Exposed! The Bulova Maquina And The Enduring Appeal Of Skeleton Watches
Make no bones about it, Bulova's Maquina collection deserves an in-depth look.
Sure, a smartphone can hold a decade’s worth of embarrassing photos, distract you with Twitter feuds, annoy you with the ping of a million app notifications, and tell you the time. But for watch enthusiasts, electronic gadgets will never replace being able to see, hear, and touch the intricate design and technology of a mechanical watch.
It’s this irreplaceable aspect of mechanical timepieces that makes skeleton watches so bewitching. Not only can you see the tiny machine in motion, but the window through which it’s viewed is a part of the architecture of the timepiece.
The best skeleton watches honor the traditions of fine watchmaking. And at Baselworld 2019, Bulova announced its intentions to evolve and expand its automatic timepiece assortment. One of the things that makes Bulova such an excellent value proposition is that the brand starts with proprietary Miyota movements. These robust mechanisms provide advanced technology but without the extra cost of a Swiss Made signature.
It’s not the first time Bulova has broken ranks with the Swiss — the 1970’s Oceanographer, aka the “Devil Diver,” used the imperial system with the designation of “666 feet” on the dial, breaking from the traditional 200m used by Swiss watchmakers.
These new self-winding watches are worthy of closer examination, and the Bulova Maquina collection allows you to look at the rich, inner-mechanisms, both through an exhibition caseback and a cool, skeletonized dial.
Bulova advertises its watches as “Designed to be Noticed,” and the Bulova Maquina collection makes no bones about its striking designs. With three models featuring a skull-like display on the dial, these Maquinas let the wearer fly the Jolly Roger without looking like Captain Jack Sparrow.
The first thing you notice is the angled, brushed surface of the 46mm case, and the dial of all three of these pieces emphasizes the architecture of the watch. A flat sapphire crystal with a scratch-resistant anti-reflective coating lets you look past the surface and into the 21 jewel Miyota automatic skeleton movement.
And, on top of all this engineering and design excellence, the Maquina’s sapphire face is water-resistant up to 100 meters.
The other four Maquina variations also have interesting, angular silhouettes, enhanced by the sandblasted stainless steel, yellow and rose gold, and black finishes. The design definitely pushes the boundaries of what a traditional skeleton watch is supposed to look like.
Rather than reflecting a steampunk aesthetic, these sporty Maquinas fall more on the chunky side of watch fashion. But that’s okay because below a superb sapphire glass framework is an elegant 21 jewel Japanese Miyota automatic movement. And all but the stainless steel version also offers an exhibition caseback.
While the display is pretty intricate, the gold and silver coated indices and baton hands contrast nicely against the layered black dial. And, the sense of depth created by the exposed ticks-and-tocks of the mechanism balances out the bigness of the watch effectively.
Owning a skeleton watch is a treat for any collector. And this coveted quality is often reflected in the cost of such pieces. But the Bulova Maquina collection is an excellent value proposition, with seven models priced between $575 and $675.
Plus, the Maquina collection is very versatile. The skull-faced versions come with supple, top-stitched leather straps. Very cool, very casual. The other models come with elegant metal bracelets or a sporty rubber band.
They may not be subtle, but then again, sometimes it’s good to break with tradition.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)