This I believe would probably be the second most commonly asked question about Accutrons. The most commonly asked question would have to be "What's an Accutron?", but since we are all "Accutron-literate" here, we'll ignore that one!
It isn't always easy to tell a conversion from a Factory Spaceview, and in fact if the conversion is done correctly, perhaps it doesn't really matter. Here are the differences as far as I know:
Factory Spaceview (see Pic 1.)
|Pic 1. Factory Spaceview with Reflector||Pic 2. Factory Spaceview with Printed Crystal||Pic 3. Various types of Reflectors|
As we Accutron collectors become more sophisticated and knowledgeable, the scammers and unscrupulous dealers who try and pass off Spaceview conversions as the genuine article become cleverer in their attempts to deceive us.
It has been brought to my attention (thanks John B.) that at least one dealer who is selling Spaceviews via an internet Auction site is painting silver and gold colored hands white, in attempt to make conversions look more correct, and thus bring a higher price. So now we have to examine white hands very carefully to ascertain if they are genuine or not.
Check the following points, using a loupe if possible:
In summary, we are looking for hands which have been finished in the Factory to a high standard of perfection, which is difficult to achieve in an amateur workshop. If you are planning on buying a Spaceview via the internet, make it a condition of purchase that you reserve the right to have the watch examined by an independant expert watchmaker, and that you can return it for a full refund if he deems it to be modified in any way.
NOTE: As of around 2008, Clark Watch Parts are selling reproduction Spaceview hands and crystals, made by a Swiss company to a very high standard. I certainly don't mind these being used as they really look good. You can find them on Ebay, user name nostalgia-2000.
The index mechanism of the Accutron 214 movement is very susceptible to damage when removed from its case by unskilled persons. If the second-hand is moved backwards even the smallest amount, the index wheel can be damaged, and the index and pawl jewels torn off the fingers. Avoid any watch that is not keeping time to Accutron Standards, ie 60secs/month.Bulova Replacement Crystals
Bulova supplied various types of replacement crystals with minute chapter and/or logo printed on them. The pic below shows 3 types of genuine Bulova replacement crystals. However, inferior quality copies of these exist. They are distinguishable from a genuine Bulova-supplied crystal by the lower quality of the silkscreen printing on them. The printing should be "razor sharp" and with no rippled or wavy edges, misalignment or distortion. Click Here for a listing of Spaceview Crystal Part Numbers.
If your watch is a conversion which originally had a reflector, or printed crystal AND genuine white hands, then I guess it probably doesn't really matter, as the movement in a Spaceview is identical to a normal 214 anyway. The reflector rings on non-Spaceview watches usually did not have luminous dots. Reflector rings, crystals and white hands were standard stock items, and could be purchased easily. So, a good watchmaker doing conversions would have used them (when they were still available).
Accutron 214 watches came in dozens (possibly hundreds) of different case styles, but not many were sold as Spaceviews. Click Here for a list of Spaceview case numbers.
How much is my watch worth? That is the next most commonly asked question, and I would not like to hazard a guess, as it depends on many factors, including overall condition and the case material (ie solid gold vs plated). However, any watch that comes with its box and original papers authenticating it will fetch a premium price for its condition. Check out some of the watch dealers on the net, or get a current copy of "Complete Price Guide to Watches" by Shugart and Gilbert. It should be available from most large bookstores.
While I am a confirmed Accutron addict, I like Spaceviews as much as anyone else. If they are done properly, I don't mind conversions. I believe the apparent Spaceview "craze" has gone a bit far for a couple of reasons:
1) In order to make a fast buck, lots of dealers have converted many very attractive and collectible original 214's to Spaceviews. This means that in the future, complete and original 214's will become more scarce and expensive to us collectors. The dials removed during the conversion process will have been long-lost, or at least been damaged or deteriorated by having been cast aside as worthless.
2) In reality, a Spaceview barely rates comparison with a skeletonized mechanical watch, and is no more interesting to look at than any normal mechanical watch with its dial removed. Though I do admit that the green coil formers look good. The only thing one can see moving in a Spaceview is the second hand. The vibration of the fork is barely perceptible, visually. A mechanical skeleton watch presents a much more interesting sight, as the balance can be seen swinging away, the escapement ticking over, and gears and wheels are visibly moving.