Bulova 1959 SVP

Submitted by echevlen on May 28, 2015 - 12:16am
Manufacture Year
Movement Model
Movement Serial No.
Case Serial No.
Case shape
Case Manufacturer
Crystal Details
CMT 308-25
Additional Information
Gentleman, my brother borrowed this watch from me about fifty years ago, and then we both forgot that it existed.  It lay forgotten in a jewelry box for all these years, until he ran across it while looking for something else, and returned it to me.
Watch restoration is my hobby.  It took minimal tweaking to get the watch running again—accurate to within about ten seconds a day!  On its return from my brother, the watch was grimy, the crystal was chipped in several places, and the band was both scuffed and too small for my now adult-sized wrist.  So I cleaned the case, replaced the crystal (with a CMT308-25, which snapped into place perfectly), and replaced the metal band with a handsome lizard skin one. I'm pleased with the results.
But I don't know what model it is!  The mechanism is an 11AF.  The L9 marking tells me that it was built in 1959.  It was was given to me by my parents, as the engraving indicates, as a bar mitzvah present in May1962.   It is unlikely that they purchased it used.  Why this watch lingered so long between its manufacture and its retail sale is a mystery to me.
I would be pleased if you could inform me of the model name, and any other useful information about this watch, which is now a treasured memento.
The photo of the watch with a metal band is a  "before" picture.  The others are "after" pictures.
1959 Bulova SVP III watch
1959 Bulova watch
1959 Bulova watch
1959 Bulova watch
1959 Bulova watch
Posted May 28, 2015 - 8:03am

Great story about finding this old watch after so many years and getting it back in shape to enjoy again. This case has been seen in a variety of models; the Ruxton (1955-ad)(as the crystal pack states), the Broker (1958-ad)(w/ 21 jewels), the S.V.P. III (1960-ad), and the Minuteman (1962-ad). Your watch with 17 jewels and dated 1959 looks to be the S.V.P. model 'III' variant, and it is the only one that matches your dial. The SVP models were only out for a short time starting around 1959.

Can you confirm what the datecode on the movement is?

I would vote for S.V.P. "III"

Geoff Baker
Posted May 28, 2015 - 8:08am

Welcome back echevlen, it's been a couple years since you last gave us a challenge. I love the story of this one. To think your very own brother hid your Bar Mitzvah watch from you all these years is almost as good as him returning it 50 years later. What a serendipitous event THAT must have been! We have several examples of this one cataloged as the Broker. The dials differ slightly but the case seems to be a match. Is your watch 21 jewels? If so, I would vote to call it the Broker.


Posted May 28, 2015 - 9:03am

Andersok, the date code on the movement is indeed L9, which I interpret to mean 1959. 

Geoff Baker, the movement is marked as 17 jewels, but I didn't formally count them. 

Posted May 28, 2015 - 1:16pm

I leave to you helpful experts the definitive identification of this watch.  However, If you do conclude that it is indeed an S.V.P. III, you may be interested in knowing that that model name was first introduced into commerce by Bulova on August 12, 1959, which puts the manufacture of this watch (if it is an S.V.P. III) into the latter half of 1959.  

I read elsewhere that the letters are an acronym for Style! Value! Performance!--but I cannot independently confirm that.

Here is the U.S. Patent and Trade Office registration of the trade mark:


William Smith
Posted May 28, 2015 - 1:48pm

I vote for S.V.P. variant "III" if its late 1959, however it may have been something else in early 1959 (based on the trademark info from above link).  

Slight dial differences  (no 17 Jewels on dial of ad graphic).  Here's a snippet of the 1960 ad to which Ken placed a link.

Posted May 28, 2015 - 2:43pm

Ditto Will.


Geoff Baker
Posted May 29, 2015 - 6:03am

Yeah, I'm jumping to the SVP as well. Good ad find by Ken.

Posted May 30, 2015 - 12:13pm


Reverend Rob
Posted June 1, 2015 - 7:19pm

When I see 'SVP', I immediatley think 'S'il Vous Plait', but Style, Value, and Performance works too.

I'm going to sound like my usual broken record here, but I strongly recommend getting the watch fully serviced by a qualified watchmaker. Dried out watches will damage themselves by running, and you can't oil the watch without fully disassembling and cleaning it first. I've been seeing a lot of watches that have been 'dipped' lately, and this is worse than not cleaning them at all, they get totally gummed up and the dirt and old oil gets washed into places it would never normally migrate to. Nothing will destroy a watch faster than dirt and residue getting on the teeth of the wheels. They just grind themselves up. (Water actually is worse, but that goes without saying, I'm sure)

That's my rant. Wear it in good health. 

I agree with S.V.P.


I mention the 'dip' thing because quite often I will be told one of the dealers has a 'guy' who does his services for him cheap, like $40, and this invariably means either they dipped the watch or just opened the back and oiled whatever jewels they could see. A good example of 'you get what you pay for', and I am all about preserving these gems, so it's always Fast, Cheap, and Good, pick two and invert the third.