Bulova Watches & Their Prices: Styles Worth Knowing

Bulova watches are the best-kept secret in watch history. Learn more about their iconic American styles and the prices that make collectors tick.

Updated June 13, 2024
Bulova Chronograph C Stars and Stripes- 1970

It's par for the course if you wonder, "How much is my Bulova watch worth?" after rediscovering it during spring cleaning. Since the Bulova Watch Company's affordable watch lines made them incredibly popular during the mid-century, chances are your parents or grandparents owned one and passed it on to you. While Bulova watches weren't particularly expensive, a few specific editions can go for thousands in today's market. 

5 Valuable Vintage Bulova Watches & Their Famous Connections

Robert Feisler Presents Bulova New Collection

Bulova was a breakout brand in the 1950s and 1960s. While it might not carry the same weight with celebrities today as it once did, watches from pop culture's yesteryear go for thousands of dollars at auction. 

Valuable Vintage Bulova Watches Recent Sales Prices
Joe DiMaggio's Bulova Wristwatch  $31,250
Les Paul's Bulova Wristwatch  $25,600
Elvis Presley's Bulova Accutron $17,920
Vernon Presley's Bulova Wristwatch $8,750
Hugh Hefner's Bulova Accutron $7,680

Joe DiMaggio's 1944 Chronograph: $31,250

Whether you know Joe DiMaggio for his Marilyn Monroe connection or his famous stint with the New York Yankees, he's a bonafide American icon. World Series Championship rings weren't the only jewelry DiMaggio boasted. For example, one of his Bulova Chronograph watches from 1944 sold for an impressive $31,250 at a Christie's auction. 

Les Paul's Gifted 14K Tank Wristwatch: $25,600

If you're not a guitar nerd or don't listen to much 1940s and 1950s country and blues, you might not recognize the name Les Paul. But chances are you're well-acquainted with Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. 

As prolific musicians and contemporaries, the two ran in similar circles. And Sinatra gifted Les Paul a 14K gold tank Bulova wristwatch sometime in the mid-century. It sold in a Julien's auction for $25,600.

Elvis Presley's Accutron: $17,920

If there's one thing that Elvis Presley was unapologetic about, it was being flashy. The man's jewelry box was overflowing, so it was natural that he'd have a Bulova watch or two. 

A lot from his estate came to Julien's, and one of his Accutron Bulova watches outperformed their estimates at $17,920. 

Vernon Presley's 14K White Gold & Diamond Wristwatch: $8,750

Elvis was generous with many things, including jewelry. One of his father's, Vernon Presley's, 14K white gold and diamond Bulova wristwatches was also in the aforementioned Julien's auction lot. However, it didn't have the King's magic touch, so it sold for just under half of what Elvis' did at $8,750. 

Hugh Hefner's Accutron: $7,680

Rounding out these glitzy Bulova watches is Playboy's own Hugh Hefner. For all of his problematic traits, he was known for being a stylish man. Barbi Benton, a model who frequently graced the Playboy cover, gifted Hefner an Accutron. In the wake of his death, it outdid expectations, selling for $7,680 at auction. 

How Bulova Watches Broke Onto the Scene 

Bulova might have risen to the highest ranks in the mid-20th century, but how did it get there? Joseph Bulova, a Czechoslovakian immigrant, began working at the legendary Tiffany & Co. shortly following his move to the United States in the late 19th Century. His previous apprenticeships with European jewelers helped him smoothly transition into the American corporate structure, and soon, he was confident enough to launch his own company, called J. Bulova & Co., in 1875.

Unfortunately, Bulova's innovations have been overlooked despite being one of the first watchmakers to mass-produce wristwatches. After all, the company was the first to debut a full collection of wristwatches for women in 1924 and the first watch brand to have a celebrity endorser in Charles Lindbergh. If you enjoy American watch companies like Hamilton and Waltham, you'll love Bulova's antique and vintage catalog. 

Related: Waltham Watch Values: What Makes These American Classics Tick

How to Identify a Bulova Watch at Home 

Bulova watches are seen on display

Unlike other vintage accessories, Bulova watches are relatively easy to identify. Nearly every Bulova watch has the company's name inscribed at the top of their dials. However, few early watches from the 1920s lack that Bulova signifier.

In addition to their regular wristwatches, their famous Accutron watch was normally marked with either its name or the tuning fork logo across the top of its dials.

Helpful Hack

The Bulova Watches website has a great repository of serial numbers and date codes that you can use to identify your vintage and antique Bulova watches. 

How Much Is My Bulova Watch Worth?

Since the Bulova company was prolific in the affordable watch market during the mid-20th century, most vintage Bulova watch values don't amount to much. They teeter between $20 and $100, depending on the watches' condition and the quality of the materials. However, there are a few valuable Bulova watch models to keep an eye out for. 

Art Deco Bulova Watches

Woman working on a watch at Bulova Watch

Early Bulova Art Deco watches are normally brightly colored and feature either enamel or gemstone details. The most valuable Bulova wristwatches from this period boast valuable precious gemstones and metals in their bands and faces.

Watches made with 14K and 18k gold, rose gold, and white gold can be sold for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, while enamel watches will sell for a bit less. A 14K white gold and diamond bezel Bulova ladies' watch recently sold for $999 on eBay.

Bulova "HACK" Watches

The United States Armed Forces commissioned the Bulova A-11 watch for Allied use during World War II. While many different watches were distributed among Allied forces, the most iconic watch was Bulova's A-11, which came to be known as the "HACK" watch.

Featuring a single-piece green band and black face, this watch is sought after by military historians, World War II fans, and watch collectors alike. One genuine Bulova HACK recently sold for $735 on eBay. 

Bulova Academy Awards Series

The Bulova Academy Awards Series, in partnership with the Academy of Motion Pictures, was produced between 1950 and 1954. At first, the Academy let Bulova use trademarked imagery on this series; however, the Academy later rescinded the agreement when Bulova began marketing the watch as having an "Award Winning Design" and sued Bulova for its actions.

This forced Bulova to break the contract two years earlier than planned. Having a smaller production run makes this series of watches both rare and desirable for film enthusiasts and Hollywood memorabilia collectors. One such Academy Award watch from the 1950s is currently for sale on eBay for $325.

Bulova Accutron Watches

Bulova Accutron Watch

For those who love spy novels and movies, the Bulova Accutron series is the watch for you. This specific watch employed the Accutron tuning fork, which was an electric technology that made the wristwatches significantly more accurate. Due to this accuracy, the CIA selected the Accutron to be used by their tester pilots for their Lockheed A-12 spy plane, the precursor to the iconic Blackbird.

Bulova soon created an Accutron watch with a 24-hour hand and 24-hour bezel named the Accutron Astronaut watch. These watches performed incredibly well in high altitudes with significant g-force and were not originally created for public release. One of these Accutron Astronaut watches recently sold for $1,009.99. 

Bulova Chronograph "C" "Stars and Stripes" Watch

The Bulova Chronograph "C" watch can be identified by its eponymous blue, white, and red dial design. It's rather collectible since it was discontinued a year after its release. The watch has a more modern design with a steel band and a large, colorful dial. A genuine "Stars and Stripes" watch from 1970 recently sold for $3,600 at auction.

Bring a Vintage-Inspired Bulova Home With You

Using its rich history as inspiration, Bulova launched the Archive Series to connect modern buyers to its vintage catalog. There, you can find modern versions of old Bulova watches like the HACK watch, the "Stars and Stripes" watch, the Computron LED, and the Moon Watch. If you're dying to purchase a difficult-to-find vintage Bulova watch, you very well might see it on Bulova's shelves in the years to come.

And if you're trying to sell your vintage Bulova, this Archive Series proves that there are many people who might find your vintage Bulova to be the exact wristwatch they've been looking for.

Bulova — A.K.A. the Best-Kept Secret in Watch History 

Bulova might be no Omega or Rolex, but it's still churning out great wristwatches 100+ years later. Bring back your grandparents' style with a vintage or antique Bulova watch of your own. Unlike Omega or Rolex, they certainly won't break your bank. 

Trending on LoveToKnow
Bulova Watches & Their Prices: Styles Worth Knowing