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Russian Watches

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Modern day Russia has a very strong watch and clock making tradition founded on vast experience of manufacturing developed during the Soviet era and the assembly of Swiss made parts prior to the Russian Revolution. Many current brands still manufacture their own mechanical parts and other components.

Brand histories are complex and, even from official sources, sometimes contradictory, but the superb Russian Times site provides good overviews of the different factory histories. Comprehensive information about the erstwhile mysterious (at least in the West) Raketa brand can now be found on the excellent Raketawatches YouTube channel.

Although it's true that some Russian watch models are clearly inspired by those from Swiss manufacturers, the majority are extraordinarily good value for money by comparison and their (often unique) styling and fondness for commemorative pieces I think makes especially the vintage models highly collectable.
Big old Russian LCD!  I don't know much about this watch, but the design, lack of any functions and
twin-battery movement suggest to me that it's an early LCD, maybe from the early 1980's or possibly even late 1970's! James Grahame knows much more about this watch than I do. Check out his article on retrothing.com.
Another old Russian LCD from the Elektronika stable.  Purchased from the Ukraine like the red one above and obviously from a similar period.  The seller of this watch believed it to be from the late 70's. 
The movement is very similar to the one above as well.
Luch ElectronicLuch Electronic:
Luch (which I think means "beam") produced its first watches in 1956 at the Minsk Watch Plant in what is now Belarus.  I would guess that this watch was made sometime in the 1970's.  It employs one of the very few Soviet produced electronic balance wheel movements; in this case the 18 jewel
Cal. 3055.
Molnija 1980 Moscow Olympics Pocket WatchMolnija 1980 Moscow Olympics Pocket Watch:
The Molnija clock and watch factory is located in Chelyabinsk in Russia.  During the Second World War, the city was apparently dubbed "Tankograd" due to the large number of military factories in the area.  This pocket watch commemorates the 1980 Olympic Games which were held in Moscow.  These games were infamous for the large number of countries which boycotted the event following the Soviet Union's involvement in Afghanistan.  Among various Olympic-themed decorations to the watch case and dial is a motif of a boxer.  I wonder if this depicts Shamil Sabirov, who won the Soviet Union's only boxing Gold medal at these games.
Orion TravelOrion Travel:
One of many intriguing Russian watches, the Orion Travel features two manually wound 17 jewel movements - probably intended for ladies watches - housed in a single rectangular case.  Each movement can be set independently allowing the wearer to tell the time in two different time zones.  Many thanks to
Paul Groom (PG Tips) for allowing me to use his picture of the Orion Travel movements.
First Moscow Watch Factory Kirova "Rodina"First Moscow Watch Factory Kirova Rodina:
I've read that this was Russia's first example of an automatic watch.  You can see a picture of the 22 jewel automatic movement HERE.  Some people have also claimed that Juri Gagarin wore an example of this watch during his Vostok-1 space flight in 1961.  That particular watch was sold at auction for $25,875!
First Moscow Watch Factory Kirova "Sporting"First Moscow Watch Factory Kirova Sporting:
Shortly after Juri Gagarin's pioneering space flight in 1961, watches produced at the First Moscow Watch Factory were sold under the name "Poljot" (see below).  Prior to this, the watches were sold under a variety of different names including "Pobeda" (not to be confused with the similarly-named watches from the Maslennikov factory), "Moskwa", "Majak" and "Kirowskie".  I'd guess this watch to be from the late 1950's or early 1960's.  It has a hacking, 17 jewel, manually-wound movement.
Poljot AviatorPoljot Aviator:
Poljot ("Flight") watches are manufactured at the First Moscow Watch Factory.  The "Aviator" is a classic pilot style watch using the famous 23 jewel 3133 chronograph movement which is a high quality Russian made version of a Swiss movement by Valjoux.  This watch is number 190 of a run of 999 watches in this particular style.
Poljot Sturmanskie SS-18Poljot Sturmanskie SS-18:
Utilising the same movement as the Poljot Aviator, the Sturmanskie SS-18 has a case made from Titanium recovered from de-commissioned Russian SS-18 "Satan" Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles!  The Cyrillic inscription around the outer edge of the case reads "Made from the Soviet Rocket SS-18". The emblem on the dial is that of the Russian bomber squadrons.  This watch is number 340 of 500 made in this particular style.
Raketa "Calendar"Raketa "Calendar":
The Russians seem to have a habit of producing watches with functions not found elsewhere.  This watch has an inner bezel showing years and days of the week that rotates to align with months and dates printed on the dial.  You can use this to determine the dates and days of the week for any year between 1992 and 2012.  The Raketa ("Rocket") Petrodworzowy Watch Factory near St. Petersburg allegedly went bankrupt in 1995/96, but stocks of apparently brand new Raketa watches seem to be readily available.
Raketa "Glasnost" quartzRaketa "Glasnost" quartz:
The Russians seem very fond of adorning their watches with military or political designs.  This 8 jewel quartz watch from the early to mid 1990's has a hammer and sickle logo with the word "Glasnost" printed underneath!  You can see a picture of the R2350 movement
Raketa "Pilot" for Detente WatchesRaketa "Pilot" for Detente Watches:
This is a special 24-hour dialled Raketa with Titanium Nitride coated case produced in a limited edition of 100 pieces for Detente Watches of the USA.  This watch is supplied on a gold coloured bracelet with optional black leather strap but I think it looks quite good on a green NATO, as pictured here.  Andrei from russian24hours.info recently posted an excellent interview with Anatolii Aleksandrovich Cherdantsev (the Executive Director of Raketa) which sheds considerable light on the hitherto mysterious (in the West at least) history of the company and their plans for the future.  You can read the interview on Andrei's website HERE.
Rekord "Standart"Rekord "Standart":
Most people think only of Switzerland as makers of mechanical watches but Russia has quite a tradition of watchmaking too!  How they can make such a nice quality watch with 17 jewel movement, date function and metal bracelet (though pictured here on a leather strap) with a retail price of only around 25 I'll never know!
Sekonda Alarm Sekonda Alarm:
This is an old Russian Sekonda alarm watch dating from somewhere around the 1970's I would imagine.  The lower of the two crowns winds the 18 jewel Poljot movement whilst the upper crown winds and sets the alarm.  It vibrates and gives a very healthy buzz when it goes off!
Sekonda ChronographSekonda Chronograph:
Nowadays, the Sekonda name is owned by a British company and is best known for producing very cheap "fashion" watches.  This Sekonda is one of the original USSR manufactured variety and uses a high quality Poljot 3017 chronograph movement.  Watches identical to this one were used by several Cosmonauts on Soyuz space missions in the 1970's.
Slava ("Honour" or "Glory") watches are made in the Second Moscow Watch Factory.  This watch has a 25 jewel automatic movement with quick-set date and day display.  The style of this watch borrows rather heavily from a particular model by master Swiss watchmaker, Patek Philippe.  Unlike the Patek Philippe, this Slava cost an astonishingly tiny 19!
Vostok AmphibiaVostok Amphibia:
This Vostok Amphibia has a 31 jewel automatic movement and is water resistant to 200M.  It is one of my most accurate watches, gaining only around 1 second per day.  Not bad for 29!
Vostok AmphibiaVostok Amphibia:
Another Vostok Amphibia.  This one emphasises the 200M water resistance of the Amphibia case with its SCUBA diver dial.
Vostok AmphibiaVostok Amphibia:
You can't have too much of a good thing!  A third Vostok Amphibia, this time with a military style dial.
Vostok Amphibia "Rodina"Vostok Amphibia - "Rodina":
This watch was made in 1995 to commemorate the 50th. Anniversary of the end of "The Great Patriotic War" - the Eastern Front conflict of World War II. The picture dial portrays Rodina Mat (or Mother Russia), a statue which stands atop the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex overlooking Volgograd (Stalingrad). Wikipedia has an interesting historical article
Vostok Amphibia "Operation Desert Shield"Vostok Amphibia - "Operation Desert Shield":
I wonder if Vostok had run out of Soviet/Russian military events to commemorate by the time they produced this watch!  "Operation Desert Shield" involved the defence of Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War in 1990 and was the pre-cursor to what is perhaps the more well-known "Operation Desert Storm" (the liberation of Kuwait) in 1991.  The earliest examples of this watch were produced during the Soviet era whilst this one I guess is circa 1992 or later.
Vostok Amphibia-Cased Komandirskie for Infantry DivisionsVostok Amphibia-Cased Komandirskie for Infantry Divisions:
This is a Vostok Komandirskie for infantry divisions housed in an older-style octagonal Amphibia case, water resistant to 200 metres.  The inscription around the bottom of the dial reads "By Order of the Ministry of Defence of the USSR".  At some time, the original 17 jewel manual wind movement has been replaced with a newer 31 jewel automatic which fits perfectly.  The strap is an upgraded NATO from Timefactors which is thicker, softer and stronger than the normal variety and has 316L stainless steel fittings, bead-blasted to a matte grey finish.  A tough watch that makes for a great "beater"!
Vostok Generalskie for Marine Radio DivisionsVostok Generalskie for Marine Radio Divisions:
This USSR made 21 jewel automatic watch features in Juri Levenberg's "Russian Wristwatches" book:  "The dial was used by most ships in the... radio room.  The radio operator had to switch the radio to the international emergency frequency every fifteen minutes for the duration of three minutes, to receive possible SOS calls.  Therefore, the dial has a three-minute field marked in every fifteen minute segment."   I've also been advised that the red segments represent the times when the Silence Period was kept on 500KHz, formerly the international morse distress frequency (SOS),  whilst the pink segments are for the Silence Period on 2182KHz RT (speech) distress frequency (MAYDAY).
Vostok KomandirskieVostok Komandirskie:
Vostok ("East") watches are manufatured in Tschistopol, Tatarstan and in 1961 it was appointed as the official supplier of watches for the Soviet military.  Nowadays, many of the watches are available for members of the general public to buy.  This model is from the early/mid 1990's (I purchased it from a shop in Saigon, Vietnam  in 1994) and is of the type made for the Russian tank divisions.  It has a 17 jewel, manually-wound movement with a screw-down, protected crown and bi-directional rotating bezel.  This watch is one made for public consumption.  The official military watches bear the mark "3AKA3 MO CCCP" which means "By Order of the Ministry of Defence of the USSR".
Vostok KomandirskieVostok Komandirskie:
Oddly combined here with a NATO style strap in the colours of the British Royal Tank Regiment, this watch features in Juri Levenberg's "Russian Wristwatches" book:

"Model 'Komandirskie' for Tank Divisions, Caliber 2414, 17 jewels, manual winding, date, chromium plated case with green dial bearing the inscription 'By order of the Ministry of Defence of the USSR,' made in the 80's, rare."
Vostok KomandirskieVostok Komandirskie:
An early military Komandirskie, probably from the late 1960's or early 1970's I would guess.  At this time in the USSR, such watches could only be obtained from stores which catered specifically to Soviet military personnel.  The purchaser would be required to prove their status by their uniform or by showing their military pass.  This watch features the hacking Vostok 2234 movement.
Vostok "Treptower Park Soviet War Memorial"Vostok "Treptower Park Soviet War Memorial":
This watch was made in 1985 in the USSR and commemorates the 40th anniversary of the end of "The Great Patriotic War" (WWII).  The picture on the dial is of a statue which stands in the Treptower Park Soviet War Memorial in Berlin.  The statue depicts an heroic Soviet soldier cradling a little German girl in one arm whilst carrying a broadsword in the other and trampling a smashed Swastika underfoot.  You can read more about the memorial
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