Q: In 1968, my parents, who are now deceased, gave me a Bulova Ambassador watch for my graduation from law school. The watch has much sentimental value (in addition to practical utility). The automatic movement quit operating. I gave the watch to a jeweler, who replaced the automatic movement using a quartz movement that didn’t actually fit, especially the opening for the date. I sent the watch to a Bulova repair center in New York, however they couldn’t help. And I'ven’t been able to locate the right Bulova watch action on eBay. I still possess the first action (in pieces). On the back, in three lines, it reads, “AV SEMAG/SWISS/1 ONE JEWEL.” Do you understand who can get my watch back to its initial state?
A: Voskan Galooshian, owner of Midiya Jewelry Design & Repair Shop in Bethesda (301 951 8895; midiyajewelersbethes damd.com), said he ought to have the capacity to assist. But he’d need to view the watch to give even a ballpark estimate of the cost. “It could be hundreds, it might be thousands,” he said.
If this doesn’t work, you've got a few other options. The Bulova Service Center in New York advocates using Watchophilia (watchophilia.com) as a source for leads. (The service center doesn't work on watches from the 1960s, just newer ones.) One possibility gleaned from Watchophilia is Darlor Watch Restorations in Ontario, Canada (289 868 9699; firstname.lastname@example.org). Owner Darryl Lesser, a certified watchmaker for 23 years, said he’s convinced he is able to help. “Throw all of the parts into an envelope and send them to me,” he said.
If he may make use of the old mechanism, Lesser estimated the repair would cost about $75. If he has to put in a different but still real mechanism, figure on about $150. Locating the crucial component shouldn’t be an issue. “I've over 2,500 vintage Bulova watches in stock,” Lesser said during a phone call. Afterward, after taking a look at the image and details you sent, he followed up with an e-mail: “100 percent I can restore this bit. It's an 11AHAC series Bulova automatic bore, and I have a few in stock.” Only “garbage jewelers” take out old Bulova mechanisms and replace them with modern actions, he said, because that undercuts the watch’s worth.