Bulova 96A108 Mechanical Automatic Watch Review

Bulova 96A108 Automatic MechanicalIf you’re looking for an affordable automatic watch with a refined aesthetic appeal, the Bulova 96A108 men’s mechanical watch should be on your list of potential candidates.

Currently priced under $200, this is one of the most affordable self winding watches on the market that’s actually worth wearing. Thanks to rugged construction, eye-popping design and an extremely high quality calfskin leather strap, this watch is much more than what you would expect for the price.

To help you decide whether or not the Bulova 96A108 Automatic is for you, I have done thorough research on the watch to come up with a list of pros and cons. If that’s not enough, you can keep reading for a more in-depth review below. And don’t forget to scroll to the end of the review to get my verdict!

Ready? Here are the pros and cons:

Bulova Men’s 96A108 Automatic Mechanical Brown Dial Watch


  • One of the most affordable self-winding mechanical watches on the market
  • 21 jewel Japanese made automatic movement is accurate (especially for the price) and long-lived
  • Simple, bold and powerful design. The textured Brown Dial almost seems to “pop” off the wrist. You WILL get compliments, trust me
  • I am a sucker for exhibition windows; I love watching the hyper-speed oscillations of the automatic movement
  • Polished stainless steel case is well constructed; both shock-resistant and water-resistant.
  • I really like the size of this men’s watch; at 40 mm in diameter it is still large, but perfectly reasonable for all but the slimmest of gentlemen
  • Very easy to read with large luminous hands and simple elevated hour markers
  • Brown calfskin leather strap is very comfortable and fits the design of the watch well
  • The deployment clasp is easy to wear, and is quite secure once adjusted. I much prefer the deployment clasp to the standard style clasp.
  • Very good power reserve… Contrary to some of the customer reviews, once properly wound this watch will keep ticking for 24 hours without trouble


  • 21 Jewel Japanese made automatic movement is highly functional, but some classicists may be turned off by a non-Swiss made movement.
  • Not really a con, but please be aware that as an automatic watch you do need to wear it regularly, unless you get a watch winder or don’t mind resetting the time whenever you wear it
  • The deployment clasp can be a bit tricky to adjust and figure out at first if you’ve never dealt with one like it before; there are plenty of YouTube videos to help you figure out though
  • Mineral crystal is less scratch resistant than Sapphire Crystal, but this keeps the price down

Click here to read more customer reviews

In-Depth Bulova 96A108 Mechanical Automatic Review

Okay, if you still would like to know a little bit more about the watch that you’re buying, here is a more detailed review of the four core aspects of the watch: the movement, the dial, the case and the strap. Learn more about each below:

21 Jewel Japanese Made Automatic Movement

For those of you that don’t know, an automatic – or mechanical – watch is powered by a self winding mechanism that “charges” with the movement of your arm. There is no battery; simply by wearing the watch you keep it running.
Automatic watch is also feature a sweeping secondhand. Because automatic watches tick much more rapidly than their Quartz powered counterparts, the secondhand beats several times per second to give the appearance of nonstop motion (even though it’s actually just very fast ticking).

I have to say, I was actually fairly impressed by the accuracy of the Bulova 96A108. I would have expected the Japanese movement to be much less precise than it actually is. Most reviewers are claiming about +/- 15 seconds per month, although your mileage may vary.
If you do buy this watch and don’t think you wear it everyday, I recommend picking up a cheap automatic watch winder to keep the thing running.

Brown Dial with Balance Wheel Window

These Brown Dial watches have been growing on me a lot lately… I really think that the Brown color is beautiful, and very classy. This watch in particular is exquisitely designed, and more than capable of pairing with a suit and tie. Any outfit that you would wear brown shoes with, you can also wear this watch with and look amazing.

To address the more specific aesthetic elements of the dial – you have a very rich line pattern that surrounds the outer perimeter of the dial and adds a surprising amount of depth to the design, especially in combination with the matte texture at the center. The hour markers are slightly elevated, very thick, and very easy to read. At 12 o’clock you have the Bulova fork logo, and at seven o’clock you have the open-heart window that is the true show-stealing element of the design. You can actually see the inner workings of this watch moving (albeit very, very quickly) as you wear it.

All in all, the brown and silver is a very nice combination, and I would be surprised if you didn’t get to regularly complemented while wearing this watch.

41 mm Stainless Steel Case with Exhibition Window Back

Bulova 96A108 Automatic Mechanical ProfileThe stainless steel case is approximately 41 mm in diameter, and about 44 mm once you count the crown. The bezel is stationary brushed stainless steel, and slightly angled to flow into the curved mineral crystal that protects the face of the watch. The mineral crystal is scratch resistant, although not scratch proof, and serves to bring focus to the Brown dial. At right angles, this watch almost seems to glow.

The most exciting part of the case is actually the backside. The back of the Bulova 96A108 features a large exhibition window that allows you to see the entirety of the 21 Jewel movement (or at least the back of it). This is the private treasure that no one else will get to enjoy except for you, and it’s actually quite interesting to peer into the inner workings of the watch.

Not much else to say here… The case is both shock resistant and water resistant. It’s a well-made, well designed, and hefty enough that you actually feel the watch on your wrist, like you’re wearing a trophy.

Brown Calfskin Leather Strap with Adjustable Deployment Clasp

Bulova 96A108 Automatic Mechanical Case BackLast but certainly not least, the Brown calfskin leather strap is EXTREMELY comfortable (if you’ve ever worn calfskin, you know what I’m talking about) and requires no “breaking in” whatsoever. Calfskin is also very durable. I was actually surprised that Bulova was able to include such a high-quality strap on an already-very-affordable automatic watch.

Perhaps best of all, though, is the adjustable deployment clasp. The deployment clasp on a leather strap works the same way as the ones you’ll find on metal straps. You only have to adjust it once for a secure fit, and then putting on and taking off the watch is as easy as pushing a button. And for those of you concerned with comfort, the deployment clasp is just as comfortable on your wrist as a standard style clasp would be.

That being said, there is a little bit of a trick to adjusting the deployment clasp. Fortunately, there are plenty of YouTube videos available if the instruction manual isn’t clear enough. Or, this customer review will walk you through the adjustment process in detail.

My Verdict of the Bulova 96A108 Mechanical Automatic

You couldn’t ask for a better entry-level automatic watch than the Bulova 96A108 Automatic watch, especially if the style is something that you find appealing.

The design is powerful without seeming cheap; the exhibition windows on the front and back of the watch are really neat; the lambskin strap is comfortable, stylish and secure. A very well-made watch all-around.

As always, thanks for reading my watch review! I sure do appreciate it =)

Next Watch Review: Bulova 96B128 Precisionist Claremont

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