A cult classic with serious pedigree, the Bulova Lunar Pilot is a chronograph that went to the moon. This attractive Bulova has finally been revived with a 43.5 mm case, making it both smaller and more historically accurate than all recent remakes in the 45 mm case. The Lunar Pilot 43.5 mm is now part of the regular production line and is offered in two variations, including the original dial in monochromatic black, as well as a new and attractive “panda” dial in white and blue.
American astronaut Dave Scott wore the Bulova chronograph during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. Interestingly, he had to wear the watch on the lunar surface because his primary wristwatch, supplied by NASA, experienced crystal failure. The Bulova, being his backup watch, was not taken back by the government after the mission and was eventually auctioned off in 2015 for over USD 1.6 million.
Although the Bulova chronograph has been remade in recent years, including a gold-and-black 50th anniversary edition, all modern Lunar Pilots are in a large 45 mm format. The latest version, with a 43.5 mm case, is more faithful to the original and much more comfortable to wear. Furthermore, the case has been upgraded with a combination of matte and polished finishes, providing a more upscale look compared to earlier models which had only matte cases.
The smaller size of the Lunar Pilot, however, does not compromise its attractive features. The dial still has multiple levels of construction to distinguish its functions and scales, with the tachymeter scale, minute track, and sub-dials all on different levels. This improves legibility and adds visual depth, giving the watch a more premium look.
Powering the Lunar Pilot is the brand’s signature ultra-high frequency NP20 movement. The quartz crystal oscillates at 262 kHz, or about 8 times as fast as a typical quartz vibration. The chronograph seconds hand has a smooth, sweeping effect, and there is another indicator that completes a revolution every second, allowing for an accurate reading of 0.05 seconds elapsed time.
The Bulova Lunar Pilot offers great value for its price point of under USD 900 Its rich history, genuine provenance, and high-tech movement make for a compelling and accessible package, especially considering the fact that it comes equipped with both a stainless steel bracelet and a leather NATO strap.
And the latest version has also improved in terms of aesthetics, The 43.5 mm case size is a plus, as the 45 mm case size has long been a source of complaints for collectors. Perhaps in the future, there will be an even smaller, more wearable version. The “panda” dial also adds to the appeal of the watch, as it not only has eye-catching colours but also sports a more nuanced grained finish, instead of the typical “sun-ray” finish.
Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph
Movement: NP20; quartz
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph
Case: 43.5 mm; steel; water resistant to 50 m
Strap: Steel bracelet and additional leather NATO strap in black or blue
Price: USD 895