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Bulova 96A101 Automatic Review

By Cameron Martel


Updated on

About Bulova

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.


Our reviews are based on our first-hand experience with the watch. All photos and media are created by us (unless otherwise credited). Learn more about how we review watches.

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Review Summary

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

Bulova 96A101 Technical Specifications

  • Model Number: 96A101
  • MSRP: $475
  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Alternate Models: Different color combinations available
  • Movement: Automatic, Miyota 9015 82S0
  • Complications: n/a
  • Power Reserve: Approximately 40 hours
  • Water Resistance: 30m/100ft
  • Crystal Material: Mineral

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

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

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.

Bulova 96A101

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.

Bulova 96A101 Luminescence

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.

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About Cameron Martel

If it ticks or tocks, I want it on my wrist. I'm a fan of all things that keep good time, and I can't resist a great looking watch. WYCA is my way of appreciating the engineering and artistry that goes into affordable watches. My favorite watch is my Jazzmaster Auto Chrono, and the watch I wear the most is my Weekender Chronograph. I currently have 33 watches in my collection. Learn more about WYCA's Editorial Process.

7 thoughts on “Bulova 96A101 Automatic Review”

  1. Great review Cameron. I would like to point out an error.
    Your review states this watch has a Miyota 9015; this is a 24 jewels movement. However, the dial, and caseback reveal this Bulova has a 21 jewels movement. It looks like an 8015 to me, but I’m no expert. Now, if it had a 9015, I’d jump on it in a flash! Looking forward to more of your reviews.

    • Thanks for the insight Ben! After further research I am inclined to agree that it is indeed sporting a Miyota 8015. I will adjust the review later 🙂

      Much appreciated for letting me know- finding information on the movement in a watch can be difficult, and I definitely don’t want to be showcasing incorrect information.

      You also seem like you know your way around a watch- interested in being a contributor to this little site of mine? 🙂

  2. Seriously, I just bought one of these last week and totally hate it. I have the one with the alligator leather band. OK well the band and snap method is really cool but the wath itself sucks. It will not stay running. I have worn this thing for 3 days because the jewelry shop I bought it from told me that was the only way to “charge it”. Bullshit, it stops evry five or more minutes, I have to keep adjusting the time. It is not accurate at all. I will take a battery watch anyday.

    • Robert, it sounds like your watch is broken. Get it exchanged for a new one or have Bulova take care of it via warranty.

      A few seconds of moving your arm (in a swinging motion) should be all that’s required to charge the power reserve for a few minutes, and wearing the watch for an hour or so should charge it for the day.

      I have 21 automatic movements and they all behave as described above. Yours sounds defective. I suspect once you have it repaired you’ll enjoy it much more 🙂

    • Robert, your automatic should last around 40 hours. Something is broken with your watch.
      Try manually winding it with the crown.

  3. I normally collect vintage Bulova Auto’s but decided to give a new model a try. I was a bit skeptical about the Japanese movement because I hadn’t read much about them. Cameron’s articles were very helpful and sold me on the modern Bulova. I recently bought both the 96A107 & 108 models. I’m impressed with the overall quality of both.


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