Life Hacks: A Salute To Bulova’s Modernized Military Collection
This new family of watches is inspired by armed forces timepieces from the past.
In February, Bulova released two new timepieces that paid tribute to the company's deep ties to America’s soldiers. Called the Military Collection, this group of extremely handsome watches represent both an excellent style and value proposition.
With the promise of being set loose on the great outdoors (hopefully) just around the corner, we thought it was time to give these fantastic field watches a closer look.
Bulova’s ties to the military go beyond producing watches in wartime. They also manufactured timekeeping devices for the Army Ordnance Department and founded the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking, which provided training and job placement for disabled veterans after World War II.
While the Military Collection also draws inspiration from vintage historical watches from the 1940s to the 1960s, they also have a modern sensibility. The collection is based around different variations of one piece — the Hack watch.
During WWII, troops needed a wristwatch able to withstand the brunt of battle while still providing precision. We’ve all seen movies where military teams synchronized their watches before setting out on a mission. To do this, soldiers would pull out the crown and stop (or “hack”) the second hand at 12 so that everyone would be working like clockwork.
Bulova’s original military Hack watch was one of the first of its kind. Other important features included a highly legible dial with luminescent numerals, hands, and markers, an oversized crown, and comfortable utilitarian straps.
NOW AND THEN
Bulova’s new Hack watches are also inspired by the brand’s 3818-A military model, which was produced in the 1950s and ’60s. The big difference between the two timepieces is the dial.
One version features a cream face, which is more faithful to the face of a 1940s look. The other model features a black dial and uses red to mark military time. Both feature Arabic numerals for 12-hour and military graduations, as well as retro Cathedral hands with luminous filling.
What makes the collection feel modern is the case. The 38mm case size makes it more attractive to contemporary tastes while still feeling elegant, rather than oversized. And it’s available in either bare steel or a dark coating that replicates the look of the 1960s models.
In many ways, the Military Collection is much more practical than its predecessors. The steel case is more durable than the old base metal versions. The domed mineral crystal is more resilient than acrylic and nicely showcases the luminescent hands and markers.
It’s also nice to know that Bulova has opted for a crisp white lume rather than an aged look. All models also feature an oversized crown that is nicely balanced with the proportions of the case. Both are presented on either a black or green leather NATO strap.
There’s a lot of attention to military signifiers, but these watches are still practical. One of the reasons these timepieces are so affordable is that they are powered by a workhorse Miyota Caliber 82S0 3-hand automatic movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Not Swiss, but sturdy.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)