Showing at WatchTime Live 2020: Accutron’s Revolutionary Electrostatic Spaceview

Accutron, the world’s first fully electronic watch, marks its 60th anniversary in 2020. Reconstituted as an independent brand separate from Bulova, its original parent company, it is ushering in the new era with 21st century technology and a healthy dose of mid-20th-century nostalgia, starting with the retro-inspired Spaceview 2020. The watch will be among the highlights from 24 sponsoring watch brands at next week’s WatchTime Live virtual event.

Accutron Spaceview 2020

Introduced in 1960, the original Bulova Accutron incorporated a revolutionary new technology that utilized a tuning fork, powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator, to drive the timekeeping functions rather than a traditional balance wheel. Its name stood for “Accuracy through Electronic.” The brainchild of Bulova engineer Max Hetzel, this technology ensured an oscillation rate of 360 hertz — nearly 150 times faster than that of a mechanical, balance-wheel-driven timepiece — and guaranteed an accuracy to just one minute per month. The now-legendary first Accutron model, called the Spaceview 214 (the numerical designation derived from the movement, Caliber 214), was like no other watch previously seen, or heard, on the market — distinguished audibly by the telltale humming generated by the tuning fork rather than the traditional ticking of its mechanical brethren. Its high-tech movement, with its circuit-board-green elements in full view behind an open dial, deviated from traditional wristwatch design with its lack of setting stem and crown on the side of the watch; these elements were instead placed on the back of the case.

The original Accutron debuted in 1960.

All in all, the Accutron proved to be an ideal wristwatch for the Space Race heyday of the 1960s, and achieved a number of milestones. A partnership between Bulova and NASA led to Accutron dashboard clocks being installed on the spacecraft of all the Apollo missions; one remains on the moon to this day, inside the lunar vehicle left behind in the Sea of Tranquility after the historic moon landing in 1969. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Accutron wristwatches the official “Gift of State,” in 1964 and Accutron clocks were installed on Air Force One, the presidential jet, in 1967.

Bulova partnered with NASA to make Accutron clocks for spacecraft.

The birth of Accutron centered around an unprecedented technological breakthrough in watchmaking, and the rebirth of Accutron as an independent brand, separate from Bulova, within the Citizen Group could be built upon nothing less. The advancement in this case was the new, proprietary Accutron movement, which was powered by electrostatic energy generated from the motion of the wearer’s wrist. The movement’s fast-rotating twin turbines are affixed to two electrodes that send energy to an accumulator powering two tiny motors — one an electrostatic motor driving the smooth motion of the seconds hand (a world first), the other a step motor for the hour and minute hands — both synchronized through integrated circuits for an accuracy of +/- 5 seconds per month. The development of the movement, says Citizen Group America president Jeffrey Cohen, took over a decade, as part of a long-range plan for Accutron that began almost immediately after the Citizen Group took over Bulova in 2008. “Technology is always on the mind of watch enthusiasts,” he acknowledges, “whether it’s in movement advancements, or some other area. We wanted to honor the original brand by going back to its roots while still introducing an advancement in timekeeping technology that’s never been seen before.”

The Spaceview 2020 (above and below) is powered by a new electrostatic movement.

The electrostatic movement makes its debut in the retro-inspired model that kicks off the new era of Accutron, appropriately called the Spaceview 2020. The watch, in a 43.5-mm polished steel case, replicates the then-radical look of the original Spaceview, with the same green accents highlighting its exposed dial-side movement. The Spaceview 2020 is mounted on a black leather strap and retails for $3,450. Alongside the Spaceview 2020 model, and taking their visual cues from its neo-vintage design, are a quartet of models called Accutron DNA. Leaning heavily on the original’s sci-fi aesthetic, their skeletonized open-dial faces replace the familiar green hues of the original 214 model with an array of contemporary colors, including blues, grays, and gold tones. These models have sportier straps made of rubber, with pusher-operated deployant clasps, and slightly larger case dimensions, at 45.1 mm. The Accutron DNA models are priced at $3,300. The Spaceview and the DNA models will be showcased at WatchTime Live.

Accutron DNA with gold-colored details

For a full report on the new Accutron collection, pick up the September-October issue of WatchTime, on sale in the WatchTime Shop. To learn more about WatchTime Live, its sponsoring watch brands, and details on its schedule of presentations and panels, and to sign up for tickets to the event, click here.

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  1. Mario da Silva

    I have a few Bulova Accutrons, the old Spaceview, the Astronaut and the commemorative Space watch with the two interchangeable straps in the box. This new one is ugly, especially in green. I can take to the gokd colored knee but definitely not worth the 3,000 dollar price, which is like a ridiculous 500% markup in trying to squeeze into the pre luxury market. No way I’ll pay more than 1000 for a Bulova. It’s only just as accurate as my Quartz Seikos.

  2. Paul Biddulph

    I owned a bulova accutron in the middle 60’s and loved it. As the son of a watchmaker I loved everything watch but the accutron was something else! SO when can we expect to see the 60th anniversary issue on the market please and where to buy it. Wait to hear and thanks.

  3. Stephen Barnard

    Sorry, but no. This looks like a pastiche of a 1960s watch, not a ground-breaking platform for new watch technology. (I write as the owner of an original Accutron.) It looks like something you’d pick up in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown market for five Ringgit. This is a shame and a pity.

  4. Mark Ray

    The Accutron name has appeared on an ordinary Bulova quartz watch in the last 20 years or so, as I remember. There was also a similar version called Accuquartz. Both kept time as well as any other good quartz movement, but nothing like the original Accutron.

  5. Jerry Hom

    Still regret selling off some vintage Spaceview watches that I collected in the late 1980s, will investigate and consider buying one of the new models which look interesting!

  6. Tor Schofield

    So a new drive movement combined with a quartz tuning fork resonator – fascinating. Great to see something new in the industry.

  7. Stephen Diggs

    I have an original I bo<get for graduation in 1954. It still runs and I have case, box and receipt. Incredible watch.

  8. Such a disappointment. The case size alone is a throwback to the wrong period (the early ‘oughts’ when people thought a massive Invicta-sized watch was appropriate. Ugh. What a missed opportunity.

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