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The case signature begins to include the Bulova name around For a detailed analysis, and examples, of Bulova case signatures through the years, Bulova Case Signatures. Additionally, a very early movement is likely to bear a different Bulova signature than the signature seen in later models.
Specifically, very early movements read "Bulova W. This change quite likely coincides with the April re-incorporation of the J.
That is, any watch movement with the signature "Bulova W. Moreover, that change corresponds nicely with the introduction of movement date codes.
So, we may further extrapolate that any watch without a movement date code, with "Bulova W. Narrowing down the date beyond that with certainty may not be possible based on current information. Below are examples of the two movement signatures seen in early Bulova watches, with the example on the right becoming the standard signature after April Of further assistance in determining the date of these watches may be the movement caliber, if one is printed on the movement.
Consultation with online movement lists may provide at least ballpark information regarding the date of the watch. For one such movement list visit Bulova Movements.
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However, it is important to note that all such movement lists are based on observations of examples rather than any official Bulova documentation. So, the lists may be incomplete and even inaccurate to the extent that they contain information on movements that are not on-hand and available for examination and verification.
I have recently begun to develop a theory regarding certain "markers' that may help us identify the date-at least with a reasonable degree of certainty-of these very early watches.
Dating a watch this way requires opening the case and noting every detail of the movement and case and then comparing those details to the list below to see where the watch best fits in the timeline. It is important to note that the conclusions conveyed below are based primarily on ladies' models, as we have very few examles of men's watches dating prior to Another fact to consider is the still relatively small data set for this time period.
Though we have far more of these early watches than we did a year ago, we still have relatively few upon which to base conclusions.
No doubt, some cts of these conclusions will change over time as more examples are collected. For anyone interested in reviewing the data upon which, in part, these observations were based, visit Watch Data - Early advertisements also support these conclusions and can be found at - Dating a Bulova watch becomes quite a bit easier beginning with models manufactured in At that time, Bulova started using with regularity standard date codes on the movement.
Additionally, in many instances, the case serial number on these later models can be used as a date reference. For models manufactured beforethere is typically no date code on the case itself though there are exceptions seen in the later s.
However, as stated, the case serial number can often be used to date the case, while the movement code indicates the date the movement was made. Thus, most watches have two manufacture dates, providing a useful tool for determining whether a particular case and its movement were originally intended to be paired.
The movement code is a small symbol, such as a square, circle, or triangle, which corresponds to a particular year within each decade.
For example, a triangle may indicate, or The full list of date codes is available at Bulova Date Codes. Similarly, the date of the case often can be partially determined by the case serial number.
The following tables will help you date your vintage Bulova watch. Watches dated post have a 2 alpha-numeric date code on the outside backcase, whilst watches dated before usually contain a date code symbol on the inside movement (see below for examples). Bulova watch case markings (N5 = ) Pre movement date codes. Bulova sold relatively few pocket watches (compared to their huge production of wristwatches), though they did produce a few basic pocket watch models in the 30's, 40's and 50's. The ultra-thin "Phantom" model, produced in the 's, was a finely-made, platinum-cased pocket watch that is prized by collectors today. A Company of "Firsts". High-performance technology and enduring quality, following the Bulova tradition. Designed in NYC. Enjoy free shipping and watch sizing, and monthly payments options. Bulova.
That is, the first digit of the serial number indicates the year of manufacture within each decade, with some exceptions, which are explained in more detail at the end of this section. For example, a pre watch with a case serial number starting with "1" would indicate, or It is important to note that both the movement code and the case serial number provide only a year within a decade, but they do not give any clue as to the correct decade.
Instead, the appropriate decade must be determined by examining the style of the watch in light of the styles of each decade. Below is an example of a watch, where the year of manufacture has been determined using both the symbol on the movement and the matching serial number, along with an examination of the watch's characteristics. Important factors in identifying the proper decade of the watch's manufacture based on it styling include the size and shape of the case, engraving placement and patterns, dial and hand designs, and movement calibers.
A very good place to study styles by decade is right here on Watchophilia. The large collection is organized by decade, and all watches for a given decade can be viewed together on one page, making it easy to scan the page and note the styles used during that time period.
Becoming familiar with other examples and with the available advertisements will also help determine when elements, such as dials, hands, and straps, are not original to the watch and should not be considered when determining the date. The only way to know which decade applies to the watch at hand is by careful study of available resources, including vintage advertisements and actual watches.
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Matching the elements of the watch to a particular decade becomes easier over time, as more watches are studied and compared to the available advertisements. Another factor to consider in dating a pre watch is whether there is a serial number printed on the movement, as, for the most part, Bulova stopped that practice after A few strays with serial numbers have been observed through the mids, but by far the majority of movements made after do not have a serial number.
So, if your movement has a serial number, you can probably narrow down the date of the movement to at least pre, and, quite likely, even to pre As with all things Bulova-related, there are exceptions to the rule, and a few pre movements have been observed without serial numbers, particularly in the 10AN caliber movements.
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So, the existence or non-existence of a serial number is just one of many factors to be considered when dating a watch. All factors discussed here should be considered together to make the best possible date assessment. Fortunately, dating a Bulova watch gets much easier in and beyond. Before we move on to the s, we need to consider exceptions to the serial number method of dating a Bulova watch.
I hinted earlier in this section of the discussion that there were exceptions to the rule that the first digit of the case serial number indicates the date of manufacture for watches made from through There are actually at least five currently known exceptions to that rule, and the list keeps growing as more watches are studied. For models dated and beyond-and even some made in the late s-Bulova printed a two character date code on both the case and the movement.
Typically, the case date code is found on the outside of the case back, but sometimes it is located inside the case back. For example, the code "L3" indicateswhile the code "M4" indicates A list of the known codes can be found at Bulova Date Codes.
Bulova Date Codes
Note that the full date chart includes variations of two-character codes sometimes seen on watches as early as Bythis practice was becoming more common, and by is was the norm. Below are examples of this style of date code on the movement and case. Ideally, the date of the movement will match the date of the case. Occasionally, however, that is not the case.
In those circumstances, I subscribe to the "latest date wins" theory only when the case and movement are dated within one year of each other. If more than one year separates the movement and the case, for me, the case date rules. In such cases, other factors and information must be used to determine the date.
Bulova pocket watch dating
For more information, see Dating a Bulova. From through in most casesthe year of the case can be determined from the first digit of the case serial number. For example, a s style case, etc.
Prior tothe use of case serial numbers was inconsistent, with many early model serial numbers beginning with "1" or "2" regardless of the date of manufacture. Dating Bulova watches that appear to pre-date is far more complicated and uncertain.
Starting in with a few examples even earlierthe case and movement have a two-digit code that identifies both the decade and year within that decade according to the table below. A8 is also a valid symbol for and has been seen on watch movements. Pre Cases From through in most casesthe year of the case can be determined from the first digit of the case serial number.