Early in my collecting, a Bulova watch with a little red whale on the black dial caught my eye. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, but some eBay searching quickly uncovered similar models. They were all Sea Kings, and for a while, I thought every Bulova with a whale was a Sea King. That turns out to not be true, as the little symbol was actually Bulova’s symbol for “waterproof” and was used on a variety of watches in the 60s and 70s. 

Sea Kings, Clippers, Senators, and Presidents all can have the whale. I haven’t been able to uncover when they stopped using the symbol, but most of the watches I’ve seen with it have been from the late 1960s through the mid 1970s. 

My first purchase was a black-dial, red-whale model that was just a dial and movement without a case. I’ve since put it in a case that’s almost correct, but not quite. So for now it’s a frankenwatch. After that it was the Sea King with a white dial with no strap and blurry pictures. The watch I received turned out to be in excellent condition and now hangs nicely on an age-appropriate Eulit nylon strap.

Since then, I’ve added the occasional new ticker when I see something that I find appealing. They make for great collecting as they come in everything from very conservative Mad Men-era dress watches all the way to pure 70s models just begging to be worn with a double-breasted corduroy suit.


There are manual winds, automatics, sweep seconds, no seconds, and more from which to choose. As a result, there’s literally something for just about any taste, and none but the absolute rarest in pristine condition sell for more than $150 at auction. (Though eBay seems full of people willing to try and get two or three times that. I wish them luck.)

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