The Accutron watch was developed by Bulova and the whole design of the watch is a marked departure from the traditional use of a balance wheel and hairspring as is normally the case. The replacement mechanism is in fact a tuning fork arrangement, which makes the watch somewhat unique and gives it qualities of accuracy not known with traditional movements.
Although still needing lubrication for accurate timekeeping, these watches needs far less than normal. Also being less affected by temperature and the effects of gravity, the Accutron is largely immune to these influences that affect time keeping. The heart of an Accutron watch is the tuning fork mechanism, which vibrates at a rate between 300 and 720 times per second. Compare this with a normal watch that can beat at 5 beats per second, the faster the beat the more accurate is the watch due to the fact that the balance wheel is lighter and smaller, which means that it is less affected by external influences.
The watch also works differently in that the tuning fork mechanism does away with the need for a mainspring to store energy. The Accutron tuning fork actually drives the gear train, rather than the other way around with conventional watches. This allows bearings and lubrication to be of less consequence than would normally be the case with traditional mechanisms.
Many people today are avid collectors of these watches, not only because they are truly a functional and good looking watch, but also because of their extremely good timekeeping qualities and their ‘uniqueness’ value in today’s collectibles marketplace.
Accutron watches were produced during the 1960s and 70s and can be easily dated by their simple dating system, the letter M representing the 1960s and N representing the 1970s. A number after the letter narrows down the year of manufacture, so M3 would be 1963, N7 would be 1977 etc, ingenious!
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