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In 1875, Bohemian immigrant Joseph Bulova opened a small jewelry shop in the heart of New York City. More than a century later, the Bulova Watch Company is recognized as one of the longest-standing and historically important watch brands in the industry. There is now a wide variety of automatic pieces from Bulova, with everything from relatively affordable, Miyota-driven offerings to higher-end pieces with Swiss-made Sellita movements. Moreover, many of the pieces feature clear casebacks and open-dial apertures, allowing the wearer to view the mechanical inner-workings of each timepiece. Regardless of the execution, it’s safe to say that all of Bulova’s pieces offer a strong value-to-price ratio. New for 2021, Marine Star references 98A272 and 98A273 are prime examples of this philosophy.

At first glance, the new Marine Star is eye-catching and audacious, carrying the appearance of a watch in a much higher price bracket — it’s bold, and unabashedly so. It sports a 45mm yellow PVD stainless steel case with a thickness of 13.45 mm, which, despite its measurements, contours nicely to the wrist and manages not to feel overly hefty or uncomfortable. The daring visual footprint of the Marine Star Open Heart is complemented by a deep black dial with an open-heart aperture and radial striations under the indices. The dial is marked with gold-plated Roman numerals interspersed with stick markers. The Roman numerals fill the dial space nicely while giving the watch an elegant, upscale vibe. The stark-white Marine Star “cursive” logo adds some vintage-inspired flavor. The bezel is marked by six exposed black bezel screws, a tasteful design cue that evokes a ship’s porthole opening. In this instance, the exposed bezel screws fit the nautical theme of the watch while also giving it a more modern, industrial vibe.

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The Marine Star is available on two attachments: a yellow PVD stainless steel bracelet with a butterfly clasp and a black rubber strap with red trim and a yellow PVD tang buckle. The gold-tone bracelet is brushed throughout with the exception of mirror-polished center links. When fitted to the bracelet, this piece has tons of wrist presence; it absolutely jumps off the wrist. The black rubber strap is quite striking, as well; it dresses down the piece and offers a bit more visual contrast while matching the black dial and accents. The individual design elements of the Marine Star come together to make for an aesthetic that is bold and industrial — it’s reminiscent of much more expensive pieces within the urban sports watch category and is a suitable choice for both business and casual attire.

While the new Marine Star’s appearance is particularly noteworthy, its function is not overshadowed by its form. It features a Miyota Caliber 82S5 automatic movement, a caliber regarded for being inexpensive yet reliable. Featuring 21 jewels, the 82S5 has a power reserve of approximately 42 hours and an accuracy of roughly -20 to +40 seconds per day.

The Caliber 82S5 is visible through a mineral crystal found on the caseback, and the escapement is visible through an “open heart” aperture on the front. The Caliber 82S5 features hacking functionality, which allows time-setting to the second. Moreover, as the crown is pulled out to set the time, the wearer can watch the escapement stop and start again from the open heart aperture on the dial, which is always fun to see. Though the Marine Star can’t be classified as a pure diving watch due to the fact that it lacks a graduated bezel with minute markings, the piece features a screw-down crown and an ample water resistance rating of 200 meters, making it fit for most nautical adventures. The crystal is scratch-resistant mineral glass, as opposed to sapphire, which keeps the price down while making it suitable for daily wear. The hour and minute hands are coated with Super-LumiNova, offering wearers excellent low-light legibility.

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All in all, the Bulova Marine Star Open Heart makes for an interesting combination of style and durability. It’s far from subtle, and that’s part of its charm. Retailing at $595 on strap (reference #98A272), and $695 on bracelet (reference #98A273), it will likely have onlookers thinking it’s more expensive than it is — so, it’s a perfect choice for those who want something big, bold, and gold without breaking the bank.

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