The Accutron 214B - The 50th Anniversary LE Spaceview by Citizen. Part II
 
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Thread: The Accutron 214B - The 50th Anniversary LE Spaceview by Citizen. Part II

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    WTF Veteran Rob B's Avatar


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    Default The Accutron 214B - The 50th Anniversary LE Spaceview by Citizen. Part II

    Taking the movement out, one can see the very fine satin gold finish which looks very impressive. The coil forms are quite clearly of new manufacture and are identical in color to the original Accutron coils. The material they are molded from is not DAP as the original Accutron coils are, but are a thermoplastic that is a bit softer. Hence the wall thicknesses of the moldings are a little thicker, though the overall size and shape of the coil forms are identical to the 214 coils. The components are modern equivalents of course. One sacrifice they had to make was to solder the component leads straight to the coil terminal posts, rather than have the leads formed into a circle and then placed of the post before soldering which is a much more robust mechanical solution. However, they were restricted to the modern forms of the old components which don't lend themselves to this method of termination, So I am sure we can forgive them for that! The pillar plate is engraved with the lettering Bulova, 214B, Japan, Seventeen jewels. (Remember that Citizen has a long history of making Accutron movements).

    One also notices that the battery polarity is reversed from the 214, even though the battery well retains the same size and shape. This is due to the use of an NPN transistor. Note that in the pics below, the original Citizen cell coil has been replace by a Bulova coil.

    214b-7.jpg

    214b-8.jpg

    Looking more closely at the movement, it appears to be identical to the 214 in every respect. On dismantling it, I can see that all parts are newly made, there are very subtle differences which give that away. For example, the train wheels have very slightly wider crossings which can be seen under the scope, but not noticeable by eye. The index wheel appears to be made of a silver colored alloy. I don't think it is plated, but I am not sure. If one looks at a 218 index wheel which are silver in color also, you can seen the copper color of the teeth, so they are clearly plated. However, that is not the case here, the teeth are silver color also. In some Bulova timers, the index wheels were made of an alloy called Paliney 7, a silver, palladium, gold and platinum alloy that wears better than the normal Beryllium Copper wheels. I wonder if they used this material instead for the same reasons. The center wheel has been slightly re-designed with a modern clutch instead of the wave washer compressed between two plates. But having said that, the form factor of the wheel remains the same from what I see, and would therefore be interchangeable with a 214 wheel, though I didn't actually try it. The pillar plate is also of new manufacture, and comparing it to a 214, subtle differences in manufacturing techniques can be seen, all of them small and barely noticeable except under a scope. The bridges are also re-made, the same note applies there too. The index and pawl fingers appear to be made of an alloy that is similar looking to the Bulova fingers, but is a bit stiffer and more resistant to bending than the originals. I would guess it is the standard Citizen hairspring alloy, the Bulova fingers also being their in-house hairspring alloy (Bulalloy?) - in both cases just rolled finer to the size needed.

    214b-5.jpg

    214b-6.jpg

    The question now is, are any of the parts interchangeable with Bulova parts? The pillar plate and bridges are identical dimensionally to the 214. In other words, a 214 train bridge fits perfectly onto a 214B pillar plate and vice versa. To do this would require a dimensional accuracy of 5 microns or less which is very impressive. So either they used a coordinate measuring machine to get the basic dimensions, or they worked from the original drawings which is quite likely as they are the owners of Bulova now and presumable have all the information. I would think the same applies to the rest of the parts too, either measure and re-calculate from first principles, or work from the original drawings. So to answer the question, yes all parts I checked were interchangeable with standard 214 parts, including the coil sets. This means that in the future, 214 parts can be used as replacements if Citizen stops supporting them. And incidentally, that could well be true already, as the owner of this example of the watch took it to Citizen Australia who declined to accept it for repair.

    In summary, I would personally recommend that anyone who collects Accutron 214's and wants something to brighten that spark of enthusiasm for the caliber, you could not go wrong with one of these. The lineage is there, and the quality is equal in every way to the original.

    Regards, Rob

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    Interesting. Early on after the release of this watch the word was that nothing was interchangeable. Perhaps Citizen will only service these watches in Japan? Tried to talk a close friend of mine several years ago into buying one from a local jewelry store that just couldn’t sell it. He was offered the watch for about $2500, IIRC. He had a few vintage Accutrons but decided not to purchase it. Sure wish he had as I ended up inheriting his Accutrons and his Rolex!
    Last edited by oliverb; 04-01-2020 at 08:58 AM.

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    Thanks Rob for the excellent write-up. It is impressive how much attention to detail they put into the re-issue. I wonder if they even created spare parts for these watches and gave them to parts depots. Seems like they didn't have much of a plan to service these watches after they made them unless their intent was for the interchangeability with the original caliber. I forwarded a person to your website/email who was also turned down to service his re-issue watch in the USA, so that pretty well solidifies that they didn't intend to service them. I will be on the look-out for a deal on one of these now...

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    Would be good to document the case details too Rob, while you have one in hand, although it may be that you're not planning on removing the crystal et.... I actually like the green with white gold outer dial ring, and I imagine the could be hard to get. Is there a parts list available?

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    Interesting thread on the forum from more than 9 years ago on the 50th Anniversary Accutron by Citizen. While it is believed that the original Accutron production equipment belonging to Bulova was lost, I wonder if Citizen retained the equipment they used to produce in-house Accutrons? Even if they never produced 214s the equipment for producing coils and index wheels might have proven useful when Citizen decided to make the 50th Anniversary 214.
    Last edited by oliverb; 04-01-2020 at 01:41 PM.

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    I've wondered what material Bulova used for the index wheel. My guess was a silicon bronze alloy, but beryllium copper makes sense.

    Thanks for solving that tiny mystery for me.

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    WTF Veteran Rob B's Avatar


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    Quote Originally Posted by Vee3 View Post
    I've wondered what material Bulova used for the index wheel. My guess was a silicon bronze alloy, but beryllium copper makes sense.

    Thanks for solving that tiny mystery for me.
    The index wheel material is mentioned in one of their tech write-ups on the movement and its other applications such as for timers etc.

    Rob
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    WTF Veteran Rob B's Avatar


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    Quote Originally Posted by oliverb View Post
    Interesting thread on the forum from more than 9 years ago on the 50th Anniversary Accutron by Citizen. While it is believed that the original Accutron production equipment belonging to Bulova was lost, I wonder if Citizen retained the equipment they used to produce in-house Accutrons? Even if they never produced 214s the equipment for producing coils and index wheels might have proven useful when Citizen decided to make the 50th Anniversary 214.
    The machinery used to make Accutrons was all just basically standard watch manufacturing machinery. Even the machines used to make index wheels were standard hobbing machines, but specially modified for this purpose to get the extra precision needed. The other specialty machines were the ones used to wind the coils. Making the index and pawl jewels would be another high tech problem to solve and whether they did that in-house or contracted that to a jewel maker like Seitz is not known to me. These days, with modern hi tech CNC machining centers made especially for the watch industry, a lot of the manufacturing difficulties can be readily overcome without the need for extensive special set-ups and jigs, at least for a low volume like the 214B which was only 1000 pcs.
    oliverb likes this.

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    WTF Veteran Rob B's Avatar


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    Quote Originally Posted by watchabit View Post
    Would be good to document the case details too Rob, while you have one in hand, although it may be that you're not planning on removing the crystal et.... I actually like the green with white gold outer dial ring, and I imagine the could be hard to get. Is there a parts list available?
    As far as I know, there isn't a parts list available for the 214B. Pretty unlikely they would sell parts for a limited edition model, but you could always ask and see what they say. It would be interesting to know.
    oliverb likes this.

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    Rob,

    Thank you for doing this. I have always wondered what the origin of the 214B was. Now we know. I am sure you have satisfied the curiosity of many watch collectors and possibly increased the value of this watch by removing the mystic!

    Be well,
    Last edited by srgray; 04-01-2020 at 10:05 PM.

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