INTRODUCING: The Bulova Lunar Pilot and Accutron Astronaut prepare for lift off once again INTRODUCING: The Bulova Lunar Pilot and Accutron Astronaut prepare for lift off once again

INTRODUCING: The Bulova Lunar Pilot and Accutron Astronaut prepare for lift off once again

Fergus Nash
  • The Accutron Astronaut is being reissued with incredible accuracy
  • The Bulova Lunar Pilot is getting rid of the date and coming down to 43.5mm
  • The Lunar Pilot will also be available in a blue and white colour scheme

The 1960s space age was an incredible time for the progression of technology, even if NASA was powered by IBM computers that were millions of times less powerful than an average smartphone today. Helping the U.S. Space Program along its journey was Bulova and their burgeoning brand Accutron, perfecting the then-revolutionary art of electrical timekeeping via a metallic tuning fork vibrating at high frequencies. Not only was this technology utilised in various timekeeping instruments for NASA, but of course it was worn on the wrists of intrepid pilots too. Although it didn’t use the tuning fork movement, the Bulova Lunar Pilot also has NASA heritage with a prototype worn by Dave Scott in the Apollo 15 mission of 1971. In order to celebrate their storied connections with the U.S. Space Program, we’ve been treated to two new interpretations of the Bulova Lunar Pilot and Accutron Astronaut.

The Accutron Astronaut first orbited the Earth when it was issued to Mercury-Atlas 9 pilot Gordo Cooper Jr. in 1963 — the final of the Mercury program missions. It was also given to CIA pilots who flew Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft, which only saw mission use between 1967 and ’68 over Vietnam. The design which Bulova and Accutron have decided to reissue is the “T” model of the Astronaut from 1968, featuring a hypnotising array of applied and printed markers on a matte black dial and a day/night bezel insert. This Accutron Astronaut was reissued as a limited edition back in 2007, although most of the details were completely inaccurate, and so this new and faithful version is very welcome. Sadly the tuning fork movement died out fairly quickly during the ‘70s as the quartz uprising promised the same great accuracy with much lower costs and better reliability, so the new Accutron Astronaut is powered by an automatic Sellita SW330 GMT movement that can be seen from an exhibition caseback.

As for the Bulova Lunar Pilot, this is much more of a well-known story. The Apollo 15 mission in 1971 was the fourth flight to land on the moon, and as such hasn’t received as much attention as its forebears. Dave Scott had been wearing his NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster until the crystal popped off, when he then switched over to a prototype Bulova watch with an automatic chronograph movement that had previously been in the running as NASA’s go-to timepiece. Its appearance at auction spiked a lot of interest, and Bulova released the Lunar Pilot with a high-frequency quartz chronograph movement in 2015. Although it’s found a lot of popularity among collectors, the 45mm width and general bulkiness has scared a lot of people off. This new reference of the Bulova Lunar Pilot has been reduced back to the original 43.5mm, done away with the date wheel, and is also available in a blue and white colour scheme possibly inspired by the Silver Snoopy.

The Bulova Lunar Pilot and Accutron Astronaut pricing and availability:

The new Bulova Lunar Pilot will be available as an unlimited box set in either colour, with the steel bracelet and either a black or blue leather NATO-style strap. The Accutron Astronaut is limited to just 300 pieces. Price: US$895 (Bulova Lunar Pilot) / US$3,500 (Accutron Astronaut)

Brand Bulova / Accutron
Model Lunar Pilot / Astronaut
Case Dimensions 43.5mm x 13.21mm / 41mm x 13.85mm
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 50m / 100m
Crystal(s) Flat sapphire / Domed sapphire with AR coating
Dial Black or white and blue / Black
Lug Width 20mm / 22mm
Strap Steel bracelet with extra leather NATO / Steel bracelet
Movement NP20 High-Precision Quartz / Sellita SW330-1
Power Reserve 4 years / 42 hours
Availability Unlimited / Limited to 300 pieces
Price US$895 / US$3,500