what model is my Bulova?

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Yankees27 Yankees27
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what model is my Bulova?

I have a 14K gold, 17 jewel Bulova, but I'd like to know the model.  Can anyone help?

Back case has '14K GOLD' and 'BULOVA L1' with serial number 4934709.

Yankees27 Yankees27
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

this pic shows the whole watch...does the 'L1' on back mean it's a 1951 model?

watchophilia watchophilia
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

Hi, Yankee.  Yep, your watch--or at least the case--was manufactured in 1951, as evidenced by the "L1" on the case.  That date code also tells me that your case was made by Bulova--something I could not otherwise verify given the one image of the front of the watch.  The movement will have its own date code, which may or may not match the case and provide more insight into when the watch as a whole was produced.

Your watch--which is terrific, by the way--is a very typical style for the early-to-mid 1950s Bulovas.  There is a series of Ambassadors that share many of the characteristics of your watch.  However, so far, we have not seen any of the Ambassadors offered in solid gold, so I doubt that's what you've got.  Bulova typically gave the solid gold models a unique name, rather than naming them in series with other gold filled or plated models.  Judging from the ads we currently have on hand, there weren't many solid gold models produced in the 1950s, so you've got a rare gem there.

I am aware of no advertisement showing or naming your watch, but we're still collecting ads.  If something turns up, I'll let you know.
- Lisa
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

Thanks for the info and compliment.  Can you tell me how to find the date code on the movement?  I'll post what I find.  I can also add some additional pics if that helps for any future research into identifying the model name.
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

FYI - I do see another 'L1' on the watch movement, right above where 'unadjusted' is written.  I also see the following code stamped on the movement:  10BT.
watchophilia watchophilia
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

Good job on finding the date code on the movement.  It matches your case, so, chances are, that movement is original to your watch.  The "10BT" is the movement caliber.  It simply identifies which movement is in your watch.  Different movements have different characteristics, including size, jewels, configuration, etc.  If you look up the "10BT" in the movement catalog (Bulova Movements), you'll see that, according to current information, the 10BT was used between 1950 and 1954 and was offered with 7, 15, and 17 jewels.
- Lisa
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

My watch is 17 jewels.
R.G.B. R.G.B.
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

To verify the movement is original look inside the case for roman numerals which should match the last three numbers of the movement serial.
Rob
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

R.G.B. -- I am aware that you can sometimes find the roman numerals on the edge of the movement holder in watches much older than 1951.  Do have information that would suggest one would find such numbers on every Bulova watch, regardless of age?  I certainly do not.  I think, in fact, that it is not at all common to find those marks, even on very old watches.
- Lisa
R.G.B. R.G.B.
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

We may be talking about two different marks. The photo here shows the case makers marks used for matching case to movement at the factory. I've checked my Sky King under restoration and it has one as does an old 1920's Gruen Quadron. As I understand it, it was a case makers practice and probably meant to keep all the parts in order.




The Roman numerals in this case read 042.
Rob
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

This post was updated on .
Very interesting, R.G.B., and worthy of further investigation.  Those marks are similar to the ones I was talking about, but not quite the same.  You can see an example of what I was referring to in my tutorial on Authenticating a Bulova.

I just checked the watches sitting here on my desk (all Bulovas, mix of men's and ladies'), and here are the results:

1950 - has Roman numerals on case that match case serial number
1948 - no marks on case
1938 - has Roman numerals on case that match case serial number
1932 - has Roman numerals on case that match case serial number
1932 - has Roman numerals on case that match case serial number
1931 - no marks on case
1929 - no marks on case
1929 - has Roman numerals on case that match case serial number
1929 - has Roman numerals on case that match case serial number

That's too small a sample size to tell us much, but it is interesting that two-thirds of the watches sitting in front of me have these marks.  

Note that the marks on the cases match the case serial number, not the movement serial number.  Also note that, on Bulovas, movements have no serial numbers after 1932, so these marks on a case after that date could not possibly be used to match the case with the movement using the movement serial number.

I also don't know why these marks would be necessary on a hinged case.  I can see the utility of marking the movement holder in this manner, to match the movement with the case, but marking both pieces of a hinged case with the same number seems pointless.  Several of the watches I just looked have the marks on a hinged case.

I am also struck by how sloppily the marks are made.  They look more like slips of the screwdriver than intentional, meaningful notations.  In fact, they look more like the scribbles left by watchmakers inside the case backs, and I'm wondering if that isn't who actually made them, rather than a "case maker".

Still, it's a very interesting piece of information, and definitely something I'll start looking for in my own collection and giving further thought.  

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
- Lisa
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

I do not see any Roman numeral marks on my case.

R.G.B. - the picture you provided looks like a 5-4-2 (the first mark looks like a Roman numeral for '5'), but it's not real clear.

Finally:
I do have a few handmade engravings inside the back case:
 - one looks like 'LI9350'...maybe meaning L1 and the date from the watchmaker?
 - some initials and maybe a date (possibly when I had the watch serviced, maybe 20+ years ago after my dad gave it to me)
 - a third one is 'M2073'
 - a fourth one that looks like 6 digits, but I can determine the numbers

The back case also has what I assume is the standard machine-made engraving in the center of the case:  'Bulova' plus '14K GOLD' plus 'NEW YORK'  
R.G.B. R.G.B.
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

The purpose is to match the case to the original movement rather than the case back. If the number matches the last three of the serial on the movement it's original. As it was explained to me the V=0, I'm guessing that's for economy of movement when you're working assembly. I can't remember seeing a 5 off hand but I'll guess they used a line through four strokes like a score card.

The marks always appear on the inside edge of the case where they won't be confused with service marks.

The marks are very crude and probably done with a case knife tip. I've never seen one that was done neatly.
Rob
watchophilia watchophilia
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

Well, I understand what you're saying, but I have to say that, after looking at watches with these marks, the theory about what they mean makes no sense to me.

The Roman numerals inside the cases of the watches I looked at today match the case serial number, not the movement serial number.  That was true in every example I found where the Roman numerals were present, some of which did not have a movement serial number with which to compare.

Moreover, there is no movement serial number on Bulova movements made after 1932, so the presence of those marks on watch cases made after that date cannot be intended to match the movement serial number.   That leaves us without an explanation for why those marks would be present on cases dating after 1932.  I looked at watches from 1940 and 1950 today that have those numbers scratched inside the case.
- Lisa
R.G.B. R.G.B.
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Re: what model is my Bulova?

You're right Lisa. It's to match the case back to the bezel. Not sure why I got that mixed up.
Rob