BULOVA ACCUTRON 1970s | Day & Night Style Watches



Item description: Bulova Accutron 1970s so-called ‘Day & Night’ pair. Two watches one in stainless steel with silver & dark blue dial, and one in fine gold plate finish with a golden dial. The watch cases in the shape of a stylised Accutron symbol.

Condition report: New old stock. Storage age only. Serviced in 2018. The watches require replacement batteries.

History of the Bulova Accutron:

Bulova’s ‘Accutron’ watches, first sold in October 1960,use a 360 Hz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the timekeeping element. The inventor, Max Hetzel, was born in Basel, Switzerland, and joined the Bulova Watch Company in 1948. The tuning fork was powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator circuit, so the Accutron qualifies as the second ‘electronic watch’, following the Hamilton Electric released in 1957.

Instead of the ticking sound made by mechanical watches, the Accutron had a faint, high-pitched hum which came from the vibrating tuning fork. A forerunner of modern quartz watches which also keep time with a vibrating resonator, the Accutron was guaranteed to be accurate to one minute per month, or two seconds per day, considerably better than mechanical watches of the time.

Bulova Accutron in space: 

In the 1960s, the company was involved in a rivalry with Omega Watches to be selected as the ‘first watch on the Moon’. In 1971, a Bulova chronograph was carried on board Apollo 15—the fourth mission to land men on the Moon—by mission commander David Scott. All twelve men who walked on the Moon wore standard Omega Speedmaster watches that had been officially issued by NASA. Those watches are deemed to be government property. Transcripts from the Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal attest to the fact that during Scott’s second excursion on the Moon’s surface, the crystal face on his Omega watch had popped off. So, during his third lunar walk, he used his back-up Bulova watch.

The Bulova Chronograph Model 88510/01 that Scott wore on the lunar surface was the only privately owned watch to have been worn while walking on the lunar surface. There are images of Scott wearing this watch, when he saluted the American flag on the Moon, with the Hadley Delta expanse in the background. The watch shows ‘significant wear from exposure while on the Moon, and from splashdown and recovery’. The watch was sold at auction in 2014 for $1.625 million, which makes it the most expensive astronaut-owned artifact ever sold at auction. It seems this watch was a unique timepiece being made by Bulova as a prototype for Scott to wear in space. After the auction, in 2016, the company released a homage edition of the lunar watch, using a modern high frequency quartz movement.

Special notes: n/a

Provenance: n/a

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