Everything old is new again—that’s how the saying goes, right? Like a fine wine, heritage pieces (especially timepieces) have always grown in their popularity over time. There’s a particular resurgence of vintage fashions right now, and Bulova has seized the opportunity to re-release the Bulova Computron 1976 Re-Edition Watch. It’s a classic design, and is back with a vigour.
Vintage Fashion Is “In”
While second-hand watch fanatics still love the original Computron (a re-edition rarely touches the icon status of an original, after all), this new release gives it a run for its money. With sleek lines and a very 80’s feel, it looks like something you could have plucked out of your father’s dressing table while your parents were out dancing.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, Bulova released a few different Computron models. They’re still a collector’s item, selling pre-owned for hundreds of dollars each online. The company moved through similar wristwatch designs back in the day, but while their shape, pattern, and metal finish changed, they kept one thing in common: their LED screens. (I’m particularly fond of the dotted texture of the Computron N6. It just looks so soothing to touch!)
Humanity has always loved heritage items, which I suppose is a term generally reserved to mean a few specific things. If it was popular back in the day, and loved by upper class households, then it has a pretty good chance of coming back into style. You can see it in the curving back of an Eames armchair; in the tight tweed of a contrast-hem Chanel jacket; in the well-conditioned mahogany of your mother-in-law’s dining room table.
Let’s Talk About the Bulova Computron’s Design
The Bulova Computron Re-Edition is a direct silhouette copy of their 1976 model, complete with the ridged top. You’ll notice the same patterned bracelet and slim LED numbers. (I’m very fond of the bracelet, with its centre ridges.) The numbers are still bright red on their gold watch face, and Bulova is still using their same logo and clasp.
While this watch design might surprise you at first glance—I don’t want to admit how many times I tried to flip it open—it makes sense. It was designed at a time where humanity had just reached the moon. Architects, artists, and watchmakers were all reaching for something newer and brighter, designing for a brighter world. So, this futuristic, trapezoid design was meant to set this watch apart from all the others.
In 1976, LED lights were brand new. Available only in red, and made visible only four years prior in 1972, the Computron must have been a sight to behold. Even now, over 40 years later, it’s an eye-catcher—particularly because the LED watch face only lights up when you press a button, so it’s a bit hard to figure out just how the Bulova Computron works! Today’s Re-Edition is available in gold with red numbers, black with blue numbers, and the silver with blue numbers featured here.
How to Use the Bulova Computron
As someone who reviews a lot of smartwatches, the Computron is a definite blast from the past. It’s not waterproof. It doesn’t charge wirelessly. And, oh yeah, it can’t read you your text messages.
Wearing the Bulova Computron is a lot like wearing an analog watch, if your analog watch was extremely heavy and very mod. It forces you to take a step back from your busy life to check the time, and I kind of like that. Instead of a rechargeable battery, it has a simple watch battery that’s easy to replace at home, and its watch face only features four digits.
The Computron Re-Edition has two buttons: an A button on the left, and a B button on the right. The A button presses in to set the time and date, but sits flush. (It technically sits a little shallower than flush, and you’ll need a soft tip to press it.) The B button rotates you from the off screen to the normal time, seconds, date, day, and finally, a second time. Both time modes can be toggled to read in either 12-hour or 24-hour time. The LED display is responsive and turns on quickly, but it turns off quickly, too. I would have loved a way to toggle it to stay on for longer—it could become cumbersome, especially if you were trying to count down the seconds to something.
Curiously, the Bulova Computron calendar is fully automatic for 81 years: from 2019 to 2099. The battery is expected to last for about two years, at which time you can easily replace it by twisting off the back battery cap. It’s an easy-access design, which means that something like a small coin (I’d say a penny, but it’s 2019, so… I guess a dime) would work!
Why I Love a Vintage Re-Edition
I love a re-edition piece for two reasons. One, it has wonderful nostalgic value. It’s easy to lean back on things from “before,” especially in a chaotic world, and they can offer blissful comfort. But two, re-editions are, in a way, democratizing. It’s a method of making vintage style accessible to families who perhaps couldn’t afford it the first time around. By adding more faux-old-stuff to the market, I think that we can take advantage of how respected heritage pieces are and use their own cultural capital to dilute their worth.
A re-edition from Bulova is interesting, because it puts the brand in control. Instead of waiting for a new brand to release a similar style (which absolutely happened with their original Computron models), they control the marketing, storefronts, and quality. In doing so, it actually enriches their brand—it makes a classic watch accessible once more, but it also reminds consumers that they were there when it all began. And, as one of their more affordable watches to begin with, brand new models sit at about the same price point as a well-cared-for original.
For older buyers who have loved Bulova watches their whole lives, the Bulova Computron 1976 Re-Edition is a way to re-live the past. Once more, you can feel the way you felt when you saw Taxi Driver with your friends; when you watched Carrie at the prom; when you dragged your wife-to-be to go see Rocky on your first date.
Keep an Eye Out for Watches at Best Buy
In many ways, not much has changed since 1976. The Computron is the same, everyone is still Carrie for Halloween, and A Star Is Born is referenced at every awards show. Canada still loves a classic, and time still moves forward.
You can still make your own fate, too—or you can leave it in the hands of Best Buy. Watch the blog for some snazzy holiday giveaways (including watches!) all holiday season on the blog contests page.