HANDS-ON: The Bulova Marine Star Series C divers meld style with rugged capability

HANDS-ON: The Bulova Marine Star Series C divers meld style with rugged capability

Ricardo Sime

Bulova’s Marine Star line has provided the brand’s answer to a fashionable, sporty watch for decades. They’re not super-tough, military-style divers. But nor are they the sort of 50-metre water-resistant watches that many of us avoid. Instead their offerings sit comfortably in the middle of that spectrum, appealing to those of us that want a fun, but capable watch. The new Bulova Marine Star Series C models continue that balanced tradition. Let’s take a closer look at this pair of watches to understand Bulova’s approach.

The case

Bulova Marine Star Series C – ref. 97A174

When in hand, there is no doubt about it. The Marine Star Series C is a watch with a ton of wrist presence. With a 45mm width, 52mm lug-to-lug and 15mm thickness, I would expect nothing less. What did surprise though was how well it wore. The dimensions of the watch seem to spread out perfectly on my 7.5 inch wrist, allowing it to sit securely there. A light curve in the lugs plays a role in this as well.

As for finishing, both gold-plated and stainless-steel versions are executed the same, with a mixture of topside brushing and polished flanks. It gives the watch a sporty and casual feel that’s very appealing. Especially when you realise that you’re still getting a screw-down crown and 200 metres of water resistance.

Finally, there is the intriguing bezel. The decision to create polished markers and numerals is one that, at first, doesn’t seem right. Yet, in hand, these work well to capture even the smallest amount of light.

The dial

Bulova Marine Star Series C – ref.96A291

Moving in from that interesting bezel, and below the mineral crystal, we’re met by either a blue dial (96A291) or a black dial (97A174). The sense of depth Bulova is able to convey here is remarkable. There are multiple layers, giving way to a translucent portion at its centre, which then gives way to an open-heart window.

What’s so interesting about these dials is the balancing act between creating something fashionable and something toolish. There is the lume used on the markers and hands that goes hand in hand with a sports watch. Yet we have an open heart, that leans more dressy. To top that, the skeletonised movement on display is roughly finished in a way befitting a sporty watch.  So many design cues that somehow manage to meet in the middle and play nice.

The movement

Powering these watches is the Miyota 8N26 movement. It’s a three-hand skeletonised movement beating at 21600 bph. It’s a true no-date movement so there are no ghost positions with the crown. And on a full wind, it has a power reserve of 42 hours.

The bracelet and strap

As far as straps go, Bulova has created something different for each Marine Star Series C reference. The gold-plated 97A174 features a simple metal bracelet that is predominantly brushed with polished trim between the links. It features a pin and collar design and should get the job done.

For me, however, the more intriguing strap has to be the rubber-backed leather strap of the blue 96A291. The rubber makes it very comfortable on the wrist, while the leather gives it a more casual look. I also appreciated the short spacing between the eyelets that allows for a more precise fit.


Overall, the Martine Star Series C watches continue the Bulova formula of stylish yet capable timepieces. They’re watches you need not worry about getting wet or being a bit rough with, while still having an everyday appeal. That’s something a large portion of those who wear watches are looking for. And Bulova is there to answer the call.

The Bulova Marine Star Series C pricing and availability:

The Bulova Marine Star Series C watches are available now on Bulova’s website. Price: $695 USD (Gold Plated) $595 USD (Blue)