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Bulova Accutron space view
01-21-2018, 04:40 PM (This post was last modified: 01-21-2018 04:43 PM by Harald.)
Post: #1
Bulova Accutron space view
I kind of have my eyes set on a Bulova Accutron Space View.
I know there are people here who know these watches and I am just not sure what to buy. So I thought it's worth asking her.

For example, would this have been a good deal?

https://www.ebay.de/itm/Bulova-Accutron-...2176681571

On the other hand, I have a habit of scratching every new watch I wear, so maybe I should go for a restoration object.
What are the usual problems these watches have? Does it make sense at all to try and restore one? Maybe it is more expensive than buying a good working one in the end.

Lots of questions... Maybe you can give me your views on the subject.

Cheers,
Harald
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01-21-2018, 09:21 PM
Post: #2
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
Some information you might find interesting at the Accutron214.com website

I've got a 214 and love it. The smooth sweep of the second hand is almost eerie, resembling an old electric clock. And the 360 Hz hum is a good conversation starter!

A typical Accutron problem is coil failure, which leads to the other typical problem: finding reliable service for them.

If you can find a convenient professional watchmaker willing to work on them, who has a good stock of parts, the Accutron is a great addition to a watch collection. (I've found the 214's a bit easier to get serviced than the other tuning fork Accutrons, perhaps because of parts availability.)

I'd put considerable value on either a warranty or proof of recent service. Also note that it should keep quite accurate time. A running Accutron that's losing three or four minutes a day is in need of a service.

Regards,
Bob
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01-21-2018, 09:47 PM
Post: #3
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
Thanks Bob, that site has a lot of useful information.
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01-21-2018, 09:55 PM
Post: #4
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
Accutrons have many quirks, too numerous to list here. They must be cleaned every 5-10 years, or they will eventually self destruct. Major servicing is relatively delicate compared to a conventional mechanical watch, and requires a microscope and preferably a suitable model of Vibrograf timer. Critical replacement components like the coils and parts of the index mechanism are expensive and hard to find. If you're experienced with servicing mechanical watches and feel like a taking on a new challenge, an Accutron might make a good restoration project. Otherwise, you're better off getting a recently serviced model from a reputable seller, and making friends with an experienced technician.

The biggest problem with shopping for Spaceviews is confirming that they're a genuine Spaceview instead of a conversion. The watch in that auction is a correct Spaceview T, but the case has definitely been re-surfaced. The bottom corners of the lugs have all been ground round, probably to get rid of some pretty bad gouges. I don't know what a good deal on a Spaceview T is in Germany, but that's a terrible price in the USA. I'd say it's worth maybe $400 on the top end, and I'm pretty sure they weren't using that box yet in 1971.

I generally don't recommend buying Spaceviews, as virtually all of them are conversions. Even the 'authentic' pieces often have aftermarket crystals and hands. If you're determined to get a Spaceview, you should take a look at my Spaceview Conversion page, which lists all of the known Spaceview case numbers. This is only the first step in the authentication process, but it's an easy way to identify many of the conversions. Even if you don't care about authenticity, you should still try to authenticate anything you're trying to buy, so you don't pay genuine Spaceview prices for a conversion.

A properly regulated Accutron should be accurate to within 2 seconds per day.
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01-22-2018, 02:41 AM
Post: #5
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
Although I know nothing about these watches, I am nonetheless intrigued by this discussion. My father gave what appears to have been an Accutron Spaceview to his father back in the late '60s, and with the passing of generations it is now in my possession. It has far more sentimental value to me than any likely monetary value, so I'm not particularly interested in selling it. I am, however, curious as to whether it fits into the category of original Spaceviews. I've no reason to believe that this watch was ever modified in any way, at least other than having the band replaced. It certainly looks like the images of other Spaceview's I've seen online.

I'm not familiar with what is involved in "removing the back" to check the case number. Does that require special tools and/or special skills to perform? I don't mind putting a little grunt work into checking it out, but I'd rather not do anything that would put it at risk.
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01-22-2018, 03:55 AM
Post: #6
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
(01-22-2018 02:41 AM)DavidM Wrote:  Although I know nothing about these watches, I am nonetheless intrigued by this discussion. My father gave what appears to have been an Accutron Spaceview to his father back in the late '60s, and with the passing of generations it is now in my possession. It has far more sentimental value to me than any likely monetary value, so I'm not particularly interested in selling it. I am, however, curious as to whether it fits into the category of original Spaceviews. I've no reason to believe that this watch was ever modified in any way, at least other than having the band replaced. It certainly looks like the images of other Spaceview's I've seen online.

I'm not familiar with what is involved in "removing the back" to check the case number. Does that require special tools and/or special skills to perform? I don't mind putting a little grunt work into checking it out, but I'd rather not do anything that would put it at risk.

The age of your Spaceview makes it less likely to be a conversion, but watchmakers have been doing conversions since the Accutron was first introduced. The Spaceview was not initially intended to be a commercial product, but rather a demonstration model to show customers the new movement design. There was an immediate demand for the dialless Accutrons that couldn't be purchased, so watchmakers began removing the dials. Soon after, Bulova introduced production Spaceviews and official conversion kits.

If you post a photo here, I can probably tell you if it's factory correct without you having to open the watch. The proper way to remove the back is with a spanner wrench or an official case back tool. You can do it with a pair of needle nose pliers, but I wouldn't recommend it. The outer ring unscrews counterclockwise, and is independent from the case back itself. Once you remove the ring, you can lift the back up with a small screwdriver placed under the keying tab at the top.

If you have an old Accutron that hasn't been run in many years, whatever you do, do not put a battery in it before it's been serviced.
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01-22-2018, 03:31 PM
Post: #7
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
My camera is on loan to someone else at the moment, so I had to resort to using a flatbed scanner for this image. It's not the most flattering image, but hopefully will provide enough detail for you to see what it is.

The scanner uses LEDs for illumination, and those appear to have introduced some odd coloration in certain areas that aren't present on the actual watch (yellow-red banding near the top of the crystal, yellow and blue coloring on interior pieces near the middle under the hour-hand). Seeing it at this magnification leads me to believe that it may have undergone some form of servicing at some point, as there are a couple of screws (at the 6 o'clock position) that have obviously been turned.

I remember both my grandfather and my father wearing it daily for many years, so it should come as no surprise that the watch shows obvious signs of the resulting wear. If it helps in your assessment, the date code is M6 (1966?) and serial number starts with "A" (American manufacture?). Any insight is greatly appreciated:

[Image: attachment.php?aid=5582]


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01-22-2018, 03:50 PM
Post: #8
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
That is a 100% correct USA chapter ring Spaceview with a 2531 gold filled case. Like the Spaceview in the auction linked above, it happens to be a model which cannot be built as a conversion.
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01-22-2018, 04:37 PM
Post: #9
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
(01-22-2018 03:50 PM)Accutron Wrote:  That is a 100% correct USA chapter ring Spaceview with a 2531 gold filled case. Like the Spaceview in the auction linked above, it happens to be a model which cannot be built as a conversion.

Thanks! That's good to know. I can't afford to have it serviced at present, but perhaps sometime down the road I'll be able to. The fact that this watch was special to my grandfather made it special to my father, and that same reasoning makes it even more special to me. It would be nice to see (and hear) it in operation again. I remember the first time it was shown to me, though not with enough detail to remember my exact age. I'm pretty sure it was on my grandfather's birthday when he first received it, and I was probably between 6-8 years of age.

Apologies to Harald, I didn't intend to derail your original question. But thanks for bringing this up! It provided an opportunity for me to learn a bit more about a family keepsake.
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01-22-2018, 04:44 PM
Post: #10
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
(01-22-2018 04:37 PM)DavidM Wrote:  Apologies to Harald, I didn't intend to derail your original question. But thanks for bringing this up! It provided an opportunity for me to learn a bit more about a family keepsake.

No need to apologize at all! It was nice to see another Accutron space view, hear the nice story behind it and learn something as well.

Cheers,
Harald
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01-22-2018, 04:58 PM (This post was last modified: 01-22-2018 05:02 PM by Harald.)
Post: #11
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
(01-22-2018 03:55 AM)Accutron Wrote:  Accutrons have many quirks, too numerous to list here. They must be cleaned every 5-10 years, or they will eventually self destruct. Major servicing is relatively delicate compared to a conventional mechanical watch, and requires a microscope and preferably a suitable model of Vibrograf timer. Critical replacement components like the coils and parts of the index mechanism are expensive and hard to find. If you're experienced with servicing mechanical watches and feel like a taking on a new challenge, an Accutron might make a good restoration project. Otherwise, you're better off getting a recently serviced model from a reputable seller, and making friends with an experienced technician.

The biggest problem with shopping for Spaceviews is confirming that they're a genuine Spaceview instead of a conversion. The watch in that auction is a correct Spaceview T, but the case has definitely been re-surfaced. The bottom corners of the lugs have all been ground round, probably to get rid of some pretty bad gouges. I don't know what a good deal on a Spaceview T is in Germany, but that's a terrible price in the USA. I'd say it's worth maybe $400 on the top end, and I'm pretty sure they weren't using that box yet in 1971.

I generally don't recommend buying Spaceviews, as virtually all of them are conversions. Even the 'authentic' pieces often have aftermarket crystals and hands. If you're determined to get a Spaceview, you should take a look at my Spaceview Conversion page, which lists all of the known Spaceview case numbers. This is only the first step in the authentication process, but it's an easy way to identify many of the conversions. Even if you don't care about authenticity, you should still try to authenticate anything you're trying to buy, so you don't pay genuine Spaceview prices

Thank you for the long and detailed reply to my question. Unfortunately my experience with mechanical watches is quite limited. I have been wearing automatic watches for many years, but haven got beyond adjusting them when they started to keep time less well. (By the way, I was really surprised that a cheap watch like the Seiko 5 can be adjusted to be accurate to within a few seconds per day.)
So if you say the Accutrons are more delicate, it is probably not wise to make one my first watch restoration project.

Do you work with watches professionally? Do you have Accutrons für sale? I don't really care if it is an original Space view or not. As long as it is in decent condition, runs well and I like the looks of it I am happy.

Cheers,
Harald
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01-22-2018, 06:39 PM
Post: #12
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
My grandfather was a watchmaker and a Certified Accutron Technician, and I was learning how to repair both mechanical watches and Accutrons when I was still in elementary school. I used to repair and sell watches, but I stopped about 10 years ago when I noticed it was affecting my close-range vision. I have since sold off all of my watchmaking equipment and parts.

Modern mechanical movements can be very accurate. The typical specification for ETA automatic movements is to within 4 seconds per day, and I've managed to regulate them to within about a half second per day in a single position. I have several Seikos with the 7S26 movement, the same movement used in the Seiko 5. I can get them down to 2-3 seconds per day on the wrist.
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01-22-2018, 08:28 PM
Post: #13
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
(01-22-2018 04:37 PM)DavidM Wrote:  I can't afford to have it serviced at present, but perhaps sometime down the road I'll be able to.

If you're storing it away you might want to make sure there's not a battery in it.
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01-22-2018, 09:32 PM
Post: #14
RE: Bulova Accutron space view
(01-22-2018 08:28 PM)BobVA Wrote:  If you're storing it away you might want to make sure there's not a battery in it.

That was the first thing I checked when I received it several years ago. I've seen too many things damaged by leaking cells.

For now, it's in a sealed plastic bag along with a silica-gel packet stored in a room-temperature location. Any other storage ideas are welcome!
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