Bulova 1923 -Unknown

Submitted by JimDon5822 on October 10, 2021 - 9:47am
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I received permission from the seller of this watch to post it on mybulova.com. It appears to be a 1923 military watch with sterling silver hall marked case and a 15j 10AI movement.  It has NO center second hand,  a round dial with radium Arabic numbers and lumed hour and minute Hands. Dating from the ad referenced in this listing as there is no date code that I’m aware of.. Interestingly the Ad specifically markets this watch towards military men, motoring or golf which I think is really cool. I don’t see a model number so do we want to call it an Unknown or 1923 Bulova Military.

1923 Military
1923 Military
1923 Military
1923 Military
1923 Military
1923 Ad
Posted October 10, 2021 - 11:04am

A pretty amazing watch. Appears all original, including hands and leather band. Interesting that "207" is stamped on both bezel interior as well as case back.

Based on the ad describing it as a Military watch, "just the thing for motoring or golfing", I'd be inclined to suggest a tag of 

1923 Military Non-Issue

Posted October 10, 2021 - 5:39pm

You took the words right out of my mouth Bob. Thinking the same.

It no doubt had a model number which we will find oneday, but based on our previous assessments of military 'style' watches sold to the general publi, the 'non-issue' designate works here.

1923 Military Non-Issue

Posted October 10, 2021 - 6:31pm

Case back is hallmarked with a single "rampant bear". Information and case back photo from this website on Swiss Watch  hallmarks.

Between 1880 and 1933 the legal Swiss hallmarks for silver were either a “bear rampant”, a bear standing on its hind legs, or a grouse. The requirements of foreign countries meant that some additional grades and standards were introduced for export markets, but the single grouse and single bear remained the basic Swiss standards for silver until 1933.

“Sterling” 935 with One Bear to the Right

The use of 0·935 silver and the three bears marks was discussed in La Fédération Horlogère Suisse in October 1890, after a suggestion by the authorities that the practice should be discontinued and that watch cases could be marked with 0·935 and a single bear. The watch manufacturers were strongly of the view that it was necessary to continue with it for watches that were to be exported to England, because English customers had come to recognise and appreciate the mark of the three bears. The mark of the three bears therefore continued to be an available option as before.

The mark of the three bears was not universally appreciated. It was said that customers in the United States preferred to see a single bear. Because of this, watch cases of 0·935 silver that were submitted to the Bureaux de Contrôle (assay offices) in packets marked “Destinée à l'Angleterre” (destined for England) were stamped with three bears; without this identification they were stamped with a single bear.

Manufacturers could therefore choose whether to have three bears or just one bear stamped on 0·935 silver watch cases by marking the packets “Destinée à l'Angleterre” if they wanted three bears, or omitting this if they wanted just a single bear. The image here of the case back of a Tavannes watch shows just such a mark, 0·935 and a single bear.

Kathy L.
Posted October 11, 2021 - 9:42am

I love that the case and back are stamped with the 207.  Very unique and great to have the ad for it.

1923 Bulova Military Non-Issue

Geoff Baker
Posted October 11, 2021 - 10:56pm

This is a fine watch. I do not at all agree that it is a "Military" watch, least of all a non-issued military watch. I suggest that the advert (retailer produced, not Bulova produced) is stating that this watch has 'military strap' attached to it and not that it is a 'military' watch WITH a strap. The advert goes on to state that it would be a fine watch for motoring OR golfing, yet we don't suggest either of those names.

Bulova was not to any of our knowledge making watches for any branch of the US military in 1923, so to refer to it as a non-issued military watch would be, I believe totally incorrect. A military watch is one proven to have been manufactured specifically and only for a US Military Service. We have nothing to document that Bulova made watches LIKE this for the US Military Services. A non-issued military watch is one that is LIKE a military produced watch but does not have US Military production specifications stamped into the case back and as it is not LIKE a watch produced for the military it could not be a non-issued military watch either.

I love the watch, given a fair price I might even buy the watch but I would tag it as - 1923 Bulova Unknown

Posted October 12, 2021 - 10:41am

In reply to by Geoff Baker

Point taken, Geoff. Weren't the first mens wrist watches referred to as a "strap watch" to call out the difference from previous men's watches that were all carried in the pocket? There are 2 ways to read the ad; "military strap" watch or Military "strap watch". I am more inclined to go with interpretation #2. Here are a few 1920's ads calling out "strap watches" for men. Granted, they aren't Bulova ads but show the early to mid 1920's trend of calling them strap watches.


Hamilton, I believe, produced the first military contract watches, ad below is dated 1919. The subject Bulova is strikingly similar. It's not much of a stretch to suggest Bulova copied the design post WWI to jump on the bandwagon and produce "non-issue" military watches. Everybody did it; when one producer hits on a hot idea, everybody else cashes in producing their interpretation of the style. Just my thoughts and observations.


Posted October 12, 2021 - 7:24pm

In reply to by Geoff Baker

My take on 'militarty non-issue' is to cover watches 'styled' in a military theme and sold to the general public as a 'military style' watch, but not actually issued to military personnel.

We have a few currently ID'd as 'Military non-issue': Bulova Models | myBulova.com

During this period the basis of a mens watch being worn on the wrist had its origins in the military, thus the marketing we see in the newspapers of the time.

Whilst I agree that it is not a 'military' watch, I do believe it was sold and marketed during this priod as a military style watch, which was the purpose of the 'non-issued' model group. 

However I am also happy with 'unknown' as I suspect it had an early model number.

Posted October 13, 2021 - 2:17am


Nurse's Watch


Posted October 13, 2021 - 9:48am

In reply to by plainsmen

This nurses watch is A different watch. Smaller in size and with a center secondhand.