Bulova 96A101 Automatic Review
Score 78% Score 78%
Since 1875 Bulova has been producing luxury watches and clocks. A pioneer in many respects, Bulova is perhaps best known for their “Accutron” tuning-fork powered electronic watches.
Bulova is headquartered in New York City, and was the first company to broadcast a radio commercial in 1926 and the first company to broadcast a television commercial in 1941. Bulova is now owned by Citizen Watch Co.
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The dial on the 96A101 is a little polarizing, but that’s the only fault I can really find in this Bulova. The open heart display gives you a constant reminder of what lies beneath the surface, and the fact that this watch is built as well as it is means you’ll probably be looking at it a lot. Found for under $400… it’s a good buy. Found under $300 and it’s a great buy.
Bulova 96A101 Technical Specifications
Automatic, Miyota 9015 82S0
Approximately 40 hours
Setting the Time
The Miyota 9015 82S0 is really Japan’s answer to the ETA 2824, and in that respect it lives up to the task. It hacks when being set, making it easy to precisely set the time.
How To set the time:
- Pull crown to the furthest position (position 2). Turn the crown clockwise to set the time.
Bulova 96A101 Aesthetics & Design
This Bulova is an interesting piece to look at. The stainless steel bracelet is serious business: it looks the part, and it’s got the weight to back it up, too. It pairs well with the open heart display at 7 o’clock, though I think it takes away from everything else.
The ridged circular brown ring that surrounds the inner dial gives a two-tone appearance, but next to all the steel it is more or less invisible. As a result, the open heart display seems very awkward. It doesn’t necessarily look bad, but it’s hardly at the top of the list for looks, either.
Bulova has placed lume on the hour markers and hour/minute hands. It’s faint, as you can clearly see (or not) in this two second exposure, but it’s there. The hands are easy enough to see, as it’s mostly the hour markers that glow inconsistently.
The case isn’t much larger than other affordable automatics that I’ve tested, but that bracelet… it’s an attention getter, and it also makes the 96A101 look much bigger than it really is. It looks awkwardly large on my wrists (7.25″ish around), and that’s almost entirely due to the bracelet.
The Bulova 96A108, which opts for a brown leather strap instead of the steel, looks much better.
Bulova 96A101 Build Quality
This watch is built like a brick house. It has definite presence on the wrist, though most of that is due to its weight- the 96A101 is definitely on the heavy side of comfortable.
Crystal, Case, and Dial
I wish that Bulova had decided to fit a sapphire crystal to this watch. I know it would have added a bit to the price, but I think it’d have made it a better piece overall. The rest of the watch feels indestructible, making the choice of a mineral crystal a little off-base.
The case is built very well, as is the crown and lug hardware. It’s very solid, which I think justifies the 96A101’s 453g curb weight. Where some watches have a certain cheapness to them due to how light they are, this Bulova is almost the opposite: just how much steel did they use to make this thing?
With proper care this watch will last a really long time.
Bracelet and Clasp
I’ve worn a lot of watches with stainless steel bracelets, and none of them have the feel that this one does. That’s not necessarily a good thing, though it also isn’t necessary a bad thing, either. It’s more a statement of fact.
This bracelet is wide, and the tolerances between links are so tight that the bracelet is quite rigid when held on its side.
The integrated deployment clasp feels heavy duty, just like the rest of the bracelet.
More About the Bulova 96A101
The Miyota 9000 series of automatic movements hit the scene in 2010 and were widely seen as a reliable and fairly accurate alternative to the ETA 2824. Over the last half decade it has proven to be as reliable as expected.
The 9015-92S0 has an expected accuracy of -20/+40 seconds per day, which is comparable to the 7S26 movement used in Seiko 5’s.
Read the movement information manual here.
Value for Money
It’s hard to disparage the 96A101 considering what it offers you for what you pay. I’ve seen it on Amazon averaging $300, and I think that’s a pretty fair price to pay for a watch of this quality.
Bulova as a brand produces good watches, and while the 96A101 is absolutely positioned as an entry level automatic, it does a fine job of it. During the time that I wore it a lot of people commented on how it looks- it’s the bracelet (seriously). It makes this thing look badass… it just a let down that the dial gets totally drowned out in the process.
Where to Buy
Bulova 96A101 Review Conclusion
My thoughts As good as this watch is (and it *is* good), I cannot bring myself to find it attractive. The stainless steel everything overpowers the texture and color in the dial, and the whole thing looks awkward. It's a shame, too, because it's got a good movement and is built really well. If it's your cup of tea, you're going to enjoy it.
Aesthetics & Design
Movement Accuracy & Reliability
Value for Money