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Vintage & Antique Bulova Watch Value | Bulova Watch Serial Numbers

Posted by George Bogdan Bejan on

Vintage & Antique Bulova Watch Value

Founded in 1875, Bulova is a top American watch brand, which at this point in time is owned by the Japanese multinational conglomerate Citizen Watch Co. With such a rich watchmaking history behind the brand, it might be a challenge to find the true value of your vintage or antique Bulova watch. We will show you some useful examples to help you get an idea of your watch's price and determine its age, so make sure to follow along. 
 
Vintage & Antique Bulova Watch Value | Bulova Watch Serial Numbers

 

In almost 150 years of watchmaking, Bulova has produced millions of watches, some models being worth more than others. Some of the rarest antique Bulova watches are the art deco ones from the 1910-1920s, which can be made of platinum and have real diamonds. Those are the real antique Bulova watches, as they are over 100 years old.

 

Diamond Platinum Bulova Ladies Wrist Watch
Diamond Platinum Bulova Ladies Wrist Watch ($8,785.00)
Platinum case & 115 Diamonds

 

If you are interested in purchasing a vintage or pre-owned Bulova watch, make sure to check out our collection of Bulova watches, as we have some amazing models dating back to as far as the 1950s.

 

Bulova Watch Serial Numbers

One of the hardest things to find when searching for the value of your watch is the actual year in which your watch was made. Each company has used different styles of serial numbering in order to index their watches, some using more intuitive systems than others.

How do I identify my Bulova watch?

 Bulova watch identification numbers are split into 2 major parts, the pre-1950s cases, and the ones starting from January 1950. For each one of them, there is a simple table that you can follow in order to determine the year when your watch was produced.

 From 1924 through 1949, the year can be determined from the symbol stamped on the movement. In order to find this sign, you will have to open the back of the watch and use a loupe or magnifying glass in order to find one of these signs:

Bulova watches with date codes between 1924 - 1949.

Bulova watches with date codes between 1924 - 1949.

Example:

1928 Vintage Bulova Watch

Vintage Bulova Watch (The crescent moon indicates either 1928, or 1938)

As you have probably noticed, particular signs are attributed to more than one year. We have chosen the example above to illustrate this. In cases like this, what can help you determine the exact year when your watch was produced, are factors like: vintage Bulova adverts, and dial models that are specific to certain time periods.

 

Starting from 1950, the back case of the watch will contain a letter and a number following it. You no longer have to open the back of the watch in order to look at the movement, which might be a relief for many of you, as not everybody has proper watchmaker tools. The letter will tell you the decade and the number will tell you the exact year of that specfic decade:

Bulova watches with date codes starting from 1950.

Bulova watches with date codes starting from 1950.

 Example:

1971 Bulova Chrono Watch

1971 Bulova Chrono Watch (N=1970s, 1=1971)

 

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

How much is a Bulova watch worth?

With most prices ranging between $50 and $15,000, vintage & antique Bulova watches worth depend on age, case material (gold or platinum), extra stones such as diamonds, and whether the specific model is rare or made in a limited edition issue.

Using our guide you will be able to determine the year of your watch, and where to position it when compared to our examples. This way you can get a better understanding of its value, without consulting a watchmaker or an appraisal service.

 

What is the average price of old Bulova watches?

Regular vintage Bulova watches have an average price between $100 and $200. Most vintage watches people find around the house date back to the 1950s-1970s and are usually gold-plated or gold-filled.

The price can go lower or higher depending on the functionality of the watch, the age of the watch (the older, the more valuable), whether the case is gold-plated, gold-filled, or solid gold, and of course the rarity of the timepiece.

Example:
Vintage Bulova 17 Jewels Swiss Watch | Mechanical Watch Collection
1978 10k Gold-Plated Bulva Watch for Women = $150

 

What is the most expensive Bulova watch in history?

In 2015, Bulova released the Joseph Bulova Collection First Edition 24-Karat Gold Watch with a suggested retail value of $42,000. With only 32 pieces ever produced, this remains the most expensive Bulova watch in history.

 Joseph Bulova Collection First Edition 24-Karat Gold Watch

 Joseph Bulova Collection First Edition 24-Karat Gold Watch

 

The most important factors that influence the value of your Bulova watch:

1. Year of Manufacture
2. Type of Case material
3. Watch Movement Type & Complications
4. Use of Precious Stones
5. Limited Issue Watch or Not
6. Overall Aesthetic Condition & Original Parts
7. Is the watch in working condition?
8. Historical Value: Has the watch been worn by Someone Famous?

 

Here are some of the most important factors to be taken into consideration when you are trying to properly evaluate the value of your watch. There are other things such as the sentimental value that have no price.

 

1. Year of Manufacture

The date of issue will have a crucial impact on the value of any watch, regardless of the brand. Pre 1900s you will most likely find pocket watches, up to 1940s-1950s you will find both pocket watches and wristwatches, and after that, mainly wristwatches as people started to adjust to the trends as well.

The older the watch, the better! For a watch to withstand over 100 years of history, several owners, wars, and also not deteriorate is rare! Moreover, fewer models remain in the public eye as years go by adding even more to the rarity of it.

Examples:

 

1940s Bulova Pocket Watch

1940s Bulova Gold-Plated Pocket Watch (Value: $400-$600)

 

1990s Bulova 21 Jewels Automatic Incabloc Swiss Movement Watch

1990s Bulova 21 Jewels Automatic Incabloc Swiss Movement Watch (Value: $230)

 

2. Type of Case material

The most commonly used metal in watches is stainless steel, and the most expensive one is platinum. Watch manufacturers and watchmakers also use silver & gold, which are the most used precious metals but when it comes to unique or limited-edition releases, big brands such as Rolex & Patek Philippe use platinum!

Ladies Vintage Bulova Platinum Diamond Watch, circa 1930s

Ladies Vintage Bulova Platinum Diamond Watch, circa 1930s (Value: $6000)

 

3. Watch Movement Type & Complications

Of course, the more complex a watch gets, the higher the price tag goes with it. Chronographs, perpetual calendars, and tourbillons are among some of the complications that can be found in watches and will drastically increase their value.

1970s Bulova Chronograph 'D'

1970s Bulova Chronograph 'D' (Value: $1,200)

 

4. Use of Precious Stones

 Diamonds! They are the pinnacle of any kind of jewelry, thus providing a huge increase in the value of a vintage or antique watch. The number of diamonds, the finesse with which they have been cut, and the total carats can lift the price of a regular watch considerably.

VINTAGE DIAMOND PLATINUM BULOVA LADIES WRIST WATCH

115 Diamonds totaling 3.24 Carats Platinum Case (Price: $8,785)

 

5. Limited Issue Watch or Not

Exclusivity is by far one of the most used techniques by watchmakers, car dealers, jewelry stores, and artists around the world in order to increase scarcity, desirability, and price. If you own a unique watch that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, it will even be hard to put a price on it since there is nothing to compare it with. If you own one limited issue of 100 pieces, that is still incredible but not as cool as having 1/1.

Bulova SPACEVIEW 2020 Limited Edition

Bulova SPACEVIEW 2020 Limited Edition - 300 Pieces (Price: $4000-$8000)

 

6. Overall Aesthetic Condition & Original Parts

Having a vintage watch with no scratches is a dream come true. Every single sign of aging or wearing can affect the price. There are some exceptions where the watch patina can actually increase its value (for example, after 30-50 years some Rolex dial have turned pink or blue due to light exposure).

Some of you might have heard of N.O.S. watches, meaning new old stock. Those are very desirable for watch collectors as they have never been used/worn or even taken out of the original packaging. 

1970s NOS Bulova Accutron LCD Watch

1970s NOS Bulova Accutron LCD Watch (Price: $325)

 

7. Is the watch in working condition?

Whether a vintage watch is functional or not is definitely an important pricing factor. That is why most watchmakers recommend taking your watch for a service every 3-5 years in order to keep it running smoothly. Some of you might know that buyers usually ask when was the last service made.

An expensive watch will lose a lot of value if it's not in working condition. But there are of course collectors that appreciate watches for their design, and see them as a work of art. And watch enthusiasts who will pay good money for a rare, non-functional watch, in order to restore and repair it afterwards. 

8. Historical Value: Has the watch been worn by Someone Famous?

Owning a watch that has been worn by a famous person adds value to the way you present it. Now, there are some cases where famous people had a huge influence on the price of certain watch models. The most renowned case is Paul Newman's Rolex Daytona, which was sold at an auction for almost $18 million.

With this occasion, that specific Rolex model was renamed, and is now known as the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona. Prices skyrocketed on all similar models from $20-25.000 upwards of $300-500.000. You could have woken up the next day and found out that your watch was worth 10 times the value it had the day before!

Paul Newman (wearing his Rolex) and Joanne Woodward at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. FRANCE/GAMMA-KEYSTONE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Thus our article about vintage & antique Bulova watches, Bulova serial numbers, and pricing factors comes to an end. We hope you've enjoyed our watch recommendations, diversity, and unique stories. Make sure to let us know in the comments what your favorite watch is! 

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