My military watch restorations continue with this beautiful A17A Navigator’s Watch.
This watch came to me in fantastic external condition with the original and beautiful patina on the dial and hands. I saw this on eBay advertised in AS IS condition and I knew that if I could get it fixed it would make a fantastic addition to the military pieces I have worked on. Fortunately my gamble on a non-working watch paid off and the fix was not too tough.
It took me about 5 seconds to figure out that the mainspring on this A17A had snapped. This is one of the easiest problems to diagnose. If you have a non-working watch that you notice just winds and winds with no tension, chances are high that the mainspring is broken. As I waited for the new mainspring to arrive I serviced and inspected the rest of the movement. The A17A uses a 17 Jewel version of the Bulova Caliber 10BNCH which incorporated a few of the new military specifications that were developed after the legendary A11. Also used as a pilot’s and navigator’s watch, the A17A was equipped with a hack function to allow for the precise and coordinated setting of time. From my understanding, the A17A had to individually pass stringent time keeping and durability tests to meet the specification, making these watches not only rare, but incredibly well made.
There is some controversy (and fraud) with this particular watch as it comes in two very similar iterations. There is the A17A and the 3818-A. Aesthetically these watches are identical. Movement-wise these watches are almost identical. The differences come down to two major things: the engraving on the case back and 15 jewels vs. 17 jewels. As the A17A is a much more desirable, rare, and accurate watch, people often (knowingly or unknowingly) advertise a 3818-A as an A17A to get top dollar for it. If you are in the market for one beware! Always make sure it is the proper watch. Even more clever (or devious) people can put a 15-jewel movement in an A17A case and pass it off for one, so keep your eye out for both crucial details.
When it was all done, I put an older military canvas band on it to perfect the military feel to it. It can now be added to the growing collection of military pieces that I have restored.