First introduced in 1960, the Accutron watch by Bulova was the world’s first fully electronic watch. It was not only the first time the world had seen such a watch, it was the first time the world had heard such a watch, because it didn’t tick, it hummed.
It was the most accurate timekeeping mechanism ever created and the first personal timekeeping advancement seen in 300 years. The Accutron uses a tuning fork, which vibrates 360 times per second, driven by an electromagnetic coil system and powered by a dry-cell battery.
It was developed by Swiss engineer Max Hetzel. Carefully and extremely patiently he changed the way time is told. In ordinary mechanical watches, the seconds hand moves in small visible jumps, multiple times per second (once for each beat of the balance wheel). With the Accutron, the seconds hand sweeps smoothly over the dial thanks to the very high frequency of the tuning fork.
Accutron, part of the Citizen Watch Company, is today a brand in its own right. The brand has unveiled a revival of some of the most memorable 60’s and 70’s Accutron styles, including the original 412 watch from 1969.
Part of the brand’s Legacy collection, the watch is directly influenced by the Ivy League style of dress that began to emerge in the late 50’s through to the 60’s. The 412 watch is influenced by the neat preppy look of the era.
Staying completely true to the 1969 watch, Accutron has taken the original case design for Accutron’s Spaceview, first introduced in 1961. The result is the new 412, authentic to the era – a 34mm gold-tone stainless steel round case watch with the same unique bull horn lugs and crown placement at 4 o’clock. The new 412 will immediately appeal to those who love Accutron’s dependable accuracy in a size suited to a more slender wrist.
The 3-hand silvered white dial features gold-tone applied and faceted hour markers and a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. Water resistant to 30 meters, the 412 is powered by Accutron’s Swiss Made 26-jewel movement. The watch comes on a black croco-embossed leather strap with a double-press deployant closure.
‘It’s not a timepiece, it’s a conversation piece.’ This was a tagline that featured on an episode of the hit HBO series Mad Men when, in the show, when the original Accutron watch was first launched. It has made its mark in history as the world’s first electronic watch and is rightfully regarded as one of the most important advancements in watchmaking. It keeps time via a vibrating tuning fork which hums instead of ticks.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste because it is not mechanical, and the movement does away with the hairspring and the balance wheel which limits the accuracy of mechanical watches. However, if you believe time telling should be as accurate as humanly possible, and you love what the brand stands for, the 412 is definitely worth a look, or should that be a listen?
Movement: 26 jewel Accutron automatic movement
Case: 34mm x 12.5mm, gold-tone stainless steel
Strap: Black croco-embossed leather
Price & Availability: USD 1,450; Limited edition of 600 pieces