The return of the smooth-sweeping seconds hand:  a WatchCarefully review of Bulova’s Accutron II Telluride model.


Bulova Accutron II Telluride (Model 96B216)
a WatchCarefully Review

Text and images © C. Bradley Jacobs (watchcarefully.com) unless otherwise indicated.

 

Photo by the author

 

I have been surprisingly smitten by this watch. Most quartz watches have failed to retain my interest following a regrettably brief period of introduction. Despite this history, after a couple weeks' continuous use this one already seems to have longevity. [Author's update: for a year or more after writing this review, the Telluride was on my wrist more than any other watch, save one (RGM REf. 116). It's a keeper]

Photo by the author

Nicely proportioned, the watch sits quite flat on the wrist and feels less bulky than 41mm x 11mm.

Photo by the author

The bracelet is well constructed--were it not marked as HK-made, I would have found it believable that it came from CH or DE. I didn't take a shot of the clasp in closed position, but each end meets up quite securely, which adds to the overall comfort of wearing the watch. I removed quite a few links to make it fit, so there's room in the stock bracelet for chaps with quite large wrists. From my point of view, this bracelet represents a good $100 or so of value; I've paid more than that for bracelets less comfortable and/or less solidly built.

Photo by the author

The photo above shows there is a B5 marking on the case back-- this is a continuation of the old style of Bulova dating (B=2010s). Also, newer examples of watches from this line have an Ultra High Frequency logo. Note: the Bulova website states that all Accutron II models employ their UHF technology, whether or not this is indicated on the dial or case back. (There is also a sticker announcing JAPAN MOVEMENT HONG KONG BAND dead-centre on the case back. Thankfully it can be removed...and it was, after the photo above was taken.)

Unfortunately, I cannot convey a sense of the smooth sweeping motion of the lovely blue seconds hand. Anyone who has owned a vintage tuning-fork Accutron will be familiar with it. Despite the retro-ness of this piece, I do miss the authentic hum of the 214 movements.

Having raised the spectre of this type of movement, I must admit I'm not well enough informed to comment on the new Accutron II movement with any authority. I've read that it is a Precisionist movement, but have also read that it is a slimmer, less accurate version of the Precisionist movement, with longer battery life. Regardless, it is allegedly more precise than just about all other quartz movements (barring thermo-compensated chronometers?) and vibrates at 57,600bph, or twice the rate of the most common modern mechanical movements most of us enjoy.

For those of you wondering whether a display back would be a welcome feature of a watch with such cool technology, rest assured that Bulova is doing us a favor keeping this thing hidden (with an exception noted below); the majority of the movement is obscured from rear view by a thin battery about the size of a US dime. One on-line reviewer reported that the slimness of the Accutron II watches (in contrast to the noticeable bulk of Precisionist models) can be attributed to their requiring a less powerful battery, also suggesting that this movement might be technologically somewhat of a little brother to the full-blown Precisionist.

Photo by the author

It has a decent luminous glow, but only on the hands. This is one of my few complaints: it would benefit from some simple luminous dots placed outside the applied markers for reference in total darkness.

Photo by the author

Despite my preference for a date display, I'm very tempted to pick up one of the Alpha models (think modern update of the Spaceview with the funky shape) which is available with a black-coated case and mesh bracelet. This model, shown below, has a nicely (though not elaborately) decorated exposed top view of the movement, very reminiscent of the 1960s Spaceview Alpha.

Photo by the author Image above courtesy Bulova Watch Company

I think it would be a very nice alternative to purchasing a vintage Spaceview--more reliable and durable, and most likely less expensive than a completely original vintage example. Another model that tempts me is the blue version with the hour-marked bezel (Moonview, I believe it is called) shown below. I believe the MSRP of all the Accutron II models is $600 or less. With used ones hitting the market and discounted new ones spotted all over the web, they certainly won't break the bank and might make wonderful gifts.

Thanks for your time,
Brad

Photo by the author

Photo by the author

Addenda: Below is a 1967 Accutron which may have influenced the design of the modern Telluride model:

1967 Accutron

Note, I bought this Telluride watch for myself--it was not provided by a dealer or manufacturer for purposes of this review.


 

Here are images of a 2014 model from the Accutron II line - Model 96B204:

Photo by the author

Photo by the author

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