October 25th 1960

Bulova use a two character stamp to denote the year of manufacture. These stamps appear on both cases and movements. The first character is a letter to determine the decade and the second character is a number to state the year.

In the case of 1960 it is M0. This was the first year the Accutron 214 was made available to the public.

Underside of a 1960 Accutron with the crown on the left and battery cover on the right. Note the M0 stamp at the bottom.

It has been 60 years since the release and in 2020 Bulova resurrected the Accutron brand with a new electrostatic movement. The new release has been met with mixed feelings as it has been considered too gimmicky and quite expensive tipping in at $4,000.

The original 214 was a truly groundbreaking technology that was sold at very competitive prices. It was also more accurate that any other movements produced, made with less parts for easy servicing and available in a stunning variety of cases and styles.

1960 Accutron advert

Accutron was guaranteeing 1 minute a month accuracy which had never been achieved before. This wasn’t a prototype movement only for internal use – this was a fully fledged watch available for anybody who wanted it.

Popular Science Extract – December 1960

Because Bulova were so proud of their achievement and that the movement looked too good to hide – they ended up removing the dial to expose the tuning fork and all the electric wizardy.


Removing the dial had a couple of challenges to overcome – firstly where to place the hour markers. Initial watches featured the lume dots and markings added to the crystal. Later chapter rings were used round the outside to allow easy time telling.

The 214 movement has an underside crown that produces a very clean design and allowed for some asymmetric case shapes. The battery cover allowed easy replacement and came with a coin tool for access – but a simple US Quarter could be used.

Accutron Coin Tool

Adjusting the time was completed by lifting the clip on the crown and turning. This D clip has a spring and will snap back flush when not being used. Sometimes adjustment can be a little frustrating but it’s rare to adjust other than for daylight savings!

Raised D-clip for adjusting time

The internals are fabricated from a blue green plastic which has now become synonymous with Accutron. Earlier prototype featured a deep blue plastic and later 218 models had black plastic components.

Close up of the tuning fork and electric coils
Tuning fork sound – F sharp

Style and Creativity

During the production run of both the 214 and 218 movements the variation in case design and style is staggering. From simple no date designs to more funky up day down date designs.

This 1970 Bulova Accutron Day & Date ‘Q’ 2182 features a most incredible dial texture. From a distance it looks like a gentle fuzzy blue but up close it takes on an almost sandpaper look.

The font for the day and date are a deco style in a lovely azure colour. The roman numeral hour markers and seconds hand are a contrasting snow white that lifts it away from the deep cyan dial.

This piece features a lovely symmetry with a raised metal Accutron logo at 6 o’clock. This item has been reimagined in the new Accutron legacy line up as 2SW6C001. Shame it’s an automatic movement!

The fonts and overall design is similar however the logo placement is a little off putting and it loses the most signature element of this watch – the textured blue dial. It is now a gloss finish blue – a little disappointing as it is the dial which sets this watch apart.

Accutron 2020

I hope with the rebirth of the Accutron brand comes some more developments that can reach the masses. The new watch is gimmicky and has some odd features:

  • the minute and hour hand are powered by a stepper motor – not the electrostatic motor
  • the seconds hand does not continuously sweep – if left on the wrist without movement it will return to 12 and stop. To start again the piece must be shaken to engage.
  • once shaken the second hand will then attempt to return to ‘true seconds’ which means it will run very slowly until real time has caught up
  • if the watch is not worn for 10 days the hour and minute hand will stop and will need to be set again to wear
  • if the watch capacitor loses all power it will fail and the watch will need to be sent to Bulova for a replacement – there is no way of measuring the power reserve on the watch

So 60 years has passed – what’s your favourite Accutron? Let me know in the comments!

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