Some of the most sought-after vintage watches are military-issued dive watches like the Rolex MilSub, Omega Mil-Spec Seamaster 300, and perhaps the rarest of them all, the Bulova MIL-SHIPS-W-2181. Designed as a prototype for U.S. Navy divers in the 1950s, Bulova’s then-revolutionary diver never made it out of the experimental phase and only 12 are known to currently exist. But now Bulova is bringing the watch to the public for the first time.
Bulova has painstakingly recreated the MIL-SHIPS-W-2181 from modern materials to create a reissue that’s virtually indistinguishable from the ‘50s version. The watch features some interesting quirks, like a bezel that must be pressed down in order to rotate and a moisture-sensing paper strip on the dial that will change color if the watch loses its claimed 200m water resistance — a feature carried over from the original. There are also some notable upgrades. Rather than plexiglass, the reissue features a generously domed sapphire crystal that replicates the vintage look. And while the OG was hand-wound, the new MIL-SHIPS is automatic. The regular version features a Miyota 82S0 movement and is priced at $895, while a limited-edition version houses a Swiss-made Sellita SW200 and comes packaged in a special master diver’s helmet case for $1,990.