July 11, 2022
The Bulova Parking Meter Chronograph Returns
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Some watches are easy to pinpoint the era in which they were made. Certain design elements speak to the trends of the day, clearly linking them to specific decades. Other watches, are total anomalies. They seem to have been created in a vacuum. A space where no influences were allowed to come in and disturb the creative process. The Bulova “Parking Meter” Chronograph from 1973 is one such watch.

A dramatic design that featured one of the world’s first automatic chronograph movements, it’s a watch defined by several unordinary elements. First, it was a bullhead chronograph, meaning the pushers were positioned at the top of the watch, like little “horns.” Always unusual, it gives chronographs an aggressive look and makes them feel more like stopwatches off the wrist. This was additionally emphasized by the crown at six, on the opposite side from the pushers, a result of the modular design of the caliber 12 movement in use.

Second, the Parking Meter featured a still unique-to-this-day blue metal bezel. A frame that follows the distinctive lines of the case, protruding out to meet the crown and pushers in their unexpected locations. This detail gave the case a pronounced “Y” silhouette, which the designers then pull into the dial for a truly strange and wonderful layout, which earned the watch its nickname.

A two-register chronograph, it features sub-dials at six and twelve. Rather than your typical circles, Bulova went for an applied plate with a rectangular lower portion and a flaring upper, the lines of which extend to the blue bezel. Cutouts to the silver surface beneath create the sub-dials. This unique shape resembles the form of the iconic mechanical parking meter. A staple of urban environments, particularly New York City where Bulova was based, these metal monoliths studded streets and avenues, perhaps having a subconscious influence on the designer.

That was 1973, fifty years ago. It’s 2023, and things have changed. Technology has revolutionized and replaced many aspects of the world that the original designer of the Bulova “Parking Meter” Chronograph would have seen and interacted with. The mechanical parking meter itself is a thing of the past. In New York City, the last was removed in 2006, replaced by digital versions in generic boxes that I doubt we’ll remember in another fifty years.

Yet, despite the changes, the Bulova “Parking Meter” Chronograph still oddly fits in, particularly in the city where its creator still remains. So, fifty years later, we’re excited to announce the return of the Bulova “Parking Meter” Chronograph – but with some modern twists.

50 years might have passed but that landscape is still the same, and in NYC, the “Parking Meter” looks right at home. A design out of time, one would believe it was designed today.

Before getting to the changes, it’s worth noting what stayed the same. This is a watch defined by its distinctive looks, so Bulova was careful to keep them intact. The lugless 43mm case is still bullhead oriented and features the blue bezel that reaches out to the crown and pushers. There is even a crown at six (more on that in a moment). The dial, of course, also has the same applied frame, holding on to its signature name. At a glance, the original and the anniversary model are nearly identical.

But, they aren’t the same. Keeping the watch value-focused, Bulova opted for the Miyota 0S21 quartz chronograph caliber. Made in Japan, it is a highly reliable movement, with a slightly different feature set than the caliber 12 from 1973. At six is a 60-minute counter, and at twelve is a 24-hour hand. It also features a traditional crown for adjusting the time, here located at twelve.

So, what’s the crown at six? Well, to keep this visually significant feature, Bulova added in a function that was not on the original, further expanding the watch’s capabilities. The crown at six controls an internal rotating hour ring, giving the ability to easily track a second timezone or count elapsed hours. The really cool part is that it isn’t the bezel, but the ring just within it, seamlessly blending with the dial.

The whole watch is blue and silver, with black print, black hour and minute hands, and bright orange accents limited to the hands. The center seconds hand for the chronograph as well as the sub-dial hands are pure orange, and the hour and minute hands have bright orange lume fill, making them stand out for greater legibility. It’s mounted to a 22mm brown leather strap with a pronounced grain and channeled padding.

While the parking meter element might have contributed the name, the overall look of the watch is one that speaks to architecture and the urban landscape. Metal, glass, hard angles, and a sense of ordered complexity from the assemblage of components. 50 years might have passed but that landscape is still the same, and in NYC, the “Parking Meter” looks right at home. A design out of time, one would believe it was designed today.

The Bulova “Parking Meter” Chronograph is a limited edition of 5,000 pieces priced at $595. For a limited time, it will be available exclusively through the Windup Watch Shop and Bulova, and will begin shipping late July 2022.

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July 11, 2022