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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everyone!

I'm new to the forum and relatively new to the world of vintage watches, as I've been researching them for a few months now but have yet to make my first purchase.
I'll be keeping my first purchase fairly small, but I wanted to see what you guys think of one of my potential selections.

Here is the watch I'm looking at presently: 1957 Bulova, Automatic

Could I get some of your impressions on the watch? How does the condition look? Should I be concerned about the "marbled" aging of the dial?
It looks good to me, but I don't have the eye for details like over-polishing (of which I personally can see none).

Also, if anyone can identify the watch, that would be amazing! I checked on MyBulova.com, but can't seem to find this model.

Many thanks, in advance! :-!
 

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Hi and welcome
That is an OK looking watch, and in my opinion all 100% original and correct.
I love the 'B' inscribed on the rotor
Yes that is an OK buy if you like it
 

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Hi and welcome
That is an OK looking watch, and in my opinion all 100% original and correct.
I love the 'B' inscribed on the rotor
Yes that is an OK buy if you like it
I thought it looked like the hour markers at 3, 5, 7, and 11 weren't aligned properly with the painted minute markings on either side of them, but I may just be bringing Omega redial phobia along when it shouldn't be there. Otherwise it is a really nice Bulova automatic.

Edit: after taking a closer look, the crosshair on the dial is perfectly aligned, so maybe i'm just seeing things...
 

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The price seems a little steep to me but that is probable an uncommon model. I believe it is a Bulova Argonaut. Look on the MyBulova ads from the 50s and do a CTRL+F for Argonaut and it is in the lower right of the picture. I cant upload pictures from my laptop for some reason.
 

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I thought it looked like the hour markers at 3, 5, 7, and 11 weren't aligned properly with the painted minute markings on either side of them, but I may just be bringing Omega redial phobia along when it shouldn't be there. Otherwise it is a really nice Bulova automatic.

Edit: after taking a closer look, the crosshair on the dial is perfectly aligned, so maybe i'm just seeing things...
I think its all correct.
The distress on the dial is perfect and implies no rework.
A
 

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I agree the price seems steep. especially since it's not serviced, which it should be upon purchase. That's likely to run you $150. If you want to find the likely value, check Ebay for a while. Tons of vintage Bulovas are listed there at all times, and you can also check 'Completed Listings' to see what recent listings went for.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow, thank you guys so much for your input!

Yes, it definitely looks like the Bulova Argonaut to me as well, and I've decided to ask the seller if the watch has been serviced recently, just in case he forgot to mention it (though it doesn't seem like the type of detail one would overlook...)
The price put me off as well, since I've seen a -ton- of vintage Bulovas in decent condition on eBay for less, and research is my friend. I'm going to wait on word from him before I make my decision.

Can't thank you guys enough.
 

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That's a good idea, the price is high plus another $150 or so for a service and any parts it may need. You could do much better on the Bay, maybe even buy a few for that much.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Apparently the watch has been serviced, but not within the last year. I'm told that it holds time to within well under a minute over a 24-hour period. Does this sound like a reasonable justification for the added cost? I've not seen any other instances of this model being sold, so I'm also beginning to think that it's a rare bird.
 

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Apparently the watch has been serviced, but not within the last year. I'm told that it holds time to within well under a minute over a 24-hour period. Does this sound like a reasonable justification for the added cost? I've not seen any other instances of this model being sold, so I'm also beginning to think that it's a rare bird.
So if it wasn't serviced this year then when was it serviced? Last year? or 5-10 years ago? Do they have a receipt? If it was recently serviced by a professional it would've been timed and should be keeping time a little better. I still think you can do better.
 

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Apparently the watch has been serviced, but not within the last year. I'm told that it holds time to within well under a minute over a 24-hour period. Does this sound like a reasonable justification for the added cost? I've not seen any other instances of this model being sold, so I'm also beginning to think that it's a rare bird.
Watches are amazing little machines. They can run very accurately when completely dry, and sometimes when really dirty, too. So, accuracy is no guarantee that it doesn't need service. Different collectors have different feelings, but most would agree that if you don't know when it was serviced, assume it didn't happen.

Regarding the Argonaut, that seems to have been a solid gold watch. It's hard to see the printing in the ad, but it looks like it says "14 kt gold case", which would also explain the significantly higher price tag. It's possible that this watch is the movement and dial from an Argonaut that got scrapped, put into a different case. You might ask if there's a date code stamp on the caseback, Bulova often put them there. Plus or minus one year between the movement and the case is seen sometimes, but if it's 2 years off, probably it's a Franken. In any case, it's probably not an Argonaut if it's a goldfilled/ss case.
 

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Watches are amazing little machines. They can run very accurately when completely dry, and sometimes when really dirty, too. So, accuracy is no guarantee that it doesn't need service. Different collectors have different feelings, but most would agree that if you don't know when it was serviced, assume it didn't happen.

Regarding the Argonaut, that seems to have been a solid gold watch. It's hard to see the printing in the ad, but it looks like it says "14 kt gold case", which would also explain the significantly higher price tag. It's possible that this watch is the movement and dial from an Argonaut that got scrapped, put into a different case. You might ask if there's a date code stamp on the caseback, Bulova often put them there. Plus or minus one year between the movement and the case is seen sometimes, but if it's 2 years off, probably it's a Franken. In any case, it's probably not an Argonaut if it's a goldfilled/ss case.
Yes that's what I noticed too but the dial to me looks like a perfect match no?
 

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Yes that's what I noticed too but the dial to me looks like a perfect match no?
Yeah, but in searching for the Elgins I collect I've seen a number of watches that have the dial of a solid gold model in a case that had a different dial. Indeed, one watch I bought came with an empty case, and I'm in the process of fitting it with a movement and dial that are not authentic, but are an attractive pairing. BUT I'm not going to sell it, and I will know it's a Franken. It will actually be my Franken. The previous one was the same story - movement and dial from a gold-cased watch, empty case that is a perfect, but not authentic fit.

Since many vintage American watches in solid gold cases aren't worth more than the melt value to collectors, a lot of the cases get melted, and the movements may or may not make it onto Ebay. I've gotten a number of 'spares' movements that way.
 

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Yeah, but in searching for the Elgins I collect I've seen a number of watches that have the dial of a solid gold model in a case that had a different dial. Indeed, one watch I bought came with an empty case, and I'm in the process of fitting it with a movement and dial that are not authentic, but are an attractive pairing. BUT I'm not going to sell it, and I will know it's a Franken. It will actually be my Franken. The previous one was the same story - movement and dial from a gold-cased watch, empty case that is a perfect, but not authentic fit.

Since many vintage American watches in solid gold cases aren't worth more than the melt value to collectors, a lot of the cases get melted, and the movements may or may not make it onto Ebay. I've gotten a number of 'spares' movements that way.
Yeah I agree with that, so we wont know until we get the date codes for the movement and case.
 

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I'd recommend that you have a peek at 'Handy Dan's' blog. Dan is a regular contributor to a Hamilton forum, has a good blog on things Hamilton. Don't know the guy, but have read his blog a few times, seems very straight. His pieces are always clean and serviced by him. One of the good guys, I think. At any rate, his pricing will give you a good point of comparison to the one you've been looking at, which seems a bit expensive to me, seeing as the dial is in ordinary condition and the movement may not have been recently serviced.

Dan's blog with Etsy link on blog page: thttp://www.hamiltonchronicles.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you so much, folks. I'm still doing some research, but I have a much, much better idea of what I'm dealing with.
I appreciate all the input!

Dan's blog is amazing - super helpful and informative/transparent when it comes to what he's selling. Great little operation he's running there.

I'll report back when I have the info on the case.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Update: The case does not have an L7 to indicate it was made in 1957. The movement certainly does. The case says the following: Bulova watch company inc., *water proof*, self-winding, shock-resistant, anti-magnetic, stainless steel. From what I can see, that's all pretty standard.

The gentleman selling it says that he hasn't had the watched serviced, himself! Ahah!
Apparently he doesn't know if the previous owner had it serviced, but it's running "beautifully".

What a shame... all else aside, I really love the look of that watch, but I'm not willing to get ripped off for it.
 

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Update: The case does not have an L7 to indicate it was made in 1957. The movement certainly does. The case says the following: Bulova watch company inc., *water proof*, self-winding, shock-resistant, anti-magnetic, stainless steel. From what I can see, that's all pretty standard.

The gentleman selling it says that he hasn't had the watched serviced, himself! Ahah!
Apparently he doesn't know if the previous owner had it serviced, but it's running "beautifully".

What a shame... all else aside, I really love the look of that watch, but I'm not willing to get ripped off for it.
Look
ONLY the movement would have the Bulova date code NEVER the case
The watch is all correct
Buy it if YOU like it.
Cause the watch is CORRECT!!
 

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Look
ONLY the movement would have the Bulova date code NEVER the case
Sorry, Adam, but that's just not so.

A quick check of the Bulova listings on Ebay shows numerous examples of date codes on the caseback, and I remember from threads on mybulova.com which I personally took part in, that date codes on the movement and caseback are expected to match, though sometimes they'll be off by one year due to one being made at the end of one year and the other early in the next.

The watch is all correct
Buy it if YOU like it.
Cause the watch is CORRECT!!
I'm curious what you base that on, since we haven't found a catalog or ad with that dial on a watch with a goldfilled bezel and a stainless caseback. Without establishing that it matches a known model, it could EASILY be a Franken.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Thank you :) I appreciate all of the input - you guys have been a huge help!
I'm going to be making my decision over the coming days. I still think it's a beautiful watch, so I'll post the outcome when the decision's been made.
The main concern for me now is that I don't want to find out the watch needs servicing soon, having to spend an additional $150 or so on top of what already seems like a high price. Also, I do truly want a genuine vintage that isn't a Frankenwatch.

Fantastic community, by the way. I'm still learning about what's important objectively when looking at these watches, but you've all been a huge help.
 
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