Baikonur Azia-TV Poljot Watch: An Iconic and Mysterious Timepiece

russian watch Poljot Baiukonur Azia-TV

Introduction

The Baikonur Azia-TV Poljot watch is an iconic piece celebrating Soviet space achievements. With its unique design and historical significance, it is highly sought after by collectors. This article explores the watch’s technical details, the history of AZIA-TV, and the context where these elements intersect.

russian watch Poljot Baiukonur Azia-TV
Poljot Baiukonur Azia-TV

Technical Details of the Watch

  • Movement: Poljot 2614.2H
  • Diameter: 34mm
  • Functions: Date indicator
  • Design: Black dial with a red star and Yuri Gagarin’s image

Produced between the late 1980s and early 1990s, this watch pays tribute to Soviet space missions, referencing the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The History of AZIA-TV

“АЗИЯ-ТВ” (AZIA-TV) was a television company operating in Kazakhstan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Based in Almaty, it was part of a broader movement of independent broadcasters like “Otrar” and “Dala”. These channels played a crucial role in diversifying Kazakhstan’s post-Soviet media landscape, offering a variety of content including news, cultural programs, and entertainment.

Connections with Baikonur

Baikonur is renowned for its cosmodrome, the launch site for numerous Soviet space missions. While there are no direct references to specific collaborations between AZIA-TV and Baikonur, it is plausible that the channel featured content related to space activities due to regional ties and the cosmodrome’s importance.

Development of the Television Industry in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s television industry began developing in the 1950s, with significant growth in the following decades. By the 1980s, television broadcasting had expanded considerably, offering mixed programming in Kazakh and Russian. The emergence of independent broadcasters like AZIA-TV marked an important shift towards a more diverse national media landscape.

Conclusion

The Baikonur Azia-TV Poljot watch is more than just a timepiece; it is a piece of history celebrating Soviet space achievements and the dynamic post-Soviet media landscape in Kazakhstan. This makes the watch of great interest to both collectors and history enthusiasts.

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.