Feed the Meter: Bulova’s “Parking Meter” Re-Issue Offers More Than Just Retro-Appeal
A revived classic from Bulova presents some interesting time-keeping innovations beyond its throwback, groovy styling.
You would certainly be within your rights to decide to view the recent re-issue of the 1973 Chronograph “31008-6W” timepiece from Bulova, produced during the maker’s design heyday of the early 1970s when this watch earned the apt nickname “Parking Meter,” as simply an ode to inventive, funky, out-of-the-box design.
But it wouldn’t be the best decision you ever made.
Of course, all the envelope-pushing design and detailing from the era are apparent for the “what the heck is that” vintage-inspired watch fan looking to sport a bit of unorthodox wrist flair.
For instance, there are the bull’s head chrono pushers at the top of the case, the 6 o’clock crown, the blue-on-steel colorway, the outer tach scale and railroad hour gauge, and the orange-tinted hands.
Finally, and I’ve saved the best for last, there is its storied, contoured, dashboard-y, central sub-dial array that gave rise to this model’s “Parking Meter” nickname. Moreover, this sub-dial array also created large, mid-century-distinctive, cleaver-shaped areas of relatively blank space on either side of the dial.
However, the subtle changes to the original “Parking Meter” model are what tell the modern story of the Parking Meter Chronograph.
It might be more fun to decide to view the timepiece as a chronograph that only sports one sub-dial AND a second-time zone watch that doesn’t feature a third central hand. Let me explain.
The original “Parking Meter” timepieces used the fan-shaped sub-dial at 12 o’clock to tally the 30-minute chronograph interval and the lower sub-dial at 6 o’clock as a 12-hour totalizer.
Vintage Looks, New Functionality
If you were wondering where the crown at 12 o’clock (which wasn’t on the original) comes in, this is it. That new top crown now serves as the master time-setting crown for the new “Parking Meter,” while the original-position-crown at 6 o’clock lets you bi-directionally shift the inner gauged hour ring.
Ta-da! A simplified, outside-in approach to tracking a second time zone. You can tell home time via the central minute hand and the 24-hour sub-dial (and yes, by the visual position of both the central hour and minute hands), but a crown-controlled inner hour gauge now gives you a second time zone as well.
Chronograph timings continue to click off from the top pushers using the central seconds hand and the lower hour totalizer, meaning you won’t be timing race cars crossing the finish line with this watch, but so what?
Some Wrist Soul
Even with that unexpected second-time innovation, the pure vintage optics of what Bulova is officially calling the Archive Re-Edition Parking Meter Chronograph will make you smile. While it is powered by a modern 0521 Miyota Chronograph quartz movement, the period-appropriate puffy, ribbed leather strap joins with the 43mm case towards the bottom, making for 1970’s-style top-heavy, bulbous, stacked-deck wrist presentation when viewed from the side.
From the top, the strap runs under the bladed edges of the pushers and crown upper case and angled single-crown lower case to create a pretty artful bit of soul-era pizzazz leading into the blue-silvered steel-orange chromatic vibe of the upper case and dial. Let me honor that vibe by leaving you with a little known soul classic from the “Parking Meter” timepiece’s original era by under-rated Bay Area R&B artist Bobby Freeman.