First, let’s talk the symmetry of the Bulova Precisionist Champlain dial. With the four registers at the compass points, you’ve got a perfectly balanced dial. The two sub-second registers (12 and 6) have golden rings, drawing the eye to those, while the minute and hour registers are simply cutouts in the carbon fiber dial. This same gold tone then shows up on the hand set (which has lumed tips) and the beveled indices (which are also lumed), as well as the tachymeter scale around the edge of the dial.
There’s also an interesting textured “ring” that goes around the edge of the dial. I’m not sure if this is to give a mounting point for the indices or to just create another circle in there, but I think it works well. The fasteners showing up there then also give a point of reference for the hex heads that show up on the bezel, which is non-rotating. Sure, a rotating bezel may have given you yet another timing method.
What’s not immediately apparent from the straight-on view, however, is that the top of the Bulova Precisionist Champlain watch (case, mineral crystal, and bezel) are actually curved from top to bottom. Other than making for an interesting shape (and some headaches for the crystal maker, I imagine), this helps to cut down the height of the watch some. Even with that, this is still a taller watch. Given the size, though, this is still a lighter watch, likely helped by being on a rubber strap – it weighs in at 150g. All told, it made for an odd mix in daily wear – remarkably light for it’s size, but the Bulova Precisionist Champlain watch is definitely a piece that will draw some attention.
The use of the pusher over at 8 o’clock also helps ensure you’re not accidentally running the chronograph, which helps the battery life some. Then again, the pushers require a firm touch to get to the click point, so even if you left it in chrono mode for some reason, you won’t be accidentally kicking it off. The rubber strap that the watch comes with is nice enough, and gives a somewhat sportier feel to the piece (and it’s one that complements the 300m WR rating). In the finish that we had though, the rubber strap just didn’t feel right. I think the Bulova Precisionist Champlain is a piece that really calls for a finish-matched bracelet.
The strap is one of those few smaller details that slightly threw things off for me; the other was the fasteners around the bezel. If you take a close look, they’re not actually aligned to each other, or an offset pattern. I’m not sure if these are functional or not, but even if they aren’t, it would speak volumes to the fit and finish if they were aligned to each other. Of course, if they’re not functional, I think we could just as easily do without them.
Those few design quibbles aside, this Bulova Precisionist Champlain is an extremely capable watch. In the world of watches, 10 second per year accuracy is nothing to sneeze at. And I will admit – 1/1000th of a second timing capability is something that not many of us would likely have a need for, but it does speak to the technical chops it took to build this movement (as well as just being a cool feature to utilize in a watch). At an asking price of $750, this Bulova Precisionist Champlain is definitely a high-end quartz model. If you consider what the price would be to have this in a mechanical watch, though, you realize that this Bulova Precisionist Champlain watch truly is a bargain for the functionality that you’re getting. Is this the chronograph for everyone? No, it’s probably not. But for those who prize accuracy over all else, this is definitely the watch for them. bulova.com
>Model: Precisionist Champlain (98B181)
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Not in this finish; I’d probably opt for the bare steel of the 96B175
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The guy who cherishes precision and accuracy first and foremost in a watch
>Worst characteristic of watch: Minor design details (fastener alignment, the rubber strap) feel a bit incongruous to the overall higher-end look and feel
>Best characteristic of watch: Watching the 1/10 and 1/100th of a second hands act like whirling dervishes