To be entirely honest, I did not expect to love this Bulova AeroJet as much as I do. I originally purchased it in non-working condition with a crystal so scratched that it looked like someone had taken it to a belt sander. The only reason I got it was to use it as a harvester movement for another project. Once I finished with that watch I decided to get some practice on the AeroJet. The final result was a watch that is just as beautiful if not more so than the original project watch (in my opinion.)
Before the age of quartz, Bulova revolutionized the watchmaking industry by creating a series of reliable and well-made mechanical movements with parts that were largely interchangeable as well as easily ordered, intelligently marketed, and well packaged for watchmakers. This fact makes them great watches to work on as well as great watches to collect because their maintenance and repair are generally straightforward and reasonably priced.
When I was digging through my drawer for a new watch to work on, I decided on this AeroJet because I liked the patina on the hands and dial and the scratched up and dull case provided a good opportunity to practice my polishing skills.
The only problem with this watch (minus the fact that it was missing parts from the previous project) was that the oscillating weight axle was broken. An automatic watch is wound by motion that is transferred to an oscillating weight. As this weight rotates it winds the mainspring of the watch. Some watches have ball bearings and others have an axle. When the axle breaks it causes the rotor to wobble and makes it unable to sufficiently wind the watch. It also makes a distinctive rattling sound that indicates that something is clearly not right. In the picture below the one on the left is broken and the one on the right is in perfect shape.
After procuring the proper axle and parts, I fully serviced the watch. As the dial sat on my bench it grew on me. It is immaculate which is always nice to find. The long, thin, and slivered hour markers shine brilliantly and stand out against the plain dial. they add a particular vintage feel and elegance to this piece. The “AEROJET” on the dial is an addition that adds an unexpected amount of intrigue to the dial (if you don’t believe me, cover it up and see just how much simpler the dial appears to be.) Finally, the perfectly matched patina of the hands and hour dots (see above the markers) is especially rare to find with Bulovas, as interchangeability is a double-edged sword with things like this. Once I polished the case and got it all back together with a new crystal I became enamored with it. This feeling only grew when I put it on a tanned brown leather band that perfectly complements everything I love about the watch itself. To me, this piece represents everything that is great about vintage Bulovas: well made, elegant, easily serviceable, and affordable.
Typical of the fantastic rehab you do so well. You are right about the beauty and elegance of this watch. Nice job.
Mine doesn’t keep good time. I don’t know much about mechanical watches. Is there any way to adjust if a Bulova Aerojet runs too fast? (Gains 2 minutes a day.) Thx.
There is a way to adjust it, which is by carefully adjusting the hairspring. If you look at the picture of the movement you will see a + and a – right by the balance, adjusting the hairspring will change the timing accordingly. That being said however, If it has not been serviced recently, the best way to fix it would be to have it overhauled oiled and regulated. If it has been recently serviced I would return it as an unsatisfactory job! Hope this helps! -AMB
Nice write-up and excellent pictures. Can you tell me the make of the leather band you used? It complements the watch perfectly. Tx.
Thanks for the kind words! I believe this band was a Hadley-Roma distressed leather band.
Thanks for the quick reply! I picked up a manual-wind, no-date version of the watch, circa 1966 (my birth year watch) but it has a hair-pulling twist-o-flex band. I really like the distressed leather look; seems appropriate for an Aerojet. 😉
The two do go very well together. Twist-o-flexes should be banned. They are really the worst for pulling hair.
Beautiful watch, how long does the 11ALACD run for if its been fully wound up?
I believe the reserve is around 36 hours or so
Hello; I just now ran across your blog for the first time. I have a beautiful ’67 Bulova Aerojet Automatic (non-calendar) wrist watch that I purchased several years ago at a yard sale for 25 cents, and after putting a new strap on it, have worn it ever since. I prefer it over several other watches I have purchased over my 81 years. It is free of blemishes or scratches and runs very well, but it does lose about 10 minutes a day. When you’re in your 80s, it is fairly easy to tolerate a watch that loses 10 minutes a day; I’m not as fast as I used to be, either.
I read your response to another respondent’s comment about a similar one that ‘gains’ about 10 minutes a day, and your solution more or less confirms what I had suspected might be the cure for mine as well. Thanks for publishing the info and the great photos.