At Baselworld 2016, Bulova introduced its very interesting new CURV watch collection (debuted on aBlogtoWatch here). With a total of 12 Bulova CURV models to start, the entire point of the collection is to feature what is the world’s first curved chronograph movement – quartz or otherwise. So it isn’t just that the cases are curved to fit better on your wrist, but so are the movements themselves.
As an interesting testament to this fact, two of the more exclusive Bulova CURV models have a rare exhibition caseback window – which is very uncommon on quartz movement-based watches. You can see without a doubt that the movements themselves are in fact curved. This is a fun fact because there are other watches which appear curved but have standard “flat” movements cleverly inserted into the cases. In addition to a curved case and movement, the Bulova CURV watches have a curved dial as well. It makes for a legible, but unique dial-reading experience. Above the dials is a curved sapphire crystal.
Those who want to “fullest” Bulova CURV watch experience are likely going to enjoy the two more “technical-looking” models, which are the reference 98A161 ($799) and 98A162 ($899), in steel and titanium respectively, and the most modern-looking of the Bulova CURV collection. With a longer style of lugs, these models come in a 44mm-wide (9.7mm-thick) case and attached black EPDM rubber strap. These are the only models with the exhibition caseback, and they also have semi-skeletonized dials. These are actually the “mid-size” Bulova CURV options, as Bulova also has a 43mm-wide model as well as a 45m-wide CURV model – though the others wear quite differently as they have different cases with more traditional lug structures.
Before talking about the larger CURV watch family, I want to discuss the movements a bit more. These are all Bulova’s high-frequency quartz movements which operate at 262kHz for accuracy above and beyond “standard” quartz movements. These movements evolved from the brand’s still very cool Precisionist collection of movements. Previously, these movements were given the collection title of “UHF” (ultra high frequency), but it isn’t clear whether or not moving forward Bulova will maintain this naming convention.
The “five-hand” chronograph movements are attractively simple because they eschew having a traditional central chronograph seconds hand in favor a 12-hour chronograph that uses only subdials. The subdial at 6 o’clock is used to measure the chronograph seconds, while the other dials are for chronograph minutes and hours. The dateless design with elegant symmetry makes for a great look that Bulova can further build on in the future. Given that they are higher-frequency quartz movements, you can expect 10-15 seconds of accuracy per year, as opposed to 15 or so seconds per month with standard quartz movements.
What Bulova has done which is interesting is release both highly modern-looking along with more “conservative” Bulova CURV watches from the outset. As I mentioned, the “98A16” models are the most modern, and then you have the more classic-looking “dressy” models that have five versions on either a strap or bracelet in a 45mm-wide steel case (some are yellow or rose gold-toned). These traditionally masculine yet somewhat formal Bulova CURV watches in the 45mm-wide (9.7mm-thick) case are the reference 97A124 ($699) rose gold tone on alligator-print brown leather strap, 98A186 ($750) in steel with black dial on bracelet, 98A159 ($799) in two-tone steel and yellow gold-tone on bracelet, 98A160 ($799) in two-tone steel and rose gold-tone on a bracelet, and the 97A125 ($799) in all yellow gold-tone on bracelet with matching dial.
The smaller version of the Bulova CURV isn’t really small, but it has a different case design. As I said, at launch, Bulova is offering three different case designs that each use the CURV movements. The last part of the debut family has a 43mm-wide case (9.4mm thick). All of the Bulova CURV watch cases are water resistant to 30 meters, by the way. These last models are probably going to be the most universal in their appeal as they verge on being very modern in design, but try to mix design elements to make for something that is casual to formal in appeal with a “tech design twist.” In some ways, these look like more refined versions of some of the early Bulova Precisionist watches.
On a leather strap is the steel and blue reference 98A155 ($599), and its companion is the rose gold-toned 98A156 ($650). On a sporty bracelet with a blue dial is the CURV 96A185 ($699), as well as the silver and yellow gold-toned 98A157 ($775). There is also the gray-toned steel with rose gold-tone accents 98A158 ($799).
While Bulova CURV watches aren’t for everyone, the designs and concept are genuinely “cool.” On the wrist, these watches feel very unique, and I encourage people curious about the Bulova CURV watches to try them on since they look different on the wrist than most other watches. Bulova gets high praise here for not only making something quite distinct-looking, but also technically cool, comfy to wear, and another step in the direction of learning how to make the better quartz watches interesting again. Prices for the Bulova CURV watches are mentioned above, and the range is $599 – $899. bulova.com