Bulova enjoyed tremendous success with their tuning fork Accutron movement through the 1960s. The company came to a dominant position in the industry, selling millions of high-end watches with this movement. It even allowed them to acquire Swiss rival Universal Geneve to accelerate sales. But the advent of quartz movements threatened the position of the tuning fork as the most accurate movement on the market.
The first use of the Accuquartz name was a hybrid quartz/tuning fork desk clock produced in 1969. This clock movement was similar to the eventual Accuquartz watches in that it used a quartz crystal as a cybernetic control unit for a tuning fork. The vibrating tuning fork turned the wheel train using a finger or pawl, similar to the Bulova Accutron movement that debuted in 1960.
In 1970, the members of the Beta 21 group at CEH debuted a number of quartz wristwatches powered by this movement. This included Bulova, which announced their Accuquartz watch on April 11, 1970. The watch was quite large, as were most other Beta 21 watches, with a thick rectangular case with a dial angled toward the wearer. It was also quite expensive, starting at $1,325 with a gold case and exotic limited-production movement.
In December, 1971, Bulova introduced their own mass-produced Accuquartz watch. Priced at just $395, it combined the existing Accutron movement with a 32 KHz quartz regulator in cybernetic fashion, similar to the 1969 Longines Ultra-Quartz. The tuning fork drove the mechanical elements of the watch while the “master” quartz component ensured accuracy. It was effectively an Accutron movement regulated by the quartz crystal. The resulting movement could be produced in volume and sold at an affordable price.
This design also allowed Bulova to produce a very thin watch that was much more compelling than the thick quartz movements produced by other companies. It also made a less expensive and mass-produced alternative. Within a year, Accuquartz was available for about $250, while other quartz movements sold for more than four times this much. Through 1972, it was the only quartz watch available in the United States.
In November 1974, Bulova introduced a digital LED watch. Although using the Accuquartz name, it was a modern solid state movement with integrated circuits and no trace of the Accutron tuning fork or wheel train. The next year, Bulova had a lineup of 25 models using the Accuquartz name, most of which used modern quartz technology. The name was retired in 1976.