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Bulova 1940 Commodore

8/10 votes
Model ID rating explained.

Manufacture Year: 


Movement Symbol: 


Movement Model: 


Movement Jewels: 


Movement Serial No.: 


Case Serial No.: 


Case shape: 


Case Manufacturer: 


Crystal Details: 

17.72mm x 23.94mm



Additional Information

While identification, if any, is the discretion of the panel, research of the subject watch indicates this a nationally advertised Kay Jewelry Co “Exclusive” represented in their ads as “made only for Kay’s by Bulova” and illustrated in two attached sample newspaper ads. The 1940 Alden appears identical to the subject watch with exception of the vertical etching on the bezel. There are two examples of the 1940 Alden in this database: and

I do not know the significance of the dash preceding the six digits of the serial number.

The history of the subject watch is unknown. The watch case and attached expansion band had a very heavy buildup of material making effort to separate the case back and case and then the movement difficult. The watch did not run and could not be wound. The hands appeared to move properly. The watch is pending professional service and repair.

Case measurement: 24.92mm (without crown) x 32.05mm / 37.98 (lug to lug), Lug width: 17mm; measurements with digital caliper.


Not For Sale
1940 Bulova watch
1940 Bulova watch
1940 Bulova watch
1940 Bulova watch
1940 Bulova watch
Bulova Watch advert
Kathy L.'s picture
Kathy L.
Panel Member
Posted June 24, 2018 - 11:10pm

Very nice find of an exclusive watch.  Will be interesting to see what everyone thinks the name should be.  I will kick it off with a possible name of 1940 Bulova Kay's Exclusive

Club 5000Panel Member
Posted June 25, 2018 - 3:31am

Looks like a 15 jewelled version was the Bulova Ranger (looks engraved). I'm still looking for a 17J version to see if it was ever given a name.

1941 Bulova watch advert

neetstuf-4-u's picture
Panel Member
Posted June 25, 2018 - 7:43am

Interesting that I find no other examples (besides Stephen's 1941 reference) in either ads or watches in the DB that match this to the possibility of being a Ranger or anything else for that matter.. All other ads in this time frame as well as ID'ed watches display a very different case design. Possibility ad is incorrect?

I went though 30's and 40's full ads suspecting this watch may have been the case of a discontinued model paired with an upgraded movement to make it an "exclusive" and purge unused parts stock, but no luck.

It's certainly an interesting watch and a match to the 2 Kay's ads. S/N dash may indicate a "short or special run"?

If nothing else is found for a possible ID; maybe this needs it's own catagory like "Exclusive"  rather than calling it an unknown? Still looking. 


Andersok's picture
Panel Member
Posted June 25, 2018 - 11:46am

Here is another Engraved Ranger ad from 1941.

One 17-jewel possibility is the Commodore, 1942 ad; similar watch/case id'd as Commodore with some ads.

neetstuf-4-u's picture
Panel Member
Posted June 25, 2018 - 12:09pm

Wow, good ad finds Ken! I think you nailed it.

Ad seems to be a match with the exception of band. 17J, correct engraving and face.  Interesting that ad below (thanks to Ken) lists option of either leather or "massive link" band, while Kay's ad highlights leather. Ad is dated 1941; maybe Kay's got them prior to syndicated advertisement of the new case style?

By 1942, the advertised band options were leather and expansion band.

I'll go with 1940 Bulova Commodore.

Posted June 25, 2018 - 3:40pm

I am playing "catch up" given my original research was in April to include an archived newspaper site...  There do not appear any other 1940 references to the Kay's "Exclusive" after those in January (although I thought there were). From February through December 1940 the advertised watch is referred to as the Commodore and is like the subject watch except for numerals appearing in the sub-seconds dial. A leather strap is referenced and the listed price is $29.75. I've included three samples of ads that appeared between Feb and December to illustrate.

In December 1940, in addition to the aforementioned ads, there were multiple ads with the Commodore referred to as the Commodore "C" 17 Jewel and the sub-seconds appear without numerals creating an exact match to my subject watch. These ads reference an "extension bracelet" and the listed price has increased to $33.75. Two sample ads are included below.

I'm sure someone will advise if I'm missing something...  thanks for your assistance.


Posted June 25, 2018 - 4:44pm

The panel has better insight to this, but the Commodore "C" variant showing up in the December news ads implies an "A" and "B" variant obviously. Could that be in reference to as follows:

  • "A"...  Kay's "Exclusive," leather strap and no numerals in the sub-seconds in January,
  • "B"...  sub-seconds with numerals and leather strap in February - December and
  • "C"...  a return to sub-seconds with no numerals and adding an "extension bracelet."  

During my news ads search, I saw no specific written reference to a Commodore "A" or "B" but the subtle changes mentioned above were apparent. All other specifics for the Commodore remained consistent in at least 1940 ads.

neetstuf-4-u's picture
Panel Member
Posted June 25, 2018 - 5:28pm

Excellent research and ads. Commodore letter variants appear to be based predominantly on  band style. If the variants are based on band style, it's difficult to assign a variant to a watch that isn't NOS/dead stock original. At this point, I'm at Commodore/ no variant. BUT, pending input from other panel members, I could go with "C", if that is general consensus based on available ads.

Posted June 26, 2018 - 11:48pm

I understand and thanks. While I found the “C” designation in the December ads interesting, the intent of my ramblings above were to simply help shed light for the benefit of any reader regarding the Commodore as it was sold in 1940. Ref the subjec watch, seems a toss-up whether it came with a leather or metal band.


Kathy L.'s picture
Kathy L.
Panel Member
Posted June 25, 2018 - 6:27pm

Great research and ads you guys! 

With what is here I think I am with 1940 Bulova Commodore (no variant)