Mr. Bulova sure can make a fine watch
Tue, 05/31/2016 - 2:57pm Larry Franklin
Joseph Bulova founded a watch company in New York City in 1875. Less than 100 years later, Janice Ann Roberts gave me one of them. It was the best thing she ever gave me.
Faithful readers will know that about a year after she gave me the watch, she became my first wife. Tender-hearted readers will be saying, “Wait a minute, Sparky. Your first wife also gave you two children – Stacie and Precious. How can you say a watch was the best thing she ever gave you?”
Well, it just is.
The watch she gave me wasn’t just any old Bulova. It was an iconic Accutron. Bulova began making the Accutron watches in 1960. Accutrons use a tuning fork rather than a balance wheel as the timekeeping element, making it the first electronic watch. Quartz watches would come later.
Accutrons don’t tick. They have a high-pitch hum.
Bulova guaranteed Accutrons to be accurate within a minute a month. There is no setting stem on the side of the watch. The stem is in the back of the watch and is tucked into the watch body.
The Accutron that My First Wife gifted me is one of the Spaceview models. There is no face on the clock, so you can see the “guts” of the watch, including the tuning fork.
There are no numbers on the dial. There are 60 little ticks around the dial. Each hour is delineated by a slightly wider tick. The lack of numbers makes it difficult for some people to tell what time it is, including my oldest grandson who usually can come with an hour of the actual time but he’s usually just guessing.
That little factoid means, of course, I still have and wear the Accutron that MFW gave me in 1970. The watch is 46 years old and still keeps almost perfect time. I think it’s better than a minute a month.
The first Spaceview watch I saw (I didn’t know the Accutrons with no face were called Spaceviews until last week) was worn by Cecil McCauley. He was a policeman in Laurens (later became chief) and worked part-time at the Laurens Western Auto store.
My buddy James Entrekin Robertson, a Great American, worked at the Western Auto part-time and he got me a job there during Christmas rush and some in the summer.
I told Janice Ann about Cecil’s watch and how much I liked it. She adored me, of course, and could hardly wait to buy me one the next Christmas.
The Spaceview was never meant to be sold to the general public. Bulova made some of them as a sales display for jewelers. Customers wanted to buy them, so Bulova began manufacturing the watches for general sale.
The Spaceview was not a cheap watch. I think MFW paid around $125 for it. That would be $784.23 today. I told you she adored me.
Bulova stopped making Accutrons in 1977, the year the company began making quartz watches.
I went on Mr. Bush’s internets and found an Accutron that looks like mine for sale for $3,695. I’m betting neither of my kids are worth that much.
(Larry Franklin is publisher of The Chronicle. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His online blog is at MyClintonNews.com.)