It’s essential to know that the horological panorama was fairly completely different to start with of 2016, when the Bulova Lunar Pilot was first launched. Particularly, the pattern of manufacturers poring over again catalogs and recreating previous fashions was in its nascency. Timex hadn’t reintroduced the Marlin. Seiko hadn’t reissued the 62MAS. Tissot hadn’t revisited the PRX. Rado hadn’t remade the Captain Cook dinner. As well as, there’s the multitude of legacy manufacturers which were resurrected within the years since, like Benrus, Lebois & Co., and Ikepod, to call only a few. Bulova’s personal Archive Sequence didn’t exist, as a result of the Lunar Pilot was its begin, and it now includes seven mannequin strains. So, when Bulova determined to supply an up to date model of the Lunar Pilot, it was taking a little bit of a danger. Definitely, the model hedged its bets by selecting a chronograph linked to the early days of America’s area program, however reissues weren’t the positive issues they’re now. Bulova was asking prospects to purchase an enormous, quartz watch with a soft-looking case and an unorthodox strap, albeit a watch whose status had been bolstered by the latest public sale success of its forebear.
When you haven’t heard the story of the Bulova Lunar Pilot but, enable me to briefly regale you. In 1971, NASA astronaut Dave Scott commanded Apollo 15, the fourth moon touchdown mission and Scott’s remaining spaceflight. On his wrist at the start of the journey was the standard-issue Omega Speedmaster. However Scott, together with another astronauts, had obtained a prototype chronograph for testing from Bulova (reference 88510/01), which he opted to hold as a backup. Certain sufficient, after two activates the lunar floor he seen that the Speedmaster’s crystal had popped off. For his third EVA, Scott strapped on the Bulova. 44 years after Apollo 15, Scott’s Bulova was put up for public sale (doable solely as a result of it was his private piece, as astronauts’ Speedmasters are U.S. authorities property) and offered for a shocking $1.3 million. Only a yr later in 2016, Bulova launched the primary Bulova Lunar Pilot as a recreation of Scott’s watch. Now, seven years on, after numerous iterations and a gold anniversary mannequin, the Lunar Pilot has been additional refined to its authentic 43.5mm case dimension. This new extra compact rendition is being launched in two new fashions, the unique black and a blue and white panda. Bulova was type sufficient to ask me to an occasion exterior of Washington, D.C. at Murad & Co, the place I obtained to go hands-on with the brand new launch.
Probably the most significant replace to the Lunar Pilot is the discount in case dimension from the primary model’s 45mm-wide to a way more manageable 43.5mm, additionally lowering the lug-to-lug from 52mm to 50mm (the watch stays a sizeable 15mm-thick). Having owned (and offered) the 2016 mannequin, I can attest to its presence on the wrist: whereas the satin, rounded floor helped mitigate the dimensions, it was nonetheless a behemoth. These two new fashions—now the identical dimension as Scott’s authentic chronograph—have a greater really feel on the wrist. The case design stays fluid, with no chamfering or beveled edges. As a substitute, the mid-case presents as an uninterrupted, high-polished kind that appears to soften round its contours. Combining the slab sides with the polished end, although, signifies that there’s nothing to visually shrink the 43.5mm profile. Sure, it’s smaller and wears higher than the 45mm model, however remains to be a outstanding piece on the wrist. Personally, I might’ve most popular the satin end of the primary model. Some glorious distinction is introduced with the brushed bezel that sits atop the mid-case, with a protuberant flat sapphire crystal making this vintage-inspired watch a bit extra trendy and guaranteeing readability at any angle.
To get the watch right down to 43.5mm-wide, Bulova has been a bit inventive. An in depth examination of prior fashions and these new iterations reveals that the mid-case is narrower across the bezel. As a substitute of merely sustaining all the identical proportions and shrinking the watch down, it shaved down the edges of the mid-case along with shortening the lugs. What stays is the massive, useful pull-out crown with the tuning fork emblem, and the distinctive pushers. One factor I liked in regards to the panda mannequin is the col0r-matched blue pushers, which echoes the two-tone case of the gold anniversary version. These pushers are extra-long and straightforward to function, and their kind enhances the remainder of the case.
Some of the frequent gripes folks had with the unique watch (aside from its dimension) was that when Bulova launched a mannequin with a bracelet, it adjusted the lug holes, so the bracelet wasn’t backwards suitable. On prime of that, the leather-based strap with carbon fiber patterning was stiff, uncomfortable, and had a bent to really feel low-cost on the wrist. The nice information right here is that the watches embrace neither of these downside straps. As a substitute, each fashions include a brushed and polished 20mm quick-release bracelet and a color-matched leather-based NATO. Swaps are simple and each are comfy, although some might have bother sizing the bracelet with its butterfly clasp.
Whereas the case has been decreased, it seems that Bulova saved the dial the identical dimension. Just like the sprucing, this makes the watch’s presence on wrist a bit extra pronounced. Each dials profit from the second iteration’s dateless design with old-school Bulova branding. The three-register structure is true to Scott’s Bulova, however the place his used a mechanical motion (probably a Valjoux 72) with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers, the brand new variations have chronograph counters at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock (measuring 1/10 seconds and 60 minutes, respectively) and a operating seconds at 6 o’clock. Due to the excessive frequency motion (indicated by the “262kHz”), the operating seconds hand has a smoother sweep than most quartz watches. Each the registers and the minute monitor are sunken and have azurage, which provides a pleasant little bit of texture. The chronograph hand strikes easily as effectively, although it doesn’t snap again when reset. The palms and the utilized hour markers are handled with lume, however in my expertise it’s fairly poor (after I owned mine, I as soon as described it as “business trailing”). Finishing the dial is a raised tachymeter scale so tall, it appears to be making an attempt to push its method by way of the sapphire.
The matte black dial is an identical to earlier variations, with a easy white-on-black scheme that’s harking back to one other watch that went to the moon (it’s thought that in submitting the look ahead to NASA’s consideration, Bulova needed to create a glance with which the astronauts would already be acquainted). There’s actually not far more to say about that model. I can affirm that the white and blue panda variant is quite good, with a satisfying asphalt-like dial texture and a wealthy blue that accents the registers and the tachymeter ring. That is the primary non-limited new dial for the Lunar Pilot, and it’s a breath of recent air towards the stark dials that preceded it. Admittedly this dial, too, is just like a handful of Speedmasters, specifically the CK2998 LE and the Silver Snoopy Award fiftieth Anniversary mannequin. Whereas this time round Bulova can’t argue it was making an attempt to assist the astronauts, one may argue that Omega releases so many SKUs that it’s exhausting to make a three-register chronograph dial that gained’t draw comparisons (I’m reminded of the South Park episode “Simpsons Already Did It”).
The stable screwdown caseback helps to make sure 50m of water resistance and incorporates a broad array of data. An enormous tuning fork emblem is joined by particulars in regards to the Apollo 15 mission, and the particular EVA throughout which Scott wore the unique watch. Underneath the caseback is Bulova’s in-house Excessive Efficiency Quartz chronograph motion, which incorporates a three-pronged crystal vibrating at 262kHz for a formidable accuracy of -10/+10 seconds per yr. As talked about above, the instant advantage of this motion is a smoother operating seconds sweep and utterly easy chronograph hand. My expertise of the motion as an proprietor was with out challenge, and I repeatedly used the watch to set my mechanical timepieces.
This launch goes to make loads of folks very comfortable. Those who had been hoping for a smaller (and extra correct) recreation of Dave Scott’s Bulova chronograph can have their needs answered and their persistence rewarded by the smaller case. Those that love a great panda dial (which so far as I can inform is everybody) are in for a deal with, too. Whereas some design particulars didn’t tickle my specific fancy—specifically the polished instances, however I additionally want they’d enhance the lume—on stability, these new fashions are successful. Bulova is demonstrating a willingness to answer shoppers and develop on the Lunar Pilot assortment, so if nothing else, this launch builds pleasure for the gathering’s subsequent releases. The brand new Bulova Lunar Pilots are offered in a field set with each the bracelet and the strap and are priced at $895 USD as of press time. For extra info, please go to the model’s web site.