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Shop & Blog Vintage 1963 (M3) Bulova Accutron ASTRONAUT 15 Jewel Tuning Fork Cal. 214HN.

April 25, 2017

Vintage 1963 (M3) Bulova Accutron 

ASTRONAUT  

15 Jewel Tuning Fork Cal. 214HN. (do you know an accutron does not tick but hummmm..)

 

Complete with very rare box and even rarer Spaceview key coin

BOTH original Straps Speidel Expandable Black PVD & Steel & RARE Unused Genuine Lizard 

 

One of the earliest Bulova Accutron Astronauts we've ever sold & by FAR the most complete, if your gonna buy the "First" of something it may as well be an early first and if your going to buy a watch here you can buy the set complete! 

A horological collectors dream piece. 

 

What's an Accutron ? (and SPACE Connections)

The Bulova Accutron was the world's first electronic watch. People sometimes refer to the Accutron as the worlds first electric watch. This isn't quite true but as it was the first to use a bipolar transistor it certainly deserves the former accolade. The first Accutron was manufactured in 1960 and was the watch chosen by some of the 'Original Seven' NASA astronauts  to accompany man on his first journeys into space. Scott Carpenter famously modeled a Bulova Accutron 'Astronaut' on the front cover of Paris Match in 1962. Contrary to popular myth the Accutron only flew in space a couple of times on the wrist of an astronaut. It was not the watch chosen by NASA as the astronaut flight qualified time piece, this accolade goes to the Omega Speedmaster Professional. The Omega however was never (except in Apollo 13) used as the primary reference for any mission critical activities. Accutron movements were used in panel clocks and as instrument timers.

Even today there is still an accutron tuning for keeping time on the moon 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulova competed with Omega for a chance of becoming the first watch on the moon and although they lost they did succeed in having their electric Accutron watch movement chosen to be used in all the spacecrafts instrument panel clocks and time keeping space-watches-backmechanisms for missions in the 60’s and 70’s.

 

Nasa made this choice because at that time they were still unsure about how well a normal mechanical movement would function in zero gravity and the Accutron watch movement was the first electronic movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 "So I used my wrist watch for time," Gordon Cooper Faith 7

 

 

Accutron Astronaut seen on Gordon Cooper's Wrist Prior to Faith  7

Gordon Cooper - MA-9 Faith 7 -  Omega Chronograph & Bulova Accutron Astronaut:  

 

The final Mercury Mission on May 15th, 1963,  sent Gordon Cooper into space for 34 hours,19 minutes and 49 seconds  orbiting the earth 22 times.  He piloted the Mercury-Atlas 9 or Faith 7.  This particular mission emphasized the need for instruments not reliant on the instrument panel. He described the Mercury 7 as "Spam in a Can".  He was proven quite wrong ,though,when due to technical problems Gordon Coopers Space capsule lost power. The situation became dicey when CO2 levels and temperature levels rose. Gordon Cooper mastered the controls and using his celestial knowledge was able to calculate the correct pitch for re-entry into the earths atmosphere. Making even a slight miscalculation would have been grave.  A sharp angle into the atmosphere would result in destructive g-forces, a too shallow trajectory would cause the tiny capsule to bounce off the atmosphere and head back into space.  Amazingly Cooper used the capsule window to draw lines determining the precise orientation before firing the reentry rockets. 

So I used my wrist watch for time," he later recalled, "my eyeballs out the window for altitude. Then I fired my retrorockets at the right time and landed right by the carrier."

 

 

 

Gordon Cooper's Bulova Accutron Astronaut

 

So which wrist watch did he use?   In actual fact Gordon Cooper was wearing two wristwatches: An Omega Chronograph and a Bulova Accutron.  As to which watch he used for reentry calculation - well the Omega Speedmaster enthusiasts will say an Omega Speedmaster and the Bulova Accutron collectors will say the Accutron.  Most of the consensus rests on the fact that Gordon Cooper brought the Bulova Accutron along on Faith 7 to double check the timing of the Omega Speedmaster. 

 

(fun horological fact)

 Upon returning, NASA presented Gordon Cooper with a Timex Wristwatch as a welcome back gift.

 

'Tuning Fork Watches'?

 

In addition to the Spaceview, Bulova also produced the Astronaut, a 214-based GMT timepiece with a 24-hour rotating bezel, secondary 24-hour hand and hack function. The Astronaut was initially developed by Bulova for the US space program, but ultimately found its greatest success in the consumer market. The Astronaut is the only timepiece to use the 214HN sub-caliber, widely considered to be the ultimate Accutron movement.

 

 

The Case 

A HUGE watch for a watch of its period at 38mm, large even by todays standards  18mm lug spacing. 

 

Perhaps one of the most desirable rare and unique of all the 60s Accutrons Large Radially arranged 24h GMT bezel engulfs the full circumference of the watch. Another interesting design point of the watch is the very stylised scarab lugs.

 

As with all accutron 214 calibers the wider is located underside of the watch. 

 

 

 

 

The Dial

Classic tool watch of the era, like a the dials of a pilots dashboard designed to give maximum read clarity at a glance matte black dial large tritium indexes now aged to a creamy patina coloration 

 

Full Handset is NOS from our own stock of genuine NOS Bulova Stock 

 

The Band 

Still all original the watch is sold with BOTH the orriginal Steel & PVD Speidel Strap as well as the Large Grain Lizard complete with Bulova accutron logo buckle the later strap is genuine NOS unused 

 

 

 

The Movement 

Although the 214 movement underwent numerous changes throughout its production lifespan, perhaps the most notable is the complete redesign of the electrodynamic transducer circuit. The 214 was initially equipped with a 'three wire' circuit, which uses a germanium PNP transistor. Later 214 movements were equipped with a 'two wire' circuit built around a silicon NPN transistor. It is a commonly held myth that there is no performance difference between the germanium and silicon transistor circuits, and that the switchover was simply to future-proof Bulova's parts supply in the face of emerging silicon technology. However, in 1963, Bulova published a paper in the SAE journal which states that the germanium transistor used in the 214 becomes unstable above 130°F, while silicon transistors would provide operation up to 210°F. Additionally, the germanium circuit draws excessive current when operated at higher temperatures, thus inducing premature power cell failure. The silicon circuit is immune to such effects.

 

Bulova 214HN

 

Features

setting handle at the bottom

4 Kif-Duofix combined settings

electronically controlled tuning fork

sweep second

12h- and 24h display, center hands

mechanical hack feature

15 jewels

f = 360Hz

 

 

 

 

 

BOXED 

The Watch is complete with full box Set (inner & Outer Box)  Both straps  as stated above & rare Key coin as well as owners guide(s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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