years of "Professional" Accutron Repair Experience,
Old Father Time also has the most extensive library of Bulova Watch Company's technical documentation for Accutron Tuning Fork watches in the world.
"Accuracy through Electronics"
That's how the name Accutron was born
Just for information, here are a few things we've had reported by customers over the last 20 years of handling antique electronics, as well as information directly from Bulova through technical bulletins and manuals. Even though a vintage Accutron keeps perfect time for us here on the timing equipment and through all our testing (in a perfect environment), it can exhibit irregularities once shipped and put back into service.
Airplane cabin pressure changes (as reported by customers) have caused crystals to pop off and, after being exposed, the hands can become damaged.
Of course, airport security scans (whether on the belt, in the suitcase, or on the wrist) have often stopped the watch entirely or have caused adjustments to be needed. This is reported by actual customers who witnessed it.
Also scanning devices (such as those found in grocery and home improvement stores) can occasionally affect the timekeeping if the watch is held too close to the electromagnetic device, because of the rare earth magnets in the movement. (Actual customer reports & Bulova Accutron Technical Documentation regarding electromagnetism- 214/218)
All sorts of medical equipment can stop an antique Accutron, but especially exposure to x-ray and diagnostic equipment, such as MRI type devices. (Many customers have reported this)
Water, moisture and extreme changes in temperature can certainly cause problems for Accutron watches. Moving in and out of air conditioned buildings during very humid summer days may cause condensation under the crystal. Vintage Accutron watches ARE NOT WATERPROOF (and never were). Swimming, showering, rain, hand washing, dish washing, heavy perspiration, high humidity climates and other introductions of water will often cause condensation to form under the crystal. If that should happen, please remove the battery door (214) or pull the crown (218) and allow the movement to dry completely. Then package the watch and return it to us for inspection.
High altitudes can cause minor variations in timekeeping, but not permanent damage. (confirmed by Bulova manuals)
Extreme cold or extreme heat can cause timekeeping problems. (This is the exact language taken from the Bulova Technical Manual.)
We've found on several occasions, that copper arthritis bracelets, copper bands, sports bracelets, balance bracelets (anything with magnets), can interfere with the timekeeping of these watches as well, and probably many similar things we're still learning about.
When taking the watch off at night, it seems to work best to rest it on a cloth or other soft surface. Resting the watch on a wooden or other hard surface can cause variations in timekeeping accuracy from minutes per day, to hours. The silver oxide batteries used today deliver voltage differently than the original mercury batteries and hard vibrations against solid objects interfere with the normal rhythmic vibration of the tuning fork.
One customer discovered timekeeping irregularities with his 2182 model Accutron whenever he rested it near his telephone answering machine. He moved the watch to a different location and solved the problem.
A customer who recently reported his Accutron stopping intermittently, sent it in TWICE under warranty for the same complaint. Each time the watch was fully tested and found to be keeping excellent time with no interruption or inaccuracy. In speaking with the customer and trying to work through any environmental causes, the customer suddenly said "vibrations?, do you think riding my Harley Davidson motorcycle could do that?" The watchmaker of course, said yes. This Accutron is keeping great time now that it no longer rides a motorcycle.
Even when new, these watches, (equipped with a 1.35V Mercury battery), were not considered "self starters" (as reported in Bulova's original technical manual/documentation, dated August, 1975, which we have in our library). After installing the AccuCell battery and closing the back/door, it "may" not immediately begin running. Often it will. However, occasionally the watch will require a slight "thump" on the 9 o'clock side after installing a battery. This will start the tuning fork vibration, and then the new battery will continue that "in-motion" state.
It's important to mention that Using Silver Oxide batteries (instead of the Mercury cells originally used), can present problems occasionally. As antique electronic timepieces, each consumes voltage differently. Some will seem to run fast upon first putting it back into service after a repair, and then will “settle down” after a couple of weeks (or even days). Others will run slow after shipping, and then will require a slightly higher voltage to maintain proper tuning fork vibration rythum. No one knows why this happens. Our restorations are tested for at least 14 days before shipping. And still after tens of thousands of repairs, it happens with about 1 in 20 Accutrons. The watch is typically sent back for an adjustment, and performs well thereafter. (see below)
We've found that timekeeping adjustments are occasionally necessary weeks or months after major repairs (and sometimes even minor repairs). Bulova produced numerous service bulletins on the subject over the years, but never did actually disclose a "cause". The use of silver oxide batteries (instead of the original mercury) only further compounds those issues. So even though the watch may keep perfect time in our studio, and on the timing equipment, after being placed back into service, they may require additional adjustments to the timekeeping accuracy. We've also seen this occur immediately after rough shipping.
Eveready recently changed their 394 and 387S batteries. According to the manufacturer, they've consolidated the two sizes into one that's comparable to the original 387S. They are packaging the new #394 in the old 387S Retail Packaging. Confusing, I know, but all our 387S purchases from the manufacturer have appeared this way. See Photo on the Accutron Parts page.
It's important to let the watchmaker know if you prefer to wear your vintage Accutron on the UNDER side of your wrist. This changes the accuracy settings which the watchmaker will make during the time-testing portion of the repair process.
There are many things that affect the timekeeping of these watches. Most of them didn't even exist in the 1960s and 1970s when these watches were produced. As antiques, we recommend they be considered "special occasion" timepieces instead of using for "everyday" or "hard use".
We're always interested in hearing your experiences. Email us with your own Accutron Anomalies.
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Here are some additional OFT links:
Old Father Time Accutron Reviews & Customer Comments
ACCUTRON WATCH REPAIR AND RESTORATION BY OLD FATHER TIME
Accutron Watches for Sale
Accutron Batteries, Gaskets, Parts & Tools
Accutron Repair Anomalies & Things We've Learned Over These 26 Years
Accutron Photo Gallery of Restorations
Accutron Spaceview Repair
Accutron 2181 Repair Fully Restored
Accutron 214 and 218 Setting Instructions
Bulova Hot Sheets for Accutron and Repair
Facts about Accutron
Accutron Repair Photos
Accutron Repair Parts & Tools
Accutron Spaceview Watches for Sale
Accutron Repair Prices
Accutron Repair Security Information
Accutron Astronaut Watches for Sale
Accutron 218 Watches for Sale
Accutron Spaceview Repair
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