HANDS-ON: The new Bulova Parking Meter delivers that wheel good factorRicardo Sime
“I’m going to the archives”. If a movie about the current state of the watch industry were to be released, that would be the main character’s catchphrase. In this last decade, we’ve seen multiple brands go to the creations of their past in search of inspiration for their present. And with such rich histories, who could blame many of them? Especially when you’re talking about a brand as storied as Bulova. Which is why they’ve gone to their archives for their recent release; the Parking Meter.
The new Parking Meter (reference 98B390) is a limited-edition reworking of their 1973 Chronograph 31008-6W. That watch was an automatic bullhead chronograph with a distinct looking dial. One that was reminiscent of the parking meters of that time.
Let’s take a close look at how Bulova has celebrated the original with this version.
The case of the new Parking Meter shares the same measurements as that of the original version. It’s 43mm wide with a 42.7mm lug-to-lug and a water resitance rating of 100 metres. Its thickness is the first place where we see a change from the original as this Parking Meter is only 11.8mm, due in large part to the lack of an automatic movement inside. The second change comes with the crown that now sits at 12 o’clock, which we’ll return to later.
When I finally got a chance to try the watch out on my 7.5 inch wrist, the comfort was surprising. Bullhead watches are notorious for not quite sitting well on the wrist. Yet thanks to the Parking Meter’s curvature, with lugs that sweep down below the flat caseback, that’s not the case here. This actually wore better than the original automatic version, which I had the chance to try on as well.
Move in from the case, and located behind sapphire crystal, you’re met with a dial that on first glance seems like an exact copy of the original with the parking meter aesthetic immediately noticeable. Yet, on second look, there are a few differences.
The first change is a result of the fact that this watch is running on a quartz movement. Where there once existed a 30 minute counter at 12, we now have a 24 hour sub-dial. This makes it easier for the wearer to differentiate between morning and night when setting the watch. Another benefit of this change is now we get a 60 minute counter at 6 o’clock instead.
The second change and something I truly appreciate is the incorporation of an inner rotating 12 hour bezel. Suddenly a watch that had only provided chronograph function, now features a “poor man’s” GMT. All while fitting seamlessly into the watch’s overall design. I didn’t even notice it until I asked what was the function of the crown at 6 o’clock.
Powering this watch is the 0S21 Miyota chronograph movement. It’s rated at +/- 20 seconds a month and should have a battery life of five years. The chronograph start/stop function is at 11 o’clock while the reset is at 1 o’clock. The crown at 12 manages base time functions (hours, minutes and date).
At the end of the day, it’s a robust, affordable movement, from a trusted manufacturer and is the perfect backbone to a design-driven watch.
The Bulova Parking Meter comes on a brown leather strap. It’s 22mm with a slight taper and is attached to the case at shrouded lugs.
In terms of feel, the material is supple. It’s to the point where it feels like the strap has been broken in for you, especially the padding. It leads to a very comfortable feeling on the wrist. And beyond the feel, the contrasting stitching and brown colour perfectly pair with the dial and blue bezel.
Overall, the new Parking Meter is a great example of a brand bringing back something from it’s archives while also making it more accessible for current consumers. Bulova has already experienced success doing this with their Lunar Pilot, and I don’t see why this won’t do the same. From the comfort of the case and strap, to the added benefit of the 12 hour bezel, this watch makes a simple and fun case for ownership. One that I think will attract a ton of collectors.
Bulova Archive Series Re-Edition Parking Meter pricing and availability:
The Bulova Archive Series Re-Edition Parking Meter is limited to 5000 pieces, and is currently available on their website. Price: $595 USD