December 16, 2011 - 8:54pm

There are all kinds of fraudulent sellers out there looking to part your $$$ from your account, and will do anything they can to get it. If this watch was purchased a few years ago before this site was born, how would you have known unless you happened to have this ad and could call them on it?

The band is probably period correct, and could have been the one that came with this watch when originally purchased, it could have been a "upsell" from the jeweler, and the box looks period correct, it just has the wrong badge.

As far as the dust cover, I would think of it as a necessary replacement part to insure the reliability of the watch.

"100%" original has very different meanings to some people, just as "mint" does, I can settle for "100% original looking" ; )

Posted December 16, 2011 - 9:12pm

That's a lovely Admiral Watch in a Senator case Will.

This is a very common practice and I don't think most people do this deliberately to con or fool people. The majority just wouldn't simply know. "Hey I've got an old Bulova watch and an old Bulova case. Lets stick them together"

IMO its no biggy unless a seller is saying it's a 100% authentic Senator based on the box alone. 

We here are now lucky enough to know better and hopefully others (sellers and buyers) will learn the correct facts about vintage Bulva watches.

That's a major part of what this site is all about after all.


William Smith
Posted December 16, 2011 - 10:24pm

Thanks gang

I figured out pretty quick it wasn't a senator.  The weird thing is the receipt.  This site is great for finding out the truth...and I was kinda playing devils advocate w/ the dust cover thing.  I would just like to believe that the seller of this watch didn't fake the receipt, as it is very generic old receipt w/ very spicific watch info on it....but a receipt dosn't make an Admiral into a Senator!  (it can sure screw w/ research though).

Live and learn.  It was still worth it to me to get a nice Admiral in the process.  ....and the "original" dial is almost surly redone......  whether Senator or Admiral.

I too get upset with folks who misrepresent things...but am completly forgiving if it was not there intention to do so.



Posted December 18, 2011 - 12:33pm

The original selling Jeweler could have easily made the error.

William Smith
Posted December 18, 2011 - 5:28pm

That's what I think too.  I did buy it via the telephone w/o ever seeing any pictures up front.  Guy was at a West Coast NAWCC event, and a fellow NAWCC member from HI was there...and gave him my phone number.  He musta not known the difference.....  Before this site, it was much more difficult to catch these mistakes.  ...and w/ consensus the experts help catch these mistakes - even when they have "documentation".