Minsk, Hero-City of the Great Patriotic War

Minsk, Hero-City of the Great Patriotic War

ZIM watch dedicated to the city of Minsk of the 80s that mounts the proven calibre ZIM 2602 without shockproof. The dial commemorates the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II.

In particular, it honours the city of Minsk, the capital of present-day Belarus, which has been awarded the title of Hero-City.

russian watch zim minsk dial
Zim Minsk Hero-City 1985

13 cities of the Soviet Union, which distinguished themselves for courage and heroism during World War II, received the honorary Soviet title of Hero-City.

A symbolic award attributed to the city that corresponds to the individual honour of Hero of the Soviet Union, which was recognized together with the medal of the Gold Star.

Minsk during the Second World War.

But how did Minsk earn the honour of Hero-City? In June 1941, German troops surrounded the Belarusian city. During the clashes, the Soviet soldiers, despite the strenuous defence, had to yield, in early July. Over 300,000 Soviet soldiers were taken prisoner. The Minsk area became the focus of partisan resistance despite the very high number of civilian casualties during Nazi control.

In 1974, Minsk was awarded the honorary title of Hero-City.

To commemorate the honour today there is an important monument in Victory Square which is today one of the main squares of Minsk.

The monument of victory in Minsk.

The Victory Monument, designed in 1946 and built-in 1954, is the monument visible on the watch face.

It is a 38-meter high obelisk topped by a reproduction of the Order of Victory representing one of the highest Soviet honours.

On the four sides of the pedestal are a series of high reliefs celebrating the exploits of Belarusian civilians and soldiers during Great Patriotic War.

Reliefs present on the base are:

  • Liberation of the motherland
  • Soviet army during the Great Patriotic War
  • Belarusian partisans
  • homage to the heroes who gave their lives for liberation

Under the square was built an underground memorial to pay tribute to the liberators of Belarus. On the walls of the restaurant are engraved the names of 566 people who stood out during the battles against the Nazi soldiers.

The watch

The watch is a classic Zim Pobeda in a rectangular case with rounded sides. On the dial is the Victory Monument with the dates “1945” and “1985” at the base to commemorate the forty years since the end of the war.

russian watch zim minsk
Zim Minsk hero-city

Written “МИНСК ГОРОД-ГЕРОЙ” meaning “Minsk Hero-City” heads the white dial of the watch beside the obelisk. Black hands and small seconds at 6 o’clock. The calibre is the classic 2602 used on many ZIM of the 80s.

russian watch zim minsk 2602 caliber
Zim Minsk Hero-City 1985 calibre 2602


This watch is part of the Sovietaly collection. Please ask for permission to use the photographs of the watch.

Ostwok, a Russian watch pretending to be Swiss.

Ostwok, a Russian watch pretending to be Swiss.

My first encounter with an Ostwok

It goes back several years. I remember very well that a friend of mine showed me a Komandirskie with a strange logo instead of the “B” of Vostok. At the time the Internet was not very widespread and finding information about these mysterious Ostwok was not easy.

He told me that he had ordered it by mail via a form found in a magazine in Switzerland, the country where his father worked. It took me a while to find one for myself.

Here you can see my small collection: Ostwok – Vostok – SOVIETALY™

The brand name Ostwok

Ostwok is evidently Wostok’s anagram. The Vostok mark for German-speaking countries was written with the W in order to be pronounced correctly, the pronunciation of the “V” in German more resembles the Italian “F”. Moreover, perhaps by a simple coincidence, the first three letters of the brand form the word “OST” which in German means “East”, useful to underline that the watch comes from countries of Eastern Europe.

A Swiss or Russian watch?

The most useful information I found in a thread of 2014 on the Italian forum Orologiko.it to which we refer the reading and deepening (DIRECT LINK TO THE FORUM) in which we talk about the creation in 1993 of a company based in Switzerland named Ostwok SA. In 2002 the company was officially liquidated after having, as it is said, imported one and a half million Komandirskie watches. One of the unanswered questions is whether the watches were assembled in Switzerland or arrived directly in Switzerland ready to be marketed. There seems to be no certainty about that at the moment.

What is the difference with the Vostok “normal Komandirskie?

From what you can see, apart from the replacement of logos, there are no other obvious variations. The watches are in all respects, including the calibre, the usual Vostok of which you can find the corresponding in the catalogues of the 90s. The choice of models fell in many cases on cases finished tin. Personally, I cannot tell you if the choice of colour starts from tastes related to the market in those years or for commercial issues related to greater availability.

The watches were sold in a specially made kit consisting of a cardboard box in black or grey and a sheet with instructions and warranty indications.

Where to find information

Si trovano in rete informazioni riguardo agli Ostwok ma in maniera abbastanza frammentata e sporadica. Qui di seguito un elenco dei siti internet dove è possibile trovare informazioni:

How to change the date to a Vostok Komandirski

How to change the date to a Vostok Komandirski

It’s a relatively simple operation and knowing how to change the date to a Vostok is always convenient. Since there is no rapid exchange system given you have to operate on the normal daily exchange. This is how it is done:

  1. Remove the winding crown and place it in the position where you normally change the time.
  2. Bring the time forward until a date click occurs and continue until 1:00 AM
  3. Bring the time back until approximately 8:00 PM.
  4. Bring the time forward until it exceeds 12:00 AM, when the date changes.

Repeat the operation until you reach the desired date and you’re done!

Clearly, the delicacy is a must when carrying out the operations described above.

Are there other ways to change the date?

If we exclude stopping the watch until the day of the right month or disassembling the dial and changing the position of the wheel of the date I would say that the answer is clearly no. Although it seems a cumbersome system, for those accustomed even to quartz watches from a few euros to a quick date change, it must be recognized that the system is simple and does not complicate the calibre with additional springs and components.

Change the date, what does the instruction manual say?

Vostok watches that came to Italy in the 1980s were often accompanied by an instruction manual. Blue cover for Komandirskie and red cover for chronographs.

This is what is reported in the instruction manual


Pull the crown out to position 2 and change the date by turning the hands in a clockwise direction.

Push the crown back in (Position 1)


To change the date, follow these steps:

  1. Turn the crown in a counterclockwise direction until the hands read 12 o’clock
  2. Turn the hands in a counterclockwise direction back to 8 o’clock. Move the hands to 12 o’clock to advance the date by one day. Tepeat this operation until the desired date has been reached.


Before following the steps for quick date settings, be sure that the watch is fully wound.

How do you change the date in the modern Vostok Komandirskie?

The answer is always the same in general since the calibre used is always the same 2414 manual of the Soviet era. Other calibres have also been included in modern production, so the above instructions may not work. Please refer to the instruction manual provided with the watch to make the various adjustments including the date change.

Instructions from eBay

manuale istruzioni vostok komandirskie fornito insieme ad alcuni orologi acquistati su ebay

Interesting to know that you happen to receive a leaflet of instructions along with the watches purchased on eBay along with the Vostok watches. It is a simple A5 sheet that shows in English the basic instructions for use and adjustment of the most common Vostok calibres such as 2414.

On the leaflet, under “UPDATING OF A CALENDAR” you will find the following instructions in English:

Set the winding head into position 3. Set the correct date by turning watch head clockwise. After that, set the winding head into position 1.

The instructions on how to change the date are not very precise and above all do not correspond to the instructions given by the manual. It is then suggested to continue to change the time by continuing to turn clockwise in order to take advantage of the normal date change of the watch.

I would be very curious to know if there are other manuals or other methods to change the date in the Vostok Komandirskie. If anyone had any other information, I would ask very kindly to share it.

Il-2 Shturmivk. An Ilyushin Fighter in Samara?

Il-2 Shturmivk. An Ilyushin Fighter in Samara?

In Samara there is an important monument made with a fighter Il-2 Shturmovik. is located in one of the most important squares of the city and has a very curious history.

monument of aircraft Il-2 in Samara

The Ilyushin Il-2 Šturmovik (NATO Bark code) was a single-engined low-wing attack engine produced in more than 26,000 units and widely used during World War II. For its great versatility, it proved to be one of the decisive aerial resources in combat.

The ZIM watch

On the dial of this ZIM watch, commemorating the 400 years of the city of Samara, you can read the inscription “400 лет Куйбышев”. In the upper part there is a stylized drawing of the monument made using a real restored Il-2.

Zim 400 years Kuybichev – Il-2 monument

It is one of the main monuments of the city of Samara famous for both the monument to Glory and the monument dedicated to Chapaev.

The important role played by the city of Samara during the conflict justifies the presence of many monuments commemorating the Second World War.

The monuments of the city of Samara

At the beginning of the war, Many activities that were based in the cities near the war zones were relocated to the easternmost regions of the Soviet Union including the No. 1 factories in Moscow and the No. 18 factory in Voronezh which were moved to Samara which was then called. Kuybichev. Both began mass production of Il-2 in 1941.

The restoration of Il-2

About 25 years after the end of the war it was decided to build a memorial. The search for an Il-2 specimen to be used began. Unfortunately, it was not possible to recover any aircraft that could be used in the factories and hangars of the Soviet Union. A well-preserved specimen was found in the marshes near the town of Murmansk. The old workers of factory no. 18 took care of the restoration of the specimen.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the end of the war, in 1975, the monument with the restored Il-2 was installed in a central square of the city of Samara.


This watch is part of the Sovietaly™ collection. Please ask for permission to use the photographs of the watch.

How accurate are Russian watches, in my opinion.

How accurate are Russian watches, in my opinion.

What is the accuracy of Russian watches? This is one of the most frequent questions I am asked by Russian and Soviet watchmaking enthusiasts.

In forums, in Facebook groups, such as “Russian watches that passion”, or directly by message, I am often asked for opinions about it.

The argument is clearly broad and it is difficult to give a correct answer. What I usually say is, “It depends on what you mean by precision…”

We begin by debunking some myths about the precision of mechanical watches, or rather the calibres of watches, by going to the country of watchmaking by definition, Switzerland.

The C.O.S.C.

The Swiss body responsible for verifying the accuracy of calibres is the C.O.S.C. (Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) and is certainly the best known and the most nominated by watch enthusiasts.

Marchio svizzero di precisione COSC

It has existed since 1973 and certifies the quality of the calibres when they leave the laboratories of analysis. So be careful, from the analysis laboratories and not from the production cycle of the watch.

As for the accuracy, it must be considered that the movement must have a daily average deviation between -4 and +6 seconds.

The movements are controlled at temperatures of 8, 23 and 38 degrees celsius, with tolerances of +/-1 degree and in different positions for 15 days. If the tests are passed a certificate is issued.

As you can see so we are talking about average discards of a few seconds a day. Often in the common imagination, we imagine precisions much higher and close to absolute precision.

Reducing those few seconds of average deviation and therefore surpassing the “simple” chronometer certification requires a very high design and construction effort and very few calibres succeed.

The Soviet quality mark GOST

Returning to the accuracy of Russian watches we begin by saying that even in the Soviet Union there was a mark of quality of industrial products, including watches, called “ГOСT” (GOST), an acronym that derives from the Russian words Государсвенный Станнадаррр (State Standard).

Marchio sovietico di qualità GOST

Born in 1967 on the official decision of the government of Brezhnev, the goal was to improve the products made in the Soviet Union. It had a duration of three years and the penalties in case of affixing the mark without an effective valid certification were very severe.

The brand is found in watches often on the dial or imprinted on the case back. There are, however, examples where the mark was affixed to the label or outer packaging.

Orologio sovietico raketa con marchio GOST

In hindsight, experts say that one of the main defects of the GOST brand was to certify the product and not the production process. Certifying the production process tends to guarantee a better result at the exit and therefore allows you to be more sure of the goodness of the final result.

How accurate are Russian and Soviet watches

But then, after all this information, how accurate are Russian clocks?

Compared to a Swiss chronometer, not much. The range from -20 to +40 seconds per day at a temperature of 20μ (+/- 5 μa) is typical, for example, of a Vostok 2414A caliber.

The measurements are also shown on the passport that accompanied the watch at the time of sale.

Dettaglio del passaporto di un orologio russo in cui viene indicata la precisione

As you can see then a range that is very different from the parameters of the C.O.S.C.

In certain cases, however, the precision of Russian watches is also the result of a series of fortuitous circumstances. Individual clocks are often very accurate.

Far be it from me to lump everything together, the criteria of production and quality differed greatly, depending on the factories and the period of production. The individual calibres are also in some cases more accurate than others.

We also consider that Russian and Soviet watches were forced to ensure levels of strength and longevity of all respect. Ten years was the necessary time indicated on the passport before a review.

Most of the watches that arrive in our collections, at least I speak for mine, have in many cases been reworked, assembled, repaired. Except in very rare cases, they do not give evidence of periodic checks or revisions.

The vast majority of Russian watches in my collection march with the stated discard despite never having seen an overhaul or watchmaker.

Personal conclusions about how accurate are russian watches.

In everyday life when I want to know the time automatically I look at the phone and only in rare cases the watch. So I would say, with all the technology around us, the main function of clocking today, it’s outdated. Even when you wear a very precise watch on your wrist, such as a chronometer, we can consider it more, almost as a sign of prestige rather than actual utility

My great-grandfather, who grew up in the country, based his day on church bells ringing because he couldn’t afford a wristwatch. For a long time, the concept of precision has been much, much more labile than today.

dettaglio dello schermo di un cronocomparatore per la misura della precisione degli orologi russi

Nevertheless, it is always a good rule to check the correct functioning of the watch when making a purchase and verify that in the various descriptions it is not indicated as not working. I personally take it for granted that a used watch is not very accurate and for this reason, I bought a chronocomparator and over time I learned to adjust the calibre to try to optimize it as much as possible.

Importante sì quindi ma con il dovuto distacco.

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