Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pinstripes in South Tyrol

Bulova Accutron Corvara
ETA 2824-2 28.8kbph 25j automatic

  • Reference#: 63B101
  • (automatic with black dial and uncoated stainless steel case and bracelet)
  • Manufacturing Year (this example): 2008 (Year Code A8)
  • Width and Length (W/O crown or lugs): 42mm
  • Dial Diameter: 32mm
  • Case Thickness: 12mm
  • Lug to Lug Length: 50mm
  • Lug Width: 17mm (center link width; bracelet integral to case)
  • 316L stainless steel case, fixed pinstriped bezel and pinstriped center link bracelet
  • Sapphire crystal with underside AR coating and slight 6 to 12 curvature
  • Case back attached by six screws with sapphire half window and Accutron logo
  • 3mm thick bracelet tapered from 28mm to 23mm with signed 2-button butterfly
  • Solid bracelet links with solid center end links (removable links: notched pin and center sleeve)
  • Weight (with all links): 213g
  • ETA 2824-2 25j 28.8kbph high-beat automatic
  • Incabloc shock protection
  • Push-pull crown signed with Accutron tuning fork logo
  • Water Resistance: 10 ATM/100m/330ft
  • Partially lumed skeleton broadsword hour and minute hands
  • Black pinstripe dial with narrow trapezoidal lumed hour indices
  • Chapter ring with 5-second Arabics and ¼ second tick marks

Bulova’s Swiss Made Collections, Accutron Name and Logo, and Accu-Swiss logo: 
Prior to August 2014, Bulova had used the Accutron name for its top tier Swiss Made watches. The tuning fork logo was prevalent, but it was used even more so in the Accutron line, which included the mostly mechanical and most expensive watches. There were named collections within the Swiss Made Accutron line, each with their own unique case, bracelet and dial styles. Among them were the Curacao, Gemini, and the Corvara reviewed here. In August 2014, Bulova announced it was changing the Accutron label and its tuning fork logo usage. The Accutron name would only be used on high accuracy quartz precisionist movement watches with the label “Accutron II” to distinguish between these and the Accutron labeled watches that preceded them. “Accutron” alone would no longer be used. In addition, the tuning fork logo would only be used with the “Accutron II” labeled watches, and would not be used on any others. The Swiss Made collections that had been labeled “Accutron” would now be labeled “Accu-Swiss” with “Accutron” and the tuning fork logo removed from their dials, crowns, case backs, movement rotors, bracelet, presentation boxes and all other materials associated with them. The “Swiss Made” marked Accu-Swiss are just now finding their way into retail channels. It’s apparent Bulova is attempting to emphasize its Precisionist quartz line in its marketing with the Accutron II label and tuning fork logo. Bulova’s overwhelming market demographic is North American in which quartz is the overwhelming technology and mechanical watches are a very tiny niche.
Bulova named some of its Accutron collections after geographical regions. Corvara is a very small resort town in South Tyrol, an autonomous province in northern Italy that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to the end of WWI. Corvara is known for the Alta Badia ski resort, a regular stop on the Alpine Skiing World Cup schedule, and the annual single-day Maratona dles Dolomites (Dolomites Marathon), an amateur bicycle race with 9000 cyclists that climbs seven high altitude passes in the surrounding Dolomites. It’s definitely not for the casual cyclist; the Giro d’Italia (the Italian “Tour de France”) uses much of its 86 mile route. I suspect the Accutron Corvara’s graphic design may have been inspired by ski tracks on Alta Badia’s ski runs.

Pinstripes dominate the Corvara and its unique octagonal case, from its bezel, across the dial, and through the center links around the bracelet. Prominence of the dial pinstripes depends on lighting angle. The lumed tips on the skeleton broadsword hour and minute hands prevent them from being lost visually on the dial regardless of lighting. The seconds hand has a tuning fork tail, a nice design detail. The wide integrated bracelet has equally wide 17mm center links. Under 10X magnification the fixed bezel appears to be a separate piece attached with real screws, but I have not tried to loosen any of them (doing so would risk marring their slots). The Integrated bracelet attaches between the lugs with its 17mm wide center link. The sides of the first outer links align with the lug sides. This gives a continuous, smooth visual flow, in addition to the pinstripes, from case to bracelet. Pinstripe surfaces of case and bracelet are brush finished in the direction of the pinstripes. Smooth top and side surfaces on the case and bracelet have a high polish mirror finish. Strap lovers would be frustrated with the case and lug design. A custom made strap would have to be created specifically to fit the case and lugs in much the same manner as the bracelet does. The 42mm case length, and even more important the 50mm lug-to-lug length might worry those with smaller wrists. Whether a larger watch head fits a smaller wrist depends considerably on the lug and bracelet design. The lugs curve downward with the bracelet end link between them falling away at a steep angle. The watch appears visually large, but the lug design combined with a 12mm case thickness make it wear smaller than some 40mm watches with traditional straight lugs. It fits me without any problem or appearing too large for my 7 inch (18cm) wrist.

Build quality is impeccable with great attention to precision fit and finish. Aspects of the design show attention to small practical details. The slight curvature and AR coating on the sapphire crystal greatly mitigates reflections from its surface which could be an annoyance, particularly with a black dial. It is so slight that I did not notice it until measuring the case dimensions. Case and bracelet have ample radiusing on edges and corners. This produces a smooth, softer and pleasant feel from the stainless steel on the wrist.

The butterfly deployant with twin pushbuttons works much smoother and easier than the snap type that uses an interference fit closure.

Power plant under the dial is the venerable 25j 28.8kph high-beat ETA 2824-2 workhorse. There’s nothing exotic about this ETA movement, but there doesn’t need to be. It’s a precision made, high reliability and very durable movement with a proven track record.

Lume is bright and nicely applied to all the hour markers, except at the 12, making orientation obvious. Marker at the 3 is truncated by the date window. The semi-skeleton hands have slightly brighter lume at the tips to make them stand out from the hour indices.

The standout features of the Corvara are its pinstripes, unique octagonal case shape, excellent materials and build quality with a very robust ETA movement, and attention to small details that make it comfortable to wear and practical to use. Bulova’s Swiss Made line, formerly Accutron, now called Accu-Swiss, is a sleeper among the mid-tier watch brands. They’re in a class with Longines, Rado and Union Glashuette. Rated to 100m water resistance without a screw down crown, this is a casual sports watch that could easily transition from a morning on the golf course to a 3-piece pinstripe suit for a business meeting in the afternoon without looking out of place. With some perseverance, models such as this Corvara can be found NOS (Brand New in Box, Old Stock) on the Internet for a fraction of their original “street” price.
Bracelet sizing note:
Removable links do not have the common split pin. They have a solid pin with center notch and mating sleeve with notch that fits into the center links. Drifting them out requires a drift small enough in diameter that it can fit into the center sleeve without binding. Most link pin drifts are too large; I made one of my own specifically for these. In addition, when removing the pin and pulling the links apart, take care not to lose the sleeve as it will fall out of the center link as soon as you pull the links apart. It's small and you don't want to be searching for it on your floor, especially if it's carpeted! If in doubt about dealing with this type of link fastener, take it to a reputable jeweler with its own in-house repair shop. They'll know exactly what these are as it's a standard fastener, but not nearly as common as the split pin.
I have no affiliation, association or financial interest with Bulova, its parent company Citizen, or any of their distributors or dealers.

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