Bulova 1974 Accutron Calendar

2/10 votes
Model ID rating explained.
2.505
Manufacture Year: 
1974
Movement Model: 
218D
Case Serial No.: 
IO58988
Case shape: 
Round
Gender: 
Mens
Additional Information: 
I am forwarding two photos of a Bulova Accutron watch, which I believe was assembled in 1974 (N4 on the back). Serial number is IO58988. Note that it has a date indicator - Question: does this make the watch a Model 218D? The hour and minute hands do not move, even with a new battery; therefore, the date wheel is also inoperative. A local watchmaker told me that there might be a short circuit (he can hear a humming sound) and that he doubts that the watch is economically repairable. Another watch repairman also suspects a short circuit. Both of these people mention the word "coil" in their diagnosis. Based on these very sketchy notes, I would appreciate your comments. I would like to have the watch repaired, but of course do not want to spend more than what it would be worth after repairs. Could you direct me to a watchmaker close to Fairfax, VA?
Not For Sale
Bulova watch
oliverb
Posted July 15, 2012 - 9:46pm

A pic of the movement, clear and in focus, should give definitive info on the movement sub caliber. Yes, there was a "218D" sub caliber, with the "D" indicating date wheel but there was also a "2181" sub caliber with a date wheel. Other sub calibers of the 218 were also produced.

I guess you should give us some info as to why you are asking about repair. Is this a family watch that you wish to put back into operation or just a watch you came across? It is possible to repair/restore just about any Accutron if you wish to invest the money in it. There are two coils which make the tuning fork vibrate. One or both can be inoperative, the watch could be in desperate need of a thorough cleaning, lubrication and adjustment or there could be other things wrong in the gear train. Once upon a time there were many watchmakers trained in Accutron service and Bulova supplied parts. That is no longer the case. There are still many new old stock parts as well as used parts available to repair Accutrons. There are Accutron specialists who charge $150 - $185, plus parts, to repair them. If you inquire into established watchmakers in your area, you may find one trained in Accutron service and still willing to service them at a lower price.

OldTicker
Posted July 15, 2012 - 10:58pm

Oliverb is right on, what many original owners of Accutrons did not realize is that the Accutrons also needed care much like a "mechanical" watch...periodical servicing and maintenance...many never received this and just quit after the first, second, or third battery change after the factory lube dried out.

Coil/tuning fork failure, corrosion, wrong battery are the biggest problems with these, and can cost a health sum of money to fix depending what is wrong...If it is a family heirloom, spending a couple hundred buck is not a big deal, but if you are trying to turn it for a profit, selling it as is will be your best return

Mike from Timemachines (a mybulova member) is a qualified Accutron watchmaker and is located in Michigan, I have had him repair some of my watches, and would recommend him as a source...its a heck of a lot easier to put it into a USPS Priority flat rate box and ship it to a qualified watchmaker than try to find someone local...quality watchmakers are few and far between and getting harder to find every day.

You can send him a personal e-mail through this site by the "My Messages" link at the Home tab using his mybulova ID (timemachines)  He may be able to help you out.

oliverb
Posted July 16, 2012 - 2:40pm

Not to start an argument but the Accutron movements were not recommended for regular service by Bulova itself. Directions that came with the Railroad models specifically stated that regular service was not necessary and the watch need only be serviced when it would no longer run (component failure) or would no longer keep accurate time when adjusted by normal regulation. In addition, these movements were not delicate. Many saw years of abuse and never stopped running.

We purchased our first two Accutrons in 1973 and 1974 - a Men's 2181 and a Ladies 230. Both ran whenever a fresh battery was installed up to the time they were sent for service last year. I will admit they should have been serviced a few years sooner because their accuracy was compromised. The men's 218 needed only cleaning, lubrication and regulation. In addition to cleaning and lube, the Ladies 230 did need an index finger and it now runs better than it did when new.

I purchased a NOS Accuquartz watch last year that is amazingly accurate. On the Watch Talk Fourn, another member and I had a friendle "Duel" with my 40 year old technology Accuquartz against his new technology Precisionist. After 5 monthe, when the battery in my watch died, the Accuquartz was approx 3.5 minutes off time. His Precisionist varied more than that. Bulova stated the Accuquartz to be accurate within 1-3 minutes/year and the Precisionist at 10 seconds/year.

The problem with Accutrons is that many of the watchmakers were not properly trained on them and would - still do today -  mess them up because they didn't understand how to set them up after cleaning. I can't remember how many times it has been mentioned by posters on the Watch Talk Forum that their watches came back worse off after being serviced.  I use a watchmaker in Bulgaria who has  the parts and equipment to service all 6 major calibers of Accutron movements. He knows what he is doing and the accuracy of these old warriors is great after he finishes with them.

bobbee's picture
bobbee
Posted July 16, 2012 - 3:54pm

Fantastic info Oliver, and I would not be surprised if you get some PMs about your Bulgarian buddy! I have been thinking of getting one of these lovely watches, and may indeed bid on one soon.

Jim Townsend
Posted July 16, 2012 - 5:17pm

Mike is a heck of a watch repairman i have had him do a few of my watches and i must say i have been very pleased with his service excellent choice OT he knows his Bulovas.

oliverb
Posted July 16, 2012 - 5:56pm

Finding one like that is a treasure! Some of these guys will still work on Accutrons but don't want to be flodded with requests as they may have to go to extra lengths to source parts. There is another guy here in the U.S. that my friend and I have used for a few Accutrons. He is VERY reasonable but he will only work on 214s and 218s and is considering giving up 214 service as he is still using NOS parts he collected years ago. He does not even own a computer and isn't interested in sourcing parts that way. He won't allow us to give out his name as he really does not want any more Accutron business

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted July 16, 2012 - 6:47pm

Club 5000Panel Member

pborder  Can you provide any other photos of the watch?  It's difficult to help with model ID'ing based on your photo and text. 
While we have a generic model class name for Accutron 218, we don't have a 218D yet- although one could possibly be created if it better describes this model and similar models.  And there exists the chance that the movement could be the 218D w/ the calendar wheel,  a 2181 w/ calendar, or another 218 sub caliber w/ this date function (based on oliverb's comments).
You can see the possible confusion.  We do have a similar looking Accutron entered here:http://www.mybulova.com/watches/1967-accutron-218-1098  however this record also doesn't have enough detail to be ID'ed as anything but the generic 1967 218.  Even if we class your watch as a "generic" 1974   218, it would be nice to have the actual movement caliber entered in the record in the "Movement Model" box.
Dr Ranfft lists over 18 different 218 calibers (or sub calibers) including the 218D, however he brackets production dates for the 218D between 1965 throught 1968 only.  He lists a 2181 w/ a date function beginning in 1967, but doesn't specify and end date.  The 2181G & 2181F both have a date function, and their production dates spans the time of your watch (beginning in 1973). 
You can see how it gets confusing.... 

Geoff Baker
Posted July 17, 2012 - 4:57am

Club 5000Panel Member

"Accutron 218" until further info received

bobbee's picture
bobbee
Posted July 17, 2012 - 5:40am

Agreed. 218 without more info/pics.

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted July 17, 2012 - 10:18am

Panel Member

Merely touching the 300 toothed drive wheel will destroy it beyond function. Likewise, the pawl jewels are on slender pallet springs and are easily damaged. You need a watchmaker who is trained to service Accutrons, and if that means shipping the watch, it is worth it.

 As far as economical repair, I would say most watches and clocks can cost more to repair than they are worth, it is a common occurence. Exceptions would be rare and valuable models, and higher end watches, as well as anything gold these days.