The Second Watch To Be Worn On The Moon – A Bulova Moon Watch Review
Hi there! Welcome to my article on Bulova Moon Watch review. Everyone knows about the Omega Speedmaster as the watch that was worn by US astronauts on the moon.
But nobody really knows that there is another watch that has the same credential. Yes, that’s right, this Bulova Moon Watch is the only other watch to ever be worn on moon.
Before we go into the watch’s review, let’s delve deeper into the space and Bulova Moon Watch history. You can skip this part to go directly to the moon watch review at the middle of this page.
Apollo 15 – the first lunar rover (aka space car) expedition when Commander David Scott wore his Bulova Moon Watch
Watches And Space Age
Around the 1960s to 1970s at the height of the space race, a question was asked: what is the watch that will be used by astronauts in space? Astronauts need watches to tell time, and it’s very important during flight.
A chronograph is definitely needed for its stopwatch function. This was a very interesting issue as the watch needs to pass high technical specifications.
For a start, any watch to be used in space need to be able to withstand cycles of high and low temperature throughout the entire flight (space travel is akin to flight, albeit a very dangerous one).
It also need to have great impact resistance and pressure resistance while able to handle the g-force while ascending and descending from space.
A vintage Omega Speedmaster issued officially by NASA to be used by all astronauts
Many companies submitted their watches for testing by NASA, but in the end, only the Omega Speedmaster was selected. It became a standard government issued item to all astronauts from then on.
On 1965, the Speedmaster smelled space for the first time. It was strapped (it was literally strapped around the bulky spacesuit) on the wrist of Edward White, the first American to spacewalk.
Edward White, the first american to space walk wearing an Omega Speedmaster strapped on his left wrist (the red circle area)
Omega Speedmaster And Buzz Aldrin
In 1969, mankind made history by having the first man to walk on moon during the Apollo 11 mission (Jul 1969). Apollo was the space program launched by the US to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth.
A little know fact is that Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on moon, didn’t wear his Speedmaster during his famous walk on moon. Neil voluntarily left it in their cabin to replace a malfunction clock.
But Omega was lucky that Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on moon, was wearing his Speedmaster at that time.
Buzz Aldrin with his Omega Speedmaster
Omega Speedmasters were used for all the subsequent moon landings by the Apollo program. It greatly improved Omega’s image as a watchmaker that created a very tough watch that can even be worn on moon. And helped by its stylish sporty look, the speedmaster quickly become a very popular watch.
“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong, July 21, 1969
Bulova Moon Watch Worn By David Scott In Apollo 15
So where does Bulova came in all this? Well, apparently the Bulova Moon Watch (known at that time as Accutron Chronograph) was brought into space as back-up to the standard issue Speedmaster by David Scott, commander of the Apollo 15 in Jul-Aug 1971.
David Scott – 7th person that walked on moon, the first lunar rover driver, and owner of the original Bulova Moon Watch
Apollo 15 was the 9th manned mission of the Apollo program, and the 4th successful landing on moon. The program was also the first time lunar roving machine was used -the first vehicle on moon driven by David Scott.
It was reported that the David Scott, the 7th person that walked on the moon, had to wear his Bulova because his Speedmaster’s watch crystal pop out.
This was quite an issue at that time as the watch was not a standard issue item, and some people have the opinion that David Scott should not have worn it.
Conspiracy theory aside, the fact is Bulova was the only other watch to have been used on moon aside from Omega Speedmaster. This testifies to the quality and craftsmanship that Bulova has.
This new Moon Watch (96B251) is a reissue of the old Moon Watch with some update befitting this modern age.
David Scott wearing his Bulova Moon Watch during his moon walk
Fun fact: the original Bulova watch worn by David Scott on moon was auctioned for a cool USD $1.6 million! It was a good thing that David wore it during his lunar mission as it’s his personal property compared to Speedmasters which belong to government.
Enough about with our history lesson. Let’s go to the Bulova Moon Watch review shall we.
The new Bulova Moon Watch 96B251
Bulova Moon Watch (96B251) Specification
Diameter: 45 mm
Thickness: 13.5 mm
Lug To Lug Distance: 53 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Case: Stainlesss steel
Strap: Leather strap and Nato strap
Dial: Black dial
Watch Crystal: Sapphire crystal
Hands: Bar hands with lume
Markers: Index markers with lume
3 Subdials: 60-minute chrono(left), 1/10th second chrono (right), 60-second running hand (bottom)
Movement: Bulova Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Quartz Chronograph Movement with 262 kHz frequency
Water Resistance: 50 m
Battery: 2-3 years
Other Features: Chronograph, Tachymeter scale, Date window
Where To Buy: Amazon
Sporty Chronograph Dial
On the first look, we can notice that this new Bulova Moon Watch 96B251 version greatly resembled its vintage chronograph worn by David Scott, and to some extent the Omega Speedmaster.
Well, its not surprising as NASA had put the requirement that any watches to be considered for its space program has to be a chronograph and has a simple look (not too complicated) so that astronauts can easily tell time.
And that’s the main attraction the dial of this Moon Watch has. It’s a sporty chronograph watch with classical and simple look, very different than the more complex that modern chronos has (such as the Bulova Precisionist).
Black Watch Face
The whole watch face (or dial) of the Bulova Moon Watch is black in color with white markers and hands. Again, it seems this is the color scheme that NASA prefers since the Speedmaster has the same colors too.
Lume are applied on top of the markers and hands which I believe will only give a mediocre blue colored lume because of its small lume area.
At the outer edge of the dial, there is a chapter ring with tachymeter scale on it. This scale can be used to easily calculate the speed of an object (such as a spaceship for example?) while using the chronograph or stopwatch, provided we know the distance traveled.
(Read my article on chronograph here for more information on this feature.)
One unique thing about the tachymeter scale on the chapter ring is it’s actually not at the same level with the dial. It’s a bit raised up from the dial, giving a nice 3D look with depth to it.
The usage of black color for the watch gives it a very nice sexy and elegant look. Black has always been a safe choice of colors for very good reasons. For one, it never goes out of style. Well, just look at the vintage Bulova Moon Watch and you’ll notice how good it still looks even after all these years.
3 Subdials On The Dial
Moving on to the subdials, there are 3 of them on top of the Moon Watch’s dial. There are the 60-minute chronograph subdial (left), 1/10th second chronograph subdial (right) and 60-second running hand (bottom).
The chronograph will be operated by the 2 pushers at the right hand side of the watch. The pushers are very unique to this watch as it’s very different than normal pushers on other chronographs that looks more like a crown knob.
This watch’s pushers looks like a triangle metal lever, which makes them easier to use since it’s bigger than normal pushers.
Bulova Moon Watch Chronograph Function
Let’s head over to how does the chronograph function works in this watch. The main seconds hand is the chronograph hand and do not move in normal condition. Instead, the bottom subdials will move continuously marking the running seconds hand.
Pushing the top pusher (at 2 o’clock) will start the stopwatch and Bulova has a surprise in store for us. As soon as the chronograph starts to move, the main seconds hand will start to sweep smoothly – which is a characteristic of Bulova’s special quartz movement. We see the same thing with the Precisionist chronograph too.
At the same time, the right subdial hand will move much faster. It is dedicated to show the 1/10th second time measurement and will sweep beautifully until it stops at the 30 seconds mark to conserve battery.
This addition of a 1/10th second measurement is a nice addition as most chronograph watches only give 1 second accuracy measurement.
Once the time crosses 1 minute, it will show at the left subdial which measures up to 60 minutes. To reset it, simply push the bottom pusher.
This chronograph setup is the major difference between the vintage/old Moon Watch with this latest version. The old one has time measurement up to 12 hours while this version only up to 1 hour.
It does not really make a difference to me as someone who don’t use chronographs often. In fact, I prefer this latest version since it has the cool 1/10th seconds subdial.
But for those that uses their chronograph watches to record long events such as F1 racings, then this could be a deal breaker to them.
Watch the video above to see the Bulova Moon Watch 96B251 up close. You can also see how magnificent the sweeping movement of its chronograph hands =)
Great Craftsmanship With Satinized Case
Moving on to the case, it seems Bulova did not do anything much to the shape of the watch here. It still has that satinized finish on the stainless steel case, which is very great to look at.
It gives the watch a tool like look. It also kinda make people remember the dusty and powdery surface of the moon, the one thing that make this watch very famous.
It has a unique case with that rounded sides and big lugs that lends some toughness look to it. Another unique element is the raised sapphire crystal on top of the watch which look cool. There are concerns that having a protruded crystal will damage it easily, but by using sapphire, I don’t think that’s much of a concern.
Sapphire is a very hard and scratch resistant material. It’s the best material for watch crystal right now (see this article on different types of watch crystal and it’s pros/cons) and Bulova did the right thing to use it here.
At the back of the watch is a nice engraving showing Bulova’s logo and the details of the Apollo 15 mission. There are the duration of the mission with coordinates and location of where David Scott and co. landed on moon.
It’s definitely a nice little detail by Bulova here which makes the Moon Watch more unique and make it a valuable watch in a collector’s list.
Too Big Of A Case?
Another major complain by fans on Bulova Moon Watch is the bigger diameter of 45 mm compared to the original which is about
39 mm (44 mm) (this is just my assumption based on the trend of watch sized at that era. If you know the right diameter, do let me know in the comments below will ya!).
Update: Thanks to Guillaume, the original version actually had a 44 mm diameter. Thanks for pointing that out!
This seemingly big size for a watch, coupled with a 13.5 mm thickness and 53 mm lug to lug distance does not really goes well with loyalists of the original design as they think its too big.
It might look like that’s the case, but in my opinion, it’s not a big deal at all. The trend now is going towards bigger watches and for me, this is still an acceptable size for a watch and most of diver’s watches nowadays has the same dimensions.
With that 53 mm lug to lug distance, a 2 inch wrist can pull it off comfortably. (Actually, that’s coming from my own experience as my wrist size is 2 inch and my Seiko Sumo is the same size with this watch. It honestly looks totally great on my wrist. Lol!)
Of course it will look a bit more refined and classical if it’s slightly smaller, but to have a watch with 45 mm is not a bad idea. It has a tougher look and has huge wrist presence. And not to mention, nobody will fail to not notice the Bulova Moon Watch =)
Interchangeable Leather And Nylon Straps
With this 96B251 version, Bulova ships the Moon Watch with a leather strap and an extra Nylon strap.
To have a nylon strap on this is reminiscence of how the astronauts used to strap their watches on their bulky spacesuits. Putting a leather patch on it with the date of mission (2nd Aug 1971) also makes it quite special for collectors.
The leather strap on the other hand is attractive with a cool carbon fiber pattern on top of it. For the convenience of its owners, Bulova provided the pick tool to easily change the strap.
Bulova’s Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Quartz Movement
Running the Moon Watch is Bulova’s new Ultra High Frequencey Quartz Movement developed with Citizen. It’s basically the same technology as with the Bulova Curv and Bulova Precisionist models though I’m not quite sure why they don’t continue using the precisionist name.
The main feature of this quartz movement is its very high frequency of 262 kHz, 8 times more than a normal quartz movement. The result is a much higher accuracy with this movement.
Bulova states that the UHF movement will gain or lose about 10 seconds per YEAR while a normal quartz watch will gain or lose that amount of time in a MONTH.
This huge improvement in accuracy puts the watch in the front row of non-atomic watch’s accuracy.
In addition, it’s this movement that gives the chronograph such a beautiful sweeping seconds hand action.
Who Is The Bulova Moon Watch For?
Those who are amazed by our space exploration especially the lunar landing should definitely get this Bulova Moon Watch. It’s very rich in history, even though this latest version is not exactly space-ready. But to have a reissue of the vintage Bulova Moon Watch that’s been used in moon is just sooo cool.
For those of you that are not really that enthusiastic about space exploration, the Moon Watch might appeal due to its sporty chronograph subdials, but with a touch of simplicity and elegance.
Its perfect balance of sporty and elegance is something that not many watch can attain.
Not to mention, it also has the unique and very accurate UHF quartz movement – there is nothing more satisfying to know that your watch is more accurate than 99.9% of watches out there. And the 1/10th second chronograph subdial is just mesmerizing to say the least.
In short, the Bulova Moon Watch not only has the backing of a rich legacy, but also has the look and technical prowess in it =)
Who Should Not Get It?
The 45 mm diameter and 53 mm lug to lug distance might be a bit too big for some people. Like I’ve written above, any wrist smaller than 2 inch might want to avoid this watch as it won’t fit well. But for most of the other guys out there, this might be the perfect watch because of its great wrist presence.
Bulova Moon Watch Pros And Cons
- A very handsome sports watch with classical look
- Simple chronograph watch design giving it an elegant vibe
- Huge amount of history of the only other watch to be worn on moon
- Very beautiful sweeping seconds hand action
- 1/10th of a second time measurement chronograph is unique and useful
- An additional nylon strap and pick tool provided with the watch
- Super accurate UHF quartz movement by Bulova
- Leather strap is a bit stiff and is not as good as the watch itself
Want To Own This Bulova Moon Watch? Buy It From Amazon!
Smitten by the Bulova Moon Watch? You can always get it officially from Bulova for $550 (that’s the MSRP) or get it cheaper from Amazon at much lesser than that. Click the link below to check out the watch on Amazon.
Final ThoughtsBulova Moon Watch is filled with history of the space exploration age from 4 decades ago, which makes it a very cool watch to have. Not to mention Bulova also package it to be a collector’s items with the special engraving on its caseback and nylon.
Not just banking on its legacy, the new Moon Watch is a very handsome watch too, with high performance UHF quartz movement with the cool 1/10th second chronograph. With all of this, it’s definitely a great value for money watch.
I hope you guys enjoy my Bulova Moon Watch review here. If you guys have any questions or comments, don’t be shy to ask.
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