Accutron watches were developed by Bulova in the 1950’s in response to Elgin and Lips introduction of their electric watch. While their watches still retained an oscillating balance wheel to keep time Bulovas Accutron was driven by a tuning fork vibrating hundreds of times a second, meaning the Accutron was the worlds first electronic as opposed to electric watch. The genius engineers behind the miniturisation of the tuning fork concept which had been previously demonstarted in clocks were Swiss born Max Hetzel aided by William Bennett. By the time the Accutron was offered for sale to the public in 1960 the tuning fork was vibrating at 360 times per second and drove an index wheel via a pair of jewelled fingers. Each accutron coil has 8,100 turns of insulated copper wire at 0.015mm diameter which equates to 80 metres per coil! The Accutrons reliability is legendary and can perform flawlessly for decades with only the occasional battery change and service. Due to the unique operation of a tuning fork watch you can actually hear the watch hum whilst it’s running!
The Accutron featured in todays article was a 21st birthday gift for the owner in 1971 and has reliably provided him with time keeping until recently when the calendar mechanism jammed and battery life was down to about 5 months on a fresh cell. It’s powered by the calibre 218 movement.