Best Bulova Watches for Men

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
28 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
139 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best Bulova watches for men

Bulova watches have been around for over 140 years. It’s a brand recognized not just for high-quality timepieces but also for innovation. In the 1960s, the company’s Accutron was the first to use a battery-powered vibrating resonator (the forerunner of today’s quartz movements). It was accurate to within one minute per month, a tremendous advance over the mechanical watches of the time. 

And Bulova continues to innovate. The Bulova Curv is the world’s first watch with a curved movement: the case follows the natural contour of the wrist. Today’s range of Bulova watches for men is vast, with designs for all tastes, from the classic simple but stylish dress watch to multifunction sports models that satisfy the need for precision timekeeping in any environment.

Our recommendations showcase a few of the many options available, offering something for a variety of tastes. The following buying guide focuses on individual elements so you have a clearer picture of which Bulova watch is likely to suit your particular requirements.

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Bulova watches have been around since 1875. Originally an American company with production in Switzerland, it is now owned by Citizen, a Japanese company also known for its high-quality watches.

Key considerations

Movement

Bulova produces watches with both traditional mechanical and advanced quartz movements. Neither is better than the other. It’s a question of suitability for purpose and personal preference.

Mechanical: If you’re one of those men who like the reassuring sound of a watch ticking, then a mechanical movement is for you. There’s also something fascinating about the precision engineering involved. Bulova mechanical movements are all automatics, so you don’t need to wind them if you wear the watch regularly. And you’ll never need to hunt for a battery.

Quartz: When it first came onto the market, the quartz movement was far more accurate than its mechanical counterpart. That’s no longer true with quality watches like those from Bulova, but with no moving parts (apart from the hands), quartz movements are more robust. Also, while a Bulova mechanical men’s watch will need servicing every few years, a quartz watch is virtually maintenance-free. 

Calling a watch analog or digital refers to the display, not the mechanism. An analog watch has hands; a digital watch has a numerical display. When referring to the mechanism, it’s either mechanical (including automatics) or quartz.

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Features

Designs

There are several hundred individual designs in the current range of Bulova watches for men. They range from the elegant simplicity of those with just an hour and second hand to those with up to seven hands that are capable of measuring thousandths of a second. Date display is also common, and many show the day of the week as well. Several Bulova watches for men feature a tachymeter, a marked bezel that allows you to determine the speed of a person, horse, or vehicle over a given distance (usually a mile).

Dial

The variety of ways in which Bulova watches display this information is extraordinary, with a huge selection of dial layouts and accent colors. Some feature diamonds (always authentic on a Bulova), though gold or silver “tone” should not be taken for precious metal, which, if used, is always described as such. The Harley Davidson range will interest owners of those motorcycles. The Frank Lloyd Wright range comprises some unusual graphic elements.

Case and band

The cases are frequently stainless steel, which is attractive and resilient, though you can also find watches with carbon or precious metals. Round cases are common, but there are rectangular ones, too. 

Some watches have a stainless steel band, others are leather (sometimes textured to create a faux alligator skin), and still, others are rubber or nylon. Each material is relatively easy to clean, but if you’ll be wearing your watch in dusty environments, a smooth strap might be more appropriate than a segmented band because the latter can trap particles in the links, leading to excess wear and possible damage.

Size

You’ll want to think about the diameter of the dial and the thickness of the case. Some of these dimensions are determined by the complexity of the watch. Precision chronographs tend to be larger in part because there’s a lot going on inside. If you want a watch to wear with a dress shirt and suit, it may well be a different style than the one you wear when playing golf, sailing, or scuba diving, for example. With that in mind, you may also want to think about the weight of the watch, too.

Water resistance

All Bulova watches for men have some degree of water resistance, but if you plan to wear your watch while engaging in water sports, it’s important to check the depth rating. Some are simply splash resistant, many are good for depths of 100 feet, and those that are safe to 330 feet are not uncommon. The Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver is good to 666 feet, though Bulova rates it as a snorkeling model, not a scuba watch.

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DID YOU KNOW?
The word “chronograph” is often used by high-quality watchmakers like Bulova to describe their products. The dictionary defines it as “an instrument for recording time with great accuracy.” In general, it means a timepiece with a stopwatch function.
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Bulova watches for men prices

Usually, our buying guides offer an idea of prices for entry-level, mid-range, and high-end versions of a particular product. That doesn’t really apply to Bulova because all are premium watches.

That said, your Bulova doesn’t have to break the bank. Stylish dress watches with a display that features classic hour, minute, and second hands plus the date start at around $150. Multifunction models can be found starting at $250. From there on, it’s largely a question of how complex the mechanism is and what components are used. Dive watches built to withstand high water pressure are in the $800 range, and diamond-encrusted dress watches can reach $1,500 or more. The most expensive Bulova watch ever made was the Joseph Bulova Collection First Edition 24-Karat Gold Timepiece, released in 2015. Titanium was also used in its construction. Each one cost $42,000 and only 32 were made.

While almost all Bulova watches are marked with the company name and/or tuning fork logo, the Accutron range simply bears its own name. It’s also possible to find Bulova movements in cases from other watchmakers.

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Tips

Here are some useful watch-related terms that will help you as you shop.

  • Crown: The crown is the winder. It winds the watch, sets the hands, and on multi-crown watches it can also access other functions.
  • Indices: These are the markings for the hours. They can be simple bars or roman or Latin numerals.
  • Automatic: An automatic watch has a mechanical movement with an internal mechanism that automatically winds as you move your wrist. You don’t have to wind it yourself, but if you take off the watch, there’s no motion, so it will stop after around 30 hours.
  • Crystal: This is the glass that covers the dial. On cheap watches, it’s often acrylic. On a Bulova watch, it’s either mineral glass, made with silica for high scratch resistance, or sapphire, which is even harder. Sapphire can be synthetic or natural, the latter being more sought after and considerably more expensive.
  • Bezel: This is the ring around the crystal. It may be purely decorative or moveable and allow extra timing functions.
  • Kilohertz (kHz): This is the frequency of the watch — how fast a watch mechanism vibrates. Vibrations per hour (vph) may also be used. It’s important because, in general, a higher frequency means a more accurate watch. As you move, you occasionally bump or jerk your watch, which upsets its balance, perhaps making it slower or faster. It’s very brief, only fractions of a second, but each one can make a difference and they all add up eventually. If the watch has a high frequency, the impact of these disturbances is reduced and the watch is more accurate. Some Bulova watches are marked with “262 kHz,” or a frequency of 262,000 hertz, making them among the most accurate watches ever produced.
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While mechanical movements are more fragile than quartz, with proper care and occasional servicing one can outlast its owner. Vintage Bulova watches have now become collectors’ items and can be worth thousands of dollars.

FAQ

Q. Can I change a Bulova watch battery myself?

A. Bulova recommends that you take your watch to an authorized retailer, though it’s not a difficult job if you have the right tools. Screw backs are hard to open without a case wrench, but one only costs a few dollars. Snap-off backs are relatively simple to open with a small, flat-bladed screwdriver. Batteries are widely available and can be levered out carefully and replaced. That said, if you’re at all concerned about doing it yourself, following the maker’s advice is the safest option.

Q. How often do I need to wind a manual Bulova watch?

A. If you wear it, not at all. All manual (mechanical) Bulova watches are automatics, which means your natural day-to-day movements wind the watch for you. If you don’t wear it for some time it’s recommended that you use a watch winder, a device that keeps your watch ready for whenever you need it without risking possible damage from overwinding.

Q. How can I tell if a Bulova watch is a fake?

A. Watches purchased from reputable sources like major online retailers are unlikely to be fake, so be careful about where you buy it. Bulova watches are made to a very high standard, so the lettering on the back and dial will always be sharp and properly aligned. There will never be spelling mistakes (“Bulovo,” for example). Checking vintage watches is complicated, but Bulova itself can offer help if you contact the company.

 

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