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Bulova Accutron 214 Part 2

By on July 15, 2017
bulova accutron internal mechanical parts













bulova accutron

Hello fellow electronics enthusiasts! In Part 1, I showed you some photos of the amazing Accutron 214 components and gave you a basic description of them and how the movement operates. In this article we will take a deeper look at the electronic circuit and the indexing mechanism. In Part 3, we will have the movement cleaned and reassembled to test and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, we will repair it – which may need a Part 4: we shall see.

Looking at the schematic of the electronic circuit of the Accutron, it seems to be very simple. It is simple – but it is also very elegant. Not only does the circuit control the pulsed current with its fixed coils and tuning fork cups/conical magnets, it also has an inherent built-in amplitude control system.

As I mentioned in Part 1, about 25% of the turns of Drive Coil 1 (DC1) make up the phase sensing coil. It is the phase sensing coil that controls the instant the pulses of current are applied to the drive coils to maintain the tuning fork oscillations. The coils are fixed to the pillar plate and the tuning fork cups with their associated magnets are attracted or repelled depending on the polarity (direction of the current flow). So the coils with their associated magnets serve three functions; they drive the tuning fork by converting pulses of electrical current into mechanical impulses, they control the ability in which the electronic circuit may sense the tuning fork amplitude, and they control the instant in the tuning fork cycle during which the driving current pulse is delivered to the coils.

bulova accutron schematic

Here is the schematic and the photo of the movement showing the components from Part 1 for you to refer to.

The 220nF cap in parallel with the 3M9 resistor keeps the transistor in the non-conducting state throughout most of the cycle of the tuning fork. As previously explained, the alternating pulses of voltage are induced in the phase sensing coil by the oscillations of the magnet associated with it. Through the base of the transistor this voltage is added to the battery cell voltage to charge the cap once each cycle by the peaks of the alternating voltage induced in the phase sensing coil. These recharging pulses of current cause the transistor to conduct momentarily and allow current to flow in the drive coils to pulse the tuning fork and maintain its oscillations.

bulova accutron internal parts

The transistor is caused to conduct at the point where the voltages induced in the phase sensing coil and drive coils are near their maximum instantaneous values, and when the drive coil induced voltage is opposite in polarity to the battery cell voltage. Therefore, if the amplitude of the tuning fork at the instant the transistor conducts current and the induced voltage in the drive coils exactly equals the battery cell voltage, no current would flow since the two voltages are opposite in polarity which would cause them to cancel each other out.

So, the design of the magnet and coil system is the key to the operation of the amplitude control system so that the proper amplitude of oscillation for the tuning fork, the voltage induced in the drive coils has a peak value about 10% less than the battery cell voltage. It is because of this that a 10% increase in amplitude resulting from a disturbance, such as the movement being bumped or jarred, would cause the driving current pulses to be reduced to zero and the tuning fork would quickly return to its proper amplitude. Also, a 10% decrease in amplitude of the tuning fork would cause the driving current pulses to double and again return the tuning fork very quickly to the proper amplitude.

As I previously mentioned, one of the tines of the tuning fork has an index finger and jewel which moves the index wheel to turn the watch wheels and hands as the tuning fork vibrates. It is called the ratchet system. Even though the ratchet system is very tiny it does not alter the physical principles of its operation in any way. Below is a photo that gives a basic view of the index wheel ratchet system.

bulova accutron manual

When the tuning fork tine oscillates it moves the index jewel to advance the index wheel in the forward direction as seen in the photo above. The pawl jewel drops into a tooth preventing the index wheel from reversing direction past the advanced tooth when the index jewel pulls back in the reverse direction by the tuning fork. The jewel fingers keep a little downward pressure (torque) against the index wheel which keeps them from jumping away from the index wheel and also mimics the draw in a mechanical watch escapement by pulling the index wheel back a little so that the pawl jewel rests at the step in the index wheel. To learn about mechanical watch lever escapements you can look here. The lever escapement is the most common that you will probably be acquainted with. You can explore other types of escapements from links on that page if you wish.

tooth amplitude

In the simplified photo above of the index wheel teeth and jewels, we see how the jewels advance the index wheel under different amplitudes. Figure (A) shows the movement stopped at the rest position. Figures (B) & (C) show the end of the forward/return strokes of the one-tooth amplitude. Figures (D) & (E) show a two-tooth amplitude, with figure (F) showing the middle of the two-tooth return stroke. Figures (G) & (H) show the three-tooth amplitude.

Using the distance between the teeth as a measure of the amplitude, we can see what happens when the tuning fork vibrates at various amplitudes. Figures B & C show a complete cycle of oscillation at an amplitude of one-tooth (from ½ tooth right to ½ tooth left of the rest position). You can see that when the index jewel moves ½ tooth to the right, the index jewel picks up another tooth and on its return stroke to the left it pushes the index wheel far enough for the pawl jewel to drop off of the end of tooth # 2 so that we have advanced a movement of one tooth. From this we can deduce that further oscillations at the amplitude of one tooth will advance the index wheel one tooth per cycle.

In figures D, E, and F we can see what happens when we increase the amplitude to two teeth (one tooth right to one tooth left of the rest position). Notice that when the index jewel moves one tooth to the right, it drops off of tooth #7 and moves halfway along tooth #8. So on the return stroke to the left the first half tooth of travel causes no movement of the index wheel since the index jewel does not start to push the index wheel until the index jewel reaches tooth #7. Also notice that in figure E, tooth #2 passes beyond the pawl jewel; but after the start of the return stroke back to the right the “draw” effect exerts force on the index wheel to pull it back ½ a tooth against tooth #2, as shown in figure F.

Figures G & H show the effect of a three-tooth amplitude. Note that when the index jewel moves 1 ½ teeth to the right the index jewel will pick up tooth #8. At the stroke to the left the index jewel has moved tooth #8 into the position where tooth #5 was.

The pawl jewel dropped off the end of tooth #4, and we have achieved a three-tooth advance of the index wheel.

So we can see that for any amplitude from just over one tooth to just under three teeth the index wheel will only advance one tooth for each oscillation of the tuning fork. We have demonstrated that the Accutron index mechanism permits wide variations in tuning fork amplitude before the movement hands fail to advance in exact synchronism with the oscillations of the tuning fork.

Notice also that the jewels rest flat against the index wheel teeth. This helps distribute the already minute forces holding the jewels against the index wheel to help keep them from wearing out. According to the Accutron manual, they examined movements that had been running for years, and after examination could find no signs of wear. I can believe it. My own examinations in the coming years will tell if that is true but I doubt that Bulova would make that claim if it were not true. And how old an Accutron is that I buy is no guarantee because I have no way of knowing exactly how long it actually ran during its life. I can say that I have not seen any evidence of wear in my 214’s index wheel and jewels.

The next few photos are of the Accutron 214 movement being taken apart.

bulova accutron index wheel

bulova accutron index wheel parts

bulova accutron repair

bulova accutron fix

bulova accutron how to

bulova accutron how to repair

bulova accutron spring

bulova accutron magnet

In Part 3 we will get the cleaned movement back together and run some checks.


robert calk junior

Robert Calk is a hobbyist from the USA who loves Electronics, Leatherworking, and Watchmaking.

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Please check out his previous repair article below:




  1. Parasuraman S

    July 15, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Excellent! Very minute work, all for a 'minute' to tick!

    • Robert Calk

      July 18, 2017 at 3:50 am

      Thanks Parasuraman.

  2. Suranga Electronics

    July 15, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Hi, Mr. Robert Calk,

    Wow.. Great Article and Super Quality pictures.

    • Robert Calk

      July 18, 2017 at 3:53 am

      Thanks Suranga. Most of the photos were taken with my microscope camera. It takes HD photos which forces me to send the article to Mr. Yong in at least 2 emails. Too much for one email.

  3. mahmoud_tajpour

    July 16, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Hi,dear Mr.Robert Calk you did a great jobo of course this dose not have economic value but it is an artistic that did you do and I congratulate you.

    • Robert Calk

      July 18, 2017 at 3:58 am

      Thanks Mahmoud. There are many people that love the Accutron so they still have value. The advent of the cheaper and very accurate quartz movements took most of the watch business. But Accutron's and even mechanical movements are still very interesting.

  4. Gerald Musy

    July 16, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Well done Robert. I admire your patience... my favorite watch is a Seiko Sports as I love a dial that I can read without wearing my glasses!
    But it is mechanical and after sending it back to Seiko four times under warranty without any improvement in the accuracy I decided to do it myself. After several days moving that little lever + and - I finally hit the jackpot. Now its at one minute per month, perfectly OK for an automatic watch. Well all this is much too small for me and I respect your work very much.

    • Robert Calk

      July 18, 2017 at 4:05 am

      Thanks Gerald. One minute per month is very acceptable for most people. I love Seiko's also and have been buying some automatics. I won a Seiko 5 Sportsmatic on auction yesterday. I think all of mine were made in the 70's & 80's.

  5. Albert van Bemmelen

    July 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    The electromechanical construction of this watch is very complex Robert. It is unbelievable what they managed to do with just one transistor and a few very small coils. In a time before the microprocessor took over with millions of those transistors. And before the USA started to make great electronic products like our Tektronix oscilloscopes and before the race to the moon that required new developed electronic systems to make that possible. Thanks for this very good and detailed article. I guess that taking some oscilloscope pictures of the circuit with coils and transistor is hard to make because the oscilloscope probe probably would create a too big load on the tiny currents?

    • Robert Calk

      July 18, 2017 at 3:48 am

      Thanks Albert. Yeah it's amazing also that they could make the tiny coil wire way back then and wind those coils. That is a company secret. I've heard that a couple guys somewhere have made a machine that can rewind the coils. The other components can be replaced pretty easily but rewinding coils is impossible for most people. I hope they succeed!
      I'm going to try to figure something out with my oscilloscope but I don't have expensive equipment - I'm just a poor guy by USA standards. I have a micro-current device that I have never needed to use yet. I'm going to see if I can negate the scope load by going through the device or some other way.

      • Albert van Bemmelen

        July 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

        It indeed must be a very complex process to make such tiny wires Robert. I read that the US patent of making transistors was sold to Tokyo Telecommunications in Japan already in 1955, later renamed to Sony as the company started to make battery powered 5 transistor AM radios.
        Which is rather strange knowing the transistor was just invented in 1947 and very promising. And that it was a great invention I can read back in a very old book I have (published in March 1959, the year I was born in) with the title: TM 11-690_Department of the army technical manual - Headquarters, department of the army. (with a stamp on the cover saying: United states of America-War office). And in that respect a bit odd because it was only about 14 years after Pearl Harbor and just 10 years after WWII.
        Like you I do not own very expensive equipment, but I do count my Tektronix 2465 and 2440 oscilloscopes to my most expensive devices.
        I am curious if you are able to manage in making some oscilloscope pictures of your Bulova in action! And with what equipment if you do. Which would make it even more interesting to us electronics guys.

        • Robert Calk

          July 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

          Hi Albert,

          It wouldn't surprise me if they sold the patent to Japan. I believe Japan had the most favored nation status from the USA at that time.
          As far as the scope is concerned, I'll do my best. I also plan on some video with my microscope camera. I purchased a Bulova Accutron Power Supply 9920/6604 that should be here next week. I was going to build my own, but this one presented itself and it looks really nice. You'll see it in the photos. It uses a 9V battery. I've also acquired an Accutron Watchmaster Model 700, but I probably won't use it for this 214. It is mainly for my 2182's, etc. It is in immaculate condition and I consider myself fortunate to have found it before someone else grabbed it!
          I plan to do a good job even though there doesn't seem to be much interest in it. I think my article on a cheap little pencil sharpener garnered more of a response than these do...

          • Eric

            May 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm

            Robert, you wrote - "I plan to do a good job even though there doesn't seem to be much interest in it. I think my article on a cheap little pencil sharpener garnered more of a response than these do..."

            Oh, there is interest. It's just that your post here isn't easy to find or fall across. I'm an Accutron collector from California, and have been reading this with interest. I've acquired some of the specialized tools and would love to learn to service my own collection. It's a daunting task, but I'm about ready to "dive into the deep side of the pool." Robert, head on over to the Accutron/Bulova/Caravelle subforum at for some fellow enthusiasts (if you haven't you haven't already). Eric (ArchieGoodwin at the forum)

            • Andre Kara

              January 28, 2020 at 7:37 am

              Yes there is interest and it will at least be steady or even rise.
              People need to learn about the history and fascinating technique behind these watches. I've already infected two of my colleagues who first thought my watch is just another swatch or something, now one has bought one already and the other one is looking out for one. I've already dissambled two movements and try to educate myself right now to get them clean and running again, which is quite difficult as I only have basic knowledge of electromechanic but I will get there.

              Thanks for your efforts and for your pages.

  6. Anthony

    July 16, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Good on you Robert ! Thank you for the very educational article and I really admire your patience
    and dexterity in dealing with this quite delicate repair of this beautifully crafted watch. Great photos
    which you have provided btw and fingers crossed for you it all goes to plan and the watch is telling
    the time as good as the day it was made !
    Best wishes

    • Robert Calk

      July 18, 2017 at 4:12 am

      Thanks Anthony. It's pretty tedious and much more difficult than I thought it would be. Thankfully I still have pretty steady nerves and my hands don't shake too bad. most people think they have steady hands but nothing says more than trying to hold a tiny screw or something under a microscope. You'll find out real quick how steady your hands are.

  7. Arthur

    July 17, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Great work Robert,You'd wonder what a few seconds meant, but then my watch is always out. You must have very good eye sight, and tons of patience.congratulations.

    • Robert Calk

      July 18, 2017 at 4:17 am

      Thanks Arthur. I like having a watch that I can look at without using my cell phone. My eyes aren't very good. I wear glasses. I have a pretty good stereo microscope. This would be impossible for me without a good stereo microscope.

  8. Humberto

    July 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Robert, you have dedicated your time not only with the Bulova but redacting a good article too with excellent pics. Congratulations.

    • Robert Calk

      July 22, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Thanks, Humberto.

  9. joe moseo

    August 11, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    hi,Robert,as the commentator said,there are lots of us that think your accutron 214 work is great although I wish you had more pics or a video of the actual take apart of the movement. I am a collector of bulova in wetumka oklahoma.i have stage 4 cancer and i am preparing to liquidate my favorite and in my daily wear rotation,is a 1967 model 2310 spaceview. I also have a gold flawless 1964 spaceview. well when i took the gold one out, it wasn't running,so i ordered a battery. i installed battery,nothing. tapped at 3 oclock and "wala 'working ran about an hour and quit. i tapped to no avail. after removing and reinserting battery,watch an another hour 15 minutes and stopped.after examining movement with watchmakers glasses, i noticed the white and striped paint on the 220nf capacitor was all cracked and crazed which leads me to think that may be the problem. My question is, is there anywhere that i can get that capacitor or will i have to buy the whole circuit board? i tried to follow close your work around that area.thanx for answer in advance,and keep up the good work. more detail,

  10. joe moseo

    August 11, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    oh yeah. Robert, i forgot to tell you that i put leads from an old fashioned ohm meter and it jumped up and did fall back to 0 or a low number, it stayed up. I do not have a oscilloscope. Joe

  11. Malcolm Davies

    January 18, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Hello Robert,

    Very helpful, excellently illustrated article.

    Am I right in thinking that I would be unable undertake a coil replacement without test gear for re-indexing after reassembly (and no experience of this). I live in the UK.

    Kind regards,

    Malcolm Davies


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