As incredibly cliché as it might be to say that it’s the little things that count when it comes to watch repair, there’s a reason that the cliché exists. This yet-to-be-identified 1940s Bulova restore is evidence of it. I bought this as part of a two-watch lot that was badly photographed. Combine a bad photograph with a watch in bad shape, and you have a definite opportunity for arbitrage or at least the potential for a great restore at a reasonable price point. Sometimes watches arrive running and all they need is a good cleaning oiling and regulating. Other times (as was the case here) they arrive fully wound (for some reason non-working watches always arrive fully fully wound as if winding it all the way will somehow get it ticking.) Watches like this are often referred to as “overwound” but that’s not a reason for not working it’s a symptom of something else. The term “overwound” is actually meaningless and “overused.” Moving on: when watches arrive in this state it becomes like a puzzle to spot the issue and get it remedied by cleaning or a new part. Most of the time the former does the trick. But this one required a bit more work.
I took this watch off of its horrific stretchy band and set about getting it clean inside and out.
During disassembly one major problem was clear: the third wheel was broken as was the wheel that sits atop it to drive the second hand. I resumed the disassembly and got to the cleaning. After cleaning, I set out all the pieces and examined them one by one. It was here that I found the second major issue pictured below. The gear driving the second hand had a broken tooth. Once all the broken components were replaced this piece ran like new again. With a new crystal and band, and a good case polish it is now looking much better than when it came in.
Although its identity remains unknown, it appears to be a variant on the Air Warden (see an earlier restore.) The dimensions are identical, and the general aesthetic is similar, but the movements (10 BE vs. 10BAC) and the difference of sub-dial (second hand at 6 o’clock) and sweep second (big second hand) might rule this out. Either way it’s a great piece from the 1940’s that has that vintage WWII militaria feel to it.
UPDATE: Thanks to the research of this watch’s great new owner, this has been identified as a Watertite