Despite achieving something that very few have actually done, there are times when those achievements are overshadowed by someone else who has achieved it earlier than you. Cue the entrance of Bulova.
Before going in detail of our watch in question today, let us take a brief look at the brand. Bulova was founded in 1875 by Joseph Bulova as the J. Bulova Company, and has been a key player in horology despite not being as popular as other watch brands. Perhaps the greatest innovation that Bulova has achieved is their Accutron movement. First sold in 1960, what set the Accutron movement apart from the other movements is the use of a 360 Hz tuning fork as the timekeeping component instead of a balance wheel. One benefit of such innovation was the guaranteed accuracy of timekeeping, up to one minute per month or two seconds per day. Fastforward to 2007, Bulova was acquired by Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. The brand still exists and is active till this day, with Citizen as its parent company.
Now, onto the history of the Bulova Lunar Pilot. The original Lunar Pilot was owned by astronaut David Scott, which was a one-of-a-kind timepiece gifted to the American astronaut. Despite the uniqueness and rarity of the timepiece, the designated timepiece for NASA astronauts was the government-issued and -approved Omega Speedmaster. However, NASA astronauts tended to carry a backup timepiece in the case when the designated one fails on them. This was the exact case for Scott, as the Omega Speedmaster issued to him got damaged during the Apollo 15 mission, with the front crystal popping off.
The Bulova Moon Watch – as his personal, yet backup timepiece, the Bulova graced the surface of the moon. Following the mission and returning back to earth, the Speedmaster had to be returned as it was a government-issued timepiece for the mission, while the Bulova remained under his ownership despite partaking in the Apollo 15 mission. Fast-forward to 2015, Scott auctioned off the Bulova timepiece, which brought about a price tag of around $1.6 million.
Of course, as Scott’s Bulova was a one-of-a-kind timepiece, the watch we have on hand today is the re-issue. Officially named as the Bulova Lunar Pilot, this re-issue takes on a slightly different measurement. The original is believed to have a case size of around 42 to 43mm, however the Lunar Pilot opted for a slightly larger 45mm case size. The lug-to-lug distance is 53mm, which makes the Lunar Pilot a fairly large timepiece. The lug width is 20mm, hence finding an aftermarket strap for the Lunar Pilot won’t be a difficult task.
A brushed stainless steel case, paired together with a sapphire crystal and hefty weight, definitely makes the Lunar Pilot feel like a quality timepiece. The lumed pencil hands, along with the white applied indices give the dial a monotonous, yet clean look despite the dial containing many numbers and writings. The attention paid to the details on the dial really shows that the Lunar Pilot is a serious timepiece. A date window at the 4:30 position may seem awkward for some as the standard date window position is at the 3 o’clock position, but it is a useful feature nonetheless. However as it has a push-pull crown and only 50m of water resistance, it would be best to keep it away from water as much as possible.
Despite the movement being a quartz, one very important thing to note is that this isn’t your standard quartz found in very affordable watches. Bulova’s 262 kHz caliber, which makes it a high performance quartz, gives the chronograph seconds hand an automatic-like movement. On top of this, the caliber allows for a much more accurate timekeeping, with the deviation being around 10 seconds per year, as opposed to per month.
The grey-ish black dial contains three subdials, which are (left-middle-right, in that order) the minute tracker (up to 60 minutes), standard seconds tracker (60 seconds), and split-seconds tracker (one round equals to one second). Let’s be honest here. Most of us don’t use the chronograph functions to its intended use. However, we can’t deny that having all three of these subdials and its respective functions is a nice feature.
The Bulova Lunar Pilot comes into two versions: (1) leather and nylon strap or; (2) metal bracelet. I own the latter version, and there’s one thing I can say about the bracelet: quality. With solid links and end links, as well as a butterfly clasp, I am definitely impressed. However, it must be noted that the two versions have different lug hole positions, with the latter having a lug hole position that is much closer to the main case than the former. Hence, if you’re considering to get the leather and nylon strap version, you won’t be able to fit the official bracelet onto the watch. Although you can buy the metal bracelet version and fit the official leather and nylon strap onto the watch, it won’t look as nice. This is speaking from personal experience as I own the bracelet version of the Lunar Pilot. As the lug hole is closer to the case, most leather straps will stoop/curve downwards before the tip of the case does, and this, in my opinion, does not really look nice.
Apart from the above shortcoming of the watch, I believe another downside of the watch is the case size. Different people do have different wrist sizes, however the average wrist is usually able to accommodate watches that have a case size around 41 to 42mm. The 45mm case size, in my opinion, is a few millimeters too big. In relation to the case size, the lug width is also on the small side. Having a 21 or 22mm lug width would have made the overall proportions a tad bit better.
However all things considered, the Bulova Lunar Pilot is a watch that I would solidly recommend, provided that your wrist can accommodate the size. Considering the online price of around US$300 to $400 depending on whether you want the strap or the bracelet, the quality and craftsmanship of this watch is definitely way above that price range.