Accutron Returns After 60 Years With Groundbreaking New Watches And A New Podcast
The Legacy Collection goes back to the future with classic space-age designs from the 1960s.
The beauty of Bulova is that the brand always gives the people what they want. In the fall of 2019, while planning the 60th anniversary celebrations for its groundbreaking Accutron collection, the company held an event for select watch collectors at its headquarters in the Empire State Building. The brand HQ also houses a massive archive of historic Accutron models, and enthusiasts got to share their passion for these ground-breaking timepieces.
The result of this meetup? The understanding that this much collector enthusiasm could not be contained with a simple reissue. Nor harnessed by a single brand. So Bulova decided to resurrect the Accutron brand, making it into an independent, standalone brand.
Now, Accutron is sharing its amazing history not only with collectors but with new fans with two groundbreaking timepieces powered by electrostatic energy and The Accutron Show podcast.
First sold in October 1960, Accutron was groundbreaking for its use of a 360 Hz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel to keep the beat, as it were. The tuning fork logo was once synonymous with the Accutron.
Invented by Max Hetzel, a Swiss-born watchmaker who joined the Bulova Watch Company in 1948, the tuning fork was powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator circuit, so the Accutron qualifies as the second "electronic watch," following the Hamilton Electric released in 1957. Hetzel believed that adding a transistor to the mechanical movement would improve performance and that replacing the balance with a tuning fork would further boost precision. Hetzel’s bet proved correct – the Accutron was guaranteed to be accurate to one minute per month, or two seconds per day, which was vastly better than the mechanical timepieces of the day.
The 1960s were the age of the Space Race, and at the time, people were searching for a watch that was more accurate than a mechanical timepiece. The Accutron, known as the world’s first fully electronic watch, and arguably the biggest advancement in personal timekeeping in 300 years, was one giant leap for watchmaking.
Driven by an enduring passion to push the boundaries of technology, Accutron just launched two new watches powered by electrostatic energy: the Spaceview 2020 and the Accutron DNA.
The original Spaceview was inspired by exhibition models that featured an open dial showing off the Accutron’s revolutionary 214 tuning fork movement. These window models were so popular that boutiques were pressured to sell the display units. In turn, boutiques pressured Bulova to manufacture them for retail.
The Spaceview 2020 recalls some of the avant-garde impacts of the original open dial design with accents that recall the signature green dial of the 1960s original. But the big story is its all-new 21st-century movement.
This proprietary Accutron mechanism runs on electrostatic energy created by twin turbines that rotate as a result of human motion. The energy then moves between two electrodes that are affixed to the movement and are is stored in an accumulator to power two different motors. One is the world’s first electrostatic motor, which moves the fluid second hand, and a second motor that powers the hour and minute hands. Both are synchronized through integrated circuits to provide accuracy of +/- 5 seconds a month.
“These new timepieces, powered by electrostatic energy are the first of their kind and pay tribute to the iconic Spaceview design that gave Accutron the recognition of being an industry trailblazer,” said Jeffrey Cohen, President, Citizen Watch America. “Accutron will continue to maintain its position at the forefront of timekeeping accuracy and is committed to upholding an extraordinary legacy of excellence in design, style and technology.”
The Spaceview 2020 boasts a stainless steel case and bezel on a fine black leather strap and retails for $3,450.
The other new model, the Accutron DNA, is named for the “genetic information” of the original Spaceview it carries. But the Accutron DNA reimagines its genetic code, making it a sportier, more contemporary piece. There are four styles in this collection (our favorite features a bronze-finished case), all with skeletonized movements to exhibit the electrostatic energy drive and high-tech rubber straps with deployant clasps.
The Accutron DNA collection retails for $3,300 each.
The Accutron Show
The Accutron was also part of a major cultural shift. To put its impact into context, Bulova is reaching out to enthusiasts through a new podcast, The Accutron Show.
Hosted by Entertainment Reporter Bill McCuddy, Journalist David Graver (Cool Hunting, The New York Times, Vogue), and Editor Scott Alexander (GQ, Playboy), the program features a series of approximately 30-minute conversations about American culture and its evolution and expressions through time.
In each episode, the hosts are joined by an expert special guest to talk about timekeeping and culture. Featured guests include Ralph Erenzo from Hudson Whiskey, Prosper Assouline of Assouline Publishing, Sam Phillips representing La Palina Cigars, Eliot Cuker from Cooper Classic Cars, actress and model Carol Alt, and art curator Maria Brito.