Sovětské mechanické strojky

07.10.2014 21:26

Having checked TimeZone and other watch sources I found that most visitors consider that Russian watches are unreliable, the Russians cannot produce good quality movements, most watchmakers know only several calibers: Ex Valjoux 7734 - Poljot 3133, quite common 2612 with alarm and Molnija - a pocket movement 3602. Somewhat it's true - Russia had stopped producing many calibers, designing new ones. The quality of finishing is bad, you can notice an aberrance in technological process, find replacements: for example some jewels are replaced on metal inserts.

Only Poljot tries to improve situation and still makes unique watches, pocket watches, marine chronometers. Otherwise Russia was very strong in watchmaking traditions and produced really interesting movements. For example, Russia became producing quartz watches at the same time like other countries, in 1975 Russians had started producing LCD and LED watches. Russia produced tuning-fork watches like Bulova Accutron. Also there were electric watches with balance. There were really interesting slim movements including self-winding. I'm not inclined to present you all movements but still...


The first watch - is Sportivnyje (Sportive) produced since 1955 until 1962 at the 1st Moscow Watch Factory (1st MWF). This watch had been produced in February, 1956. This movement based on older Pobeda (Victory), has central seconds, Incabloc, Stop seconds feature, a Water resistive case. There're 17 jewels, 18000 bpm. You can notice nice watch finishing: Cotes de Geneve pattern on bridges, polished screws, high quality engraving of letters, anglage, balance has Breguet hairspring. One more interesting point - the caseback of most Russian watches consists of two parts - a caseback as is with a tip to position it properly in the case and a special ring screwed into the case. This watch uses more a common screwed caseback.

Another one - is ladies' movement - Zvezda (Star) based on an older French "Lip" movement T18 (tonneau). This one produced in January, 1953. It has small seconds, 15 jewels. You can also notice high quality engraving: Cotes de Geneve, polished steel parts, some parts have anglage, balance has Breguet hairspring. That time it was an inexpensive movement.

Here you can see an old pocket caliber Molnija 3602. This one had been produced in 1956th. 15 Jewels, small seconds. Nice finishing: lovely for USSR Cotes de Geneve, circular graining (I had to dismount balance to show it), polished screws, Breguet style balance. Its predecessor "Salut" produced at 2-nd Moscow watch plant based on French "Lip" R36. Then all equipment had moved to Chelyabinsk. Slava began producing quartz watches, double barreled mechanical watches, automatics. Later Molnija movement had got two more jewels on escapement and central wheels. There were also quite rare variations of this movement, for example "Ural" with central seconds. "Salut" also has very nice complication, based on this pocket movement. It was a chronograph with 30 min counter (see Part 2). Very rare watch. Nowadays unfortunately, a quality of this movement is out of discussion. Till now it has no shock absorbing device:( Btw Molnija means lightning.

This one is 2209 Caliber, produced at Vostok manufacture. You can find this movement in first Komandirskije watches. Many of them had stop seconds, date. You can also notice high quality finishing - brushed bevelled bridges, anglage, Colimaconnage, polished screws, Breguet hairspring. You can also notice Russian type of incabloc.


One of the slim movements caliber 2209 "Vympel" (Pennon). Its thickness is about 2,9 mm, central seconds, shock protecting system, 23 jewels. The thinner was only 2200 caliber - 1,85 mm (22mm diameter, no central seconds, no shock protection) - extremely rare, it was not successful - bridges deformed easily, produced from 1965. This one is more common. In 1963, during an international Fair in Leipzig, the “Vympel” watch was awarded with a Diploma and a Gold medal. These watches were on production from 1961 until 1975, later the technology was passed to Minsk Watch Factory and produced there till 1979. This one is made by Belarus Luch plant (Luch means a Ray). All bridges are brushed and bevelled, all screws are polished. As to hairspring - it's flat. Pay attention to the case. It was common to plate 20 microns of gold. Caliber 2200 had inserted only in gold cases, more democratic 2209 - fifty-fifty.

Another one is my favourite. Caliber Poljot 2415 -"Orbita"(Orbit) and 2416 - "Cosmos"(Space) with date. You can meet it only in De Luxe series. First one started produced from 1962, the second one - from 1963.Pretty nice slim automatic (about 3,9 mm) with hand winding ability. Nice brushed bridges, Cotes de Geneve on oscillating weight, 29 jewels. Because of small height it also have flat hairspring. Besides a pallet fork has an unordinary shape - at side-view its tail is higher than jewels. Original reverse device is made as a fork. I put pics of reversed weight so you can inspect this fork. under pivot of the weight there's a pinion of central seconds. The last two movements were designed fully by Poljot engineers. It was quite expensive in producing and that's why Poljot had to refuse from this caliber.


This one is also extremely rare caliber 2015 (Zarya), mostly common to Poljot 2415. Unfortunately I do not have any info about this caliber, and also have only a movement with almost lost keyless works. Anyway the movement is in the working condition.



A quite ordinary caliber Poljot 2409. Nice brushed bridges, polished screws. Escape wheel is protected with an additional jewel. The balance wheel had made with a Breguet spiral. It was a work horse but later it was replaced on more reliable 2609 (26 mm diameter). In 1966, the factory started production of a new basic movement model, a 26 caliber with anti-shock appliance, screw less balance wheel and a flat spiral, and different accessories. New movements were distinguished by small height and long time of run.

This one is also rare caliber Rodina (Poljot),based on 2409, but with automatic winding. There are 22 jewels in the movement.



Having read an article by Walt Odets about Cornavin Dolphin I found on his pics that legendary Poljot 2614.H (with calendar). A few words about H. At first there was plain 2609. It wasn't successful, so it was fully redesigned into 2609.H. "H" is a Russian letter means New. As to Cornavin - it's an export trademark of Poljot and Slava. You can also find Cardinal watches - also Poljot brand.


Soviet movements (Part 2)

Reviewed by Andrew Babanin

As I told in the Part1 there was a modification of Molnija predecessor Salut. Here it is. A nice functional chronograph with small seconds and 30 min counter. You can notice that this counter is not on the line with small seconds and center hands. I guess sometimes it's quite uneasy to integrate additional function and to leave perfect geometry on the dial. There's only one button which starts, stops and resets chronograph. Nice bluished hands tell about good manners of finishing. To prove it just take a look at the movement - gold plated wheels, polished screws. There are two snap lids covering this movement.


Here there is another one Molnia chronograph, based on 3017 Poljot movement. 3017 is based on Venus 150 Cal.


Here a few pics of another rare pocket chrono, based on Tutima Glashutte.

Here's a pic of more popular wrist chronograph

Also I provide pics of Poljot version of Strela:

One of the first chronos, made by Russians. It's a typical K 43 movement with additional parts. All chrono parts are of the better quality. It tells me, that the base movement produced in Russia but all chrono parts had been bought abroad. If you replace chrono parts - there's an interesting thing - all slots and holes are made not during movement production, but later. So they are not even nickel plated. Another interesting thing - the inscription on the dial. This watch belongs to TMP of Komintern district of Moscow. I've seen a few such watches, belonged to other Moscow districts. I guess they were produced by small workshops. Pay attention to the minute counter subdial: the hand rotates counter clockwise.

Another one is a stop-watch. It's very interesting. Its accuracy till 0.1 sec, because of balance wheel swings with 36,000 bpm.You can notice, that a dial of seconds divided only into 30 seconds. Central minute counter has intermediate positions for every turn of the second hand. Its a real split with two second hands.


Take a look at the movement - 20 jewels, nice finishing, polished parts. There was a special room at the Slava factory where only a few persons had assembled and adjusted these marvellous chronos. I just try to find more info about this stop-watch, but believe me it has not only sporty aims.

A very rare movement - precision Vostok. This one is gold plated, but mostly its common as nickel plated. All production was under the strict control, only a small part of movements could be called a precise watch. Others (which hadn't passed thru the special tests are known as cheaper Almaz watches. I've read enough about watch tests in USSR - very common with COSC certification. There were some differences - 10 days of testing instead of 15, other temperatures of testing: 00С, +200С and +400С.

Unfortunately, I don't have ability now to make pretty nice shots, but still you can notice a microregulator on the balance cock. One of the features of this watch is not central friction. What else? A big balance is fit for the perfect rate.

This one also is a quite rare movement. There was a fashion for slims in the end of 60s. So every watch plant had designed its own slim. As I told in the part 1 Poljot produced Orbita movement 2209 and thinner 2200, Raketa showed its own 2209 of the same size (22 mm). Later there was a competition. The best was Poljot movement. This one wasn't as reliable as Orbita. Nevertheless it's very interesting movt. Pay attention to the winding system. It's made vice versa. The ratchet and crown wheels are under the dial. Forgive me for absence of the clutch in keyless works :). Look at the wheel bridge. It looks like skeleton. I like this movement, in spite of the fact that many watchmakers hate it for its whimsicality.

What was odd in this movement, what was bad in other slims, in 2409 (see part 1)? There's a parasite wheel. This movement like Orbita and Cosmos were very complex. That's why they were left behind.

Two more Raketas. An older one and a bit newer. They are just basic movements. I reviewed one interesting movement, based on an older 2609 I.

I had to repair old Fortis and noticed that it's equal with 2609. It wasn't the same movement - but really very even. Here I just mention, that there were several modifications of an older movement. This one is "A" modification. As to newer one - it came to me from the cheapest Chinese Oreintex for 11 years ago. In Chinese watches I also found quartz Poljot and Luch 1656 calibers. They are different.


The newer caliber 2609H or 2614H(with calendar) is a work horse. It would have made a concurrency to Poljot 2614H, if Raketa factory wasn't a bankrupt.

Here there is a sample of the extremely rare Raketa 3031, based on 33 jewels. It's alarm watch with automatic winding. There's almost no info about this such a pretty watch except it was produced approximatedly 2000 pieces and it cost about 96 roubles - two times more than normal soviet watch of that time - very expensive. The alarm hammer is strike against special spring - gong. Tha autowind module is based on two reverse wheels - bi-directional.



Another one quite rare sample - Chaika 1200. It is the smallest Russian caliber. In was produced not for a long time and there is almost no info about such a tiny watch. Here there are a few pics.



Interesting quartz watch with balance wheel: