Bulova 96A118 BVA Series Automatic Watch Review

Bulova 96A118 BVA Series Dual ApertureToday I would like to indulge myself and review one of my favorite automatic watches from Bulova.

In case you don’t know, automatic watches are self powered by the kinetic energy of your arm… There is a spring-loaded movement that converts the movement of your arm into measured vibrations in the watch, and so automatic watches are completely battery free.

The Bulova 96A118 Mechanical Collection men’s watch is the particular automatic watch I’m going to be reviewing, and I have to say, it’s a good one (spoilers!).

As you continue reading my Bulova 96A118 review, you’re going to learn everything you need to know before deciding to buy or not to buy this excellent entry-level self-winding watch. We’ll start with a semi-detailed overview of the pros and cons, and then I’ll go into a more personal review below those.

Bulova Men’s 96A118 BVA Series Dual Aperture Dial Watch


  • One of the most affordable automatic watches that you can get that’s actually resilient enough for everyday wear
  • Very intricate and eye-catching design – the two sub-dials and a partial skeleton window are perfectly woven together to create elegance and complexity without clutter
  • Polished stainless steel case and strap are both rugged enough for the hazards of everyday wear
  • Automatic 21 jewel Japanese made movement is surprisingly accurate and has a very decent power reserve (about 36 hours)
  • It is possible to manually wind the watch via the crown on the side of the case – this means that even if you don’t wear the watch everyday, as long as you keep the wound it should not stop
  • It’s large but not quite “huge” – at 42 mm and with a domed mineral crystal window, it’s certainly going to pop off your wrist, but the color scheme is gentle and doesn’t “swallow” your arm
  • The concealed double clasp that secures the strap to your wrist is very sleek, and surprisingly comfortable
  • The indigo-blue minute, hour and subdial hands perfectly suit the silver dial; they also make this watch slightly more readable than its counterpart, the Bulova 96A119 BVA Series
  • The exhibition window on the back of the case is really cool… With the partial skeleton dial and the exhibition window you can see a good majority of the 21-jewel automatic movement powering the watch

There were only two complaints listed in Amazon’s customer reviews for the Bulova 96A118. Both of them are petty, if not silly. This is a very well done watch, and honestly it is a steal at the price you can get for online. But, for the sake of transparency, I will list the cons here:


  • This customer complained that there is no date function on the watch. There isn’t a date function, but any picture could tell you that.
  • This customer complained that their automatic watch stopped working after every 48 hours without wearing it. He found it frustrating because he didn’t realize that you can wind the Bulova 96A118 with the crown on the side of the case.

Click here to read more customer reviews

Like I said, a little bit silly, but now you know what to expect, am I right?

Anyways, let’s go ahead and move on to the rest of my Bulova 96A118 review.

My Bulova 96A118 Automatic Watch Review

Silver White Dial with Open Aperture Subdials

Bulova 96A119 BVA Series

The Bulova 96A119 with Dual Aperture dial

Initially as I was planning today’s watch review, I was torn between reviewing the Bulova 96A119 Dual Aperture (pictured right) vs the Bulova 96A118 (pictured at the top of this page). The two men’s watches are both from the BVA series and both feature dual aperture subdials… They are identical in every way but one – the color scheme of the dial.

I decided to review the 96A118 because I like its silver white background and indigo blue accents more than I like the charcoal gray background and silver accents featured by the Bulova 96A119.

Don’t get me wrong, both watches are exquisite, but blue is my favorite color and I love seeing it used properly in a watch’s design… In this example, it is subtle but captivating, and I just couldn’t stop drooling over the silver white paired with the rich blue. I also feel that the blue hands on white background are much easier to read than silver hands on a black background.

Aside from the color scheme, the most prominent feature is obviously the open Aperture subdials. The dial located at the nine o’clock position tracks hours, and the dial between the four o’clock and five o’clock position features a sweeping secondhand with Bulova’s tuning fork as a custom-counterbalance.

The hour markers are Roman numerals – always a plus – and the hands an hour markers are both luminous. The curved minute track made up of tiny rectangles that surrounds the inside of the Roman numeral markers has tiny luminescent dots at each hour’s position. The hour and minute hands have luminous filling. Ultimately, the Bulova 96A118 features a very intricate design, and you are sure to get plenty of compliments from watch enthusiasts and village-folk alike.

42 mm Polished Stainless Steel Case with Domed Mineral Crystal

Okay, I spent way too long on the dial, so let’s think through these last two segments real quick.

Bulova 96A118 BVA Series on WristThe stainless steel case features a stationary bezel, if you can even call it a bezel since it’s more like a rim, which curves into a domed mineral Crystal window. If you’re familiar with high-end watches, then you know that mineral Crystal is inferior to

Sapphire Crystal in terms of scratch resistance, but you don’t generally find Sapphire Crystal in watches under $500.

As I said in my pros and cons list, the case is 42 mm in diameter, so fairly large. That being said, the design is sleek and the color scheme is gentle, so the watch doesn’t seem particularly bulky on the wrist. It’s definitely a big watch, but it’s one of the subtlest big watches around, so take that as you will. If you’re very slender, it might be a bit too big, but big watches are the new average. The case is surprisingly lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about feeling like you’re carrying a dumbbell all day.

The exhibition case back is exactly what you would expect – amazing. You won’t get to look at it very often if you’re wearing the watch everyday, but when you do it will be rewarding. I wish all automatic watches had exhibition case backs.

The crown on the side of the case is used for both setting time and winding the automatic movement… It’s very convenient and seems well constructed. You’re not going to accidentally break anything if you’ve got big fingers.

Polished/Brushed Stainless Steel Strap with Hidden Deployment Clasp

Last but not least, the Bulova 96A118 features a stainless steel bracelet with polished outer links and brushed interlinks.

The strap is 22 mm across, so it is proportional with the case size. The strap is secured with a hidden double deployment clasp, which means it looks seamless when it’s on your wrist.

To release the clasp you simply press the two push buttons on either side, and the strap pops open.

Some people find these double deployment clasps to be somewhat cumbersome or overly complicated, but I personally think they are really cool, and the one on the Bulova 96A118 is quite comfortable. You don’t even notice it’s there… Truly seamless design.

My Verdict of the Bulova 96A118 BVA Series

I have literally no complaints about the Bulova 96A118 BVA Series Dual Aperture watch. The construction is solid, the 21-jewel Japanese movement is accurate with a great 36 hour power reserve, and the silver-white dial with blue accents is just…Flawless. Definitely an excellent addition to any collection, and any guy would be lucky to have it.

Even though I personally preferred the Bulova 96A118, I do recommend you take a look at the Bulova 96A119 just to make sure that your preference is the same as mine in terms of design. Remember, the watches are identical in function and in manufacture… The only difference is which one you like better.

Thanks for reading!

Next Watch Review: Bulova 98H51 Dress Collection

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