Most of the case is satin-finished with the exception of the crown and pushers which are polished. I want to thank Bulova here for designing interesting and comfortable chronograph pushers, which I think are among the case design highlights. Pressing them yields a nice tactile experience as well.
One of the things that made Bulova’s high performance quartz movements popular was that they feature sweeping versus ticking seconds hands. That is not the case in the chronograph models such as this Bulova Special Edition Moon Chronograph, but the ticking is relegated to the subsidiary seconds dial. I will say that like other higher-end quartz chronograph movements, the chronograph seconds hand does sweep when that function is activated.
At a glance, the Bulova Special Edition Moon Chronograph watch might be mistaken as a Speedmaster, which is probably something most consumers will not have a problem with. The monochromatic, utilitarian look might seem overly conservative at first, but what you really get is a handsome, masculine timepiece that goes with pretty much any outfit or lifestyle. That means this watch is quite versatile, which is something else that I think consumers will appreciate.
Bulova sells two versions of this watch, which is really the same timepiece but with two strap options. The reference 96B251 comes on a leather strap that has a carbon fiber-style pattern on it, and the reference 96B258 comes on a matching steel bracelet. Each model further comes with an additional velcro-style fabric strap meant to be reminiscent of those worn by astronauts. It’s a bit gimmicky, but it is cool. My issue with the extra fabric strap is that it is too large for my wrist, but then again, I know that I have smaller wrists. Bulova is nice enough to include a strap-changing tool in the packaging – which is an appreciated extra touch.
Bulova’s future product direction is a bit unclear to me, and they designate this watch as a “Special Edition.” That means they don’t plan on producing it forever, but will produce it as long as they are happy with sales figures. For me, this means that if you are interested in this watch, you should get one sooner rather than later as they might stop production at any time, and aren’t likely to keep this collection going as one of their “product pillars.”
Special Editions like this are among the coolest thing in the watch industry because they are often the result of passion projects within the brand, and are very much intended to appeal to enthusiasts versus the mainstream. I’m happy that Bulova decided to produce these watches and think they are a very attractive choice for watch lovers on a budget looking for something quality and meaningful in the budget price range. The Bulova Special Edition Moon Chronograph watch reference 96B251 on the leather strap has a retail price of $550 and the reference 96B258 on the steel bracelet has a retail price of $650. bulova.com
>Model: Special Edition Moon Chronograph Watch references 96B251, 96B258
>Price: US$550 – US$650
>Size: 45mm wide, 13.5mm thick
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone looking for a more affordable alternative to Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch with a very similar story and just as much interesting character. Also anyone wanting a good-looking quartz watch that doesn’t come across as cheap.
>Best characteristic of watch: Lovely design, great detailing for the price, and an interesting story which could make it an in-demand collectible in the future. A watch we didn’t expect from Bulova, but are happy they decided to make.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Case size might be problematic for some with smaller wrists. Could benefit from some additional AR-coating on the surface of the sapphire crystal.