Bulova signed Star case in a '60s model?

I thought Star only made cases for Bulova briefly, early on, and only for military watches.  So, what's up with this?

23 Jewels - 10BZ movement

Case is dated 1964, but movement is dated 1961 AND 1965

Dial appears to be original and is a perfect fit for the case; crown is Bulova signed

Any theories on how this came about?

 

 

shooter144's picture
shooter144
Posted March 12, 2011 - 12:34pm

Looks to me like they were cleaning out old stock maybe...4yrs on the mvmnt....like that dial its sleek but elegant...nice watch !!!!

stoddrob
Posted March 16, 2012 - 2:01pm

According to Nova's own standard this is a Frankenwatch!

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 16, 2012 - 2:24pm

Club 5000Panel Member

In the March/April edition of the Watch and Clock Bulletin, there is a nice article summarizing a brief history of the Star Watch Case Company.  Check out pages 182-183, if interested.  There were some major changes w/ this case company in 1906, again in 1929, and a merger in 1948 which lasted thru 1972.  Perhaps there was another contract of some type w/ Bulova for casing some watches during this 1948-72 regime? 

I'd have to say the watch case example above sure looks like a Bulova cased for Bulova by the Star Watch Case Company.

NOVA
Posted March 16, 2012 - 2:27pm

Thanks for the info.  I will check that out.  It's odd, though, that we haven't see more of these--if there were an arrangement between the two companies.  I will be re-inventorying my '60s collection soon, but I don't think I have any more such examples.

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 16, 2012 - 2:49pm

Club 5000Panel Member

yep this is the first one I've seen this late.  Thanks for posting it. 

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 16, 2012 - 2:49pm

My theory, take it for what it's worth.

Watch Case Company's made replacement Cases for all brands. In order to aid the Jeweler or the Consumer the specific Brand the Case was designed for and the Year made was stamped on the outer back.

No proof, just a feeling...

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 16, 2012 - 2:53pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Great theory.  The case back stamp has a slightly different type set, if you will, for the Bulova M4 than the star and other  info directly below this.  Simple is best, and this is a pretty simple idea.

DarHin's picture
DarHin
Posted March 16, 2012 - 3:57pm

On the movement there is an L or an upside down chevron below the word WATCH. Anyone know what that is? I have the same mark on my 10BZ in the Sea Cloud C.

Darren

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 16, 2012 - 4:18pm

Club 5000Panel Member

I see it too but haven't a clue.

OldTicker
Posted March 16, 2012 - 10:00pm

The Bulova M4 doesn't match the rest of the stamping on the cases, like it was hand stamped.

It could have been done by a watchmaker trying to sell it as a real Bulova, and most Star cases have a serial number on them...Non-Conforming in my opinion.

NOVA
Posted March 16, 2012 - 10:22pm

It's funny that this watch is getting so much attention now.  I posted this forum topic over a year ago, and there was little comment on it until today.  I forgot that I even have this watch.  The watch is not entered into the database, and never will be, so no need to label it.

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 16, 2012 - 10:24pm

Club 5000Panel Member

It's a very informative and interesting Bulova topic!   ...and I'm glad it was brought to our attention again.

NOVA
Posted March 17, 2012 - 8:15am

Well, then, Will, you will like what I found this morning on a sales site.  Nothing is as simple as we'd like it to be, huh?

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 17, 2012 - 10:10am

Why not? It's just another Jeweler re-do, simple enough.

NOVA
Posted March 17, 2012 - 10:27am

Basically the same watch from the same time frame in the same maker's case with the same Bulova signature.  No way that's a coincidence.  There's a story here--a Bulova story--we just don't know what it is.

Now that I'm looking for them, I'll surely find more.  I always do. 

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 17, 2012 - 1:52pm

Club 5000Panel Member

something that happens once will never happen again.  something that happens twice will surly happen again.  Bulova story here......I agree.  I'm looking now too.

NOVA
Posted March 17, 2012 - 4:48pm

Thanks, Fifth, for pointing me in the direction of another example currently for sale.  These pics aren't great, but all the same elements are there.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 17, 2012 - 5:28pm

Yes they are.

The Dials are showing the traditional Bulova '23' insignia - the Bulova '23' was a Waterproof Automatic.

IMO, these are Star manufactured replacements, replacement Cases always came with a new Dial. None of the Movements seen are Automatics as the '23's were, nor are they dated 1964 as the Cases found are.

DarHin's picture
DarHin
Posted March 30, 2012 - 2:33pm

Not a star case, nor automatic, but is marked 23 jewels waterproof. Two examples on site. Lisa has the other.

http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1965-sea-cloud-c-3858

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 2:45pm

Yes, and there are two ads from the late 1950s for watches with a 23 Jewel movement that are not advertised (or shown on the dial) as being either waterproof or automatic.

And, as stated below, there are examples in the database of 23 jewel 10BZ movements that are not automatic or waterproof.

I believe that these models are not called some variant of the "Bulova 23", but rather have individual names, such as the "Golden Eagle" from 1959.  That may be the difference between 23 jewel watches that are automatic and waterproof (Bulova 23s), and those that have 23 jewel movements but are not automatic or waterproof (called something else).

NOVA
Posted March 17, 2012 - 6:29pm

Okay, so who in 1964 decided to gather up a bunch of Bulova 23 watches and replace the cases with Star cases and the "wrong" movement?  Who?  Why?

The "replacement case" theory has never made one bit of practical sense to me.  No factual scenario has ever been presented that could explain this phenomenon. 

This is not the first time we have seen Bulova movements and dials in non-Bulova cases--lots of them--all with identical characteristics.  I'm referring, of course, to the orange and white dial jobs, all of which have Bulova dials and Bulova 10ANs and even the same style of dial but aren't in Bulova cases.  After you see a dozen or so of something, the whole random case replacement theory seems silly.  It's not random or occassional, its methodical and intentional.

The theory used to be that any case that didn't have a Bulova signature inside the case was a so-called replacement case, but after we gathered up a bunch of them, all from the same few year period, and all well known models, even you, Fifth, dropped that theory and posited the possibility that they were cases made somewhere besides New York, thus explaining the absence of the "New York" signature inside the case.

There could be an equally plausible and understandable reason for these watches--one that makes a whole lot more sense than "replacement case" ever has.

 

P.S.  You say that replacement cases always came with a "new dial", but not, I believe, a dial with  the name of a well known watch manufacturer printed on it, along with the name of one of that manufacturer's well known watch lines.  Imagine the legal problems that would have resulted from such a practice.  And, in this case, we're talking about a well known case manufacturer, not some fly-by-night maker of imitation Bulovas.

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 17, 2012 - 6:38pm

Club 5000Panel Member

So poking around the net I find more info, albeit it's mostly opinions. 

Some chatter of the solid gold Accutron cases (some say all solid gold accutron cases) were outsourced by contract to both Schwab and Wuischpard (S&W) and The Star Watch Case Company in the 1960's. 

A little later (late 1960's to maybe 1972/3?) , the names below helped find info on a potential contract in which Bulova was interested enough to spend some R&D money on trying to get their Swiss made chronos to meet the "preferred" US made standards in RFP for watches supplied to NASA, with some connection to Star Watch Case Company. Don't know why they wouldn't use their own US cases?  It's bits and pieces of info here and there. The commonalities among the stories indicate that something akin to a pre-proposal RFP had Bulova offering to supply NASA "US" watches at a buck each, but Omega offered similar product for a penny each. 

Omar Bradley, Jim Shelby, O. A. Stark, NASA, Omega

Apparently Omega got the contract, and supposedly used Star cases, although I have not found an example of an astronaut Speedmaster in a Star case.  Seems like one of the Stark family and the new management regime at Star were somehow working with Omar Bradly of Bulova, but it's unclear if this went beyond some prototype Bulvoa/Star research. 

Something Bulova is going on here, as Nova said.  We just don't know what....yet.

DarHin's picture
DarHin
Posted March 17, 2012 - 7:15pm

"Something Bulova is going on here.." LOL

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 1:47pm

I take issue with the assertions made above that all 23 Jewel watches are selfwinding and/or waterproof.

In addition to the subject watch, I have a fully signed 1960 model running a 10BZ 23 Jewel movement.  It is not automatic or selfwinding.  Just like the subject watch, the dial reads, "Bulova, 23 Jewels".  It is signed inside the case, "Bulova, Fifth Ave, New York", and outside the case "Bulova".  The crown is also signed "Bulova".  Both the case and movement have the 1960 date code.  In size and shape, it is quite similar to the subject watch.

A review of the watch database reveals quite a few watches marked 23 Jewels on the dial, running a 10BZ movement, and not marked waterproof or selfwinding/automatic.

Additionally, in my experience, after 1960, Bulova dropped the inside the case signature and went with "Bulova" on the outside only.

So, the only thing unusual about the subject watch is that, along with the Bulova signature on the outside of the case, it has the Star signature, just like other, similar watches we've seen.

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted March 30, 2012 - 2:28pm

Panel Member

I had a customer about a year ago, came in with two nearly identical watches, to get an estimate for servicing. One watch was a Bulova, with the distinctive lugs like a '51 Ashford, but I think there may be other models with this 'folded ribbon' type lug. The other was a Benrus, with the same case. From a couple feet away, you couldn't tell them apart. I had a quick peek inside, and the movt in the Bulova was stamped Bulova, and the movt for the Benrus was stamped Benrus. The Bulova case was stamped Bulova, and the Benrus case was engraved Benrus on the outside caseback.  I can't for the life of me remember the casemaker, but it may have been Star Case. I have been looking for another one since then. The customer said he'd think about the service, and I never heard back from him. My point here is these two cases were identical. While it is possible A Bulova case may have ended up with Benrus innards, it doesn't explain the clearly marked caseback of the Benrus. I also know this is just hearsay, as I have no pics to back it up, but I am still looking for another one of these Benrus made lookalikes. I do think it odd, that both companies would go with the same case if they were sourcing from the same company, but perhaps they were unaware the other was using the same case? At any rate, both companies sourced cases and movts from other companies, and maybe one was a deliberate copy of a successful model. 

I continue to think on' t....

edit: Folded ribbon doesn't really describe it

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 2:20pm

In the case of the subject watch--as well as the one I was most recently discussing--the cases, movements, and dials have the Bulova signature.  Some of them we see also have a Star signature, and they all happen to be similarly styled 23 Jewel models from the same time frame--many from the same year.

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 4:05pm

Thanks to William for passing along an article written in 2010 by Bruce Shawkey for the NAWCC Bulletin.  In it, Shawkey confirms that the Bulova 23 was offered in several manual wind versions at least as early as 1958.  He further states that the manual wind 23 jewel movements were found both in "Bulova 23" models and dress models, such as the President.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 30, 2012 - 4:32pm

I think He cornfused the 'PRESIDENT' with the 'HIS EXCELLENCY' model of the same period.

The '23 Jewel' insignia can also found in the ad database on the late 1960's 'SEA CLOUD'

 

which still doesn't speak much for the Star Cases.

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 5:56pm

The Sea Cloud was discussed above for that very reason.

Shawkey also noted that "President" is the name most frequently used by Bulova, with upwards of 30 watches called that, starting in 1920.  Yet we appear to have no ads for the President between 1956 and 1960, exactly the period that Shawkey was talking about regarding the President and the the 23 jewel movement.  So, my supposition would not be that he mixed up the President and the His Excellency, but, rather, that we don't have all the relevant ads.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 30, 2012 - 9:52pm

There are ads for the 'PRESIDENT' 

ad Dated 1956

 

....as stated and IMO Shawkey is cornfusing the similarly designed 23 Jewel  'HIS EXCELLENCY' of the same period.

The 'PRESIDENT' becomes 21 Jewels, manual winding in 1960.

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 11:21pm

Yes, an ad for the President dated 1956.  I said no ads for the President between 1956 and 1960, didn't I?  I think I was quite clear about that.  That would, then, apply to 1957, 1958 and 1959.  Do you have any ads for the President for those years?  No.

Shawkey's comments specifically referenced 1958, one of the years for which we have no ad for the President.

Again, let's discuss facts, not assumptions, for a change.

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 5:39pm

No, it doesn't speak to the Star case, but it certainly does refute your claim that the entire watch is a fraud on the basis that there was no manual wind, non-waterproof 23 jewel watch.  At least we've gotten that far.  Now, we just need to figure out why these particular 23-jewel models are showing up in Star cases.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 30, 2012 - 9:55pm

Where did I state that Lisa?  Please point Me in that direction....

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 11:15pm

Ummm. . .let's see, read above when you said ALL 23 Jewels are waterproof and automatic?  WRONG!  Those comments were clearly intended to discredit this watch, which is marked 23 Jewels on the dial and has a 23 jewel movement, but is not waterproof or automatic.  DUH.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted May 4, 2012 - 3:19pm

all Bulova '23's are Waterproof Automatics.

This Watch being discussed is not Waterproof, not Automatic and nor is it  a '23'

 

shooter144's picture
shooter144
Posted March 30, 2012 - 8:37pm

Nova, someone posted a while back pics of replacement cases, still packaged, with new dials, all sporting the Bulova logo on the dial.

Anyone know if or when Bulova sold Star?

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted March 30, 2012 - 9:16pm

Club 5000Panel Member

I PM'ed ya.  Don't know when Bulova sold Star, but I'm looking....

Edit:  Don't think Bulova owned/sold Star. 

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 11:16pm

And, Shooter, was it this case, or one of the others that we've seen with this Star case and Bulova signature?  No, of course not, so it is as irrelevant now as it was when Fifth first mentioned it.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 30, 2012 - 10:05pm

Shooter,

That was Me and We've been around and around about these Cases but it isn't sinking in.

 

When did Bulova own Star ?

Here's a hypothetical - someone who owns a 'SEA CLOUD' needs a fast buck, so the solid Gold Case goes to the schmelter (Goldmember reference) and the Movement gets re-cased.

 

 

There was no 23 Jewel 'PRESIDENT' between 1956 and 1960.

In 1956 the 'PRESIDENT' was 17 Jewels, manual winding and was upgraded in 1960 to 21 Jewels, manual winding.

In 1958 the 23 Jewel manual winding 'HIS EXCELLENCY' appears.

end of story, Shawkley is mistaken.

NOVA
Posted March 30, 2012 - 11:09pm

Assumptions, assumptions.  You know what they say about those. . .

Personally, I prefer facts, but those seem to be in short supply and under-valued around here.

 

That's a cute story Fifth, but doesn't work very well when you see many examples of the same or very similar models, all from the same time period, and all bearing the same Bulova case markings.  In fact, it sounds like the pure fantasy that it is.  Get real, please.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted March 31, 2012 - 6:27am

I am for real.

The 1960 ad for the 'PRESIDENT' proclaims '4 Years in the making'.

1960 - 4 = 1956.

Do the math, the 'PRESIDENT' was never 23 J manual winding.

 

...and, without the ads We currently have at hand it's very easy to see how Mr Sharkley could become confused.

The 1956 - 60 17 Jewel manual winding 'PRESIDENT' and the 1958 onward 23 Jewel manual winding 'HIS EXCELLENCY' are practically identical in appearance.

 

which still does not address the Star Watch Case issue.

NOVA
Posted March 31, 2012 - 8:14am

And it's easy to see how you would become confused without the ads Shawkey had on hand.  We don't know what documentation he was reviewing.

Four years in the making does not in any way state or even imply that no other model was released under that name in the meantime.  It simply means that it took four years to perfect that particular version.  More assumptions on your part, asserted as fact when they are not.

You are right about one thing, most of this has nothing to do with this watch--only the part about not all 23 jewel Bulovas are manual wind or waterproof, which was my point is mentioning the Shawkey article.  You were dead wrong about that assertion.

Anyway, I'm sick to death of arguing about your assumptions.  Instead, I'm going to spend my time looking for real facts.  If/when I find them, you know where to look--if you actually care about facts.

NOVA
Posted May 4, 2012 - 12:35pm

See this thread for another example of a 1960s case bearing both Bulova and Star signatures:  http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1960-transportation-special-4362

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted May 4, 2012 - 3:15pm

It has recently come to My attention that the early 1950's and on Waterproof Cases are signed by Bulova and show the Star Watch Case Co hallmark on either side of the Waterproof and Watetite signatures found on the caseback.

If this has any bearing on the Watch Case under discussion is anyones guess at this point.

NOVA
Posted May 4, 2012 - 4:02pm

Mark has just announced that he is going to delete the thread I cited above, so, to avoid completely losing an important artifact and discussion, here are pictures of the watch from that thread.

The watch dates to 1960.  Note that it has the Bulova signature only on the outside and only the Star signature on the inside of the case.  That signature pattern nicely parallels the subject watch and serves as another counter-example to the "replacement case" theory espoused above.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted May 4, 2012 - 9:34pm

The Star on the Caseback above is found on Bulova Waterproof Cases as early as 1954.

Those marked both *Waterproof* and *Water Tite* bear the Star Watch Case Co hallmark.

edit: 1953.

My bad

NOVA
Posted May 6, 2012 - 11:35am

More information is needed regarding the significance of the star symbol next to the "Water Tite" language on some models.  The symbol may or may not be indicative of the Star Watch Case Co., and it may or may not indicate that Star made the case. It seems likely that, if Star made the case, they would have their full signature inside the case back, as we see in the subject watch and the 1960 "Transportation Model" posted above.

The star on either side of the "Water Tite" terminology--if related to the Star Watch Case Co. at all--could simply indicate Star rights to the "Water Tite" name, or it could be an agreed upon acknowledgement of Star's involvement in that particular technology.  Certainly, the significance of just the star, only appearing on the back of the case next to those particular words, should not be ignored, as that would appear to be a purposefully limited context.

What we know for a fact is that we see watches like the subject watch--and others that we've seen like it--as well as the "Transportation Special" model posted above that bear full case signatures for both Star and Bulova.  So far, these watches all date to the 1960s.

In my experience, after 1960, very few models include the Bulova signature inside the case.  The standard case signature for 1961 and beyond is "Bulova" on the back of the case only.  Many Bulova models made in other locations around the world include logos and symbols by non-US case makers inside the case back.  It is clear to me that, during this time period, Bulova used a number of different case makers.

DarHin's picture
DarHin
Posted May 6, 2012 - 12:34pm

After a google search I found a reference to Water-Tite being trademarked by Bulova in 1930 in the UNITED STATES HOROLOGICAL INDEX. If anyone has a copy perhaps they can confirm this.

NOVA
Posted May 6, 2012 - 1:14pm

I have a copy of the book and can confirm that it includes the following listing:

Water-Tite

Filed:  May 29, 1930

Use Since:  September 1928

 

I do not know if it is significant that the trademark pertains to "Water-Tite", but what we see on the much later cases is "Water Tite" without the hyphen.

In the index under Star Watch Case Co., there is a star symbol listed as a trademark.  Interestingly, the trademark registration was filed on March 12, 1953, but first use is reported as Feb 5, 1909.  It took them 44 years to register the symbol as a trademark.

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
FifthAvenueRest...
Posted May 6, 2012 - 1:27pm

Star Watch Case Co was also the Case supplier for Bulova's Military A-17A and 3818A waterproof Cases - which IMO Date to 1945'ish thru 1961.

It is also MO the *Water Tite* and *Water Proof* hallmarked Bulova Cases were supplied by Star Watch Case Co.

2c