Bulova 96A101 Automatic Review
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Bulova 96A101 Automatic Review

Overall Score3.5
  • Watch Type & Movement
  • Aesthetics & Build Quality
  • Functions & Complications
  • Value for Money
  • Overall Impression
  • The Bulova 96A101 won't appeal to everyone. For those that enjoy it, the Bulova 96A101 is a decent automatic watch with a reliable movement and quality construction. The real question is whether or not you can get over the face.

The Bulova 96A101 is a very polarizing watch.  You either love how it looks or you hate how it looks.  It’s a shame, too, because underneath the polarizing exterior is a rock-solid automatic movement, a well-put together stainless steel case & bracelet, and the always-attractive exhibition case back.

Bulova is known for producing decent quality watches at affordable pricing.  While the brand may not carry the same level of prestige as Omega (or similar), it provides excellent Swiss-made timepieces at reasonable pricing.

Acquired by Citizen in 2008 (and resulting in the worlds largest watchmaker), Bulova actually operates four lines: “Bulova”, “Caravelle” (the more affordable brand), “Wittnauer Swiss” (a dressier line), and “Accutron” (the sportier brand).

With an MSP of $450 (but easily available for under $250), is the 96A101 worth your investment?

Essential Details About the Bulova 96A101

MSRP: $450 USD (commonly found for under $250)
Case diameter: 42 mm
Movement: Citizen Miyota 9015 82S0
Complications: None
Crystal material: Mineral
Power Reserve: 40 hours
Other: Open-heart face, luminescence, exhibition case back, stainless steel bracelet

Note that there are variations of the 96A101 with a different color face.

Bulova 96A101 Aesthetics & Functionality

Upon unboxing this Bulova you’ll find it delicately perched atop its pillow, its open heart greeting you warmly.  Perhaps the most surprising thing about this watch is the weight: the first time I picked it up I was taken back by how heavy it is.  Automatics in general tend to weigh more than their quartz/digital counterparts, but this one is heavier than most automatics I’ve come across.  This is even more surprising given its 42mm case, as it easily weighs more than the Victorinox Infantry Vintage Mechanical that I reviewed earlier by a significant margin.

That being said, it’s not overbearingly heavy, nor is it tiresome to wear.  If anything, it provides some reassurance that the timepiece that adorns your wrist isn’t going to fall apart after the first time you wear it.

The weighty quality transfers to the stainless steel bracelet and deployment clasp.  Both items feel secure and sturdy- a welcome departure from flimsy stainless steel bracelets and clasps that almost feel hollow.  This one tells you immediately that it means business.


Bulova 96A108

Operation of the clasp is simple: push the pins on either side to open the clasp.  When locked it feels secure and does not open without the pins being pressed.  This is reassuring when wearing the 96A101 throughout the day.  I feel confident knowing that the clasp won’t surprise me and open unexpectedly.

The 96A101’s stainless steel bracelet is integrated well into the casing, but this integration is what causes my first point of contention: the clasp connection points look cheap, as if they were over-styled in attempt to convey class or quality.  Instead, the look appears forced and cheapens the overall appeal of the watch.  The Bulova 96A108 (pictured right), which is an indentical watch with the exception of sporting a handsome brown leather strap, looks immensely better as a result of the leather.

The Bulova 96A108 can be found for roughly the same price as the 96A101 and is a much more handsome watch (in my opinion).

The luminescence on the Bulova 96A101 is average, which is superior to what is typically offered by luxury-style watches (especially in this price bracket).  After several hours under direct sunlight the luminosity was easy to read in total darkness and was faintly visible in low-light.  See the photo at the bottom of this review for reference.

Movement Accuracy & Reliablity

The Citizen Miyota 9015 82S0 powers millions of watches.  It is widely considered to be a reliable movement and is well regarded among watch enthusiasts.  Alternate versions of the Miyota 9015 82S0 offer chronograph functionality (as well as other complications).

To Conclude My Bulova 96A101 Review

Part of me feels bad for this review.  The 96A101 is a fine watch in basically every respect.  The Citizen Miyota movement keeps accurate time and has a history of being trouble free, and I certainly can’t complain about the level of quality that went into this watch.

Though it has a polarizing face, it’s aesthetics are greatly diminished by the cheap-looking stainless steel bracelet’s connection to the case.  If the watch I was reviewing was the Bulova 96A108 it’d easily be a four-star review, but given the piece in front of me, I like it- but I don’t “four-star” like it.

If you’re interested in this watch I highly recommend you see it in person before buying.  The photos don’t do a good job of showing the connection between the bracelet and the case.  Personally, if I was going to buy this watch all over again, I’d skip the stainless steel bracelet and get the Bulova 96A108 with its alligator-grain leather strap.

Buy: $450 USD MSRP, easily found for under $250 on Amazon.

More Pictures of the Bulova 96A101

0 6 20639 17 February, 2013 Automatic, Between $250 and $750, Watch Reviews February 17, 2013

About the author

If it ticks or tocks Cameron probably wants to have it on his wrist. Founder of the website, and lover of things that keep good time, Cameron likely wrote this article three or four times before it was published (and there's probably still a grammatical error in there somewhere... d'oh!)

View all articles by Cameron Martel


  1. Ben

    Great review Cameron. I would like to point out an error.
    Your review states this watch has a Miyota 9015; this is a 24 jewels movement. However, the dial, and caseback reveal this Bulova has a 21 jewels movement. It looks like an 8015 to me, but I’m no expert. Now, if it had a 9015, I’d jump on it in a flash! Looking forward to more of your reviews.


    1. Post author
      Cameron Martel

      Thanks for the insight Ben! After further research I am inclined to agree that it is indeed sporting a Miyota 8015. I will adjust the review later :)

      Much appreciated for letting me know- finding information on the movement in a watch can be difficult, and I definitely don’t want to be showcasing incorrect information.

      You also seem like you know your way around a watch- interested in being a contributor to this little site of mine? :)

  2. Robert

    Seriously, I just bought one of these last week and totally hate it. I have the one with the alligator leather band. OK well the band and snap method is really cool but the wath itself sucks. It will not stay running. I have worn this thing for 3 days because the jewelry shop I bought it from told me that was the only way to “charge it”. Bullshit, it stops evry five or more minutes, I have to keep adjusting the time. It is not accurate at all. I will take a battery watch anyday.


    1. Post author
      Cameron Martel

      Robert, it sounds like your watch is broken. Get it exchanged for a new one or have Bulova take care of it via warranty.

      A few seconds of moving your arm (in a swinging motion) should be all that’s required to charge the power reserve for a few minutes, and wearing the watch for an hour or so should charge it for the day.

      I have 21 automatic movements and they all behave as described above. Yours sounds defective. I suspect once you have it repaired you’ll enjoy it much more :)

    2. Chad

      Robert, your automatic should last around 40 hours. Something is broken with your watch.
      Try manually winding it with the crown.

  3. Tim

    I normally collect vintage Bulova Auto’s but decided to give a new model a try. I was a bit skeptical about the Japanese movement because I hadn’t read much about them. Cameron’s articles were very helpful and sold me on the modern Bulova. I recently bought both the 96A107 & 108 models. I’m impressed with the overall quality of both.


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