There is a lot of literature on the Internet describing the history and development of the Bulova Accutron, so I’m not going to repeat it on this site. But as a very brief introduction, the Accutron is like no other battery driven watch, or mechanical for that matter: it is driven by a tuning fork vibrating at 360-480 times a second, depending on the model; as a result, it doesn’t tick, but hummms. The index mechanism also means the Accutrons are characterised by a constant sweeping seconds hand.
Some good links to other web sites are:
When the first Accutron went on sale in 1960, Hamilton must have seen the writing on the wall for their own electrics which had only come out 3 years earlier.
Although most didn’t have those wonderful Richard Arbib designed cases like the Hamilton Electrics, the Accutrons had many other things going for them: they were reliable and extremely accurate, you could see the tuning forks on some of them (the Spaceviews), but most of all, they didn’t tick, they hummmed!
So confident were Bulova about the accuracy, the hands on the Cal. 214 models can only be set from the back; there is no side crown. And they were correct; fifty years later, 214s are still running strong and accurate, with only a yearly battery change and an occasional service!
In the end, when quartz watches started to appear in the early 1970’s, Bulova initially continued to cling onto their tuning fork technology and combined it with quartz control to produce the Accuquartz.
Dating Your Accutron
It is easy to do! Bulova used a simple letter-number code system: ‘M’ means 1960s, while ‘N’ means 1970s. The number indicates which year in the decade. i.e. M4 = 1964, N0 = 1970. These letter-number codes can be found stamped both on the case back and the movements — it is not unusual for the case back and movement to have slightly different codes — over 50 years, movements and case backs get either replaced or muddled up. The only exception to this rule is the 1975 Anniversary models — they have no letter-number code as they were all produced in 1975.