What’s It Worth? The Ever Collectible Bulova Accutron

In 1952, Bulova watch company was one of the leading manufacturers of affordable – indeed fine – timepieces in America. In fact, it is often written that in the 1940s and ’50s, they were one of the biggest advertisers of any product of any kind in the U.S.!

Today, few Bulovas are considered highly desirable, as they made fairly mundane watches for the masses. There are a few designs that stand out – like certain Art Deco masterpieces of the 1930s and military watches of the 1940s – but even these only bring $50 to $200.

The one major exception to this is the steadfast popularity of Bulova’s Accutron watches.

Don’t run to your junk drawer just yet, though. They made millions of them, and most are worth $20 to $50 (if they don’t run) and $50 to $100 (if they do).

Nonetheless, Bulova was a true innovator and on the cutting edge of mid-century design and technology. They engaged engineer Max Hetzel to help build a battery-driven watch in 1952. (Hamilton was already working on an electric model and Bulova did not want to be left behind.) It took nine years to bring it to market, and it was a game-changer.

This week, a California collector asked us to sell his iconic Bulova collection and we are showing a few here. Typically, Accutrons are gold plated or gold filled. Some are 14k gold. A small percentage are 18k gold. One has shown up that is platinum. (Conventional wisdom holds that Bulova made 10 to 20 platinum Accutrons for politicians and important executives, but only one has been verified as sold.)

Here is a rule of thumb as to value: gold filled or gold plated non-working: $20 to $100 (working: $50 to $150). 14k gold non-working: $100 to $300 (working: $200 to $400). 18k gold non-working: $200 to $400 (working: $300 to $1,000). And platinum? Who knows?

We have an auction estimate on the platinum as $10,000 to $15,000, but we hope to achieve more for the collector. Keep in mind that oddly shaped, asymmetrical versions, rose gold versions, and “space view” versions of this watch tend to bring more … as does the “backwind” 214 version.

We are always buying rare and expensive watches; get our offer before you sell. All Rights Reserved.
Comments, questions or suggestions for this column, please send to jeffreyphess@aol.com.

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