Unlike many other watch manufactures, Bulova did not record their serial numbers against watch models, or if they did this information has long been lost. In many instances the case serial number can only be used to help determine the year of manufacture. This is usually dictated by the first number (prior to 1950).
Find the serial number on the case. To find the serial number on the case of your Bulova watch, simply flip it over and look at the flat back of the case. If there is a serial number, it should be engraved here. Serial numbers do not all contain the same number of digits. Not all Bulova watches will have serial numbers on the case.
Stainless steel models made in the 1940s, such as the Watertight (or Watertite), create another exception to the serial number method of dating a Bulova case. These models typically have short, 3- or 4-digit case serial numbers that obviously do not conform to the standard 7-digit format.
Bulova mark there dates using a date code system . This can be found on the back of the case and on the movement. No need to worry about long serial numbers on these! 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.
Case # starts with. Apply Reset. Mov # Case # Year Model Mov. Model; 324000 1188768 1931
After 1949, the date code is typically found on the back of the case. Beginning in 1950, Bulova used a simple code to date the case. The code is a single letter and a single digit. The letter represents the decade, the number the last digit in the year. Dating cases prior to 1950 is largely guesswork.
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After 1949, Bulova used a 2-digit date-code which was stamped on the case back (usually near the serial number) and sometimes also on the movement (usually near the set-screw). The first digit indicates the decade and the second indicates the year. For example, date code L5 = 1955, date code P2 = 1982.
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For example, a 1930s style case, etc., with a serial number that begins with "1" dates to 1931. Prior to 1926, the use of case serial numbers was inconsistent, with many early model serial numbers beginning with "1" or "2" regardless of the date of manufacture. Dating Bulova watches that appear to pre-date 1926 is far more complicated and ...