bulova

Photo courtesy of Alex Kerhead

I have a nasty habit. Ok. I have two nasty habits. But the one I’m concerned about right now is my watch collecting. I like watches. I like buying watches. I like buying watches when I have the money to pay for them. My newest, soon to be addition is the Bulova Accutron Spaceview pictured here.

Cool looking huh? Well, it wasn’t always the cool kid on the block.

 

 

bulova1

Photo  courtesy of Joe Haupt

When the Accutron watch came out in 1960, it originally looked like the watch on the left.

I know- boring with a capital “B”. But it did have something unique. Unlike all the watches that came before it, this one did not use a balance wheel to keep time. Instead, it used a tuning fork that when stimulated by an electrical current produced oscillations at 360 Hz. In English, the vibration of the tuning fork was so precise that it could be used to counts minutes and seconds. It was far more accurate than any watch ever built.

 

 

The way it worked was the base of the tuning fork was set between two copper coils, and when electricity from the batteries flowed through them, the tuning fork would vibrate. A small wheel and gear was attached to one of the tuning fork tines, and each time the tuning fork vibrated, it moved the gear and advanced the time. This tuning fork watch was so accurate that NASA supplied it to their astronauts.

When the watch hit the stores, Bulova wanted the customers to see this amazing technology, so they supplied the stores with see-through display models. Well, the customers really liked the see-through models and began buying the displays. Bulova saw a demand, and began producing a see-through model for the consumer. And since NASA was using it, and NASA was all the rage at the time, they named it Spaceview.

They flew off the shelves. Not only was it cool to look at, but unlike other wristwatches, this one didn’t tick, it hummed.

About 15 years later Bulova stopped producing the watches as watch companies were moving to the more accurate and less expensive quartz watches. Quartz watches worked basically the same way- a current was applied to a piece of quartz, and it vibrated at a precise frequency.

Sometimes I hear people refer to a Rolex as the most accurate time piece available. No. Just because it’s expensive, doesn’t mean it’s the best. Rolexes are expensive because they are hand-made from fine or precious materials, but any $1 quartz watch from WalMart would still keep better time. Gears, wheels, and mainsprings are no match for quartz technology. Sometimes though, the old school solutions are the most enduring.

Written by stevemargolis

11 Comments

Meghan

It looks almost like a toy watch except for the price I am guessing. I like the new website look. Very TMZ. :-0

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BradLee97

I am not a watch buff, but this one looks interesting. I am going to look at them on eBay. I had no idea they even existed.

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DW3

Interesting post. I want one! Plus I noticed when I enlarged the ‘boring’ picture that the 12 is actually a little tuning fork.

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Pitypang09

I noticed that too. It is like a hidden treasure.Wait. It’s an Easter egg. LOL!!!

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Euni Rose

That big noise you heard just now was your Southfield Michigan cuz, Euni laughing hysterically. Your amazing mind never fails to enchant me!!! I read your post three times so I could ALMOST understand your explanations!
As for moi, I am sitting here with my VERY SIMPLE little $14.00 analog watch I picked up at my Meijer supermarket. Yay!!!!!

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Stewie11

Very nice watch fat man. It makes you look almost human. Does it contain a time warp field or a laser beam?

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Redrock83

I like the watch. Watches are good for keeping time. It helps keep track of appointments……….like book releases. Was that subtle enough? Dude, Where’s your book?

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Derek

I have a Spaceview, The model “T” it’s very cool and I love the hum. I think I need another one!

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