In-Depth Review - Bulova Lunar Pilot 96B251

Presentation Box

A padded wooden box, booklet covering the brief history of the watch, instruction manual, authenticity card, removal tool, 2 cushions one for the Velcro strap with leather patch, giving the mission date and frequency of the movement, the second cushion for the watch itself.

It was on August 2nd, 1971 when Bulova would be walking on the Moon. But you say “I thought Omega Speedmaster was the only NASA Approved Watch” and you'd be right but under NASA’s own rules and regulations many of the Timing instruments were made by Bulova. The 46 missions and Lunar landings all used them. Therefore Bulova presented Commander Scott of Apollo 15 a Bulova prototype which met all of the NASA requirements and passed the G-Force tests etc but was overshadowed by the Omega as the first choice of Time device, without telling anyone he brought it on board with him. 

“Huston we have a problem”

As luck would have it, his Speedy Crystal popped out, so he slipped on his Bulova and he became the first man to use an unauthorised watch while driving the Moon Buggy on the lunar surface. 

He made history that day. Commander Scott in 2015 decided he would put up for Auction his beloved Prototype where it reached an incredible record-breaking $1.6 million. In response to this Bulova decided to make a Special Edition Lunar Pilot Chronograph. The Specifications were in keeping with the original case design alongside the dial and chronograph pushers but with a modern movement.

The dimensions are 20mm lug to lug, 45mm diameter, 48mm length 13.5mm thickness.

Sandblasted Stainless Steel case fits comfortably on my 7-inch wrist on top of which a sand blasted heavily stepped bezel sits the flat thick Anti-Reflective Sapphire crystal which protrudes slightly.

The Tachymeter bezel encloses the 40mm dial; I love the high contrast of the Super lume white indices, markers and hands against the pitch-black face, making it incredibly easy to read.

The  Dial

Bulova has created a multi-dimensional dial keeping the markers simple and the minute track easy to read with the large sweeping chronograph seconds hand. The sub-dials at 9 o’clock read the minutes up to 60mins total, the 3 o’clock reads 10th of a second, to save battery this stops after 30 seconds but when you press the top pusher it will read the seconds as if it has been spinning all the time, a date window sits at 4 o’clock and finishing the compliment off at 6 o’clock the 60 seconds hand ticks at 2 ticks per second. To reset the chronograph you press the bottom pusher and the hands sweep back into position. The pushers have a tactile click which is very satisfying.

The Movement

Bulova decided not to use the manual wind Universal Genève movement of the original but to use their highly accurate UHF 262 kHz quartz movement which gives the chronograph hand its distinctive sweep at 8 ticks per second, while the 60sec sub-dial ticks at 2 ticks per second.

Unlike the standard quartz movement operates at 32748 kHz with an accuracy of a few seconds a month. The Bulova operates at 262 kHz which has an accuracy of a few seconds a year.

Conclusion

My overall impression of the watch is Bulova has created a well-engineered and inspiring chronograph that belongs alongside the Iconic Omega as the only watches to have walked on the lunar surface.

The size of the watch will not suited those of a smaller wrist, which I hope Bulova will address in future versions. For those who love history and outstanding accuracy then this watch will fill that need. I honestly feel that these 2 watches would sit comfortably in anyone’s collection

One thing to note when you buy this version because the position of the lug holes where the spring bars go is in a different position you are unable to use the stainless-steel bracelet that the 96B258 version uses.

Specs & Availability

 

Dimensions – 45mm Case Size / 13.5mm Thickness / 20mm Lugs (Integrated) / 48mm Lug-Lug

Case Material – Stainless Steel

Strap/Bracelet – Textured Black Leather + Velcro Nylon NATO

Dial - Black

Lume ­– Super Lumi-Nova

Water Resistance – 50 Meters

Movement – Bulova High-Frequency Quartz

Price - £449 RRP

Availability – Available At Bulova Stockists

Movement – Bulova High Frequency Quartz

Price - £449 RRP

Availability – Available At Bulova Stockists

 

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