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Accutron Accuracy Question... "Click" to Login or Register 
IHC Member 1063
posted
Just how accurate should a typical 214 Railroad Approved Accutron be?
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Massachusetts in the USA | Registered: February 07, 2008
IHC Member 1291
Picture of Buster Beck
posted
Dana these watches were made in the 60's and 70's and the Spaceview was made in 1975. So 40-50 years for an "electronic" watch is a long time to still keep excellent time. Another problem has to do with the batteries for them. They were made to operate on a 1.35Volt silver oxide battery and those batteries are no longer available in the U.S. They have been replaced with 1.55Volt batteries. You can use the 1.55Volt batteries but sometimes it causes the watch to run too fast, especially so when wearing it. One can have a diode installed in the coil that lowers the voltage by 0.2 which is the best route to take and causes less problems with the watches. The coil wire is micro thin and running .2 more volts though the coil is not a good idea. About the only other option is to install a thicker tuning fork which sometimes works at least for a while and sometimes it doesn't.

These watches as you may know used a tuning fork instead of a balance wheel. They were guaranteed to be accurate within 2 seconds per 24 hours when new. Most of the RR personnel bought the new Accutrons when they became available in the 1960's and they were always having problems with them. More than 4 million tuning fork Accutrons were sold by productions end in 1977. These tuning fork watches were the forerunners to quartz watches. I bought a Ball 25 Jewel Trainmaster WW back then and never had a moments problem with it.

regards,
bb
 
Posts: 6361 | Location: Texas in the USA | Registered: July 27, 2009
IHC Member 1063
posted
Buster-

As railroad watches, how did they deal with battery failures? I'm lucky to get a year without needing a new battery. Were they required to change batteries at prescribed intervals?
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Massachusetts in the USA | Registered: February 07, 2008
IHC Member 1291
Picture of Buster Beck
posted
If the watch was off or stopped, it was time to get it inspected or a new battery installed immediately. This was a "new era" if you will where the watch was run and regulated with a tuning fork like many of the then new scientific instruments, and of course battery powered. So when it was slow/fast or stopped it was time to see your jeweler/watchmaker who would either install a new battery and check the beat error and send you to work or give out a "loaner" and repair your watch.

As to maintenance, I don't believe requirements were changed as far as new preventative steps.

regards,
bb
 
Posts: 6361 | Location: Texas in the USA | Registered: July 27, 2009
posted
The original 214 Accutrons are very easy to do a battery change on. The battery lasts a maximum of a year. My 1966 RR approved 214 Accutron stays within 4 or 5 seconds per month which is way above the given specs of 2 seconds a day. Bulova said if they were timed to run 2 seconds a day slow when not being worn that they would run just about spot on when you wore them. That seems to be the case with the other 2 Accutrons I own, a spaceview 214 and a dress model 218 with day and date. The 218 movement is actually better and more rugged but the 214 is the one preferred by collectors, especially in the spaceview configuration.

I haven't read about RR people having problems with them at all. The electric watch that was RR approved and then lost the approval because of not being reliable enough was the Hamilton 500. The Accutrons remained very popular until the quartz revolution happened in the '70's.
 
Posts: 328 | Location: Plattsburgh, New York in the USA | Registered: December 17, 2012
IHC Member 1338
posted
These are collector items now days. True you may get one that actually keeps pretty good time, but as Buster says we are now dealing with 40-50 year old electronics. I have 30 or so in my collection, haven't looked at them for years. I have owned and sold examples that ran good. I have also seen ones that needed a battery, a cleaning (yes you have to clean these as well from time to time they have moving parts too) a coil, an index wheel, a diode, etc to run. One can easily get buried in one.

They ARE neat watches, but please dont buy one on the illusion they are going to run and time like they did 50 years ago unless the entire mechanism has been refurbished and even then no guarantees

Of course these are gems compared to the Hamilton Electric RR Special but that's another story...


Tom Dunn...
TIME MACHINE
www.myrailroadwatch.com
.
 
Posts: 2987 | Location: Ramsey, Illinois in the USA | Registered: December 15, 2008
IHC Member 1291
Picture of Buster Beck
posted
quote:
"I haven't read about RR people having problems with them at all.


Really ?? Well actually I was there working in the RR industry and saw it first hand. I know the problems they experienced as I worked along side them everyday. It wasn't one or two either, it was many failures I observed my co-worker's had with their new 214's and later the 218's. Luckily for me I retired my 992B and walked right into a Ball 25 J Trainmaster and as I said, never had a moments trouble with it. I saw more than one man go back to his pocket watch because of the Accutron's problems and even saw a few trade in their near new Accutron for the Ball Trainmaster WW's. This applied to the year 1967 and even up to the late 1970's, and as a whole we were glad to see the Accutron's go away !!

I will say this about the little "hummers", the ones that were working good, were great watches for the times.

regards,
bb

 
Posts: 6361 | Location: Texas in the USA | Registered: July 27, 2009
posted
The very first ones did have some problems but by '64 or '65 they were very reliable watches by all accounts. They changed coil designs a few times in that stretch of time. I did have the coil replaced in my '64 Spaceview when it stopped humming and the servicer also put in a new tuning fork which it probably didn't need. A few weeks later, the watch was still humming but the hands didn't move. I sent it back to him and he fixed it at no additional charge. He didn't say what he had done but I noticed that the tuning fork was again a different one. (I could tell by the markings on it). I suspect that the indexing gem which is on a "finger" attached to the tuning fork, came loose but I never did ask him. It keeps very good time. Not as good as the RR one which is phenomenal but still within factory specs. I did adjust the timing myself however after I got it back which is not hard to do.

It is not hard at all to find one today that still runs well within the most stringent RR specifications. Most do not require any modification to work with the newer batteries either. I use only the present day batteries in all 3 of mine.
 
Posts: 328 | Location: Plattsburgh, New York in the USA | Registered: December 17, 2012
IHC Member 1063
posted
I had lost (behind a drawer) my N1 RR 214 and found it again earlier this week. Put in new battery and it has been keeping near perfect time for 3 days now. Perhaps they had gotten rid of the bugs in 214s by 1971.
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Massachusetts in the USA | Registered: February 07, 2008
IHC Member 1291
Picture of Buster Beck
posted
I like the old 214 with it's stem on the case back and when they are keeping time, they are very good and hard to beat. I look at them as the stepping stone that they were, from mechanical to quartz movements. Very important watches and sure to gain value as the years go by as long as they are working.

regards,
bb
 
Posts: 6361 | Location: Texas in the USA | Registered: July 27, 2009
IHC Member 163
Picture of Mark Cross
posted
My 1976 214 continues to keep near perfect time to date. I rarely wear it, though, as I, too, am aware it's a fairly 'rare' watch now and few people are willing or WANT to attempt to repair them anymore due to the difficulty in finding parts.

Can't say I blame them, as there are so many other models of watches out there, why specialize in just Accutrons?

Regard! Mark
 
Posts: 3820 | Location: Estill Springs, Tennessee, USA | Registered: December 02, 2002
IHC Member 1291
Picture of Buster Beck
posted
New Correct Batteries for the VINTAGE ACCUTRON 214's & 218's are available !!

http://boomertime.com/3%20Accutron/A1688/A1688.htm

regards,
bb
 
Posts: 6361 | Location: Texas in the USA | Registered: July 27, 2009
posted
They are also available from Esslinger.
Accucell 1.35 v battery

Appears to be the same battery but Esslinger's price and shipping charges are lower.
 
Posts: 346 | Location: Woodland Hills, California in the USA | Registered: January 07, 2011
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