You know how sometimes you get siblings that look very much alike, but each has expressed their personality in a radically different way. This was the case when I took a look at a pair of Bulova Marine Star Chronographs. They are definitely twins, but the all black version is a much different watch that the blue and gold version.
Think of the blue and gold as the studious child. It is a classic look, all neat and presentable. It probably gets great grades in school. The all black version is the Emo kid. Just as smart, just as capable, does the same things (probably gets the same grades), but does them with a little bit of an attitude. Now me, I would have liked a little bit of a mix. I like the all black version, it looks sportier, but it is also less functional for me.
During the day, I can read it OK. It takes a moment to pick up the black hands against the black dial, but it really is not that hard to read. At night, that is a different story. with no lume on the watch, the entire thing fades into the night. Now, if that works for you, then the more attractive (in my opinion) all black version may be the one you prefer.
The blue and gold version does have lume, so if that is important, then that would be the version to consider. The indices and the central hands are all readable in the dark, though the sub-dials are not. Dimensions and functions are the same between the two watches; 43mm diameter, 10.5mm thickness, 100m depth rating, unidirectional bezel, and quartz chronograph movement.
The chrono timer is limited to 60 minutes, with the central chrono second hand and a sub dial at 9:00 for the minutes. The watch’s second hand is in the 6:00 sub dial, and there is the 24 hour (non-GMT) sub dial at 3:00. Though the bezel is marked as a diver’s watch would be, neither version has lume for any of the markings there.
The stainless steel bracelet is color matched to the watch, with a double locking mechanism and a built in expansion link. Overall, the watch is comfortable to wear and not heavy. The 120 click bezel rotates nicely, locking in to place. There is a nice, fine texture to it that aids in grip.and polished metal ring is legible with a 15 minute countdown and markers the rest of the way around every 10 minutes.
As I noted before, however, there is no lume on the bezel with either watch. The expansion link is easy to operate, just open the clasp, flip the expansion link open and then close the clasp again; which adds about an inch to the circumference. This should be ample to get the watch over a wetsuit sleeve, but since I would not wear the watch diving, it seems a little superfluous here.
With the chrono and 24 hour hands, there is not a lot of real estate on the watch for branding. “Bulova,” “Marine Star,” and “100m” are all at 12:00, and the Bulova tuning fork emblem is on the crown and clasp. The blue and gold version of the watch isn’t really my style, though that color scheme is well represented in the watch world.
The sportier black version is something I thought I would like a lot more, but I found myself wishing for a little more differentiation of the hands from the background, along with some night time illumination. Since the central second hand is red, maybe a little red on the hands of the black watch would have helped. Still, there is a market for both these watches, and if the styling is is up your alley, they may be worthy of consideration, especially with some savvy internet shopping. bulova.com
- Brand & Model: Bulova Marine Star Chronographs
- Price: $450 for the Blue, $499 for the black
- Who’s it for?: You want a watch with a 140 year old tradition, but you are also on a budget.
- Would I wear it?: The blue/gold is not my favorite color combo, and the black is too black for me, so no.
- What I’d change: The black needs a way to read it at night.
- The best thing about it: It is fairly lightweight and comfortable.