This Bulova Oceanographer is brought to you fresh from 666 feet underwater
Before it leaves the factory, every single Bulova Oceanographer Snorkel is tested under 666 feet of water pressure in our special pressure tank, where it stays “down” a minimum of five minutes.
It goes from the tank straight onto a hotplate for another torture period. If even the least bit of moisture gets in, it shows up as for on the crystal.
So in testing the Snorkel’s water resistance, we learn how it stands up to dust and the desert heat as well.
Bulova Oceanographer watches must pass other tests. A drop test for shock.
A final check to see if the knocking around has caused it to vary more than 60 seconds in 24 hours. If it has, we got back and start over.
An ordinary watch would never make it through the tests a Bulova Snorkel has to pass before we’ll call it new.
Bulova Oceanographer ‘G’ 17 jewels. $95.00
How do you make a devil?
The 666 range of Bulova models began in 1961 with the first generation all stainless steel Bulova Snorkel featuring an automatic 11AFACD. The case was actually provided by Brevet and is clearly marked on the back – were they sold these new ‘super waterproof’ cases or were Bulova clever enough to specify? The overall aesthetic looks incredibly similar to an Aslta Nautoscaph – with the coffin shape hour markers and the numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12 it is almost identical.
The bezel looks to be made of a black plastic material. The needle style hands are svelte and much more subtle for a dive watch than later models.
The 666 relates to the 666 ft of water resistance or 200 metres. This was Bulova’s entry to the ever popular skin diver range – becoming ever popular in the 60s. This genesis spawned many different models but today we get up close with a 1971 Oceanographer ‘G’.
The Devil is in the detail
First appearing in 1969 this is what most watch enthusiasts think of when ‘Devil Diver’ is mentioned. It’s the wide white paddle hands, the crimson lollipop second hand, red cross hair dial, the raised hour markers and chunky 40mm case.
This particular model has seen some action. The hands have aged and started to turn a murky brown and the lollipop lume spot is making a bid for freedom. Even with this extreme patina the rest of the watch is in a good condition.
The matt black dial still features extra crisp font – not raised illegible metal logo like the remake. The red crosshair running through the centre of the dial is like a tiny Tron motorbike rider leaving a ruby line in it’s wake as it navigates across the dial.
The automatic 11BLACD movement features a date with yet more lovely typeface. This item has a raised cyclops which is unlikely to be the original crystal as Bulova favoured the internal magnifier.
The bezel is a lurid rich blood red contrasting against the black of the dial and the other three quarters of the bezel ring. A rotating bezel is a must for any dive watch and this item is clear as day.
The 666 is displayed at the bottom of the dial and on the case back. This is the reason for the ‘devil diver’ name – an extra 66 feet on the standard 200 metre rating.
Probably my favourite part of the watch is the little raised hour markers. These tiny translucent cylinders are held in place like diamonds on a ring. It adds a totally 3D element to the flat dial lifting it in to a different dimension – these tiny lume pots look good from every angle. I’ve not seen this hour marker style used on another watch – a truly unique endeavour.
Chunky signed crown recessed into the all steel casework.
Currently the watch is on a five link Stelux steel deployant clasp bracelet. The original bullet bracelets are rare and often missing from the original items. I think there’s a special place in hell for all the people in the 60s and 70s who removed their watches from the factory bracelet and put it on to a stretch band or similar…
This watch has always been on my wish list. I got my hands on one a couple of years ago through an auction. It was in a terrible condition featuring and not limited to a non working movement, cracked bezel, burnt crystal, blackened hands and dented case. Needless to say it was an expensive mistake and I lost a lot of enthusiasm for the Oceanographer ‘G’. I still believe that the 11ALACD and 11BLACD are some of the weakest movements Bulova produced. Almost every watch I have seen with one is non working or a poor runner.
This example is on loan whilst I give it some tender loving care before returning to it’s rightful owner. My search for my very own original devil diver continues.
In the meantime I guess I will make do with the other 666 models I have available. Pictured below is a manual wind, and automatic, a tuning fork and a quartz movement. The 666 range has no limits.