Inspired by a model that was commissioned by the US Air Force around 70 years ago, the Bulova AccuSwiss Type A-15 (ref. 63A119) can be a very nice option for a person looking for a vintage-styled pilot’s watch, but not willing to opt for a “standard” German Luftwaffe B-Uhr-style timekeeper. Some may find the combination of black dial with bright orange luminous compound on hands with dirty lemon 24-hour numerals a bit, well, tasteless, but it is in fact how the original watch looked, so just get used to it.
Said to be “inspired” by the WWII-era military issue “Type A-15 Elapsed Time Watch”, the new Bulova AccuSwiss Type A-15 looks almost like a reissue of the historic timepiece. I am not sure about difference in actual physical dimensions of the two, but both timekeepers look extremely similar with only visual difference being hour and minute hands that are now partially open-worked. Also, the new watch seems to be a bit larger.
What really differs the two is the choice of movement: this new guy is powered by a self-winding Swiss made job, while the historic model featured a hand-wound mechanism inside its stainless steel body. On the other hand, the Eterna 1412 that this timekeeper is powered by is, too, a relatively old movement that was produced more than fifty years ago when the legendary watchmaking brand was still one of many fairly successful independents. With its cadence of balance of just 18,000 vph it is deliciously archaic and its guaranteed power reserve of 48 hours combined with automatic winding system makes it a more practical choice than a hand-wound movement.
Of course, the main feature of the watch is not the mechanism (by the way, Bulova seems to think the same way since the company doesn’t even specify which movement exactly they decided to use with this timekeeper), but the dial.
Originally, the A-15 was designed as a tool watch for navigators and pilots who always had to keep in mind either how much time they spent in the air or how much time elapsed after a certain navigation point was reached. To make their life easier, the U.S. government ordered a time measuring device that would be able to clearly show elapsed time and thus make calculations easier.
As you can see, there are two extra scales over the usual 12-24 hour chapter ring. The one with 1-11 Arabic numerals is for hours and the other is for minutes
Using the pair crowns at 2 and 4 hours, a pilot was supposed to place the white triangles on the hour and minute scales opposite the hour and minute hands respectively. As time would pass, it would take him just a passing glance to see how much time passed after take-off.
This new Bulova AccuSwiss Type A-15 works in exactly the same way.
Offered at almost $1500 (you can find one online at about $1200 or less), the watch features a cleverly finished stainless steel case 39.8 mm in diameter and a bit over 14 mm thick (despite its small diameter, the watch doesn’t look too thick on a normal wrist), and is equipped with a synthetic sapphire crystal with antireflective treatment.
To make the watch look more vintage, Bulova has equipped the A-15 with a worn look brown leather strap with contrasting beige stitching, which is a very nice touch: a steel bracelet or a shiny strap would look a bit over the top here.
Bulova has issued the watch as a limited edition run of just 500 pieces, so hurry to get one: they won’t be here for a long time.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 4.5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Bulova AccuSwiss Type A-15 Automatic (ref. 63A119) watch specification
Price: $1495 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Eterna 1412, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 17
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Power reserve: 48
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, elapsed time
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 39.80 mm
Case height: 14.10 mm
Lug width: No data
Hour markers: White
Hands: Luminous, open-worked
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Brown leather strap with steel buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Solid