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"At the end of 1959, in anticipation of the launch of a revolutionary new line of watches called Accutron, Bulova designers and craftsmen created tooling that imprinted dial markings on some of the new Accutron plastic crystals. The printed crystal carried all of the information that would normally be found on an Accutron dial. This allowed Bulova to eliminate the dial from several models of the new watches and install a printed crystal, thus exposing the tuning fork and the green colored circuitry inside. Because ordinary plated hands didn't provide enough contrast against the movement to be easily seen from a distance, Bulova used white painted luminous handsets as replacements. The converted watches were only intended to be used as sales aids in order to showcase the revolutionary Accutron tuning fork movement.
Accutron was introduced to the public in October of 1960. Conversion kits and display watches were made available to Bulova dealers worldwide to help them explain how the breakthrough technology worked.
The marketing group at Bulova correctly decided that top-of-the-line solid gold cases would convey a sense of enduring quality to the upstart Accutron technology. Bulova used two 14 kt. gold "Spaceviewed" models in an advertising campaign which was intended to accomplish two things. The 1963 Saturday Evening Post Adidea was to differentiate and create excitement around Accutron's ordinary looking dial models by giving the public a glimpse at the technology inside, and to link the development program which created Accutron to the US space program. The advertising worked brilliantly.
The plan was to build enough of these unusual watches for distribution to dealers who didn't want to bother with converting one from their stock and it is widely believed that Bulova expected to sell at most, a few hundred of the new "Display Model" sales aids to their dealers. That was the plan but the public had other ideas.
Perhaps because of its' uniqueness, potential customers who thought that the watch in the jewelers window was a standard model started asking to buy one. Dealers who didn't want to lose a sale were14Kt Scalloped Lug Spaceview happy to sell the "Display Model" and the strangely attractive watch started selling like hotcakes. Soon, due to popular demand, dealers everywhere clamored for quantities of the new best seller. In response to the unprecedented demand Bulova added the "Spaceview" model to the Accutron line. In 1961 Bulova scrambled to keep up with the demand for the expensive new toys and they were hard pressed to come up with enough of14Kt Alpha Spaceview the 14kt. gold cases.
The marketing people at Bulova now knew that they had a hot commodity and that there was also a market for a less expensive Spaceview model so they decided to design one from scratch. Whereas the first Spaceview crystal was made to replace a dial, the new Spaceview would have a built-in metal minute scale (chapter ring) and the crystal would be imprinted with only the Accutron name and tuning fork logo. The first of these new models in gleaming stainless steel came out (I believe) at the end of 1962. By 1963 (M3) they flew out of Bulova factories and sales of the more expensive solid gold models decreased. Soon, other models of the chapter ring Spaceview were produced in both stainless steel and gold filled cases.
The 14 kt gold Alpha and Scalloped Lug models were available until 1965. The last Accutron Spaceview was made in 1977 when production of the 214 ended.
Original Spaceview crystals were available from Bulova as replacement parts until around 1992. Dealers continued to use the original Spaceview conversion parts for any case that would accept the dotted crystals but at that time they were not considered to be as desirable as the chapter ring models so the demand for conversions wasn't anywhere near what it is today. An ordinary dial bezel is not machined for, and will not accept a chapter ring under the crystal so it isn't possible to convert a dial model into a factory correct chapter ring Spaceview. This means that any correct chapter ring model is "factory original".
For non-chapter ring models the conversion process is very simple. Providing that the customers' watch accepted one of the few sizes of Spaceview crystals which were available at that time, dealers removed the dial and installed a spacer ring to fill the void left by the dial's absence. White painted Spaceview hands were installed and the Spaceview crystal was installed on the bezel. The whole process takes just a few minutes and was often done while the customer waited.
Because of the popularity and added value of Spaceview models, brand new crystals that fit non-Spaceview models are now being printed with Accutron markings. These Spaceview crystal sizes were never made by Bulova and therefore were not available in the sixties and seventies so they couldn't have been converted at the time of sale.
Relatively few 214 case styles were sold as Spaceview models by Bulova during the 60's and 70's. Of the ones that were, conversions are not easily detected because a properly done modern conversion is almost indistinguishable from the factory model. Among those converted models, a few are very attractive and they are affordable enough to have become popular with many of today's younger generation. "
This is some great information and explains a lot. I hope this helps clear up some peoples miss understanding about spaceviews. I should point out the there are even astronaut models that are spaceviews, and these are custom conversions, yet some people love them. I believe one and only one model 218 was made in the 70's that was a spaceview. If not, then the photographs of one floating around on the net, is also a conversion. Again, hard to say as it could have been done buy a Bulova dealer in the 70's.
Fathertime is another good place for information, as well as mybob.net.
All three do repair work as well.