Bulova Snorkel
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Bulova Snorkel

Before the Quartz Crisis, Bulova had an obsession with precision. Almost from the founding of their plant in 1912, they implemented a system of mass production never before seen in the world of horology. This guaranteed an unprecedented interchangeability in their parts. The obsession with precision spurred them to produce the most accurate movement for a wristwatch. The aptly-named Accutron, with its tuning fork in lieu of the typical balance wheel, was the first ever electronic watch and is a legend in itself.

Their Space Age rivalry with Omega was fierce and acrimonious. Even though the Accutron wasn't selected as the official "first watch on the moon" (that honor of course went to the Omega Speedmaster), their timepieces did go to space. The movement that powered the Accutron was used in some fashion in almost every other timing device during NASA's Apollo missions outside the wrist-worn Omega Speedmasters.

Their reputation for technical precision and accuracy was perhaps surmounted by a flair for the unique in their designs. With a distinctive visual style that attracted the respect of the American public (in part due to their innovative ad campaigns, including the first-ever television commercial in 1941), Bulova's watches from the 1960s and 1970s certainly have an engaging appeal.

While earlier Bulova divers featured more straightforward designs, later designs in the Snorkel and Oceanographer lines like this one experimented with a variety of case shapes and bold dial designs. Dating to 1968, this piece is packed with unique design elements from the cushion case design, super cool frosted lucite hour markers, and of course, the dial- once matte black, the dial has started to take on the "tropical" brown shade that watch enthusiasts love.

As a darling of budget-conscious collectors, Bulova has certainly earned its reputation for dependability, and pieces like this one prove that in the realm of design, they were no slackers either.

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