At first glance, the Bulova Marine Star 98b203 doesn’t jump out at you as a top tier watch. There are no articles listing it as one of the Nine Best Watches to have under $400 and in fact none of the Bulova watches made it onto this list of the Top 50 watches to have under $500.
Without having the watch itself to look at, I started to research the Bulova brand and the Bulova Marine Star 98b203 across the internet and what I found was very intriguing.
History of the Bulova Brand
Bulova was started in 1875 by Joseph Bulova, in a small store in New York City. Bulova has a long-standing history of quality craftsmanship and while their website About Us section is a bit over the top it is worth noting that Bulova has continued to try to innovate over the last 142 years. With participation in sport, television, radio and even NASA the Bulova brand doesn’t stand still.
In their own words:
“Our pioneering spirit changed the face of marketing with America’s very first radio and TV commercials. We made advancements in the world of sports with the Phototimer, and even transformed transportation through collaborations with Lindbergh and on 46 NASA space missions. During the first moonwalk, a Bulova timer was even placed in the sea of tranquility.
Re-iterating its longstanding dedication to history of firsts, the Precisionist collection was introduced in 2010. Intricately styled and infinitely accurate, with a continuous sweeping second hand. Most recently in 2016, the brand (quite literally) changed the face of the industry with the Curv collection – the world’s first curved chronograph movement.
Today, Bulova is driven by the same core principles of craftsmanship, innovation and technology that guided our visionary founder over 140 years ago. Much like Joseph Bulova himself, we set our own standards and create our own rules – breaking boundaries along the way to deliver the exceptional.”
With such strong rhetoric, I expect a world class watch, and while the Bulova Marine Star 98b203 isn’t that, but it isn’t far off.
Bulova Marine Star 98B203 Gallery
Priced to Sell
Priced competitively in its market at $312 CAD, the Marine Star has a larger diameter at 44 mm and a thickness of 12.7 mm. While 44 mm is a nice size to me, I saw a number of people lamenting that they wished it was smaller at 40 mm. To each their own.
The Marine Star is priced similarly to brands such as Seiko, Movado, Tissot and Citizen, and while I have had this piece described to me by aficionados as a ‘shopping mall watch,’ it appears to be dependable for that price bracket.
This stainless-steel watch with a solid black face, has subtle branding accompanied by a standard push button deployment clasp with a safety catch. With a stationary bezel function, this watch is luminous and features a seconds hand and date calendar. The movement of this piece is a Japanese quartz, which rivals – and in many people’s opinions surpasses – the Swiss quartz. The Japanese quartz movement offers you reliability at a reasonable price point.
Is The Bulova Marine Star a Divers Watch?
- Diameter – 44mm
- Water Resistance – 100m
- Movement – Japanese Quartz
- Crystal – Mineral
The curious thing about this watch is that it’s fashioned as a divers watch. In fact, the advertising for the watch and the whole Marine Star series strongly hints that it’s a dive watch.
Water resistant to only 100 m, this watch will suffice for a day at the beach, playing in the pool, or even some snorkeling, but is not a watch you could reliably go diving with. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.
If you’re looking for a good diving watch that is under $500 you’re much better off going with a Citizen Promaster Altichron, a Victorinox Swiss Army Dive Master 500, or a Seiko SRP777 Turtle. (More information on dive watches under $500)
The most direct competition for the Bulova Marine Star 98b203 are models from Seiko, Tissot and Citizen, however, as I’ve mentioned Bulova watches are often referred to as ‘shopping mall’ watches, which means that they can fall into the same competitive bracket as Fossil, Guess, and Timex.
The good news is that measured against all of these watches – and even some more luxury watches – the Bulova holds its ground. While it has some cheaper finishes, like it’s stainless steel casing, bezel and bracket, it has a greater combination of durability and reliability than similar watches.
Final Thoughts About the Bulova Marine Star
What I’ve learned through my research and after reading many hands-on reviews is that the Bulova Marine Star 98b203 is a quality watch. It offers you the look of a Rolex Submariner without the hefty price tag.
As an everyday watch, that you don’t mind banging around, the Bulova Marine Star 98b203 offers you reliability at an affordable price.
That being said, if I were looking for a dive watch, I’d keep looking. Or if I was looking for a fancy watch to wear to business meetings, weddings or parties I’d likely spend the extra money to get something a little nicer, with better finishes.