First American Made Quartz Watch
March 1972 Popular Electronics

March 1972 Popular Electronics

March 1972 Popular Electronics Cover - RF Cafe  Table of Contents

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Popular Electronics, published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.

Bulova Accuquartz - RF CafeThis Bulova Accuquartz wristwatch is not the first quartz-controlled wearable timepiece; however, it was the first to be manufactured in the U.S. Interestingly, it is not a fully electronic watch because the quartz crystal stimulates a mechanical tuning fork which ultimately drives the hands. Bulova's first tuning-fork-driven "Accutron" was introduced in 1960. It sported a 360 Hz tuning fork that was stimulated by a pair of electromagnets. The story appeared in a 1972 issue of Popular Electronics magazine. The retail price at the time (pun intended) was $395, which in 2023 money is equivalent to $2,832 (per the BLS Inflation Calculator)! I found a couple nice photos of the Accuquartz on the website if you want some close-up views.

First American Made Quartz Watch

First American Made Quartz Watch, March 1972 Popular Electronics - RF Cafe

Watch at right is Bulova's Accuquartz while one at left is earlier, bulky Swiss-made model selling for $1000.

An advanced quartz crystal wristwatch has been introduced by Bulova into a limited number of Manhattan jewelers at a retail price of $395. This is the first such watch to be miniaturized to traditional wristwatch size and the first to be completely manufactured in the U.S.

The crystal is a subminiature sealed type that oscillates at 32,768 Hz, which is two to four times as great as the crystal frequency in other quartz watches now on the market. The actual frequency of the crystal is divided down by IC circuitry to 341 1/3 Hz to drive a tuning fork. The fork, in turn, drives the hands of the watch as well as the day and date indicators.

The IC used is a single plastic-encapsulated low-threshold CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) manufactured to Bulova specs by Intersil, of Cupertino, California.

Energy to power the watch is provided by an aspirin-size power cell, which lasts for about 1 year and must be changed by a jeweler. As for accuracy, the watch can be expected to gain or lose no more than 1 to 2 seconds per week when worn on the wrist.

Bulova Accuquartz is a line of watches manufactured by the Bulova Corporation. It was first introduced in the 1970s and is known for its high-precision quartz movements. The Accuquartz line represents a significant milestone in the history of timekeeping, as it marked the transition from mechanical to electronic timekeeping technology.

Unlike traditional mechanical watches that rely on a complex system of gears and springs to keep time, Accuquartz watches use a quartz crystal oscillator to keep time. The quartz crystal oscillator vibrates at a highly accurate and stable frequency, which is then used to control the timing of the watch. This results in a level of accuracy that was previously impossible with mechanical watches.

Accuquartz watches are also known for their durability and reliability. Quartz movements are much simpler than mechanical movements and are therefore less likely to break or require maintenance. Additionally, Accuquartz watches typically use long-lasting batteries, which means they can run for several years without the need for a battery change.

In addition to its high-precision timekeeping and reliability, Accuquartz watches are also known for their sleek and modern designs. They are often sold at a range of price points, making them accessible to a wide variety of consumers.



Posted February 8, 2023
(updated from original post on 10/16/2017)