Bulova 1953 Cavalier

5/10 votes
Model ID rating explained.
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This is a Cavalier watch. What is also interesting is that on the inside it says L2.

Not For Sale
ken987 1953 Bulova 09262015
1953 Bulova watch
1953 Bulova watch
Andersok's picture
Posted October 1, 2015 - 7:05am

Panel Member

Looks to be a blending of the Cavalier case/hands/movement and a Clipper dial; this luminous dial should also have the matching luminous hands; the dial stain could well be from radium hands, but the current hands are not luminous.

Posted October 1, 2015 - 7:27am

Wow. Here is what I know. My dad told me when he gave this to me over 30 years ago that it was his father's watch. My grandfather died in 55 and I was born in 61. So the watch was with my Dad from 55 to the 80's... I don't think he wore it after the mid 70's. I do remember it on him and I remember him getting the crystal replaced...but if that dial was replaced it was before I was born. I wore it for maybe 2 years on and off but gave up when my I could not stand the discoloration and sores the watch gave me. 7 years ago I got a Tissot and the man guaranteed it would not hurt me...and he was right. So I ordered the same type of band for this watch...but I do remember the thing you turn also gave me fits where it touches the skin..but it's worth a try ...It does represent my family and I do like it.

Now the man I took it to said the same thing. That the hands had radium and they caused the shadow. I don't remember the shadow and I thought me leaving it in the dark for 25+ years caused this. Are you saying these are NOT the original hands? I guess I can put it in the sun and then get into the dark and see if the hands glow... I keep forgetting to look at this site from home. I'm at work once again and my absentmindedness has once again hit. So I still need that back watch picture. Hopefully my memory is working when I go home to walk the dog before lunch and take a quick picture!!!!!!

Is there a chance Bulova made it this way? OR is the more likely story since my family did live in Queens/Manhattan that for whatever the reason my grandfather took this in at some point to get it serviced and they changed the face for some reason?

Also what is the significance of the L2 on the INSIDE and when I get you that back picture...it is definitely L3 on the gold back case???


Thanks again for all the history on this too.

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted October 1, 2015 - 11:52am

Panel Member

That is a classic radiation burn, caused by the hands being in one position for years. As Andersok has pointed out, the current hands are not lumed, so the dial and hands do not match. My guess is that maybe the crystal was broken and damaged the hands and both were replaced at the same time, a common thing. 

The one year discrepancy of the date between the movt and case is also common, and completely in keeping with production. 

Andersok's picture
Posted October 1, 2015 - 12:47pm

Panel Member

The luminous hands that are most commonly associated with this luminous dial look like:

It was common for Bulova to have a luminous dial paired with luminous hands during this time; but it could be possible to have one without the other, as we have not found an ad for every model that was available. The hands currently on your watch do appear to match the hands depicted in the Cavalier ad and are quite possibly original to the watch; I would suggest the dial is not original, as well as the winding crown (which should be a more rounded type).


Posted October 1, 2015 - 6:23pm

Ok. Posted the back picture. So the watch crown is not original. The watch face is not original because it has the shadow from the hands. And the orginal hands were not radioactive. But the insides have the correct labels that it is a cavalier. So I need to find a Cavalier watch face which I guess will be impossible at this point. I see someone on an auction site selling a Cavalier for over 2K so that is crazy right?????

I am going to NYC for xmas so if anyone wants to suggest a watch repair in the city let me know and I can send it to them and then pick it up in December or have them ship it back. 

Any advice is appreciated.


thanks again.

Geoff Baker
Posted October 2, 2015 - 5:59am

Club 5000Panel Member

OK, I'm full in for a Cavalier ID after confirmation of solid gold. At this point the dial/hands are secondary to the case, which being solid gold is, I believe Cavalier. L2 to L3 is not a problem as the date cross over from year to year is common, the movement could have been made in December while the case was made a week later in January.

I do highly recommend removing that band though. This type, which is meant to fit varied lug spacing has springs that constantly push against the lugs and can wear them down over a long period. I've seen watches with severe damage caused by this type of band. Solid gold will wear much faster than steel.

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted October 2, 2015 - 10:55am

Panel Member

This is your Dad's watch, and his father's before him. That is what makes this the most valuable, or at least it would if it were me. I wouldn't get too concerned about replacing the dial or hands unless that burn really bothers you, but it is part of the history of the watch. A full service with repair will do wonders for the watch and make it run for many more years, your grandkids will be inheriting it.

Posted October 2, 2015 - 11:03am


This branch of the family tree ends... I have no children. So at some point this watch would be sold...Hopefully I don't get to the point where I have to sell it ... but for now yes, I can afford to send it off and have it serviced so that I can enjoy it again. One of the members sent me info on some choices for service...I do need to know what to ask for specifically for the crown. The one on it now creates a sore in just a few hours... so I need to specify the material for a replacement. I currently wear a Tissot so whatever that is made of is just fine. I wear it 16 hours a day and no problems ever. The Bulova wrist band and crown do a number on my wrist...and unfortunately I can't do the leather band either. I've ordered a new SS link style band with butterfly clasp only because my Tissot has that and I am ok with it. I know it isn't the orginal intent..red leather croc with a gold buckle..but I am hoping the new bracelet does not look too out of place when matched with the case.

Geoff Baker
Posted October 3, 2015 - 6:15am

Club 5000Panel Member

Panel members - We need some ID suggestions please

Cavalier - John, Geoff

Ken A & Stephen are on the fence

Posted October 3, 2015 - 6:21am

Panel Member

Agree with Cavalier ID