If you’re the kind of person that loves Chronograph watches, the Bulova Marine star certainly crossed your mind at one point or another. This timepiece is one of Bulova’s best seller and the Marine Star collection has a model for every type of watch collector.
It's really no surprise that this watch is the first on the "Must-Have Blue Face Bulova" list! In this article, we will specifically talk about the 97b168 Model, which only differs in color from the 96b287 Model.
The Marine Star 97B168 is one of my favorite models from Bulova’s collection. It comes with a beautiful gold-tone stainless steel case, a deep blue dial with a bit of white and a few hints of red and gold. The watch is equipped with a blue leather/silicone strap with red stitching that gives it a very modern look.
The watch can be dressed up for a more formal wear, or dressed down for a casual look. I think the band that comes with this model is more appropriate for casual wear, but when paired with a custom brown leather strap, it has its place in a dressy outfit.
At 43mm, the diameter of the case is on the larger side of the spectrum. This is a good news for everyone with a medium to large wrists. People with smaller wrists (6.5 inches and less) might find this watch to be a bit overwhelming on their arm. The 24mm band width also contributes to the bulky look of this watch. This isn't as bad as large G-shock watches with 52mm or even 56mm cases, but you will have to keep that in mind if you have a small wrist and plan on buying this model.
The mineral glass that comes with the 97B168 will be resistant to scratches in most situations, unless you rub it very hard against a sharp object. It is obviously less resistant than a sapphire glass would be, but this addition would have increased the price of this watch above what's considered affordable.
Some might be disappointed by the quartz movement. In this price range, people usually expect something fancier, such as a mechanical or automatic caliber. Personally, I like that this watch uses a quartz movement, because it isn't a watch I wear on a daily basis, it is more of a weekend, dress watch for me. For this type of use, an automatic or mechanical movement is an inconvenience because you have to either hand wind it or hack it every time you wear it, and you always need to set-up the clock again.
In addition, the quartz movement helps keep the Marine Star price down, while also making the watch a bit thinner, which is more comfortable on the wrist. The movement is accurate, but will still vary by about 15 seconds per month.
Although Bulova qualifies the Marine Star 97B168 as a diver's watch, we really can't categorize it as such. The reason for this is that it is only waterproof up to 100m. This range is plenty for the average joe who only swims in pools or small lakes, but it definitely isn't enough range for divers. If you plan on doing some diving, you should rather look into the 98B301 or 96B272 models, which both offer a 200m waterproofing. Still, 200m isn't that much in the diver's watch categories, so we don't recommend the Marine Star watch collection for deep divers.
The 97B168 comes with chronograph features, such as the 3 extra hands. The right subdial is used to measure 1/10th of seconds. The bottom subdial measures seconds, while the left subdial is used to measure minutes. It is a little disappointing that the left dial only has marks for every 5 minutes. This gives the watch a lot less precision, and most user would've liked for that dial to have 60 marks, just as the bottom dial does.
The watch is equipped with a rotating bezel for diving (or sports) measurements. The uni-directional bezel can be adjusted using the 10 o'clock push down crown. Talking about the crown leads me to a negative aspect of the 97B168 : the lack of screw-down crowns/pushers. As you can see on the above pictures, this model has two crowns (3 o'clock, 10 o'clock) and two pushers (2 o'clock, 4 o'clock). Sadly, none of these use a screw-down mechanism.
Screw-down crowns/pushers are industry standard when it comes to diving watch. This is because screw-down parts are much more hermetic than common push down models. This probably explains why the 97B168 is only rated as 100m waterproof, which doesn't really make it a diving watch.
A great feature on the Marine Star models is the lume. This watch is very easy to read in the dark, since there is luminous phosphorescent on every hour mark, and on the minute and hour hands. You can easily estimate what the time is at a quick glance.
The back of the 97B168 model is made of polished stainless steel. It is a screw-back case, which means you will need a tool such as a Jaxa wrench or case wrench if you ever plan on opening it. This won't affect most users, but it is important to keep in mind if you are someone who likes to work on their watches. If you ever get to opening your watch case, we would suggest to change the crystal to sapphire glass.
The ''retail'' price from the Bulova's website is 450$ U.S. You would have to be crazy to pay this price for the 97B168 model. Like most watch manufacturers, Bulova likes to put a really high MSRP, and offer ''discounts'' year round. With this ''discount'', the Bulova Marine Star 97B168 is currently priced at 360$ U.S. Bulova also offers an option to finance it on 1 year for 32$ a month, which we don't recommend.
As is often the case, the way to get this watch for the cheapest price possible is to buy it from a retailer or an e-commerce store. For example, this model is currently available on Amazon for about 270$ or eBay for 240$. You could also go the used or refurbished route to save even more money. Just be careful if you buy this watch from outside the U.S, as there are often hefty import fees, that aren't always disclosed on the site you buy it from.
To sum up this article, we really like the Bulova Marine Star 97B168, but we don't think it serves the purpose it was originally created for. If you want a beautiful, polyvalent timepiece that can be worn with all kinds of outfits, it really is the watch for you. If you are looking for something specifically for diving, you should definitely look into other models.
All pictures from this article came from bulova.com