How to Date your Watch

Date code on 214 movt. (1964) Date code on 230 movt. (1973) Serial No. and Date code on 214 case. (1965)

Dating your Accutron (no, I don't mean taking it to a movie!) is quite a simple procedure. Bulova very kindly stamped all their watches with a date code. This can be found on the back of the case and on the movement.

The code consists of one letter and one number, eg. M7. They used the letter M to signify the decade 1960 to the end of 1969, and the letter N to indicate 1970 to the end of 1979. The digit represents the actual year in that decade. Therefore, M7 is interpreted as 1967. It is that simple.

Many watch manufacturers applied a serial number to all their watch movements, and a watch could be dated by looking up a serial number list. Usually, if you want more detailed info, you would have to pay the watch company a fee to look up your serial number. Not all companies will give you any more info other than year of manufacture anyway. Bulova had a policy of stamping a date code on both movements and cases. However, on some later Swiss-made Bulova cases, there is a date code stamp and also a serial number stamped on the case (see pic above). As no records of these serial numbers appear to exist, this number can be disregarded as being of no help anyway.

It is possible that you may have a watch in which the date code on the movement is different to the date code on the case. That is common, however, I have never seen an original watch that had a variation of more than one year. If you see one that has two or more years difference in the date codes, I suggest that the watch has been re-cased or made from 2 separate watches. I guess that probably doesn't really matter unless you are a serious collector and are only interested in completely original items.

Obtaining spare parts for Accutron watches is no longer a simple matter of going to a watch materials dealer and buying them. So, many watches are kept going by using "new old stock" parts and parts obtained from broken-up movements.