Today we’re taking a look at a lesser known model in the now-discontinued Bulova Accutron automatic watch lineup: the Bulova Accutron Kirkwood Skeleton reference 63A001. With limited options for Swiss-made skeletonized mechanical watches under $1000, this model, which can still be found in New Old Stock (NOS) condition on sites like eBay, is an interesting value proposition that doesn’t break the bank.
The 63A001 is the original Bulova Accutron Kirkwood Skeleton released some time around 2010, before the introduction of the Accutron II lineup. It was then re-released under the AccuSwiss line as the reference 63A123 along with other mechanical watches in the Accutron lineup, most likely to eliminate confusion in the branding. There are a few minor differences between the original reference 63A001 and the revised reference 63A123:
- The revised model replaces the classic Bulova Accutron tuning fork marker at the 12 o’clock position with the roman numeral 12, as the watch is no longer branded as an Accutron.
- The revised model uses a generic counterbalance on the seconds hand instead of the tuning fork logo.
- The revised model has the Bulova AccuSwiss branding applied to the underside of the crystal.
At some point, Bulova also discontinued their AccuSwiss line, so the revised model of this watch has also been discontinued alongside the original. It too can still be found NOS on sites like eBay, although personally I would go for the original model due to the more classic branding.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find too much more background information beyond this, as modern-day Bulova has been constantly re-branding and changing up its lineup without preserving documentation of previous models. In fact, it doesn’t look like Bulova even sells automatic (or, as far as I can tell, even mechanical) watches anymore, as the webpage for their Automatic Collection doesn’t show any results. If anyone has any corrections or additional information, please chime in with your comments below.
On the wrist:
The Kirkwood Skeleton 63A001 features a 40mm (excluding crown) stainless steel case and a thickness of 11mm. Some of the thickness is attributed to a raised bezel, so the watch actually wears slim for its dimensions. The 51mm lug-to-lug width, curved downward-sloping lugs, and 20mm lug width means that this is a very reasonably sized sports watch by modern standards. It wears great on my 6.5-inch (16.5 cm) wrist; it’s not too bulky, but also commands good wrist presence due to the highly polished bezel, hour markers, and parts of the stainless-steel bracelet.
At a price point of around $500-$1000 in NOS condition, with pre-owned examples going for a fraction of that, the build quality is hard to beat. The case feels very solid. Inside, you get a robust skeletonized Sellita SW200-1 movement (an alternative to the ETA 2824), sapphire crystal and exhibition case back, and 100 meters of water resistance. The watch is also very comfortable to wear. The bracelet doesn’t pinch hair and features half-links for better fit and an unobtrusive butterfly clasp. Another nice touch: the automatic winding rotor has been relieved with three Accutron tuning fork logos, consistent with the skeleton theme.
The dial is also well executed. The polished markers and blue hands contrast well with the matte finishing on the rest of the skeletonized dial and movement, making the components equally interesting to look at without being overwhelming. There is also applied lume on the hour and minute hands, though without lume on the markers it is a bit difficult to read the time in low light. Finally, the minutes/seconds track on the edge of the dial is very sharp and even has a bit of a sunburst effect.
This is a skeletonized automatic timepiece that is hard to beat at its price point of under $1000. It comes from a reputable brand and its background, while not horologically significant, is definitely interesting. The movement may not be manufacturered in-house or be hand-engraved, but those are things that one can only expect at many times this watch’s price point. For those who want a well-made entry-level skeleton watch, the Bulova Accutron Kirkwood Skeleton reference 63A001 is definitely one to consider. I’ll wrap it up with three loves and hates about the watch:
- The crown guards add some more dimension to the case, and some extra robustness.
- The level of finishing on both the brushed and polished surfaces of the case is excellent at this price point.
- I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the Accutron tuning fork counterbalance on the seconds hand is just such a nice detail.
- The highly polished bezel does get scratched very easily, especially since it protrudes a millimeter or two above the crystal.
- The two screws that attach the dial to the case are not vertically symmetrical, which is distracting and throws off the balance of the dial. One is above the three o’clock marker, while the other is below the 9 o’clock marker. I wish those could have been hidden.
- The original retail price of $1995 on this watch was ridiculously high in my opinion, and it’s no surprise that these watches sell for less than half of that in NOS condition on eBay. For an extra $605 you could get an Oris Artelier Skeleton at MSRP.
What do you think? Do you know of any worthy competitors to this watch for under $1000? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.