Probable Frankenbully but please take a look

This strange watch has been in my collection for quite a while.  I've been too embarrassed to show it, but decided to bite the bullet and put it out there for comment.

It has a 9AN movement with the square symbol, which, I believe dates the movement to 1927.  However, the case looks nothing like a 1927 model--at least not any that I've seen.  The case was made by Star, which, I understand did make a few cases for Bulova for a short  time, and maybe only for military watches(?)

The thing that makes me hesitate about writing this off completely is that the dial seems to fit the case, and I can't identify that dial as belonging to any other model.

So, is this watch good for anything other than a laugh and as an example of how not to spend hard earned money?

 

bourg01
Posted February 22, 2011 - 4:32pm

Panel Member

Definately re-cased by someone. Re-cased Bulova's are all over Ebay, a practice I think was fairly common back in the day.

Bob Bruno's picture
Bob Bruno
Posted February 22, 2011 - 5:40pm

Club 5000

I think the Star Watch Case CO made cases for Elgin watches. Bulova used American Standared Case CO.  The trade mark in the above case doesn't look like any I've seen from Star before. Star was also used by Hamilton

Bob

NOVA
Posted February 22, 2011 - 5:47pm

Check out this reference to Star making cases for Bulova:  http://www.mwrforum.net/forums/showthread.php?t=12229

Of course, just because someone said it, doesn't mean it's true, but we might want to consider the possibility.

Also, if the case is not original, what case does that dial belong to.  I haven't been able to spot one like it.  It sure doesn't look like a recent refurb.  Are the blue hands a clue to anything?

Bob Bruno's picture
Bob Bruno
Posted February 22, 2011 - 6:12pm

Club 5000

No doubt Star made some cases for Bulova, I'm just saying I'm not so sure they made the case on your watch. Trade mark doesn't look right, but hey I'm no expert on the Star TM.  I have no clue about the dial. Never saw one like it before.

Bob

mybulova_admin
Posted February 22, 2011 - 6:26pm

Club 5000Panel Member

What's the movement serial number. The movement maybe 1927 but I doubt the case it. Has more of a 30s feel to it.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted February 22, 2011 - 6:34pm

Nova,

Don't write the piece off easily, Star made a lot of Cases for the Military and the Numerals are the Military standard font.

Dial is interesting, almost feels Medical.

WWII 'ish Nurses Watch?

NOVA
Posted February 22, 2011 - 6:33pm

Movement SN is 90030.

NOVA
Posted February 22, 2011 - 6:43pm

The only 9AN in the database belongs to a 1928 Lone Eagle.

GVP
Posted February 23, 2011 - 8:38am

 I have a similar watch, well dial at least that I have had sitting around for a few months. I was intrigued so bought it. Now dont know what to do it it. Not really worth restoring but is working and keeping time on the 1934 10AN movement. This case is Sutton case Co. 

NOVA
Posted February 23, 2011 - 8:50am

There certainly are some similarities in style.  I think there may be a story to discover.

GVP
Posted February 23, 2011 - 8:47am

 Would certainly be interesting to find out if this watch design for instance followed on from your watch design. However, surely bulova would mark their cases if they were goin to run these as a line of watches. They could both be stunning watches, but what to do with them. i contemplated using the movement in another watch, but cant yet bring myself to do it.

NOVA
Posted February 23, 2011 - 10:20am

I'm going to hang on to mine.  Perhaps we'll one day discover that they were military issue, not intended for general public consumption, and that will lead us to an explanation for the odd cases.

I doubt they have much market value (although we both bought one, didn't we?), but they may be a legitimate piece of history.

GVP
Posted February 23, 2011 - 10:25am

 I'll just shut mine away again in a draw and forget about it for a while, if i dont i'm going to be spending out on redials and crystals.....save that for another day

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted February 23, 2011 - 10:21am

Think Military, as I said the font used on the Numerals is the Standard Military design.

NOVA
Posted March 2, 2011 - 2:12pm

I was just taking a look at a 1945 military issue that I have and noticed that the Star case has the same insignia as the one that started this thread.  So, I'm thinking it is a valid insignia for Star, and maybe Bob would want to add it to his list  for future reference. 

Also, I believe this is further evidence that, as Fifth said, the original watch may be a legitimate military issue as well.  Certainly seems that the Star case alone does not = Frankenbully as I originally thought.  Agreed?

vintagebulova.com's picture
vintagebulova.com
Posted March 2, 2011 - 2:27pm

Club 5000

You watch is NOT military issue. It is simply a recase.  Not a bad looking watch, nothing wrong with it,  I like the dial,  but there is absolutely positively no doubt at all that it is NOT military.  

Jay

vintagebulova.com 

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 2, 2011 - 3:01pm

I agree 100% Nova, the Star Company made a lot of Cases for the Military as previously mentioned, and Bulova produced watches for not only the U.S. Military but also the U.K.'s  R.A.F. (Royal Air Force) and for divisions of both. 

It's not a recase Jay as GJ owns a very similar, the Numerals on both Dials are Military standard.

Think Army Nurse Corps (Combat Nurse), Red Cross or similar on this one.

el-ooose
Posted March 2, 2011 - 3:14pm

As I understand this one, for every watch that Bulova supplied to the forces it had to be supplied with a spare movement. At the end of the war there were a lot of new movments available and companies like Star made cases for them for enterprising jewelers to make up watches. They are sometimes seen with "Bulova Movement" printed on the dial. Star were not the only company to supply cases.

I try very hard not to buy them, the cases are really very poor, but if I do get one by mistake I just keep it for spares.

NOVA
Posted March 2, 2011 - 5:54pm

Okay, following your theory, I get where the movements came from and how they ended up in cases made by a variety of other companies, but where did the dials come from?  If the dial of my watch was made by Bulova for some other model, shouldn't we be able to identify the dial?  So far, no one has been able to, and it looks like it was made to fit that case.  Was there also some company making dials for these made-up watches?  Seems like a lot for some creative jeweler to bring together?

By the way, I've had two "Bulova Movement" watches in my possession--bought before I knew they weren't legit--and neither of them came in a Star case.  One was Fit-Rite, and the other was Id.

 

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 2, 2011 - 11:10pm

Doesn't anyone find the Color of the Dial interesting (?) and once more I will reiterate that the Numeral font used on both the unknown Dials are Military Standard.

I highly doubt Military issue Dials were permitted to be re-cased along with any surplus movements.

 Flag of the British Army.

* other possible avenues of investigation are the 'Womens Royal Naval Service' (WRENS) and the 'Women Flyers of America' (W.F.A.)....there are more but it is late.

NOVA
Posted January 20, 2012 - 2:33pm

Ran across another one of these odd little peachy, two-tone dial watches today.  The owner indicates that the inside of the case reads "Sturdy Staybrite Back" (back of case is blank).  It runs a 15J 10AN, which looks to have a triangle date symbol (but it's not very clear in the photo).  The movement has a serial number, but I can't make it out.  The case appears to have no serial.

 

 

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted January 20, 2012 - 3:07pm

I have a Vintage Gruen ad that shows this color scheme of Dial (Orange / White?) was produced for use by the Medical Corps Nurse which fits the scenerio perfectly

Lower Right.

 

There is no reason to believe Bulova did not do the same.

IMO

timerestoration's picture
timerestoration
Posted January 20, 2012 - 5:29pm

 Attached is a detail of an Watchmaker's invoice dated 1945, from the WATCHMAKER"S SUPPLY HOUSE in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I found it in a box from an Estate I recently purchased. The contents of the box included almost all of the cases/dials on this invoice.

The 2nd post shows a few of the "BULOVAS" on the list.

timerestoration's picture
timerestoration
Posted January 20, 2012 - 5:41pm

Each case contains a cellophane wrapped BULOVA dial and a crown.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted January 20, 2012 - 6:19pm

Jeff,

I have the Case in the lower left of Your image, My very first Frankenbully.

NOVA
Posted January 20, 2012 - 6:32pm

Interesting stuff, but please explain what this information means to you, and in what way(s) you believe it applies to this thread, which concerns a particular style of watch.

timerestoration's picture
timerestoration
Posted January 20, 2012 - 7:57pm

 It appears to me that aftermarket cases and dials were made to fit existing BULOVA movements that jewelers and watchmakers may have had on hand. I also have  aftermarket cases/ dials made for Walthams, Elgins and Hamiltons. I don't know if the watch case companies obtained licenses from these watch companies.  If BULOVA gave permission to several watch case companies to create aftermarket cases/dials, would they be considered "FRANKENBULLIES"? I am presenting the above photos/information for people to come to their own conclustions.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted January 20, 2012 - 8:13pm

We're working from a hypothesis that these Cases were used by Jewelers who had Movements sitting around. It's always been My train of thought and contention that these Cases were used to replace worn Cases at a latter Date.

I guess I've already given My answer to the question the way I see it above.

jfoley
Posted January 20, 2012 - 8:02pm

the batteries in my camera went bye bye and took the camera with them. but i have a bulova and a parker with very similar cases. the backs have a star then the words base metal. both of mine have white dials. get some pictures when i can afford another camera.

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted January 20, 2012 - 8:11pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Recasing was dsicussed.  Star TM's for the case used in other examples.  It didn't throw a curve ball at me, but remember I'm consistently batting at or below 600....and in this instance I struck out, as it didn't mean much to me, but...

I did see one entry (thrid from last) on 1945 invoice saying 6A.F. Bul. case and dial star..... 

Seemed to fit the post, or at least it wasn't an .mpg for our listening pleasure :)

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted January 20, 2012 - 8:15pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Lisa I had a similar two tone peach watch/dial w/ slightly different outter track...more nurses style as sub-second dividions....  I gotta look for it.  Mine had Bulvoa case.... no sturdy staybrite back. 

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted January 20, 2012 - 8:21pm

heh,

For the record My 'FRANKIE' has a 17 J 7AP Movement Dated 1937, much too early for the Case style.

OldTicker
Posted January 20, 2012 - 8:26pm

You have to remember, back then there wasn't much that got thrown away, and Jewlers/watchmakers traded-in watches like car lots do, what do you think the jewlers/watchmakers did with their trade-ins??

If the case was not beat up or worn out, they probably serviced/polished them and stuck em in the front window with a eye catching price...The one's with bad cases turned into a "New" Price leader with a new case, dial and serviced movement.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted January 20, 2012 - 9:03pm

Replacement Cases are still readily available today http://www.ofrei.com/page675.html

Lisa's 'UNKNOWN' isn't one of those IMO.

This Watch, the Military style known Bulova's and the Gruens advertised above seem to have that 'PX' feel. Sold to Military personnel and Military support personnel.

ie: Nurses.

I think we're back on track now.....

NOVA
Posted January 22, 2012 - 11:07pm

Just found another one of these.  This one is in a case marked "Anchor".  It's running a Bulova 10AN 15J with a movement serial number and a 1929 (shield) date code.

 

GVP
Posted January 23, 2012 - 6:37am

 I have a near identical, if not identical model to the subject watch. I will try to photo it and add here soon.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted January 23, 2012 - 7:05am

I've given these a lot of thought.

The Color combination of the Dial is indictive of the 'Medical Corps Nurse' Watches shown in the Gruen advertisement. But, and it's a big one (no offense) the Case design(s) do not match the movement Datecodes, their styling is more late 1930's - '40's.

IMO

So for now I'm out of this discussion before I head down a path I really don't want to be on.

shooter144's picture
shooter144
Posted January 23, 2012 - 1:49pm

I think weve come to a area that will be quite troublesome, with these and the Lady Maxim...outsourced cases used by Bulova, but also outsourced Bulova dials and mvmnts use by case companies...quite a folly to sort out... a "Who Made Who' situation. Im starting to agree with Bob more and more...

NOVA
Posted January 26, 2012 - 6:28pm

And another one.  Also running a 10AN.  Could not make out the date code.

NOVA
Posted April 9, 2012 - 2:36pm

Here's another one.  Don't know what this is running or whose signature is on the case, but I'll bet it's not Bulova's.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted April 9, 2012 - 4:22pm

The Dials and a Stem and Crown typically came with the Case. The Watchmaker simply swaps the Movement from the worn piece into a fresh Case giving the owner a new Watch feel for a lot less Money.

This one is signed 'Anchor' and has a SS back. - Movement is a Bulova 10AN.

NOVA
Posted April 9, 2012 - 5:17pm

Nice story.  Just no facts to support it.

What happend to your theory that these were military watches, which explains the consistent coloring of the dials?

plainsmen
Posted April 12, 2012 - 6:55pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Well... I may have a little light to shed on this situation ladies and gents.  I just got a "poor" quality ad from a 1941 Spiegel's catalog showing "reconditioned" Bulova's, Gruen's, Waltham's and the like.

If you look at D.... it shows a reconditioned 15 Jewel Bulova... that seems to be very like some of the ones Nova and the rest of you have been posting.  I don't know if I can get it to post but we'll try.

And believe me.... this is about as good as we're going to get for quality.

Hrmm... I'll have to photobucket them:

 

So it looks like these are reconditioned Bulova's.... by factory?  Where would Spiegel's get them I wonder?  I've seen where some of the older ad's talk about a "trade in" discount for old Bulova's... so who knows?

 

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted April 12, 2012 - 7:04pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Never saw "reconditioned" in ad before.  Good find

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted April 12, 2012 - 7:14pm

This would be the logical explaination.

Bulova was not offering the trade option, the vendors were and now We see a legit ad of vendor 'rebuilds'.  I assume the local Jeweler offering the same trade in incentive would do the same.

Recase / Resell

plainsmen
Posted April 12, 2012 - 7:23pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Yeah see I had found the first "reconditioned" ad last year also in a different 1941 Spiegel's catalog..... but nobody ever commented nor paid attention when I posted this:

 

I dunno... maybe it flew under everyones radar when I first posted it, but those watches sure look familiar to this whole post IMO.

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted April 13, 2012 - 3:37am

Club 5000Panel Member

I just missed that ad.  I woulda remembered reconditioned.

NOVA
Posted April 12, 2012 - 7:33pm

Interesting find, Plains!

They advertised these watches as Bulova watches, not just Bulova movements.  That means to me that Bulova sanctioned these watches, and that means they are legit in their own right and not "ad hoc jeweler recasings", i.e., Frankenbullies, as alleged by some.

plainsmen
Posted April 12, 2012 - 7:36pm

Club 5000Panel Member

I would have to agree whole heartedly with this.  There is NO way Bulova would let them advertise these watches as Bulova's without their permission.

Check out the "C" watch in that second ad right above your last post.  Look familiar?

bourg01
Posted April 13, 2012 - 12:44am

Panel Member

Re-cased or reconditioned, whether allowed by Bulova or not does not make it a genuine Bulova watch. They may have allowed re-casing and the adverts because it had the movement which is the heart of any watch. I doubt we'll ever know for sure. IMO, any re-cased movement and dial is non conforming or a Franknbully as it is not an originanally manufactured Bulova watch.