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.

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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.

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