Bulova 666 Feet Set-O-Matic Diver

Buy for: $1,400.00

The History

Founded by a Tiffany & Co. employee, Joseph Bulova, in 1875, Bulova Watch Company came to be recognized as a supremely impactful American wristwatch manufacturer, the likes of which there are few. After a period of focusing on pocket watches, Bulova was one of the first brands to see a tidal wave coming in the space of wristwatches. Joseph took a very American approach in refocusing his business. Rather than building handmade watches built on a tradition of craftsmanship a la Ferrari, the brand went the way of Ford by building all of its watch components with as many common parts as possible to facilitate mass production. Amazingly, this focus did not come at the expense of accuracy as Bulova was praised for its simplicity and timekeeping from the outset of its wristwatch business. In 1919 the brand’s first full catalog of women’s wristwatches was introduced and by 1923 the same was the case for men.

Through the 1920s and 30s, Bulova, now under the leadership of Joseph’s son Arde, can be attributed with a large part of a boom in the popularity of wristwatches among Americans. Although hard to imagine today, wristwatches were viewed as childish when first coming to the market because men were attached to their large and status symbol pocketwatches. By introducing the product set to women first, Bulova began to build a market and desire for the wristwatch. While the brand introduced wrist watches for men in 1923, popularity only hit after a series of genius marketing techniques. In 1926, Bulova created the first American radio advertisement with the phrase “it’s eight o’clock Bulova Watch time” heard by millions. That same year Arde publicly offered a prize of $1000 to the first pilot to fly nonstop across the Atlantic and privately gifted a watch to Charles Lindbergh. Prior to leaving for his famous 1927 flight from New York to Paris, Lindbergh wrote to Bulova “Many thanks for the Bulova Watch Prize offered… The Bulova Wrist Watch, which it is my pleasure to wear, keeps accurate time and is a beauty.” In 1927, Bulova released their “Lone Eagle” men’s wristwatch with newspaper ads showing a copy of Lindbergh’s letter. The Lone Eagle was a massive success and the mass American watch market was born.


The Reference

The depths of the ocean have always had a special allure to those of us who seek to adventure and explore. When scuba diving rose in popularity in the 1960’s, aided by The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, watch brands wanted to capitalize on the rising popularity of the sport as well as the technical prowess that it would take to make a watch that would function at depth. Bulova was not immune to this allure and launched the first watch in the Snorkel family in the early 1960’s. During this time the standard dive watch was rated to 600 feet, but Bulova, wanting to gain an edge over its competitors in technical skill and marketability, rated their dive watches to 666 feet.  The number 666 obviously comes with its own connotations, as it’s the so-called “number of the Beast” in the Bible’s Book of Revelation. As a result, the public has coined these watches as “Devil Divers and Bulova would continue using this depth rating for almost two decades. This particular watch also features the Set-O-Matic designation which was usually reserved for Bulova’s Caravelle line and a W Germany stamp indicating that it was produced in Bulova’s West German factory.


The Case and Bracelet

The 36mm stainless steel case is in excellent to new old stock condition with even the smallest scratch being difficult to locate. The case wears the correct brushed and polished finishes and the edges are extremely sharp. The signed bracelet is in matching condition with no flex and all of the original links.


The Dial and Hands

The black dial is in very good condition. The dial seems to have picked up a little bit of dust which is fairly common for a watch of this age and could be cleaned by a watchmaker if the new owner preferred. The lume has aged nicely and it is all present and full. All components are correct and thought to be original.


The Movement

This watch features an automatic Bulova 1133.10 (ETA 2879) movement with day date function. The watch is running and the service history is unknown. The caseback was not removed for photograph to preserve the case condition.


Seller WatchSafari
Auction Number 306
Location New York City
Brand Bulova
Model Set-O-Matic Dual-Day Diver
Reference Number N/A
Movement Automatic Bulova 1133.10 (ETA 2879)
Year 1970s
Dial Black
Case Width 36mm
Case Material Stainless Steel
Band Material Stainless Steel
Clasp Type Deployant
Original Box No
Original Papers No
Seller Type Dealer

Buy for: $1,400.00

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