Bulova Precisionist Champlain Chronograph Watch Review

Bulova Precisionist Champlain Chronograph Watch Review

Bulova Precisionist Champlain Chronograph Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

When it comes to watches, I'm willing to let a piece prove itself to me, regardless of the movement tucked away inside. Quartz movements are capable and accurate, and generally come in at a lower price point than their mechanical brethren. It's a trade-off, however, as you lose that magic that mechanical movements have. So, for me, if I'm looking at a quartz watch, I want it to be able to do something that a mechanical watch simply cannot do, or cannot do at anywhere near the pricepoint the quartz is available at. Today's Bulova is a perfect example of what I mean.

I've reviewed a handful of Bulova watches in my time, and they've all presented themselves as capable and accurate watches, regardless of if it was a chronograph or not. When it comes to the chronographs, they've been quite competent, giving us a good bit of accuracy, down to the second, or perhaps even 1/10th of a second. That's good - but Bulova has an even more precise chronograph, and that's what we'll be taking a look at today.

Bulova Precisionist Champlain Chronograph Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

This is very likely the most accurate watch I've had on my wrist. This is courtesy of the unique setup Bulova has gone with. While most quartz watches will have a two-prong quartz crystal, they've instead gone with a three-prong crystal. Additionally, the crystal is vibrating 262,144 times per second. Which, aside from being just an impressive number, the frequency is eight times higher than your normal quartz movement. Much as we see with mechanical movements, where higher beat rates mean greater accuracy, the very high frequency here enables the Precisionist to maintain an accuracy of +/- 10 seconds per year.

Let's let that sink in for a minute. This means, over the course of a year, this movement will gain or lose less than a second per month, on average (an average quartz is good for +/- 15 seconds per month). I'm not sure you're going to get anything more accurate without an automatic sync to, say, an atomic clock signal. The accuracy of the movement also extends to the chronograph function, which can time up to a 12 hour period - down to 1/1000th of a second. Yes, that's right - .001 of a second. While many of us probably don't require that sort of accuracy, it's a testament to the movement inside that you will know precisely how long your steak was on the grill.

Bulova Precisionist Champlain Chronograph Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Bulova also went with an interesting configuration when it comes to how they're registering the time, both normal and chronograph. Let's start with the regular time telling. Normally on a chronograph, we'll have a sub-seconds readout somewhere. This Bulova Precisionist Champlain model stands out as actually having a sweep seconds hand so you can see the watch is running. But don't worry, you won't have to worry about reading one of the four subdials to read the chrono seconds.

No, see that pusher over at 8 o'clock? Press that, and you'll flip the watch over into timing mode, with the seconds hand setting itself to zero. And then the dial will really come to life. Kicking off the chronograph sets the second hand back into motion, as well as the register at 12 o'clock. This is where the 1/10th and 1/100th of a second time is recorded (yes, there are two hands there, with the red hand used for the .01 time). What about the 1/1000th register down at 6 o'clock? That actually springs to position when you stop the chronograph, marking that decimal point.

Bulova Precisionist Champlain Chronograph Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

This, I think, is a practical consideration. After seeing how fast the 1/100 hand has to move, I can't imagine it would be practical to have the 1/1000 hand try to revolve around a dial. Instead, they've got a retrograde register (even though it looks like a subdial; this was done to preserve symmetry) with the hand noting that data point when the timing is stopped.

Rounding out the other two registers you have the chronograph minutes over at 9 o'clock, and the 12-hour register appears at 3 o'clock. It's this layout that really shows you that this Bulova Precisionist Champlain watch is meant to be timing things. Everything that's on the Bulova Precisionist Champlain dial (well, aside from the date display) is dedicated to getting you the information from the chronograph. While this sort of purpose-driven design could have been boring, Bulova really did put together a nice design here.

21 comments
Fraser Petrick
Fraser Petrick

I have three Precisionists, and love them; very classy (and comparatively inexpensive). The Champlain, however, is too chunky, too cluttered, too busy, too big. I'll pass on this one.

Tsar_Bomba
Tsar_Bomba

Then again I should see one in person too...


GBD
GBD

I'm also a big fan of vintage Bulova, and I want to like these. I think the Precisionist technology is awesome, but the designs and the marketing have been terrible. Put the Precisionist movement in a more traditional (and reasonably sized) diver, chrono, pilot, etc, and couple it with sapphire and Eco-Drive, and these things will sell themselves.

Biffo10
Biffo10

I'm a Bulova fan at heart, owning an Accutron Spaceview, Bulova 23 automatic ( more expensive than a Rolex in the 60's )

to name just two, but like other commenters, Bulova did no favours to loyal fans with the Precisionist range,......they are just

too big , & to many have terrible designs.  This model is just the latest to perpetuate this malaise, & no doubt will join many other Precisionist models offered at discount prices.  Listen up Bulova ! ...make a smaller model.   To quote -15 to + 15 seconds accuracy per month fo an average quartz watch, is a bit of a nonsense nowadays. My 70's Citizen Adorex chrono' is good for 2 seconds a month, & many HEQ Seiko's are as good. From my experience, claimed accuracy can be a far cry from

what is achieved in reality.  The Omega Marine Chronometer has slid down the top 10 list of most accurate watches, but I'd still back it to outperform any of those higher up the list & maybe any Precisionist.    What I do give Bulova credit for is moving technology forwards in the pursuit of accuracy, although other brands are championing tuning fork technology nowadays having finally worked out how Bulova could engineer the Accutron in the 70's.   For someone who values accuracy above everything else in a watch, I don't think the Precisionist is the 'one for you'.  

BIGCHRONO
BIGCHRONO

I use the sun to cook & time my steaks. That noted, this watch deserves points

for its innovations, while keeping the price @ a respectable level. I've owned mech/

auto watches which always ran erratically, usually very fast. Since the watches & I

could not bond, I switched to quartz, immediately solving all issues for good. The

cash I saved could be utilized for additional quartz timepieces, but for now food, 

clothing, & other priority goods take precedence. 

Tekky
Tekky

I'm a huge fan of Bulova.  Right now I'm wearing a mid-1960s 17-Jewel mechanical Bulova.  But this watch is hideous.  Looks like a Casio.  It's chunky and cluttered and the black-and-gold with texture looks more like a Humvee for a hip-hop perpetrator.


Not that I have an opinion.

mcv1973a
mcv1973a

This is one of Bulova's uglier Precisionist models. They have quite a few which are much nicer looking. My preference is the Catamount diver. Simple, robust, and good-looking in every finish.

LapYoda
LapYoda

Bulova needs to put this movement into a smaller, less blingy case.  Their smallest Precisionist chrono is 46.5mm, which is far too large.  I like Bulova, and a Precisionist would go well with my vintage Accutrons, but I can't rock these massive cases.

Oh, and I also time my steaks using my chronographs.  You never know which thousandth of a second will turn a nice medium rare filet into a hockey puck.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

Who designed this monstrosity?  Take an RM and a Hublot... pop them into one of those super blenders (of "Will it blend?" fame).  Smear glue on your wrist then sprinkle the remains on to it, leaving the pieces where they fall, and you'd have something that looks slightly better than this.  Bulova's designs for the Precisionist range are universally reviled in the watch world and this doesn't help.  Great movements, butt-ugly watches.

Enkidu Jones
Enkidu Jones

While it looks nice, and I do like the smoothly sweeping second hand, 1/1000th of a second is really just a gimmick on a wristwatch given that the best human reaction times are around 0.1s!

funkright
funkright

@GBD I definitely agree! I would love to buy one of these with a chrono/GMT movement in a less ostentatious design.I think it'd be a killer watch. They need to look @ the seiko astron watch series for inspiration :)

Tsar_Bomba
Tsar_Bomba

@funkright  It's still too big at 47mm.  I really like that line but it needs to come down in size a bit.


mcv1973a
mcv1973a

Who times steaks? Really?

Hold a Zippo to each side for 15 seconds, then serve...

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

@Ulysses31 Agree. this is a great movement, but that model is hideous. I couldn't resist trying out the movment, and picked up a Wilton 96B183. Night and day better looking, and on sale at $400, it was a no-brainer and I actually wear it.


I wish that was the one we were reviewing here, I think it would be much more meaningful.

Biffo10
Biffo10

@funkright @GBD 

Bulova is owned by Citizen now, & the Citizen Chronomaster is regarded

by many as currently the most accurate timepiece available, albeit at a

more expensive price point than a Precisionist. Classical minimalist design,

so maybe Bulova are content to leave smaller sized models to this arm of

the Co.   Historically Bulova reacted to customer / consumer comments, akin

to Seiko producing midsize 38mm versions of their bigger dive watches. The

name Spaceview would never have been coined or produced if not for public

demand. A see through dial Accutron.was a marketing tool & display mock up 

to show the inner tuning fork workings .  So many prospective customers wanted

to buy it in this guise, Bulova decided to make them available to buy.  I wish Bulova

would listen today in the same way,  a smaller Precisionist say 40 mm wouls, as GBD

alludes to, " sell itself" & in droves ! 

funkright
funkright

@Tsar_Bomba @funkright  ya, it's bit big, but I did try one on locally and it felt smaller than other larger watches I have owned (it wore smaller than my alpine (see pic) which is 44mm).

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

@SuperStrapper @Ulysses31 That one is much nicer.  They're not all awful; i've seen ones that I wouldn't mind owning but they're so few and far between.  I think a similar model was actually reviewed here some time ago.

Ulysses31
Ulysses31

@SuperStrapper @Ulysses31 In my experience Japanese quartz movements are given very conservative estimates of their accuracy by the manufacturers.  I have an old Seiko chronograph with a run-of-the-mill 7T32 movement in a barely-$100 watch that gains maybe a couple of seconds per month, after 14 years of ownership that isn't bad.  Citizen make a great movement for the Precisionist line and I must admit, while I can't swallow their designs I love that smooth sweeping hand.  There's something very relaxed about it.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

@Ulysses31 Yep, it was the original Champlain 3-hand diver, and I won't lie, I own that one too (I own 3 Precisionists, I do think they represent great value). It is this same case design, in solid TI, with black dial and blue handset. It doesn't fly under the radar, but it has none of the bling this one does, and I wear it as well.


When I got it, I left it alone for exactly a year - did not adjust for daylight saving, did not change the date after February, etc. It lost 3 seconds. I did not micro-manage the accuracy, that is the mean deviation after a 365-day period. There may have been times when it lost more and gained it back, but after a full year the accuracy claims were blown out of the water. And it is still running strong on the original factory battery.

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