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Bulova 1930 -Unknown

Model ID rating explained.

Manufacture Year: 


Movement Symbol: 


Movement Model: 


Movement Jewels: 


Movement Serial No.: 


Case Serial No.: 


Case shape: 


Case Manufacturer: 


Crystal Details: 

Acrylic, 36 mm by 26 mm



Additional Information

Hello good people of this forum,

I recently purchased this vintage Bulova from the 'Bay. Pretty sure it was made in 1930 since the 10AN existed only till 1937 and the watch movement markings are consistent with a '30. However, my knowledge on the watch's origins ends there. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions:

1) First of all, what model is it? By the looks of the dial my best guess is a modified 1930 Sky King. But the numbers on this watch are gilded and are of a different font. Perhaps it is an international version? Maybe (whoops) a fake?

2) As indicated on one of the pictures, the back of the hinged case is stamped "J.H. Jr." (I guess some guy's name), then "Bulova Quality, AAA, Pat. Jan 11 1927", then the case serial number 0309278. There is no mention of gold/gold-filled content. What's strange is that the outside of the case is very simply marked "open" indicating the side to pop open the case - again no gold content stamp or case serial number. 

  • Is the watch gold-filled? From what I've learned by browsing the database, Bulova normally marks gold content/filling, but did not do so for some cases especially in the early 30's. However, I'm aware that some users later determined by asking a jeweler that their unmarked case was in fact gold-filled.
  • The inside of the watch has some slight spotty corrosion, which isn't consistent with gold fill, but the gold-colored bezel and caseback are completely clean and look very much like the hue of real gold - leading me to believe only the caseback and bezel are gold-filled and the inside caseback base metal. Any opinions, besides suggesting I go to a jeweler to test it out myself?
  • So if not, did Bulova make gold-tone base-metal bezels in the 30's? Doesn't seem consistent with their status as a hi-class watch maker in those days, but that's just wishful thinking I suppose.

 3) In cleaning the crystal by removing the movement I stumbled upon the Roman numerals "II VII VIII" etched on the dial housing edge, leading me to believe the case is original. Still though - and this is perhaps due to my ignorance - but anyone feel that the case looks off?

Thank you! I greatly appreciate your time (no pun intended...) and input.

Not For Sale
unknown 1930
Bulova watch
Bulova watch
Bulova Watch
Bulova Watch
Club 5000Panel Member
Posted October 31, 2013 - 3:10am


We also believe that the AAA stamp indicates Gold Filled, where-as the o-A-o is Gold Plate

Unknown model at this stage.

Geoff Baker
Club 5000Panel Member
Posted October 31, 2013 - 5:38am

Hi Joe - welcome to myBulova. Great looking watch you've brought us. I agree with Stephen that it's likely gold filled and, for now, an unknown model to us.  Our theory on the roman numerals are that they represent the last three of the original movement so we agree that the two originally belonged together and date 1930 ( we also believe that the first number of the serial is a year designator - in this case 1930). You're right about the content markings, there was no standard in 1930, most are but for some reason all aren't marked. Either way it's a dandy watch. I don't think it's a fake or a marriage of part, the dial seems to fit the case style and shape wise. Oh, about the 'open' marking - not unusual, I wish Bulova would have done that on ALL cases, we would see a lot fewer broken and bent hinges if they had!

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
Posted October 31, 2013 - 10:15am

Roman numerals etched into the Bezel matching the last 3 numerals of the Caseback indicate a matched pair, Bezel and back. These markings can also be found on Movement holders of era indicating a matched set and are found on Bulova Watches at least through the 1940's possibly '50's, I don't recall at this moment in time. .


Posted October 31, 2013 - 10:47pm

Thanks a lot for your insight! Yes, the watch bezel is two-tone: there is a narrow steel-colored strip running along the interior of the dial border, between the crystal and the outer gold border.

Stephen, I did some lurking elsewhere on the forum and noticed that in the past people have speculated that AAA/oAo indicates something to do with the movement: for example. Adujstment perhaps. Have there been previous mybulova members who've tested their "AAA" cases for real gold content? I thought the US government imposed some sort of regulation where gold-containing items should be stamped as such? Maybe I'm mistaken.

Thanks again!

Club 5000Panel Member
Posted November 1, 2013 - 6:53am

I recall a conversation where if you do a gold test on a gold filed watch it wil come back positive.

As I understand it AAA relates to the case being gold filled and oAo to Gold plated. I belive we came tothis  conclusion from looking at watches mached as such and then how they were listed in various adverts as gold filled vs gold plate.

Happy to be corrected if anyone else has another belief.

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Panel Member
Posted November 1, 2013 - 8:16am

Solid Gold alloy must be stamped, as per US law, 1906. A Gold test, scratched from the surface of a Gold Filled object, will be positive, unless you scratch deep enough to incude a quantity of the base metal underneath. 

Gold filled has been historically a nebulous term, as the thickness of the gold varies widely. Guarantees on the inside of pocket watch casebacks would allude to a number of years for which the watch could be worn without noticeable brassing. There was no way to enforce or track this, and many factors are obviously at play here, so it was banned, but I'm not certain what year that was. I have encountered Gold Fill so thick it is well worn to the point of erasing the engraving, yet no brassing has ocurred. 

FifthAvenueRestorations's picture
Posted November 1, 2013 - 8:42am

There are 3 markings found inside some early Bulova Cases where the Gold content is usually stamped.




Club 5000Panel Member
Posted November 1, 2013 - 11:58am

Welcome to myBulova Joe!  Great first piece and a bit of a mystery.  The two-tone case is familiar of these few years; the Richard and a couple other models.  A lot of the time those are engraved with some etching down the sides of the bezel.  

I'd say we have an Unknown model your presenting but in my opinion it is all original.  The dial's of this time seemed to be varied.  I have a theory that they were just then switching from radium to the gold laden letters and you could choose which you wanted during that time.  I've seen several of the same model that have either/or.

Great watch and great questions!  I'm glad you've had a chance to look around and gather some information on your own from past posts.  We've been at this for a few years now but we're really all still learning daily and sometimes our once firmly held beliefs are shattered with a NEW FIND!  Haha....

Welcome and hope you enjoy poking around inside these mysteries as much as we do!

Posted November 1, 2013 - 11:40pm

I see, thanks for clarifying. So perhaps if "AAA" on the case indicates a watch is gold-filled, maybe a "AAA" stamp on the movement is supposed to correspond to gold fill as well, rather than say anything about the movement being adjusted?...

Panel Member
Posted November 3, 2013 - 11:10pm

Many of these older unstamped watchesn only bear the AAA stamp inside the case but some to carry a GF stamp between the lugs. Try removin the band and looking there.