Retrofuturism: A Closer Look at the Limited Editions of the Accutron Legacy Collection
As a way to revisit fan favorites from the 1960s and ’70s, this retro range is technologically and stylistically future-forward.
As many already know, Accutron already had a distinct legacy within the Bulova family, mostly for its ground-breaking technology. Introduced in 1960, it got its accuracy via a tuning fork powered by a battery rather than a mainspring like most mechanical watches movements, a watch industry first.
Due to this tuning fork technology, Accutron came to exemplify the bold, brave, and sometimes outrageous designs of the day. Television, for example, was taking over, and the brand introduced its 261 models, also called “TV watches,” which featured cases that recalled the cushiony shape of a console television. Even the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, wore an Accutron 521 with a 14-karat gold asymmetrical case that measured just 32.8mm x 32.5mm.
Recently, Watchonista got a chance to go back to the future with pieces from Accutron’s Legacy collection – a series reissuing some of their most iconic pieces from the 1960s and ’70s – for a chance to better understand the enduring appeal of these classic yet modern designs.
Shape of Things to Come
When Accutron relaunched in 2020, Jeffrey Cohen, President of Citizen Watch America, said, “The beauty of the Accutron Legacy collection is that we can look back while moving forward.” And this is the first key to understanding the relaunch’s success.
The original intent of the Legacy collection was to address demand from the collector community. At the time, vintage Accutrons were commanding four-figure numbers on the secondary market. However, the brand recognized that while some customers wanted the look of a vintage watch, they didn’t relish the idea of maintaining a 50-year-old timepiece. So, the company began upgrading old model designs with Swiss mechanical movements (except for the signature Spaceview, which employs a brand new electrostatic energy system to power the timepiece).
Because the designs and dimensions stayed true to the originals, these heritage watches were popular amongst vintage collectors, but they also found an enthusiastic audience among younger fans. Originally marketed as men’s watches, in the 2020s, the smaller sizes and quirky case architecture made the Legacy collection models feel modern and gender-fluid without being minimalist.
Fantastic & Iconoclastic
Almost every luxury brand has released at least one vintage watch reissue. Most play it safe with updates of conservative classics from their archives, but Accutron’s offbeat offerings have found their niche amongst customers who want a high-end, well-crafted watch that stands out on the wrist.
This year, Accutron has added more models to the Legacy collection. Despite their unconventional appearances, the range is actually quite broad. So we decided to take a close look at a few of the collection’s highlights so as to illustrate its unique qualities.
Let’s start with Accutron “R.R.-O.” First developed to meet Canadian Railroad specs in 1970, this watch features bold Arabic numerals, a bright white dial, a 24-hour track, and a red second hand for easy reading. Its sharp and shiny faceted stainless steel railroad case has the crown placed at 4 o’clock and comes set on a black leather strap for the classic look. This watch stands out among the more space-age designs in the collection, but its styling still captures the spirit of its era.
Though its case design is identical to the first “TV watch” from 1971, the gray-dialed Accutron 261 somehow gives off more of a mid-century vibe than the original. The most obvious outward differences are the modern 261 has been reimagined with striking and sculpted applied markers for a truly premium finish, and the stainless steel case is gold-toned. Presented on a matching three-link bracelet with double-press closure (colorful leather strap options are newly available, as well), the 261 is the largest of the Legacy series (38.5mm), and it is powered by Accutron’s Swiss-made state-of-the-art 26-jewel automatic movement.
Next up is the stainless steel case design of the 505 Alpha model inspired by the “505” from 1965. And while the 33mm shield-shaped case – with its small pillbox crown at 4 o’clock and asymmetrical applied lugs – attracts attention, the crosshair dial design – with its faceted dauphine hands and distinctive arrowhead-shaped applied indices – draws the eye in further.
The oval case of the revised Date and Day Q is a more refined example of 1960s energy. And with a silver-tone stainless steel case, dark blue dial, and gray applied Roman numerals, this classically styled watch’s white accent-stitched dark blue leather grain strap complements the rest of the design nicely (a number of colorful strap options are available, as well).
Finally, we tried on the tribute to the 521 models from the 1960s. In its day, this asymmetric watch was beloved by celebrities like Elvis, but the 32.8mm gold case has been swapped out for a harder wearing and more accessibly priced gold-tone stainless steel. However, other luxe touches, such as applied markers and a sunray finished dial, abound.
Switch It Up
Now, admittedly, the Accutron Legacy collection is niche. Yet, the more time we spent with these timepieces, the more we realized how versatile they are. The family currently consists of eight models, each with at least one variation. So, between the bright white dial of the “R.R.-O” and the eccentric architecture of the 521, the Legacy collection will cater to most tastes and almost any style.
Moreover, Accutron has a series of vibrant straps to accommodate the current trend toward colorful watches and allow the wearer to have a retro-future timepiece that lives in the moment.
Pricing & Availability
Each model in the Accutron Legacy collection shares a semicircular sapphire display window on the caseback to showcase the Swiss-made 26-jewel automatic movement. Lastly, each design is limited to 600 pieces.
No doubt destined to become collector items in their own right, the Accutron Legacy collection is available now, and models range in price from $1,290 to $1,550. For more information, visit the Accutron website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)