|Bulova Diverís Wristwatch Prototype
Bulova "Prototype" Diverís Wristwatch, No. U.D.T. 21 0182. Made in 1959 for the U.S.
Navy Experimental Diving Unit.
Fine, center seconds, water-resistant, stainless steel wristwatch. Accompanied by
copies of a 24-page document from the Department of the Navy containing testing and
|C. Three-body, brushed, screwed ring on the case back, graduated bidirectional
revolving black bezel, triangular lugs, case back engraved: U.D.T. 21 0182.
D. Black with luminous triangular, round and baton indexes. Luminous skeleton hands,
outer minute/seconds divisions, moisture indicator above the 6.
M. Cal. 10BPCHN, gilt brass, 17 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic
balance, shock absorber, self-compensating flat balance spring.Dial and movement
signed, numbered on the case. Diam. 41 mm. Thickness 13 mm.
|Estimate: 10,000 USD - 20,000 USD
Estimate: 7,500 EUR - 15,000 EUR
Estimate: 11,000 CHF - 22,000 CHF
|A prototype diver's watch made for the U.S. Navy in 1958. Designated MIL-SHIPS-W-2181, Bulova
Wrist Watch, Submersible, the watch was intended by the Navy to be a replacement for the obsolete
Elgin "Canteen" diver's watch. The watch featured a unique two-piece water-resistant case back, a
thick brass anti-magnetic case holder, and a newly designed movement - the 17 jewel manual wind
10 BPCHN. The unique movement featured a clutch mechanism that prevented the watch from being
over-wound. A small number of these watches were delivered for testing by the U.S. Navy Experimental
Diving Unit in 1958, and were successfully depth tested to 395 feet. A further small number were
delivered in early 1959 for field testing by the Diving Unit and the Navy's UDT-21 frogman team. After
the testing, recommendations for improvements were incorporated by the Navy in a final set of specifications
for the watch, redesignated MIL-SHIPS-W-22176, and issued in September 1959.
For unknown reasons, the Bulova company pulled out from their development contract with the Navy
in late 1959, about the time the new MIL-SHIPS-W-22176 specification was finalized. The prototype
never went into commercial production, and only a handful were ever made, all of which were delivered
to the Navy. Only three examples are known to have survived, including the present watch. Of these
three, the current offering is the only one known to have been issued for use in field trials. The Bulova
prototype was probably the last military watch ever produced in the USA, and certainly the rarest.
In March of 1961, the Navy revised the specifications for the watch as MILSHIPS-
W-22176A, and solicited bids for its manufacture. The contract
was awarded to the Blancpain company (Rayville, S.A.) through
its U.S. distributor, Allen V. Tornek Co. The resulting watches,
designated "Tornek-Rayville TR-900," were made in Switzerland
by Blancpain, and approximately 1000 watches
were delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1964 and 1966.
|Important Collectors' Wristwatches, Pocket Watches & Clocks
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