Bulova and its sub-brand Accutron have together announced releases that should equally excite watch collectors and space nerds.
You know the Omega Speedmaster as the only watch certified by NASA, but in 1971 a Bulova chronograph also went to the moon as a backup. After that watch was rediscovered (and auctioned for $1.6 million in 2015) Bulova released a tribute to it in a 45mm, quartz-powered chronograph called the Lunar Pilot. It's since come in multiple variants and become a classic among affordable watches — but it now gets its biggest update ever: a smaller, 43.5mm case, the exact size of the original.
Down from 45mm, this is a big change for one of the most notable and recommendable watches in the affordable range. It's doesn't only represent the general trend of watch sizes shrinking, but it's also now more wearable and more faithful to the original. The larger (45mm) Lunar Pilot measured a significant 52mm long (lug-to-lug), so a smaller overall proportions should go a long way in pleasing a lot more fans.
Aside from the size, though, not much else is different. While the original would have used a mechanical movement (theres's speculation about exactly which one), the modern re-edition features the brand's own proprietary NP20 High Precision Quartz movement. It comes in two versions: one is monochromatic á là the classic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, and the other features a "panda"-like blue-on-white colorway.
Each comes on a steel bracelet and includes an NATO-style strap. The best thing is that if it follows the same pattern as past Lunar Pilot (and other Bulova) models, you can expect to be able to find it for significantly less than its retail price of $895 on the likes of Amazon.
But that's not all, space fans. Alongside these affordable new Lunar Pilot models comes a considerably more upscale GMT watch from Accutron. It's a reissue of the Accutron Astronaut, a well known model among vintage collectors, and this version specifically resurrects the "T" model from 1968 with a bi-colored "day-night" bezel.
Unlike the original, which used the brand's tuning-fork-regulated electric movement, this one's powered by a modern automatic Sellita SW330 with GMT functionality. Also unlike the original, it features a traditional crown (though it's slim and recessed into the case to minimize its visual presence). It also comes with all the luxury fixins like a box-style sapphire crystal and the brand's excellent fit and finish.
This model is limited to only 300 examples, with a hefty price of $3,500, but it also offers the prospect that more cool Astronaut variants might follow.