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Sign up for email alerts - Get all the latest antiques sent directly to you. Sign up with Facebook We'll never post anything without your permission. Special edition Russian pilot Molnija wristwatch with German plane Luftwaffe logo. Moreover, you can filter Shiff breast health care online search based on the materials. Sign Me Up! Watches Jewelry and Watches. The watch has Russian wristwatch vintage diaman jewel signed hand-winding movement which is working nicely. Kriegsmarine was the navy of Ge. The watch has a 15 jewel stem-winding movement, grade which is working well. AC Silver. Not a member? Product Compare 0. Molnija translated as Lightning is a famo.
Each issue of Gear Patrol Magazine is a deep dive into product culture.
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- A vintage Russian Yanka hand-painted porcelain wristwatch with a hidden dial.
By Hunter Oatman-Stanford — December 12th, Shortly after the stock market crash of , the Soviet Union purchased a bankrupt watch manufacturer in Ohio and moved the business halfway across the globe to Moscow, employees and all.
As precise timekeeping became essential for the success of modernized economies, the Soviet government threw its weight behind watch production, steadily opening new factories and overhauling out-of-date facilities.
A few years ago, amateur horologist Dashiell Oatman-Stanford who happens to be my brother unknowingly fell down a rabbit hole into the world of Soviet watches. Dashiell Oatman-Stanford : As a high-school graduation present, a family friend gave me a very nice modern watch, a Tissot , that I wore for more than a decade. For all those reasons, I began looking closer at different brands. When I discovered mechanical watches, I was fascinated and wanted to know how these pieces came together.
Essentially, I wanted to get my hands on one of these things as cheaply as possible. I browsed through some of the cheapest options and picked a Raketa brand watch that had a dial I liked and ordered it.
That Raketa started it all. A drawer of new old stock NOS pieces in their original boxes, including the first Soviet quartz watch, the Chaika , which has a blue rectangular face. A couple things struck me while examining it. Then I popped off the back, expecting the typical interior: a battery, some metal circuitry and a plastic spacer.
Instead, everything was beautifully finished—brushed metal gears, springs, and red ruby jewels. These are true rubies that are synthetically made, since rubies are extremely sturdy and resistant to the effects of continued friction. The classic ticking sound you hear in a mechanical watch represents various movements inside, and the vast majority of mechanical watches employ rubies so they can strike and pivot hundreds of thousands of times per day without wearing away.
The intricate parts of a jewel chronograph movement inside a Strela watch from It feels alive, a living mechanism crafted by human hands. Those were the two things that initially struck me, the movement of the second hand and then the detailed mechanics inside. But I had to know how this all worked—how do these teensy pieces keep and maintain time?
So I started studying further, and that had a domino effect that led to where I am today. A quartz watch keeps time in a very different way, driven by a battery and electronics. The battery sends a current through a quartz crystal, which oscillates very, very quickly—the majority vibrate at 32, times per second, if you can believe that—and a circuit essentially monitors those vibrations to generate regular electric pulses, one tick for a every second.
If you look very closely under magnification, the quartz crystal resonator looks a bit like a tuning fork, or a U-shaped design. As the current passes through, that U shape vibrates at this reliable rate, making quartz movements very precise. A Chaika , the first quartz movement ever produced in the Soviet Union. The very first one was made by Seiko in Japan and hit the market in As a mechanical watch unwinds, its balance spring oscillates back and forth.
And it generally does so about five to ten times a second, or the more common way to reference it is per hour on the mechanical watches, so most vintage models are measured at 18, oscillations per hour of the balance wheel. Compare that to a quartz, which is 32, oscillations per second. A mechanical watch may lose or gain several seconds every day.
That would be the goal. This s Raketa pocket watch is powered by the thinnest three-handed watch movement ever produced in the USSR. On top of that, a mechanical watch is made from an assortment of parts that are almost always assembled by hand.
Quartz watches, however, allowed for movements to be mass-produced with little to no human involvement: A machine can make a quartz watch, hundreds or thousands per hour.
The parts and the case can be machined, but the ultimate task of putting it together to ensure that it ticks is accomplished by a human, which is very cool. I think that also drew me in, the fact that human hands touched all of these watches. But of course, that also drives up the cost tremendously. Therefore, quartz watches quickly outpaced the production of mechanical watches and to this day continue to drown them out.
There was a lot of fear that the entire mechanical watch industry would turn belly up just because there was no way to compete. All of the big brands—Rolex, Seiko, Patek Philippe, and so on—were forced to turn to quartz. It was a scary time for mechanical watchmaking. They scraped by with the support of quartz counterparts. People are fascinated by this old-school technology, and I think the interest is growing every day.
Soviet watches embodied this niche area and interest. But if I had to analyze why, I would say it was the exotic appeal. When you think of watches, everyone thinks of Switzerland, and for good reason: They are, to this day, the number-one producer of wristwatches in the world. No one thinks of Russia, much less the Soviet Union, so I was shocked and intrigued to learn about this thriving watchmaking culture along with the history of a country I knew virtually nothing about.
This was before Russia had a true watchmaking industry, and these watches are difficult to date because unlike some later pieces that have a date stamp, the earliest watches for the Russian market usually have no date information on them.
These were produced in the Russian Empire when they had ruling tsars, and a pocket watch was a highly coveted and expensive commodity to have. Only the elite or upper classes could be able to source one of these, much less afford one, and they were all made from imported parts. A few mom-and-pop watchmaking shops sprang up in Russia, and they imported movements and parts from mostly Switzerland, which were assembled and sold on the Russian market.
The movement was made by Swiss watchmaker Henry Moser, though the dial was labeled in Cyrillic for the Russian market. Occasionally, the dials were in Cyrillic as well.
The Swiss were decades ahead, and Americans had a great head start with their watchmaking businesses. That sale was completed in At the time, Americans placed little value in these companies, which had gone bankrupt due to their reliance on older machinery. I think the debt-holders just saw an opportunity to get a dollar and took it.
Three Soviets traveled to Canton, Ohio, where these two companies were based, to pack up all the manufacturing equipment, leftover watch movements, and pieces to ship back to Russia. Twenty-one former Dueber-Hampden employees from Ohio sailed with them to help set up this new facility in Russia, which was aptly named the First State Watch Factory. They began making 7- and jewel pocket-watch movements made with parts from Ohio. The Soviets changed all the lettering to Cyrillic to signify their new ownership, and there were slight design modifications, all very minor.
When World War II began, the demand for watches was unprecedented, and the Soviets went into overdrive. By the end of the s, the Soviets had nearly a dozen factories producing watches, though some had been relocated during the war. They were still using the same movement designs from Ohio, but putting them into new forms. A wristwatch Type-1 variant was also produced, though a pocket-watch movement on your wrist makes for an enormous wristwatch, and it was very outdated with a noisy ticking sound.
The exterior and interior of a military-issue Type-1 wristwatch with 15 jewels made at the First State Watch Factory in The Type-1 started a long trend of Soviet watchmakers borrowing designs from other manufacturers.
But when designs from the West would end up in the hands of the Soviet watchmakers, they would always tweak and improve their reliability or durability. The Swiss would add unnecessary complications to their watches mostly for marketing reasons. Newspaper coverage by the Canton Repository from of Ohioans training Soviet citizens in watchmaking. The Soviet Union was the number-two producer of watches in the world for more than a decade.
Obviously, during this era their military and space program was huge and highly competitive. And they also had a prominent photographic industry—many Soviet watch collectors are also lens and camera collectors. In the s, these watches were mostly domestic products, but in the early s, Soviet watches were slowly recognized by other nations.
As tensions softened and international exchange became more possible, the export market became huge for the Soviets. Raketa was one of these titles, which was made at the Petrodvorets Watch Factory in Saint Petersburg. Image via pastvu. These four big names—Raketa, Poljot, Slava, and Vostok—were the consolidated titles for all of these disparate watch types. In this consolidation effort, I think there was an eye toward exporting, because these names lent themselves well to English-speaking markets.
They were sold all throughout Europe, with particular prominence in the United Kingdom, as well as all over the Americas and Asia. By and large, they were just duplicate models, with different writing on the dials. The U. This was a British company that sourced watches from the USSR, branded them as their own, boxed them up, and then sold them to the local markets.
The success of Sekonda is a testament to the great quality and affordability of Soviet watches at the time. Soviet watchmakers utilized unique hair-spring designs, shock protection on the jewels, beautifully polished movements with decorations. Such details were only found at the upper end of Swiss watches, whereas they were standard in the Soviet Union. Soviet watches were highly egalitarian in their design and function; these were watches for the people. Oatman-Stanford : On the one hand, I would say yes, extremely.
Soviets were doing things other watchmaking industries only dreamed of. They borrowed ideas from others, though they did improve on them. So they took the design but modified it. They changed the sub-second dial to a center sweep second hand. They added a few jewels and enlarged the balance wheel to improve the reliability of the timekeeping.
At just 12mm across, the Chaika is the smallest watch ever produced by the Soviet Union seen here on an iPhone for comparison. Oatman-Stanford : Watches are a reflection of the history, the culture, and the people. I now have a strong sense of Soviet history from the very beginning because watchmaking mirrored this, from the October Revolution until the downfall in the early s. There are some direct ties between the two with the personalized inscriptions. Some staunch collectors actively reject these engraved pieces as somehow mutilated.
The case is Sign in to start bidding! The watch has a 17 jewel hand-winding movement which is working nicely. Remember Me. Wonderful open wire work silver chrome
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