Vostok and Raketa Holographic Watches

russian holographic watch Raketa

Vostok and Raketa are renowned Russian watch brands known for their innovative holographic watches. These timepieces, particularly those with military and commemorative themes, have garnered significant interest among collectors. Additionally, some rare Vostok models feature the Poljot 2609 caliber instead of the typical Vostok 2414A, further increasing their rarity and desirability.

Key Highlights

Vostok Holographic Watches

  • Military Themes: Vostok holographic watches often showcase images of military vehicles such as tanks and airplanes, reflecting the brand’s historical connection to the Russian military.
  • Commemorative Editions: These watches celebrate significant events and anniversaries, making them popular among collectors.
  • Rare Variants: Some Vostok models are equipped with the Poljot 2609 caliber, a deviation from the typical Vostok 2414A, making these models particularly rare and valuable.
Holographic Vostok Komandirskie Watch
Vostok unknown soldier tomb

Raketa Holographic Watches and Starcke Oy Collaboration

  • Holographic Designs: Raketa experimented with holographic designs in the 1980s, producing limited models with holographic elements such as images of Lenin and other Soviet symbols. These models were created in the experimental shop at the Petrodvorets Watch Factory and were often destroyed if they did not meet specific standards​ (WatchUSeek Watch Forums)​.
  • Collaboration with Starcke Oy: In the 1990s, Raketa collaborated with Starcke Oy, a Finnish company specializing in holographic films, to produce holographic watches. This collaboration aimed to enhance the visual appeal of Raketa watches by integrating advanced holographic technology into their designs​ (WatchUSeek Watch Forums)​​ (Raketa)​.
russian holographic watch Raketa
Holographic Raketa

About Starcke Oy

Starcke Oy is a Finnish company founded in 1983, specializing in brand protection and unique packaging solutions. The company gained recognition for its high-quality holographic films, which were used not only in Raketa watches but also in various security and branding applications. Starcke’s expertise in holography made them a valuable partner for Raketa during their collaboration in the 1990s​ (Wikipedia, vapaa tietosanakirja)​.

Other Soviet Brands

  • Experimental Designs: Besides Vostok and Raketa, other Soviet watch brands also experimented with holographic dials, though these models are rarer. Collectors highly seek these timepieces due to their unique designs and limited production runs.

Collectibility and Market Value

These holographic watches are highly sought after in the collector’s market due to their unique designs, historical significance, and the rare variants equipped with different calibers. The collaboration between Raketa and Starcke Oy, in particular, represents a significant chapter in the history of Russian watchmaking, blending traditional craftsmanship with innovative technology.

Further Information

For detailed discussions and examples of these watches, visit forums like Watch.ru and Faleristika.info or this section of the sovietaly’s website. These forums provide extensive insights from collectors, showcasing various models and their historical contexts.

Conclusion

Vostok and Raketa holographic watches represent a fascinating blend of technology and traditional watchmaking. Their military themes, commemorative designs, and collaborations with companies like Starcke Oy make them highly collectible and valuable pieces of horological history.

Vostok Banana vs. Omega Seamaster: A Comparison of Two Iconic Dive Watch Designs

Russian watch Vostok Amphibia Banana

The Vostok Banana, also known as the Vostok Amphibia “Banana,” is a Soviet dive watch that has captured the attention of collectors due to its distinctive design and fascinating history. This article provides a detailed comparison of this watch with the iconic Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana,” from which it draws inspiration.

Features of the Vostok Banana

Dial and Bezel:

  • The Vostok Banana features a yellow dial with black details. The 1990 Tento catalogue shows a black bakelite bezel, but many examples have a chrome bezel.
  • The hands are flat and filled with permanent-action phosphor for visibility.

Case:

  • The case is made of stainless steel, designed to withstand depths of up to 200 meters. It has a robust and durable shape typical of dive watches.

Movement:

  • The Vostok uses the automatic 2409A movement, known for its reliability and simplicity. This movement is less sophisticated than those used in luxury watches but still offers good precision.

Value and History:

  • With reference 320228, the Vostok Banana was introduced in the 1990 Tento catalogue, following the Omega. It is appreciated for its unique design and historical value, representing an accessible entry into the world of vintage watches for collectors.
Russian watch Vostok Amphibia Banana
Vostok Amphibia Banana

Features of the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana”

Dial and Bezel:

  • The Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” is known for its yellow dial with a grey border and a two-tone red and black bezel. This bold design is a symbol of the experimental aesthetics of the 1970s.

Case:

  • The stainless steel case has a diameter of 41 mm and a screw-down case back, ensuring water resistance up to 200 meters. The robust construction is ideal for diving.

Movement:

  • The Omega uses the automatic calibre 565, renowned for its precision and durability. It includes a date function and offers superior performance compared to simpler movements.

Value and History:

  • Introduced in 1972, the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” is highly sought after by collectors for its rarity and quality. Well-preserved examples can fetch high prices at auctions.

Direct Comparison

Design Quality and Materials:

  • The Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” uses high-quality materials and finishes, with a sophisticated movement that justifies its high price. The Vostok Banana, while well-constructed, uses more economical materials, making it a more accessible option for collectors.

Movement and Precision:

  • The Omega calibre 565 offers greater precision and reliability compared to the Vostok 2409A movement, making the Omega preferable for those seeking superior performance.

Market Value:

  • The Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” has a significantly higher market value due to its rarity and quality. The Vostok Banana is much more affordable but still appreciated for its design and history.

History and Iconicity:

  • Both watches have fascinating histories, but the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” is considered an icon of 1970s design. The Vostok Banana is seen as a Soviet homage to this legendary design, keeping the tradition alive with its variants.

The Luminous Paste Issue of the Vostok Banana

One common criticism of the Vostok Banana is the application of luminous paste on the dial. Often, the luminescence appears irregular and hand-applied, resulting in less than optimal results. This issue can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Material Quality: The chemical components used in the luminous paste may be of lower quality, leading to a less uniform application and reduced luminescence longevity.
  2. Hand Production: Many Vostok watches are hand-assembled, and the luminous paste is applied manually, causing significant variations in application quality.
  3. Quality Control: Tolerance in quality control can vary. Some examples show good luminescence application, while others may have obvious defects.
  4. Storage Conditions: Exposure to extreme storage conditions, such as excessive heat and cold, can deteriorate the luminous paste, reducing its effectiveness and stability over time.

Identifying Fake Vostok Banana Dials

There are several ways to identify fake Vostok Banana dials:

  1. Markings Print: Fake dials often have thicker, less defined markings. Fine, detailed printing is hard to replicate.
  2. Detail Alignment: Authentic dials have well-aligned details and lines. Fakes may show noticeable misalignments.
  3. Luminous Quality: On fake dials, the luminous paste application can be even more irregular and less uniform than on originals.
  4. Internal Movement: Checking the internal movement can be a good indicator. Fakes often do not use original Vostok movements.

Modern Versions and Special Editions of the Vostok Banana

Meranom offers modern and Special Edition versions of the Vostok Banana. These models feature improvements in material quality and finishes while retaining the iconic design:

  1. Special Edition (SE): SE versions include high-quality dials and custom stainless steel bezels. They use special variations of the 2409A movement and are sold exclusively on Meranom.
  2. Classic and SE Amphibia: These versions have better assembly quality and control, with dials free from visible defects and improved materials.

These modern editions keep the spirit of the original Vostok Banana alive while offering enhanced quality for today’s enthusiasts.

russian watch Vostok Amphibia Rising Banana
Vostok Amphibia SE Rising Banana

Conclusion

The Vostok Banana and the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” represent two distinct approaches to dive watch design. The Omega stands out for its superior quality and technical sophistication, making it a high-value collector’s piece. The Vostok, while less sophisticated, provides affordable access to the vintage charm and history of these iconic designs, making it a popular choice among Vostok Banana collectors.

Raketa Karelia: 100 Years of Automotive History

russian watch Raketa 100 years of transport in republic of Karelia

A Jewel of History and Mechanics

The watch depicted in the photo is a Raketa model, calibre 2609 HA with 19 jewels. This specific timepiece, model number 4321xxx, was produced in the 1990s and celebrates the centenary of automotive transport in the Karelia region of Russia.

russian watch Raketa 100 years of transport in republic of Karelia
Raketa 100 years of transport in republic of Karelia

Dial Details

The watch’s dial is rich with symbolism and commemorations:

  • Historic and Modern Vehicles: At the top, there are illustrations of two vehicles: an old-fashioned car on the left and a modern vehicle on the right. These vehicles represent the evolution of automotive transport over a century.
  • Circular Inscription: The red inscription surrounding the dial reads “КАРЕЛИЯ 100 ЛЕТ АВТОМОБИЛЬНОМУ ТРАНСПОРТУ”, which translates to “Karelia, 100 years of automotive transport”. This underscores the centenary celebration.
  • Logo and Years: At the centre of the dial, a blue and red logo with the number “100” highlights the importance of the anniversary.

Historical Significance

The watch was created to celebrate an important milestone in the history of the Karelia region, highlighting the significance of automotive transport in the economic and social development of the area. The commemoration of 100 years of automotive transport reflects the technological and infrastructural progress that has taken place since the introduction of the first cars up to the present day.

The Raketa Brand

Raketa, one of the most renowned watch brands in Russia, has a long history of producing robust and reliable watches. The calibre 2609 HA used in this model is known for its precision and durability, making the watch not only a commemorative piece but also a high-quality technical object.

The Karelia Region

Karelia is a historic region located in the northwest of Russia, known for its breathtaking natural landscapes and rich cultural history. Here are some highlights about Karelia:

  • Geography and Nature: Karelia is characterised by a vast number of lakes and forests, making it a popular destination for nature lovers. Lake Ladoga, the largest in Europe, is partly located in Karelia.
  • History and Culture: The region has a complex and fascinating history, having been contested between Sweden, Russia, and Finland over the centuries. This has led to a rich cultural mix and diverse influences in language, music, and local traditions.
  • Economy: In addition to tourism, Karelia’s economy is based on the timber, fishing, and natural resources industries. In recent decades, automotive transport has played a key role in the region’s economic development, facilitating trade and mobility.

Conclusion

This Raketa watch is not just a timekeeping device, but also a piece of history that celebrates a century of progress in automotive transport in Karelia. With its distinctive design and significant details, it stands as a lasting tribute to the evolution and importance of automotive transport in the region.

The Rise and Fall of Soviet Watchmaking: A Timeless Legacy

Vintage-style image depicting the history and decline of Soviet watchmaking with iconic Soviet watches, old factories, and mechanical gears in sepia tones.

The world of horology is vast and varied, with different regions contributing unique innovations and styles to the craft of watchmaking. Among these, Soviet watches hold a special place for their robustness, affordability, and historical significance. This essay explores why Soviet watches offer a superior quality-price ratio compared to Swiss watches of the same era, analyzes the reasons behind the decline of Soviet watchmaking, and examines whether the rise of Japanese quartz watches played a role in this decline.

Why Soviet Watches Offer Great Value

Production Efficiency and Cost Containment

Soviet watch manufacturers, such as Vostok and Raketa, were known for their efficient production methods. Unlike the highly specialized and labor-intensive Swiss watchmaking process, Soviet factories emphasized mass production and automation. This approach allowed them to keep production costs low while maintaining a reasonable level of quality. For instance, the Vostok Amphibia, famous for its durability and water resistance, was produced using straightforward and cost-effective techniques that still met high standards of robustness​ (Russian Watches)​​ (Vintage Radar)​.

Focus on Functionality and Durability

Soviet watches were designed to be functional and durable, often used in military and industrial settings. The Vostok Komandirskie, for example, was the official watch of the Soviet military and was built to withstand harsh conditions. Similarly, the Raketa Polar was designed for Arctic explorers, featuring a 24-hour dial to help navigate the polar day-night cycle​ (Russian Watches)​. These watches were engineered to be reliable tools rather than luxury items, making them highly valued for their practicality.

Innovation in Movements

Despite being produced under challenging conditions, Soviet watchmakers managed to create innovative and reliable movements. The Raketa 24-hour movement and the Poljot chronographs are prime examples. These movements, while not as refined as their Swiss counterparts, were robust and served their purpose well. This innovation extended to unique designs like the Poljot 2200, one of the thinnest movements ever produced, showcasing Soviet ingenuity​ (aBlogtoWatch)​​ (Collectors Weekly)​.

The Decline of Soviet Watchmaking

Impact of Japanese Quartz Watches

The introduction of quartz watches by Japanese manufacturers like Seiko in 1969 revolutionized the watch industry. Quartz technology offered greater accuracy at a lower cost compared to mechanical movements, which severely impacted traditional watchmakers worldwide. Swiss manufacturers were hit hard, but Soviet watchmakers, who were already struggling with economic inefficiencies and political instability, found it even more challenging to compete​ (Swissinfo)​​ (Fratello Watches)​.

Internal Challenges and Economic Collapse

The decline in the quality of Soviet watches began in the late 1970s and continued through the 1980s. As the Soviet economy weakened, so did the watch industry’s ability to procure high-quality materials and maintain production standards. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, many watch factories were already in disarray, suffering from underfunding and disorganization​ (VintageDuMarko)​​ (Collectors Weekly)​.

Loss of Market and Transition to Capitalism

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the transition from a centralized economy to a market-oriented one was chaotic. Many state-owned enterprises, including watch factories, could not adapt quickly enough to survive in the new economic environment. The lack of infrastructure to support a market economy, coupled with the sudden influx of foreign competition, led to the closure of many iconic Soviet watch brands​ (VintageDuMarko)​​ (Collectors Weekly)​.

Conclusion

The story of Soviet watchmaking is a tale of innovation, resilience, and eventual decline. While Soviet watches provided excellent value through their robust design, efficient production, and innovative movements, they could not withstand the dual pressures of technological disruption from Japanese quartz watches and the economic collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite these challenges, the legacy of Soviet watches endures, celebrated by collectors and horology enthusiasts worldwide for their historical significance and unique charm.

In the end, the rise and fall of Soviet watchmaking offer valuable lessons in industrial adaptation, the impact of technological advancements, and the complex interplay between politics and economics in shaping industry fortunes. As we look back on this fascinating chapter in horological history, the indomitable spirit of Soviet watchmakers continues to tick away, reminding us of a bygone era of innovation and resilience.

The Amphibia Revolution: The Invention of Soviet Waterproof Watches

Michail Fëdorovič Novikov e Vera Fëdorovna Belova, sviluppatori degli orologi Amphibia.

This is an interview with Novikov and Belova, the inventors and developers of the Amphibia project.

Mikhail Fyodorovich Novikov and Vera Fyodorovna Belova, Developers of the Amphibia Watches

The developers of the Amphibia watches, Mikhail Fyodorovich Novikov and Vera Fyodorovna Belova. Image from a video by Vyacheslav Medvedev.

Michail Fëdorovič Novikov e Vera Fëdorovna Belova, sviluppatori degli orologi Amphibia.
Gli sviluppatori degli orologi Amphibia Michail Fëdorovič Novikov e Vera Fëdorovna Belova. Immagine tratta dal video di Vjačeslav Medvedev.

In 1967, a peculiar event caught the attention of many: a “Volga” car drove over a watch. This was not an accident but a public demonstration of the extraordinary capabilities of the Amphibia, the first Soviet waterproof watch. The article describes this moment as follows:

«…10 …7 …5. Неумолимо, метр за метром движется колесо машины. Затаив дыхание, застыли люди. Что же будет? … Три … метр и, наконец, произошло то, чего с таким любопытством ожидал собравшийся здесь народ: колесо «Волги» переехало… часы» (…10 …7 …5. Relentlessly, metre by metre, the car’s wheel moves forward. People hold their breath, motionless. What will happen? … Three … metres and, finally, what the crowd gathered here was so curiously expecting happened: the wheel of the Volga ran over… the watch.)

The creators of the Amphibia, Mikhail Novikov and Vera Belova, tell us about the genesis and peculiarities of this revolutionary watch. Novikov, then head of the New Developments Bureau, was tasked with designing a watch that could compete with the best foreign models, ensuring reliable operation up to 200 metres in depth and resistance to significant variations in pressure and temperature.

Novikov M.F.:

“The challenge was to develop a watch that was not inferior to foreign models and that ensured reliable operation up to a depth of 200 metres, in conditions of great pressure and temperature variations. The name ‘Amphibia’ was chosen through an internal competition, representing a being that feels at home both in water and on land.”

The design of the Amphibia required the adoption of innovative technical solutions to avoid patent issues and to overcome the limitations of the available technology. For example, the watch glass was designed with a special profile to withstand extreme pressures, while the rubber gasket was developed with highly specific materials to ensure perfect watertightness.

Belova V.F.:

“The glass of the Amphibia is thicker than normal: 3 mm compared to the 2 mm of the ‘Komandirskie’ watches. Not only are the thickness and configuration different, but the manufacturing process is also special. The glass is polished to ensure a perfect seal under high pressure.”

Belova emphasises that the processing of the Amphibia glass required extreme precision, with a production process that included polishing to ensure the absence of any imperfections. The watch case’s resistance was further enhanced using stainless steel, a material that was not common for this type of application in the USSR at the time.

Novikov M.F.:

“It seemed that we could simply copy foreign models, but many of their solutions were patented. Moreover, our equipment could not guarantee the necessary precision. We had to find solutions that were just as effective but without infringing existing patents.”

The Amphibia was not just a water-resistant watch; it was an engineering masterpiece. Every detail, from the rubber gasket to the stainless steel case, was designed to overcome the toughest challenges. Novikov and Belova, with their dedication and innovation, managed to create a watch that would mark an era.

In addition to the civilian version, a military version of the Amphibia, called the NVCH-30, was developed for Soviet Navy divers. These models were subjected to rigorous tests of resistance and operation, including drills simulating sea rescue scenarios.

Belova V.F.:

“These watches were tested with very rigorous programmes. Even the strap had to pass extreme resistance tests. The strap’s connection to the NVCH-30 looked a bit strange but was extremely robust.”

The legacy of the Amphibia lives on today as a symbol of innovative engineering and durability. Novikov and Belova, with their vision and expertise, have left an indelible mark on the history of watchmaking.

Poljot History: Soviet Watchmaking Excellence

soviet watch Sturmanskie Type 2

The Poljot brand represents one of the most significant symbols of the Russian watchmaking industry, with a history rich in technical successes and space adventures. Since its founding, Poljot has embodied the Soviet ambition to achieve technological self-sufficiency and establish itself as a world leader in watch production.

The Origins: From the United States to the Soviet Union

In the late 1920s, the Soviet Union relied heavily on imported watches, a necessity that cost the government precious gold. To end this dependency, it was decided in 1927 to start domestic watch production. In 1929, through the Amtorg Trading Corporation, the Soviet government purchased the facilities of two bankrupt American factories: the Ansonia Clock Company and the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company. Twenty-one former Dueber-Hampden employees moved to Moscow to train local workers, marking the beginning of the First Soviet Watch Factory.

Initially, the factory produced four main models: a 15-jewel pocket watch for the Ministry of Communications, a 7-jewel wristwatch for the Red Army, a 7-jewel civilian pocket watch, and a 15-jewel ladies’ wristwatch. Thanks to the training received, local workers soon managed production autonomously.

The War Period and Innovation

With the German invasion during World War II, the factory was relocated to Zlatoust and returned to Moscow in 1943. During this period, the factory also began producing ammunition. In 1946, the K26 Pobeda model was launched, followed in 1949 by the Sturmanskie model, designed exclusively for military aviation. This watch became famous when Yuri Gagarin probably wore it during the first human space flight on April 12, 1961.

In the 1950s, the factory continued to innovate, introducing the first automatic watch under the Rodina brand in 1956 and special models for unique missions, such as the Soviet Antarctic expedition in 1957. That same year, to celebrate the success of the Sputnik mission, commemorative watches were produced, remaining in production for only one year.

The Establishment of the Poljot Brand

In 1960, the first models bearing the Poljot name, which means “flight” in Russian, were launched. The brand became synonymous with quality and precision, exporting watches worldwide. The Strela chronograph, inspired by the Swiss Venus 150, was used by Alexei Leonov during the first spacewalk in 1965.

With the introduction of the Poljot brand in 1964, the factory consolidated all its models under a single label. The 1970s saw a renewal of available movements and the acquisition of production lines from the Swiss Valjoux, leading to the creation of the 3133 movement, a chronograph used for both military and civilian purposes.

The Post-Soviet Era and Revival

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, Poljot was named the official supplier to the President of the Russian Federation. The company ceased quartz watch production to focus on a niche market, introducing new lines based on modified 3133 movements. However, the company had to downsize and sell machinery to other companies, leading to the founding of Volmax by some former Poljot employees.

Despite the challenges, in 2003, Poljot adopted the name First Moscow Watch Factory, continuing production for the international market. Today, the Poljot brand is recognized for its tradition of precision and reliability, keeping alive a history inseparably linked to aviation and space adventures.

Curiosities and Iconic Models

Among the most famous Poljot models are the “Sturmanskie” worn by Gagarin and the “Strela” chronograph, symbols of Russian space exploration. Poljot watches are handcrafted by skilled artisans, giving them a distinctive and unique character. Limited editions and the “Aviator” collection are particularly appreciated by collectors for their bold design and cockpit readability.

Insights into Poljot’s History

The 1930s: The Birth of the Soviet Watch Industry

In 1930, with the construction of the factory in Moscow, watch production began at a brisk pace. The first watches produced still bore the Dueber-Hampden brand, but soon Soviet technicians managed to develop entirely new models. The First Soviet Watch Factory, renamed in 1935 in honor of Sergei Kirov, achieved notable success, producing millions of pocket and wristwatches.

The 1940s: War and Reconstruction

During World War II, the factory was evacuated to Zlatoust to avoid capture by the Germans. During this period, besides producing watches, the factory contributed to the war effort by manufacturing ammunition and other military materials. After the war, in 1946, the factory launched the famous Pobeda model, a symbol of Soviet victory.

The 1950s and 1960s: The Space Era

In the 1950s, Poljot began producing watches for military aviation and Soviet cosmonauts. The Sturmanskie model, worn by Gagarin during his historic space flight, became an icon. With the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik in 1957, Poljot celebrated the event with a commemorative watch. Producing automatic watches and chronographs became a priority, leading to the creation of models such as Rodina and Strela.

The 1970s and 1980s: Innovation and Expansion

During the 1970s, Poljot continued to innovate, introducing advanced movements such as the 3133 chronograph. The factory acquired production lines from the Swiss Valjoux, enabling the production of high-quality watches for both military and civilian markets. The 1980s saw an increase in exports, with Poljot becoming an internationally recognized brand.

The Foundation of Volmax and the End of 3133 Production

In the late 1990s, Poljot ceased quartz watch production to focus on high-quality mechanical movements. However, economic difficulties led to the sale of movement production machinery to other companies, including Vostok. In 2002, some discontented employees left Poljot to found Volmax, a company that continues to produce watches under the Aviator, Buran, and Sturmanskie brands.

In 2003, Poljot adopted the name First Moscow Watch Factory, limiting the Poljot brand to the domestic market. Production of the 3133 chronograph movement, a milestone in Poljot’s history, ceased definitively in 2011, marking the end of an era.

How to read a Raketa 24h watch: a comprehensive guide

russian watch raketa 24h

How to read a Raketa 24h watch

Raketa 24h watches are a type of mechanical watch produced by the Raketa factory in St. Petersburg, Russia. These watches are characterized by a 24-hour dial instead of the usual 12-hour dial.

russian watch Raketa 24h Marine
Raketa 24h Marine

How the hour hand works

The hour hand on a Raketa 24h watch is the longest hand and is located in the center of the dial. The hour hand completes one full rotation in 24 hours, from midnight to midnight.

To read the time on a Raketa 24h watch, you need to identify the index on the dial that corresponds to the position of the hour hand. The index indicates the time of day.

For example, if the hour hand is at the 12 o’clock index, it is midnight. If the hour hand is at the 6 o’clock index, it is 6:00 am. If the hour hand is at the 18 o’clock index, it is 6:00 pm.

russian watch Raketa 24h Zestril
Raketa 24h Zestril

How the minute hand works

The minute hand on a Raketa 24h watch is the shortest hand and is located in the center of the dial, next to the hour hand. The minute hand completes one full rotation in 60 minutes.

To read the minutes on a Raketa 24h watch, you need to identify the number on the dial that corresponds to the position of the minute hand. The number indicates the minutes of the day.

For example, if the minute hand is at the 12 o’clock index, it is 00:00. If the minute hand is at the 6 o’clock index, it is 00:30. If the minute hand is at the 18 o’clock index, it is 06:00.

Soviet and Russian Raketa 24h watches

Raketa 24h watches were often used in closed environments or above the Arctic Circle, when it is not possible to accurately determine the time of day by observing the sun.

In fact, above the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets during the summer and never rises during the winter. In these cases, a Raketa 24h watch is the only way to know the correct time.

russian watch Raketa 24h Red Star
Raketa 24h Soviet navy

Unlocking the Mystery of the Vostok Cosmopolis

russian watch Vostok Amphibia Cosmopolis

A New Theory for the Amphibia Vostok Cosmopolis

The Vostok Cosmopolis is one of the most sought-after and mysterious watches from the Soviet Vostok brand. Often linked to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, this watch has captivated collectors and enthusiasts with its unique design and potential connections to space and philosophy. Here, we explore the various theories surrounding this model and present a new hypothesis that could finally explain the significance of the Vostok Cosmopolis.

Characteristics of the Vostok Cosmopolis

The Vostok Cosmopolis is an Amphibia model with a round case, featuring the classic Amphibia hands: the hour hand shaped like an arrow, the linear minute hand, and the red second hand with a luminous dot. The bidirectional rotating bezel has the typical luminescent dot. The dial showcases a large eye, coloured blue and red, set against a green striped rectangle. Above and below the rectangle, the inscriptions “КОСМОПОЛИС” and “COSMOPOLIS” in Cyrillic and Latin, respectively, give the watch its distinctive name.

Current Theories

1. The Baikonur Cosmodrome

The simplest theory links the Vostok Cosmopolis to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. According to this hypothesis, the eye symbolises a look towards the future and space exploration. However, this theory remains weak as, during the Soviet era, references to space ventures would have been more explicit.

2. Space Cities

Another theory discussed on the Watchuseek forum in 2006 suggests that the watch represents a space city. This idea also ties back to the Baikonur Cosmodrome but lacks substantial evidence.

3. Cosmism

On the Italian forum Orologiko, a user proposed the theory of “Cosmism,” a Russian philosophical movement viewing matter as dynamic and living. According to this view, the eye on the dial represents the concept of a living cosmos, supported by historical figures like Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of Russian astronautics.

4. Hylozoism

Another hypothesis on the Orologiko forum links the cosmic eye to hylozoism, a philosophical doctrine considering matter to have life. The eye could represent God, with the cosmos as its living manifestation.

The New Theory: Cosmopolis Publishing House

A new hypothesis has emerged through recent research. A user on VK, “Boshdan Boshomolov,” suggested that the logo on the dial might belong to the “Cosmopolis” publishing house, active around 1990-1991. This Soviet-American joint venture, based in Moscow, published several books, including “Commercial Banks” by E. Reed and others.

confronto scritte editore cosmopolis vostok amphibia sovietaly mister

Research Details

The “Cosmopolis” publishing house was known for publishing science fiction and other literary works with futuristic and philosophical themes. The publisher’s logo, resembling the eye on the watch’s dial, suggests a visual connection between the watch and the publishing house.

cosmopolis casa editrice
cosmopolis casa editrice

Conclusions

While absolute certainty is elusive, the theory that the Vostok Cosmopolis is a commemorative watch for the Cosmopolis publishing house is the most plausible. The dial design, featuring the eye and the Cyrillic and Latin inscriptions, reflects the Soviet-American nature of the publisher. The presence of the “Made in USSR” inscription and the early 1990s dating further support this hypothesis.

For more details, you can visit the following links:

The Vostok Cosmopolis remains one of the most enigmatic and fascinating watches in the Soviet Vostok production, a piece of history embodying the mystery and innovation of its time.

casa editrice cosmopolis
casa editrice cosmopolis

Discovering the Charm of Soviet and Russian Watch Collections

Ritaglio schermata pagina Lancette Sovietiche Collezionare Sovietaly intervista

Strange as it may sound, even a collection of Soviet and Russian watches can be appreciated and recognised by non-enthusiasts. Andrea Manini, a 44-year-old from Milan, has been collecting these timepieces since 1992 and now boasts over 400 examples. “What amuses me greatly is that, unlike Swiss watches, the Russian ones always hide a story to tell,” says Manini.

Ritaglio schermata pagina Lancette Sovietiche Collezionare Sovietaly intervista
Lancette Sovietiche collezionare online

The world of Soviet watchmaking is rich with stories, particularly those surrounding Yuri Gagarin, the first man to conquer space. The exact watch he wore during his 1961 mission remains a topic of debate. Some claim he wore a Poljot Sturmanskie, produced by Moscow’s First Watch Factory, while others argue it was the Type One by Sturmanskie, citing a photograph as evidence. “But who can say for certain? Perhaps it’s just a shot taken during a simple exercise?” muses Manini, highlighting the mysteries often associated with these famous timepieces.

Manini’s passion for Russian watches began in 1992, the year following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Russian watches started appearing in Italian jewellery stores, sparking his interest. His first purchase was a Vostok Komandirskie, bought for a few lire at a roadside stall. The military look and the rocket on the dial intrigued him, only later discovering its significance related to Gagarin’s historic flight.

Manini’s collection focuses on Russian space adventures and Soviet watches designed for the Italian market. There are also categories dedicated to Soviet polar explorations and Russian railways. Watches commemorating space milestones, like Sputnik, Laika, and Gagarin, are particularly numerous and fascinating.

The evolution of Russian watchmaking is complex, intertwining with the country’s social, political, and military history. Initially, Russian watches were crafted by artisan workshops during the Tsarist era. The Soviet era brought industrialisation, with factories producing watches en masse for civilians and the military, using machinery acquired from American companies.

Famous brands emerged, like Poljot (meaning flight), Raketa (rocket), and Pobeda (victory). Each name reflects a historical or cultural significance, such as Chaika, named after Valentina Tereshkova’s code name during her space flight.

Despite mass production, watches from the 1960s and 1970s are of superior quality, often misunderstood due to their low export prices and the Italian proximity to Swiss watchmaking. Many Russian watches were rebranded for export, like Raketa, Slava, and Poljot becoming Sekonda for the UK market.

For the Italian market, unique models were created, like the Slava Fri Fri with a pink dial and the California with a black dial and pink indices. Two unique chronographs used Vostok cases and Poljot movements, packaged in wooden boxes and sold at high prices.

One common misconception is that Vostok watches were used by the Russian military. In reality, they were state-commissioned but not exclusive to the military. The Amphibia model, developed for divers, is another highlight, featuring a unique screw-back case.

Among Manini’s rarest pieces is a Raketa Big Zero with a nephrite dial. Finding such rare models requires caution as the online market is rife with fakes and assembled watches. Manini advises consulting knowledgeable collectors and forums to avoid pitfalls.