Dress Above Your Paygrade: Vintage Bulova Art Deco Watches

Posted on June 8, 2011

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1950s Bulova art deco watch

When it comes to shopping for a great looking luxury watch, it can be a bit of a challenge to dress above your paygrade. At themonsieur.com, I’m often accused of supporting those “Impractical ten thousand dollar watch brands” and today, I’m here to correct that by sharing a collector’s open secret- Bulova.

Suffering from a bit of a poor reputation amongst watch aficionados today; the truth was that when Joseph Bulova started his watchmaking boutique in 1875 as a New York jewelry store, he would be creating a tradition of watchmaking excellence; In fact, by the 1920s Bulova had a reputation for producing the finest wristwatches of that era.

Today, these timepieces in the art deco style are highly coveted by collectors (myself included) and here comes the kicker, Monsieurs who don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for high end luxury watches but yet want a classic and memorable timepiece can turn to Bulova’s vintage collection.

1940s Bulova art deco watch

Granted, there are dangers of shopping online and buying pre-owned vintage watches BUT the trick is in performing due diligence before plonking down anywhere from $400 to $900 on a Bulova Art Deco watch from the 1940s and 1950s. Thankfully, online retailers like ArtDecoWatches.Co.Uk are available to help make your purchase decision a little easier (and safer).

Dress Above Your Paygrade: Vintage Bulova Art Deco Watches

Pictured left, the stepped lugs, pink 10ktGF bezel and alligator strap on this 17 jewel movembt 1940s Bulova screams art deco. When shopping on eBay, the general rule of thumb is to look for Bulova’s early timepieces in silver and gold filled Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs.

A pre 1950s Bulova with Arabic numerals and small seconds subdial can start anywhere from $100 if the condition is poor, buy these at your own risk before a watch restorer cannot patch metal rot and fatigue; buy these only if you’re looking to create that bohemian, hand-me-down watch look. Two-tone Bulovas in rose gold can sell up to $800 in some cases hitting $1000.

Pay attention to the Movement

Before buying, make sure the movement is either not corroded or in a serviceable condition; vintage movements and escapements are terribly hard to replace (for obvious reasons) and Patek Philippe is really the only watch company that retains parts for all their collections old and new (you really could buy those for the next generation).

Don’t go beyond the 1950s era

Bulova watch cases transitioned from tank-style to round dials. Classically elegant, 1950s Bulovas to me are the maximum “age-limit” you should go to although the 60s and 70s did come with several iconic chronograph, accutron and LED timepieces. Ultimately, go with which timepiece speaks to your inner Monsieur. Shop at artdecowatches.co.uk or here on ebay.

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Posted in: watches