In recent months my inbox has been a repository of reminders about classic American watch design. And while plenty of digital missives arrive from the encouragingly high number of youthful watch designers active across the United States these days, I’ve been especially impressed by the retro-design regimen currently underway at Accutron.
Accutron’s Legacy collection transports us back decades with its studied re-introduction of dials and cases that truly met, and in many ways help define, the Swinging Sixties and the Space Age. The collection’s aerodynamic curves, electrical references and rampant asymmetry are a treat to both the eyes and the wrist. And by retaining vintage sizes Accutron enhances the nostalgia, setting the imaginative dials within their proper proportions.
A stylish reminder of Accutron style from this era can be found in the Accutron Legacy Date and Day Q, a Legacy release that echoes the original 1971 streamlined ‘flying saucer’ 34.5mm oval case design and 4 o’clock crown.
Updated Bulova Classics
Bulova also understands the value its design archives. The Bulova Oceanographer ‘Devil Diver’, its Computron and Bulova’s array of military watches are prime examples.
Just recently Bulova notes that it is expanding its array of Bulova Classic designs with new versions of the 1948 Sutton and the 1960s Aerojet.
Both these re-releases are automatic models powered by Miyota movements. The new Sutton automatic ($395) recalls Bulova’s President watch, circa 1948, though the new model offers an updated 33mm by 49mm case size and a contemporary dial aperture to expose the movement. Bulova is offering the watch with a white dial on a brown alligator grain leather strap or with a black dial on a black alligator grain leather strap.
My favorite among the recent debuts is the new Aerojet, reprising a Bulova design from the 1960s. Bulova unveils two new 41mm steel-cased versions featuring the Aerojet’s signature cross hair dial with a bi-color Day/Night indicator and vintage Aerojet logo.
These come with colorful sunray blue or brown dials with a degrade effect. The blue model is available on a black distressed leather strap for $450 and the brown on a multilink bracelet for $495.
I am the proud owner of a 1965 Accutron Spaceview with its humming tuning fork. Love to hold that baby up to my ear and listen to that tuning fork just hum its little heart out!
Obtaining this watch was no easy task. Thank goodness for the expertise of John at Budget Accutron in Waterford, Michigan. The watch looks like new!
So, one year ago, when I first read about Accutron’s intention to possibly release their electrostatic Spaceview 2020, I dreamed about possibly having one on my wrist.
And then the announcement came and Accutron’s 60th Anniversary electrostatic Spaceview was due for release at the end of October 2020.
I began to investigate the possibility of working out a trade with for one by saying goodbye to some of personal favorite timepieces. All served me well over the years and brought me much happiness.
I found my way to Exquisite Timepieces in Florida, where Evan Richardson is the proprietor. Communications went back and forth concerning three watches that I hoped I could put toward a trade for this technological marvel.
So, with my Meistersinger Monograph, my Tissot Squelette and my Ball Watch Trainmaster Power Glow and the balance in U.S. currency, I was able to order my newest edition!
What makes this all so sweet is that I own an original Accutron Spaceview. By 1962 the Accutron wristwatch was adopted by NASA’s Mercury 7 astronauts, United States Air Force and civilian test pilots, and even by CIA pilots flying the A12 reconnaissance aircraft.
And now I have the two side by side. What is old, using a technology that was state of the art back in the 1960s has again truly become new and revolutionary, once again, in 2020.
Bulova adds a new chronograph to its Joseph Bulova Collection, a set of automatic watches with designs inspired by Bulova watches made in the decades between 1920 and 1950.
This latest addition to the retro-themed collection is a three-subdial, 42mm steel-cased chronograph offered with either a black dial with rose-gold tone accents or a silver white dial with blue-tone accents.
While the new watch is larger than the original, and it now shows chronograph timing using three sub-dials instead of two, the new model retains several features that contributed to the character of the original watch.
The original features retained by Bulova include the telemeter scale around the perimeter of the dial, a domed crystal, railroad-track scales around the subdials and distinctive, squared chronograph pushers. In addition, Bulova has transferred the dial font and hand style from the original onto the new Joseph Bulova chronograph.
Of course, updates for both aesthetic and technical reasons are inevitable. For this piece, these include using anti-reflective sapphire to create the domed crystal, a day/date window and an exhibition caseback, exposing the rotor. Inside you’ll find a Swiss-made Sellita SW-500 chronograph caliber with a 48-hour power reserve.
Bulova is offering either style on a black leather strap engraved with Joseph Bulova’s signature on the inside. Finally, Bulova offers each watch in the Joseph Bulova collection as a limited edition of 350. Price: $2,495.
The ultra-clear dial on this Accutron Legacy R.R.-0 echoes one of the watchmaker’s most popular railroad watches. This new model, one of the handful of designs Accutron included in its retro-themed Legacy collection, is inspired by a particular Canadian Railroad watch from 1970.
The dial design was one of the era’s most popular railroad watch designs. Its unusual name, shortened to ”zero railroad” or just “zero” because of the 0 numeral at the top of the dial, was a specification required at the time by the Canadian Railroad.
The original model was one of the first wristwatches to be approved by the North American Railroad. Prior to the advent of this designation, pocket watches were considered the only timepieces accurate enough to be “railroad-grade.”
The designation required that wristwatches included large Arabic numerals for legibility. It also required that setting the watch required the front crystal to be unscrewed first, and that regulation and adjustment was recorded in five positions.
The new Accutron R.R.-0 echoes the original with a 34mm faceted steel railroad case and a crown at 4 o’clock. With its bright white dial with easy-to-see Arabic numerals, the watch also recalls the original with its railroad-style hands and a red seconds hand. And instead of a tuning-fork movement, the new watch is powered by a Sellita automatic movement with a date indicator. Bulova attaches the new model to a black leather strap.
The entire Accutron Legacy collection is available now online and in select stores with each design limited to 600 watches. The Legacy R.R.-0 is priced at $1,290.
A re-made Accutron 521 was among the many eye-catching designs Accutron included in its premiere Legacy collection debuts last September. For Elvis Presley fans however, the retro design was a particularly notable revival since the original asymmetric-cased gold model 521, from 1960, was known to be one of Presley’s favorite watches.
For others, the debut also resonated because of its attention to the original’s perfectly designed proportions. For its Legacy collection, Accutron wisely resisted the modern tendency by watchmakers to upscale retro editions by housing them in larger cases.
Thus, the new Accutron Legacy 521 retains the same ‘TV-shaped’ design framed by the same incredible Space Age lugs as the original, complete with the modest 32.8mm x 32.5mm case dimension, silver-white dial and stylized double-stick hour markers. And while Bulova’s Accutron division in 1960 cased the original in fourteen-karat gold, Accutron has created its new Legacy 521 with a gold-plated steel case.
The original Accutron 521 was unique among the era’s debuts in that it was the only model in the series topped by a mineral glass crystal and a snap-on case back. Accutron today replaces the mineral glass with sapphire and clears a partial view of its movement via a clear sapphire caseback.
And while the original Accutron 521 was among the first designs to house the groundbreaking Accutron electronic tuning fork movement, this new edition will be powered by a modern Sellita automatic caliber.
Accutron also fully embraces the new watch’s 1960s vibe by attaching the 521 case to a gold-hued steel bracelet patterned to echo the mesh-style bracelet popular during the era, with double-press deployant clasp. Alternatively, Accutron offers a version with a brown lizard-embossed leather strap. The new 521 is limited to 600 pieces in each bracelet option.
Prices: $1,550 (mesh-style bracelet) or $1,450 (leather strap).