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What is the Lunar Pilot Watch from Bulova?

The Bulova Lunar Pilot watch is a timepiece inspired by the renowned Bulova chronograph that was customized for lunar conditions and worn during the Apollo 15 mission. It is a significant timekeeping instrument that pays homage to the historical connection between Bulova and space exploration.

Bulova Lunar Pilot: An Iconic and Affordable Space-Race Chronograph

The Bulova Lunar Pilot chronograph is a remarkable timepiece with an illustrious history, having accompanied astronauts on the Apollo 15 mission to the moon. Although lesser-known than the famous Omega Speedmaster, the Bulova Lunar Pilot offers a unique and affordable alternative for watch enthusiasts and space aficionados alike. This article delves into the fascinating history of the Lunar Pilot, its modern-day incarnation, and its exceptional features that make it a highly sought-after timepiece.

A Brief History of the Bulova Lunar Pilot

Bulova’s Connection to Space Exploration

Bulova has had a longstanding relationship with space exploration, dating back to the mid-1950s when its Accutron technology was used in 46 NASA missions. The brand’s innovative tuning-fork technology was found in all instrument panel clocks and timekeeping mechanisms during this period.

The Apollo 15 Mission and the Original Lunar Pilot Chronograph

In 1971, astronaut Dave Scott wore a Bulova chronograph on the Apollo 15 mission as a backup to his issued Omega Speedmaster. After the crystal on his Speedmaster popped off, Scott relied on his Bulova watch during his time on the moon. This marked the first privately-owned watch to have been worn on the moon, as the Speedmasters were considered government property.

The original Bulova Lunar Pilot chronograph was a prototype designed specifically for NASA’s requirements. It remained relatively unknown until 2015 when Scott auctioned off his personal timepiece for a staggering $1,625,000. Bulova released its modern remake of the Lunar Pilot that same year.

The Modern Bulova Lunar Pilot

Design and Aesthetics

The contemporary Bulova Lunar Pilot maintains the classic design and aesthetics of its historic predecessor. The black dial, tachymeter, and chronograph sub-dials are reminiscent of the Omega Speedmaster, showcasing the fierce competition between the two watch companies during the space race era. The modern Lunar Pilot measures 43.5mm in diameter, staying true to the dimensions of the original watch.

High-Performance Quartz Movement

While the original Lunar Pilot featured a mechanical movement, the modern version comes equipped with Bulova’s High-Performance Quartz movement. This advanced technology offers superior accuracy and reliability, with a frequency of 262 kHz—far greater than that of a standard quartz movement. The High-Performance Quartz movement has been laboratory-tested and proven to be three times more accurate than standard quartz movements.

Case and Dial

The 45mm stainless steel case of the Bulova Lunar Pilot features a bead-blasted finish, giving it a muted and understated appearance. The case is 13.5mm thick and measures 52mm lug-to-lug, making it a substantial timepiece. However, the fluidity between the lugs and the bracelet allows for a balanced fit on the wrist.

The deep black dial of the Lunar Pilot offers excellent legibility and proportions. Lumed rectangular indices mark the hours, while the chronograph sub-dials are spaced evenly apart. A date window at 4:30 provides additional practicality. The dial also features multiple layers, adding depth and visual interest to the timepiece.

Bracelet and Strap Options

The Bulova Lunar Pilot comes with either a stainless steel bracelet or a leather strap, depending on the wearer’s preference. The 20mm bracelet features a brushed finish and a butterfly clasp for a seamless appearance. The leather strap option provides a more traditional and versatile look.

Water Resistance and Durability

With a water resistance of 50 meters, the Bulova Lunar Pilot is suitable for everyday wear and can withstand splashes and brief immersion in water. The screw-down case back and screw-down crown further enhance the watch’s durability.


Notable Features of the Bulova Lunar Pilot

Precision Timing

The Bulova Lunar Pilot offers unprecedented timing accuracy, with its chronograph capable of measuring 1/1,000th of a second over a twelve-hour time frame. The watch’s Precisionist-class torsional resonator movement boasts accuracy within seconds per year.

Legibility and Luminosity

The Bulova Lunar Pilot’s dial features luminous hour and minute hands, as well as luminous markers, ensuring excellent readability in low-light conditions. The watch’s hand lengths are proportionate to their corresponding tracks, further improving legibility.

Box Sapphire Crystal

The Bulova Lunar Pilot features a tall box sapphire crystal, providing superior scratch resistance and durability compared to mineral glass or acrylic crystals. The crystal also adds a vintage touch to the watch’s overall design.

Comparing the Bulova Lunar Pilot to the Omega Speedmaster

While the Omega Speedmaster may be the more famous “Moonwatch,” the Bulova Lunar Pilot offers a compelling alternative for those seeking a genuine space-race chronograph at a fraction of the price. The Lunar Pilot’s design, high-performance quartz movement, and unique history make it an attractive option for watch enthusiasts and space lovers alike.

Final Thoughts on the Bulova Lunar Pilot

The Bulova Lunar Pilot is a remarkable timepiece with a fascinating history and exceptional features. Its connection to the Apollo 15 mission, accurate High-Performance Quartz movement, and classic design make it an attractive and affordable alternative to the Omega Speedmaster. For those seeking a space-race chronograph with a unique story and modern performance, the Bulova Lunar Pilot is a timepiece worth considering.