Bulova 1965 -Non-Conforming

Submitted by Blackbird0 on June 21, 2020 - 7:11am
Manufacture Year
Case Serial No.
Case shape
Case Manufacturer
Additional Information

I'm asking for help to identify this Bulova. I've spent a lot of time on mybulova.com and watchophilia.com with no luck. I've attached some pictures. This looks a lot like the 1965 American Eagle, but that one seems to have a subdial.

It's from my grandfather who was an amateur jeweler. He gave it my mother, inscribing it on the back, and obliterating part of the caseback serial number. My mother recalls him wearing it in the 60's, so I think it's safe to say it must at least be before 1970.

Some things I find distinctive for identification purposes: round case, 12-3-6-9 dial, guilloche dial, sweeping second hand, straight lugs, "14K gold Bulova L1" on back, "Bulova" on dial, "Bulova" signed crown. I don't have the tools to open the caseback, but it sure sounds like a bumper automatic. The partial serial number on the outside of the caseback reads: 39884. I think it ends in 43, but it is very difficult to tell.

I have scoured the above websites, and I don't find anything that looks like this watch. Bulova doesn't seem to have made a lot of 12-3-6-9 dials, and generally favored sub-dial seconds in the 1950's and 1960's rather than a sweeping second. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Front angled
Posted June 21, 2020 - 5:52pm

I could not find a match. The case, however, looks like a match to the Ultimatic, but the dial is not one that I recall seeing from 1951 (you mentioned L1, which is 1951 datestamp); it feels more 60s, but hard to say.

Unknown model.

Posted June 22, 2020 - 4:53am

Can you confirm the date code on the back of the watch.

Geoff Baker
Posted June 22, 2020 - 9:56pm

It doesn't add up. Clearly a 1951 case back but this dial was popularized in the early-mid 1960's. My guess would be this watch is a marriage of differing components (Non-Conforming). I would date it to 1951.

Posted June 23, 2020 - 8:31am

Nice looking watch! Based on your description of your grandfather being an "amateur jeweler", I will put forth the idea that this was a watch he put together using a good movement / dial combination or perhaps dial only (with orig movement to case) and a solid gold case to proudly wear and then gave to your Mom. That is a pretty slick heirloom - a real family treasure!

Based on case date, 1951 Non-Conforming

"The Grandpa watch" :o)

Kathy L.
Posted June 23, 2020 - 9:53am

Heirlooms are always the best!  With your grandfather being an amateur jeweler he probably changed some parts.  It is still a great piece.

1951 Non-Conforming 

Posted June 26, 2020 - 12:00am

I agree 1951 Non-Conforming.  Looks great and love the dial.