Bulova 1944 Military Issue

Submitted by PatrickB on December 28, 2020 - 9:57am
Manufacture Year
1944
Movement Model
10AK
Movement Date Code
Circle
Movement Jewels
15
Case Serial No.
OF. 28123
Case shape
Round
Crystal Details
Acrylic? Yellowed, hairline cracks.
Gender
Mens
Additional Information

Greetings All,

I am not a watch expert, so please excuse novice comments or questions. I do own and wear about a dozen or so casual analog watches, including two Bulovas. I intend to learn more and pick up a few more specific timepieces along the way, but my interests tend to lie closer to military history than to time pieces, per se. 

I purchased this watch about a year ago, online, from a shop in Norwich, UK. Seller did not know its history, beyond that it had come to her from a local household estate sale. I bought it, believing it to be the OF variant of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department issued watch, which is what my grandfather and great-uncle would have been issued in 1944. I could see that it had either an unusual period-correct military strap, or possibly a post-war replacement.

I am intrigued by the strap. I believe that these watches were issued minus the strap, which would then be issued or procured separately. The watch dates to 1944, unless I am mistaken. Some early war watches had pigskin straps with the metal tabs like this one, and the color is a perfect match for Army leather. However, by 1944, I had thought that most if not all were being worn with the cloth straps. It's purely speculation, but perhaps the farther you were away from the front lines, and the dressier the uniform you were required to wear day-to-day, the more likely you would have been to wear the pigskin strap versus the olive drab cloth. There were a lot of American air bases all around Norwich in 1944-45. The buckle is stamped WRISTLAW, which I believe was a British maker. I don't know if WRISTLAW was ever contracted to provide straps to the U.S. army. I tend to doubt it, but I don't know. 

This piece was being worn on a very small wrist. When adjusted to the setting it has been worn at, this strap fits my wife's very small wrist perfectly. I do not know if female soldiers, such as WAAC, would have been issued this model of Bulova watch, or if there was a separate women's issue Army watch. I would not suspect this model to have been worn by air crew, (they had their own model), but I guess it is possible.

One of the two pins securing the strap to the case has been replaced by a crudely bent piece of stiff wire.

I have made no attempt to wind or test the watch for functionality, and probably will not before taking it to have it serviced. I see some slot wear on two of the movement screws. Definitely not my doing!

What do the photos tell the Bulova experts here?

Thanks.

Front
Movement
Reverse
Buckle
Extended
Geoff Baker
Posted December 28, 2020 - 9:59pm

Hello Patrick, welcome to myBulova. War watches are tricky as they are often modified over the years. My guess is that yours is all original except for the strap. Actually I'm not sure the strap has any significance to the watch as I think it might be a later addition but we have no way to know. Generally we date watches using case date code and movement date code. For your watch I'm comfortable using the circle movement code for 1944 as these cases were not date coded.

I'll suggest this watch be classified as 1944 Bulova Military Issued 10AK. Here is one very similar

neetstuf-4-u
Posted December 29, 2020 - 7:49am

Welcome to mybulova and thanks for sharing. I agree with Geoff's evaluation.

1944 Military Issue "10AK"

mybulova_admin
Posted December 30, 2020 - 12:59am

Nothing to add other than it's a nice match to the example Bulva have in their museum. That watch has the same backcase engraving with a serial number of 49342.

Thy crystal has yellowed with age and could be replaced to enhance the face. 

1944 Military Issue

PatrickB
Posted December 30, 2020 - 12:55pm

In reply to by mybulova_admin

Thanks, admin. Where is the Bulova Museum located?

I suspect this face would look very nice through a clear crystal. It seems clean and clear as best I can tell. The hands are in nice shape, too.

However, I probably won't make any changes to this watch at all. I don't intend to wear it, and I'd like to know more about the "WESTLAW" strap that has clearly been on it for quite some time before I do anything to it. I'm 50/50 as to its originality at this point, but if it turns out that this strap was, or could have been used on this watch during the war, I would of course want to leave it as is.

But, if it is proven to be a post-war strap, even then it's kind of interesting in its own right. Its clearly been a part of this watch for a long time. It seems somehow wrong to remove it, and replace it with a more "correct" strap after all of this time. If it came to me with a missing strap, then I would very likely find a nice NOS or a quality reproduction military strap of the correct type. But it came with this one.

Once I figure out what I have, I may have it serviced and wind it once in a while. For now, I'll just keep it as is. I know from collecting period firearms that "less is more" when it comes to cleaning, or otherwise "improving" them in any way that would affect originality. If you or anyone can lead me to a WESTLAW expert, I'm all ears.

JimDon5822
Posted December 30, 2020 - 10:09am

1944 Bulova Military Issue Ordnance Department watch with the more rare white dial.   I believe these were issued to non-combat support staff as combat theater soldiers would have had the more stealthy black dials.  

PatrickB
Posted December 30, 2020 - 1:02pm

In reply to by JimDon5822

Thanks for the reply, JimDon. I've read elsewhere that the white dials were more common on the earlier military watches, and black dials predominated on the later models, for the reason you state, (stealth). I've not seen anything official about issuing white dial watches to the folks in the rear with the gear, but it's plausible, and common sense. By 1944, with supplies increasing substantially, it would have been more likely to have a choice in the matter.

PatrickB
Posted December 30, 2020 - 1:02pm

In reply to by JimDon5822

Thanks for the reply, JimDon. I've read elsewhere that the white dials were more common on the earlier military watches, and black dials predominated on the later models, for the reason you state, (stealth). I've not seen anything official about issuing white dial watches to the folks in the rear with the gear, but it's plausible, and common sense. By 1944, with supplies increasing substantially, it would have been more likely to have a choice in the matter.

neetstuf-4-u
Posted December 30, 2020 - 1:18pm

As best as I can tell, Wristlaw watchbands were produced in England 1920's - 1940's by a company called Weightmans. Information is sketchy at best, I too would be inclined to leave it as-is.