Bulova 1940 Military Non-Issue

Submitted by Hagbard on September 8, 2012 - 9:59am
Manufacture Year
Movement Model
Movement Jewels
Movement Serial No.
Case Serial No.
Case shape
Crystal Details
Approx 28mm Acrylic
Additional Information

Case looks to be plated brass, no markings on case back or dial other than 'Bulova'.  Strongly resembles some of the military models aleady in the database, but has quite a different dial, and no caseback markings suggesting it's not an issued model.

Watch runs, and keeps good time.  Movement does not hack.

The caseback doesn't seem to want to come off, despite my best attempts.  if removal is necessary for identification then I shall persevere further.

edit: I've had to guess the manufacture year, as I can't save the watch without one.  I have no idea whether my guess is anywhere near true though.

Bulova non issue military watch
1940 Bulova watch
Posted September 8, 2012 - 6:42pm


I've had similar issues, over time the sealing gasket can adhere to the Case and back causing all kinds of problems without the correct tool.

Try the freezer for 30 minutes or so. Patience is key.

The Case appears to be WWII Military, dimensions would help clarify, no nomenclature on the back indicates non-issued - possibly 1945+. We will not know without seeing the Movement.  The Dial does look incorrect or 'odd' but the Hands showing are what is depicted in the US War Dept Manual TM 9-1575 Dated 6 April, 1945.

Grandma also used to run things under hot water, which I wouldn't recommend in this instance..


These type Watches are tricky as the Elgins and Walthams are documented to have been produced in a smaller Case than the Bulovas' and the Casebacks will interchange.

William Smith
Posted September 8, 2012 - 6:54pm

I'd be careful w/ the freezer. The idea is sound, with heat/expand, cold/contract, and if there's two different metal alloys they may do so a little differently and it "loosens", however there's issues with cold condensing moisture accumulation.  It's the moisture that gathers on the outside of that cold mug of beer in a warm and humid environment.  Some moisture gathering on the outside of a "waterproof" watch isn't soo bad, but I'v had moisture gather on the inside of watches I get via airmail.  The plane cargo compartment isn't heated, and the watches get cold during high altitude flight.  Plane comes down fast into a tropical Hawaiian environment, and moisture gathers both inside and outside.
If you are removing the watch from the freezer into an airconditioned room or de-humidified environment, then it should not be a problem, but few of us have a workspace that's de-humidified to this level.  If it's still "waterproof", this moisture may not gather inside, but it's not like these watches were sealed containing nitrogen or some other inert gases when produced...which is not an uncommon practice, just not one Bulova used for these beauties.

Posted September 8, 2012 - 8:43pm

"Moisture gathering on a cold mug of beer", "planes coming down into a tropical Hawaiian environment". Thanks for that little tableaux that is now firmly planted in my head Will, as I prepare for a long, cold, English winter! ; )

Posted September 8, 2012 - 9:13pm

In reply to by bobbee

Well, there's always man-made global warming to look forward to.

(Just some Chicken Little humor/humour)


Posted September 8, 2012 - 9:09pm

lol, well it is after 5, .....where's My Hawaiian shirt!

William Smith
Posted September 8, 2012 - 9:13pm

In reply to by FifthAvenueRes…

....sorry guys, but now I'm off to the beach......:)

Posted September 9, 2012 - 4:12am

The diameter of the case is 31.6mm, including the crown it's about 34.5.  Lug width is a bizzare 15.3mm, though I'm guessing it should be 16 and the lugs have closed slightly over time (that or tolerances were not great in those days).

I might try the freezer trick later, though I'm loathe to destroy something that has survived this long just for the sake of a positive ID.  I'm not exactly known for my lack of clumsiness, so anything like this carries more risk with me that it might do for someone else!

I agree that the dial does look a little odd compared to other similar watches on the site; the dial seems to be missing the 2 concentric rings round the minute markers that most similar watches have.

What kind of strap would these have been mounted on originally?  Fabric?  Leather?  There was a strap with the watch that I had to cut off.  It was leather, and extremely manky.  It did seem slightl unusual in that it appeared to be held together with some kind of metal clip, rather than stitched or riveted.

Posted September 9, 2012 - 5:24am

I like the one piece straps as they protect the Caseback from wear, also Jay from Vintage Bulova pointed out to Me once that if a springbar were to let go You wouldn't lose the Watch - makes sense.

As You can see the Armed Services technical manual clearly shows the 10 AK on a 2 piece strap.

There has been some debate as to which type of material is correct and Leather has been mentioned more than once as being an 'Officers' strap - no documentatiom to prove this although the image provided in TM 9-1575 may show Leather (??)

Standard issue straps were a Cotton Poplin and amazingly are still available http://www.watchdoc.com/ there are also reproduction staps ot there.

Posted September 9, 2012 - 5:21am

That sounds like an open-ended strap, Hagbard. They are mainly used for watches with fixed lug pins, and a lot of military watches used fixed lug pins, much more solid than spring pins.

The dial in the picture fifth has uploaded looks very similar to the subject's dial, and has the same numbering on the sub second dial. The subject seems to have a few bits of paint missing from the seconds track, and also there appears to be bits of white paint around the outer minute track, don't know if it is the flakes from the seconds track or not.

Posted September 9, 2012 - 5:52am

Ah, good point - it does seem possible that some of the tiny paint flakes are the remnants of the seconds track.  In fact looking closely at the 3 marker there does seem to be a tiny piece of paint still in the correct place.

So it's looking likely that it's an unissued Ord. Dept from about 1945?

I'm staggered that there are still original bands available, and would really like one for the watch.  Any idea if that site ships to the UK? I can't see it mentioned anywhere.  Is there a European equivalent?

I take it these things are terribly rare or valuable?  Compared to some of the more ornate beauties in the database this watch does seem somewhat basic and utilitarian, in keeping with it's military purpose.  Any idea how many of these were produced?