Discover the Rare Vostok Buran Watch: A Tribute to Soviet Polar Aviation

soviet watch Vostok Polar aviation

Three Penguins and a Polar Bear on the Dial of a Vostok Buran

Introduction

Today, I am wearing an intriguing watch from the USSR, which I believe is often overlooked, particularly in Italy, due to a lack of understanding of its historical significance. While many theories about this watch can be found online, few are based on solid evidence. The watch in question is the Vostok Buran, dedicated to Soviet Polar Aviation.

You can view some fascinating images from the historical archive of Russian Aeroflot here.

The Dial of the Polar Aviation Watch

The dial of this watch is divided into two distinct areas:

soviet watch Vostok Polar aviation

Vostok Polar Aviation

At the top, there is a blue semicircle with the Cyrillic inscription “БУРАН” (Buran, meaning blizzard). Inside this semicircle, there is a depiction of a polar bear, an animal native to the northern hemisphere and the North Pole.

Three Penguins

At the bottom, there are three penguins, which are typical of the southern hemisphere and the South Pole. Alongside the penguins is the logo that currently represents Aeroflot.

Today, Polar Aviation is considered a subsidiary of Aeroflot, and its services are carried out under a unified brand.

Photographic Evidence of Polar Aviation

Historical Context

Established in 1934, Soviet Polar Aviation remained active until 1970. It serviced all polar routes to and from the most remote countries and scientific stations located in the Arctic regions of the planet.

Many intriguing details about this period can be found here. Unfortunately, the history of Polar Aviation is marked by numerous accidents and disasters.

Service to Arctic Islands

Polar Aviation also served many Arctic islands, providing crucial services such as mail, medicines, and food supplies to the island inhabitants.

A particularly interesting website, albeit in Russian, provides insights into the life on Dickson Island. Thanks to Google Translate, you can explore the historical photos showing Soviet Polar Aviation planes and helicopters here.

The Watch Itself

The Vostok Buran watch is well-crafted and comfortable to wear. It was primarily released for the Italian market, identifiable by the typical case back and the high-quality leather strap marked in several places. This watch deserves a prominent place in any Russian watch enthusiast’s collection.

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.

Vostok Komandirskie Export Italy Aviation Badge

soviet watch Vostok Komandirskie Soviet Air Force Emblem

Today, I want to talk about a watch that has been in my collection for some time: a Vostok Komandirskie made for the Italian market in the 1980s, featuring an interesting badge on the dial.

This model is part of a series of watches with the Komandirskie 341XXX case, calibre 2414A, bakelite bezel, and a dial with a clean, well-made design that references the military world. The badge on the dial mimics those used on the hats of high-ranking Soviet Air Force officers.

soviet watch Vostok Komandirskie Soviet Air Force Emblem
Vostok Komandirskie Soviet Air Force Emblem

Dial Detail

This badge, in particular, is a distinctive symbol worn by high-ranking pilot officers. Below, you can see an example of these badges in a vintage photograph of a Soviet military pilot in uniform.

Distribution and Marking

The watch, made for the Italian market in the 1980s and marked CCCP, was distributed in Italy by Time Trend. Although not difficult to find, it is considered an essential piece in a collection of Soviet watches.

Conclusion

The dial of this Russian watch features a reproduction of the badges used on the hats of high-ranking pilot officers, making it a fascinating piece rich in history.

In the Vostok section of my site, you can find the complete series of commemorative Soviet watches intended for the Italian market.

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