While some watches could only dream of being a part of space exploration history, Bulova made it a reality in July 1971 aboard Apollo 15, NASA’s fourth manned mission to land on the surface of the moon. Commander over the mission, dubbed as NASA’s “most successful manned flight ever achieved,” was Dave Scott. For Bulova, its opportunity for spaceflight could only be described as purposeful serendipity since NASA’s astronauts had been issued Omega Speedmaster Professional watches since 1965. But, as the story goes (depending on whose version you choose to believe), Scott’s Speedmaster broke, which made it useless not only on earth but in space as well. Luckily for Scott and Bulova, his on-deck replacement was the original chronograph version of the Bulova Moon Watch (model 96B258) that I’m now able to wear and review today.

Bulova Moon Watch Specs:

Case Diameter: 45mm
Case Height: 13.5mm
Lug Width: 20mm
Lug to Lug: 52mm
Straps: Bracelet
Movement: Ultra-High Frequency Quartz
Crystal: Sapphire
Water Resistance: 50m

Retail Price: $550 (approximate USD)

To start, it’s important to note there are two versions of the Bulova Moon Watch that, at the time of this review, is available via a limited release. (Many dealers will have stock in July). Each version comes with a different gift box presentation, but the wow factor remains the same. The version I purchased came with a stainless steel bracelet as opposed to the leather/ commemorative nylon strap combo. This combo was simply personal preference, as I happen to be a bracelet man myself.
Stored within an outer two-piece Bulova embossed cardboard box, I found a hinged clam-shell type box that far exceeded my expectations. Few boxes get my juices pumping, but for whatever reason, Bulova’s did. Perhaps it was the anticipation of wearing a piece of lunar history, but I remember literally saying “wow” out loud after giving it a glance. Inside you’ll find the watch, an instruction manual, a certificate of authenticity, and a small booklet detailing how this Bulova Moon Watch “replica” came to be. More on that later.

7 1/2 inch wrist for reference

Bulova’s bright white applied index markers pop nicely against the dark, deep-set, multi-level dial, as do the Moon Watch’s complete long and slender handset. While for some this is something to be taken at face value, I found it to be a bit reminiscent of the wonder-filled blanket we call space. While some have said that a chronograph would be an odd choice for an astronaut to wear, I beg to differ. Sure, some have too many complications and mismatched colored dials, but one of the many things that makes this Bulova Moon Watch superb is its highly clean, crisp, legible dial.

Three sunburst-like sub-dial registers, located in the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions, are purposefully designed to score different intervals of time: 1/10 second register, running seconds and chronograph minutes (up to one hour). A tall tachymeter ring, which allows the wearer to measure speed and distance, surrounds the dial, although for most it will simply be an underutilized tool on Bulova’s bat belt that simply looks cool on the watch. While the dial markers and the watch’s hands are highly luminous, the blueish glow is short-lived. The brand’s name, boldly written across the top portion of the dial, seems to say, “We’re proud of who we were, who we are, and most importantly, where we’re going!”
The square date window, located in between the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock markers, works well with the design. The original Bulova Moon Watch completely omitted the date function. Remember, in space (the intended canvas for the original), the passage of seconds matter more than the passage of days. Pay close attention to the 6 o’clock sub-dial and the information printed inside of it. This is, after all, Bulova’s coup de grace for those suffering from the common quartz flu. Powering this timepiece is Bulova’s industry exclusive, high frequency quartz with a frequency of 262 kHz, which delivers a smoother chronograph sweep resembling that of an automatic movement.

The 316L stainless steel case measures 45mm but wears slightly smaller than its numerical data would indicate. At only 13.5mm in height, the three-tiered case fits nicely underneath a dress shirt sleeve, which I believe will better suit (pun intended) its targeted audience, especially since the Bulova Moon Watch comes in at only 50m of water resistance. Two paddle-like pushers, modeled after the original 1971 Bulova Moon Watch, traverse nearly the entire right side of the watch, less the signed crown, located in the 3 o’clock position. The top pusher starts and stops the chronograph function, while the bottom pusher resets the hands to zero. Chrono hands not at zero? No problem, as both pushers allow you to recenter the hands should the watch receive an impact forceful enough to knock them out of place or if a battery change was needed.

Appearing to float high above the Bulova Moon Watch’s case is the thick anti-reflective sapphire crystal; a unique feature I grew to love. Some may worry about the crystal’s resilience to certain objects since it sticks out like a sore thumb, but quite frankly, it’s nothing I worry about. If you’re hard on every watch in your collection, no matter the situation, this may be something to consider.

The case back, which can only be described as flat, sleek and sexy, is perhaps more important to Bulova than any other portion of the watch. It had to be well-executed, as it rejuvenates their past and makes their iconic walk in space relevant once more. Purposely left for last, some have shown great disdain for Bulova’s choice to use a brushed bracelet against their satin case. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this if no one else had mentioned it. The use of juxtaposing finishes is something that I’ve come to expect from a watch far beyond the Bulova Moon Watch’s price point, and to find it on such an affordable timepiece is icing on the cake.

The 20mm presidential-like bracelet is among one of the best I’ve reviewed. It’s comfortable, good-looking, and its butterfly clasp continues to function flawlessly. Bulova’s classic tuning fork logo is found on the 6 o’clock side of the bracelet, but it’s minimal, which makes the branding seem humble or a mere afterthought.

Bulova swung for the fence early on at Basel 2016, taking the saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” to heart. For many, the term replica has a negative undertone, as it usually references intellectual theft. In this case, Bulova was purposeful in its description, as the term is defined as: a copy or reproduction of a work of art produced by the maker of the original or under his or her supervision. While not exactly a subliminal message, it softly echoes in your ear that the Bulova Moon Watch of today transcends an ordinary reissue, as it was reproduced by Bulova itself. And if we were to embody the literal definition of a replica, then we would do so under the premise that the 1971 Bulova is, in fact, an original masterpiece brought back to life.
Picture of the Orignal Bulova Moon Watch, with its “replica” of today.

Thank you for reading, and hope you enjoyed my look at the Bulova Moon Watch, a modern interpretation of a watch from our space exploration history. Please leave your comment in the field below the picture gallery.

Ariel Soltura has had a passion for watches since an early age; one that was passed onto him by his father, who was one of a handful of people to own a Rolex GMT on the island of Cuba, where Ariel was born. Ariel Soltura, who is a full time police officer, husband, father and Dive Watch aficionado, is well respected in the watch community for his honest thoughts and comments on "all things watches." When not patrolling the streets, throwing footballs with the community's youth or perusing various watch forums, he can be found hanging out with his six year old son, Aric, his greatest passion of all.

5 Comments

  1. The article lists lug-to-lug distance as 48mm, but I believe it’s 53mm.

    Reply
  2. Great Article. I purchased this watch last week.

    Reply
  3. Great watch! My father had a Bulova when I was a kid and I remember he talking about this brand going to the moon. I am 50 now. Bought this watch for the memory. Thank you Bulova.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for the article and review. Though the part about replicas and reissues does read a bit strange–it’s the same company, so the fact that it’s a reissue and not a replica seems very clear.

    Reply
  5. I just bought this watch. I have an Omega Speedmaster Earth to Mars, so I now have the two space watches.

    Reply

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