Index and Detailed Description of the Chapters of the book “From the History of the Development of the Watchmaking Industry in Russia” by Olga Nikolaevna Melnikova

Historical depiction of the watchmaking industry in Russia with early mechanical clocks, workshops, factories, and landmarks like the Kremlin.

Introduction – Page 3

In the introduction, the author sets the historical context of watchmaking in Russia, emphasizing its significance in the country’s industrial evolution. The research’s purpose is explained to better understand the role of horology in Russia’s socio-economic development from the 18th century to the early 20th century. The author outlines the primary objectives of the study, the methodologies used, and the importance of this sector in the realm of technology and industrial production. An intriguing aspect highlighted is how the perception and measurement of time influenced not only daily life but also Russia’s technological and scientific progress.

Prima pagina del libro di Olga Nikolaevna Melnikova sulla storia della produzione di orologi in Russia
Prima pagina del libro di Olga Nikolaevna Melnikova intitolato “Из истории развития часового производства в России”, pubblicato dalla Biblioteca Statale Russa nel 2005.

Section One: The Emergence and Development of Watchmaking in Russia. The Role of Industrial Exhibitions in Enhancing the Skills of Russian Watchmakers.

Chapter 1: The Beginning of Watch Production and Watchmaking Workshops in Various Regions of Russia – Page 25

This chapter provides a detailed historical overview of the early stages of watch production in Russia, starting with the introduction of the first mechanical clocks, focusing on tower clocks installed in the 15th century. The role of early watchmakers and the influence of technologies imported from Western Europe are explored. The author describes how these initial time measurement instruments led to a significant change in the perception of time and the organization of daily life.

Origins and Spread:

The chapter analyses the origins of mechanical clocks in Europe and their introduction to Russia. An interesting fact is that the first tower clocks installed in Russia in the 15th century were gifts from foreign diplomats.

Early Tower Clocks:

This section describes tower clocks installed in various public and religious buildings and their cultural significance. For example, the early tower clocks in the Moscow Kremlin served not only to measure time but also as instruments of political and religious prestige.

Regional Workshops:

This part examines the first watchmaking workshops in different Russian regions, including the cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the influence of foreign masters. A specific point of interest is how Moscow became a center of excellence through the importation of European technologies and expertise.

Chapter 2: Watch Production in State and Private Factories in Russia (18th – early 20th century) – Page 73

In this chapter, the author examines the role of state factories and private enterprises in watch production during the period in question. The evolution of watch factories, work organization, and technological innovations implemented are analyzed.

State Factories:

The study looks into state factories founded under the reign of Catherine II, focusing on their organizational structure and the products made. An interesting point is that many of these factories initially aimed at producing watches for the aristocracy and government.

Private Enterprises:

This section analyses the development of private factories and artisanal cooperatives, including production methods and challenges faced, such as foreign competition. It is noteworthy how private enterprises often collaborated with local craftsmen to improve product quality.

Craftsmanship and Technology:

The techniques of production and technological innovation in workshops and factories are examined, focusing on materials, tools, and design. A specific point is the use of local materials and traditional techniques combined with modern innovations to create unique watches.

Section Two: Characteristics and Problems of the Development of Russian Watchmaking in the 18th – early 20th century.

Chapter 3: Import of Watchmaking Products and Its Impact on Russian Production – Page 121

This chapter focuses on the influence of foreign watch imports on the Russian market and local production. It explores how the influx of foreign products prompted Russian manufacturers to improve quality and adopt new technologies.

Initial Imports:

The history of the first watch imports to Russia and their impact on the domestic market is discussed. An interesting fact is that some of the most valuable watches imported to Russia came from Switzerland and Germany.

Foreign Competition:

This section analyses the competitive dynamics between Russian producers and foreign companies and the strategies adopted by Russians to remain competitive. A specific point is the adoption of advanced technologies and innovative designs to compete with foreign manufacturers.

Technological Adaptation:

The discussion here focuses on how Russian producers incorporated foreign technologies and designs to improve their products. It’s interesting to note how international fairs and exhibitions facilitated the acquisition of new technologies.

Chapter 4: Training Qualified Personnel for Watch Production – Page 159

The fourth chapter examines the methods of training and educational institutions dedicated to preparing qualified watchmakers. The author discusses the importance of artisanal schools, academies, and government initiatives to develop specialized skills in watchmaking.

Initial Training:

This section explores the early training programs for watchmakers and their evolution over time. An interesting fact is that many watchmaking schools were founded with direct support from the Tsar and the aristocracy.

Educational Institutions:

Details are provided about the schools and academies that played a crucial role in training qualified watchmakers, including curriculums and teaching methodologies. A specific point is the use of practical laboratories and apprenticeships to ensure comprehensive training.

Foreign Influence on Training:

The discussion here focuses on how foreign masters contributed to the training of local talents and the transfer of technological knowledge. It’s interesting how some of the best Russian watchmakers studied abroad before returning home to contribute to the local industry.

Conclusion – Page 174

The conclusion summarizes the main findings of the research, highlighting the historical importance of watch production in Russia and its contribution to the country’s industrial progress. The author offers a critical reflection on the results obtained and suggests future directions for further studies in this field. An interesting point is the author’s prediction about the future of the Russian watchmaking industry, emphasizing the potential for revival thanks to new technologies and the growing demand for high-quality products.

Bibliography – Page 184

The final section of the book provides a detailed list of sources and works cited in the research, offering a valuable resource for those wishing to further explore the history of watch production in Russia. An interesting point is the breadth of sources used, including archival documents, contemporary publications, and materials from industrial exhibitions.

Chapter 1: The Beginning of Watch Production and Watchmaking Workshops in Various Regions of Russia

Watch production in Russia, more than other industries, reflects the country’s economic prosperity and its integration into global production. Typically, the production of time-measuring instruments is considered part of the mechanical sector. Many mechanics working in various areas of mechanics were initially watchmakers.

As civilization developed, time-measuring instruments became increasingly necessary in people’s daily lives. Consequently, the number of watches produced increased, as did the variety of types and fields of application, creating the conditions for the opening of new workshops and factories.

Origins and Spread

The invention of watches contributed to a significant change in collective consciousness: the dominance of space during the medieval period was gradually replaced by measurable time and its mechanical producer, the clock. Watches are often called the “archetype” of all measuring instruments, a “product” of primitive mechanics that, according to American scholar Lewis Mumford, “synchronized human reactions not with the rising and setting of the sun, but with the movement of the clock hands.”

The regularity of this movement is conventionally accepted as the movement of time, and the regularity of intervals on the scale allows this uniform movement to be transformed into points on the scale to which numerical values can be assigned. Essentially, watches do not measure time but transform uniform and homogeneous movement into a system of points associated with numbers.

Production in Various Regions

In Saint Petersburg, for example, there was a strong scientific and production base: the Instrument Chamber of the Academy of Sciences, the Instrument and Watch Classes of the Academy of Fine Arts, whose activities greatly contributed to the development of domestic instrumentation. Additionally, these cities hosted productions close to watchmaking, such as precision mechanics, like weapons production. In the Tula and Sestroretsk arms factories, besides producing victorious weapons, domestic items, locks, scales, boxes, sewing machines, and scientific instruments were also made.

These were areas with developed metallurgical industries, such as the Demidov factories in the Urals in Nizhny Tagil and Ekaterinburg. Specimens from the GIM (State Historical Museum) collections testify that watch production was established in cities located at the crossroads of trade routes, such as Astrakhan and Arkhangelsk. The largest and most developed centers of watch production in the 18th-19th centuries were Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Development of Workshops

In the second half of the 18th century and the early 19th century, artisanal production flourished in Moscow: jewelry, haberdashery, gold items, and other goods. There were shoemaker, hatter, dyer shops, playing card, brick factories, and others. This was facilitated by mid-18th century decrees on the freedom to practice crafts. For example, the decree of 17 April 1767 allowed city residents to engage in “trades for their benefit.”

At the end of the 19th century, the merchant Fedor Vinogradov opened a watch assembly workshop on his estate near Moscow. This workshop produced up to 150,000 watches per year, and the company’s factory was in Switzerland, from where assembled watches were shipped, predominantly the cheapest ones. The watches assembled in Moscow were sold at prices ranging from 1 ruble and 75 kopecks to 3 rubles and 50 kopecks.

Importance of Family Workshops

It is important to note that, besides state establishments, in the 18th-19th centuries in Russia, there were small private artisanal workshops for watch production. As evidenced by documents preserved in archives, these were primarily family-type workshops. In the second half of the 19th century, small private factories were created to produce simple watches. These were made with primitive equipment and thus differed little from similar products made in artisanal workshops.

Towards the end of the 19th century, a division of labor emerged in factories: workers specialized in stamping wheels, hands, assemblies, chimes (producing watches with bells), and cabinets. This demonstrates that watch production in Russia was gradually forming a manufacturing-style labor organization.

Research materials show that Moscow and Saint Petersburg were major centers for assembling and selling watches. For example, in 1856, there were 35 small watch workshops in Moscow, equipped with pedal machines, with screw clamps and a varying number of workers from 8 to 12 people.

Chapter 2: Watch Production in State and Private Factories in Russia (18th – early 20th century)


Watch production in Russia reflected the country’s economic prosperity and its level of integration into global production. In the 18th century, under the reign of Catherine II, the first state watch factories were founded, representing a significant step towards developing a national watchmaking industry. These factories not only supplied watches to the Russian aristocracy but also played a key role in elevating the prestige of Russian manufacturing.

The First State Factories

The first state watch factories in Russia were established under the direct influence of Catherine II. In 1764, Catherine issued a decree for the creation of watch factories in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and the Kupavna estate. These factories, although called “factories,” were actually small-scale manufactures with rather primitive equipment compared to European standards. The creation of these factories responded to several needs:

European Example: Catherine II was inspired by her correspondent Voltaire, who had established a colony of watchmakers in Ferney, near Geneva.

Reducing Imports: She wanted to reduce reliance on expensive watch imports from Europe.

Economic Development: She aimed to promote economic development and the national industry.

Production in State Factories

The factories in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Kupavna produced a variety of watches, including pocket watches in precious gold and silver casings. These watches were made to high European standards but in limited quantities. The factories were equipped with advanced machinery for the time, such as presses, lathes, and tools for finishing and polishing metals.

Closure of Factories

Due to various problems, including lack of funding, state watch factories closed in the early 19th century. However, the experience gained in these factories was not completely lost and contributed to the subsequent development of watch production in Russia.

Private Factories

In the second half of the 19th century, numerous small private factories emerged, focusing on producing simpler and cheaper watches. These factories used rudimentary equipment and often did not differ much from artisanal workshops. A notable example is the factory opened by Fedor Vinogradov near Moscow, which assembled watches with components imported from Switzerland.

Division of Labor and Innovation

Towards the end of the 19th century, watch production in Russia began to show signs of industrial organization, with a more defined division of labor:

Specialized Production: Workers specialized in different stages of production, such as stamping wheels, assembling mechanisms, and making cases.

Technological Innovation: The introduction of advanced machinery and the standardization of production processes increased efficiency and product quality.

Influence of Imports

The importation of foreign watches continued to heavily influence the Russian market. Many technological innovations and designs were adopted by Russian producers to improve the competitiveness of their products. International exhibitions played a crucial role in transferring technological knowledge and promoting Russian products abroad.


Watch production in Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries represents a significant part of the country’s industrial development. Despite challenges, state and private production initiatives contributed to creating a foundation for the Russian watchmaking industry. This historical period demonstrates the importance of government support and technological innovation for developing a competitive international industry.

Chapter 3: Import of Watchmaking Products and Its Impact on Russian Production


The history of watch imports in Russia dates back to the times of Ivan the Terrible when watches were brought as diplomatic gifts. The influence of foreign watch imports has significantly impacted domestic production, stimulating innovation and competition.

Importation of Watches in the 19th Century

In the 19th century, the importation of watches in Russia was dominated by Swiss products, particularly pocket watches. By the end of the 19th century, Switzerland was the main supplier of mechanisms and complete watches, often encased in gold or decorated with gold details.

Import Data

Switzerland: In 1897, Switzerland exported 32,834 watches to Russia, 31,541 in 1898, and 34,060 in 1899.

Germany: Germany exported 8,855 watches in 1897, 8,851 in 1898, and 8,035 in 1899.

France: France exported 1,188 watches in 1897, 1,186 in 1898, and 1,206 in 1899.

Mechanisms for Pocket Watches

Switzerland: 262 mechanisms in 1897, 3,257 in 1898, and 3,786 in 1899.

Germany: 62 mechanisms in 1897, 2,020 in 1898, and 769 in 1899.

Effects of Imports

The importation of foreign watches had several effects on the Russian industry:

Competition: It prompted Russian producers to improve the quality of their products to compete with foreign ones.

Innovation: It led to the adoption of new technologies and production techniques in Russia.

Training: It incentivized the training of qualified watchmakers in Russia to reduce reliance on imports.

Challenges in Domestic Production

Despite efforts to develop domestic watch production, Russia faced several challenges:

Lack of Technology: Advanced production technologies were often imported and not developed locally.

Insufficient Capital: The high cost of capital needed to start and maintain quality watch production.

Foreign Competition: The dominant presence of high-quality foreign watches made it difficult for Russian producers to establish themselves in the market.

Industrial Exhibitions

International and national industrial exhibitions played a crucial role in transferring knowledge and technologies. Russian watchmakers participated in these exhibitions to learn new techniques and international standards, which they then tried to implement in their productions.


The chapter concludes with a reflection on the importance of imports for the development of the Russian watch industry. Despite the challenges, the influence of imported watches had a positive effect, stimulating innovation and quality improvement in local production.

Additional Data and Curiosities

In 1913, about 3.5 million watches of various types were imported into Russia, excluding pocket watches.

During the revolutionary period (1917-1923), the importation of watches and components almost ceased, causing a significant shortage of these goods in Russia.

Trade and industrial fairs, such as those in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, were crucial events where Russian producers could compare themselves with their foreign counterparts and adopt new technologies.

Chapter 4: Training Qualified Personnel for Watch Production


Training and preparing qualified personnel were crucial elements for the development of watch production in Russia. From the 18th to the 19th century, various watchmaking production centers also served as learning places for future master watchmakers. The importance of these institutions and training methods was fundamental in creating a solid foundation for the Russian watch industry.

Initial Training Centers

The first training centers for watchmakers in Russia were often linked to existing production establishments:

Admiralty Compass Workshop: One of the first training centers was the compass workshop at the Admiralty, where time-measuring instruments for the navy were produced.

Yakov Bruce’s Workshop: Another important center was the workshop of the renowned scientist and statesman Yakov Bruce, which combined the production of scientific instruments with artisan training.

Instrument Chamber of the Academy of Sciences: The Academy of Sciences housed a workshop producing precision instruments and training new artisans.

Mechanical Workshop of the Tula Arms Factory: This workshop produced not only weapons but also served as a learning center for mechanics and watchmakers.

Technical Schools and Apprenticeships

In 1701, the first technical school in Russia, the School of Mathematics and Navigation, was established in Moscow, where surveyors were trained and mathematical and physical instruments were produced. Here, solar clocks were also made, and students acquired both theoretical and practical skills.

The Watch School in the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin is another significant example. In this school, soldiers’ sons were trained in the art of watchmaking. The students not only learned basic techniques but actively participated in watch production, contributing to pieces now preserved in museums.

Evolution of Training

With the advent of the 19th century, the need for qualified watchmakers grew exponentially, leading to the establishment of more schools and training programs:

Saint Petersburg Watchmaking School: Founded with the support of the Ministry of Finance in 1900, the school offered a five-year course specializing in mechanics and watchmaking. Students started specializing from the second year, and the entire program was closely linked to practical training.

Private and Government Initiatives: Various private and government initiatives aimed to train a sufficient number of competent artisans. Technical schools and academies provided structured training, while artisanal workshops and factories offered practical apprenticeships.

Importance of Foreign Masters

The influence of foreign masters was significant. Many Russian watchmakers trained abroad or under the guidance of foreign experts in Russia. These masters not only transferred technical knowledge but also introduced new production methodologies and quality standards.

Long-Term Impacts

Technical training and practical preparation of Russian watchmakers created a solid foundation for the development of the country’s watch industry. These efforts helped reduce reliance on imports and improve the quality of local production.


Training qualified personnel was essential for the success of the Russian watch industry. Educational and training initiatives, both governmental and private, enabled the creation of a competent and innovative workforce capable of meeting international market challenges and developing a competitive national industry.

Chapter 5: Conclusion

The conclusion of Olga Nikolaevna Melnikova’s book “Из истории развития часового производства в России” summarizes the main findings of the research and reflects on the historical importance of the watchmaking industry in Russia. This chapter highlights how watch production played a significant role in the country’s technological and socio-economic progress and offers perspectives on future research directions and the importance of preserving the cultural and technical heritage of Russian watchmaking.

Summary of Results

Origins and Development:

The history of watchmaking in Russia spans over six centuries, starting with the installation of the first mechanical clocks in the Moscow Kremlin. This development was influenced by European technological innovations and the adoption of advanced techniques in watch production.

State and Private Factories:

The first watch factories in Russia were founded under Catherine II’s reign to reduce import dependency and promote the national industry. Despite financial and technological challenges, these factories helped establish a solid foundation for the Russian watchmaking industry.

Imports and Innovation:

The importation of foreign watches, primarily from Switzerland and Germany, significantly impacted the Russian market. This stimulated local producers to improve quality and technological innovation in their products.

Training of Qualified Personnel:

Training qualified watchmakers was essential for the industry’s success. Technical schools, academies, and government initiatives provided the necessary skills to support domestic production.

Historical Importance

Technological Progress:

Watch production contributed to technological progress in Russia, introducing new techniques and tools that influenced other areas of precision mechanics and scientific instrumentation.

Socio-Economic Impact:

The watchmaking industry played an important role in economic development, creating jobs and promoting innovation. It also had a cultural impact, as watches became symbols of status and modernity.

Future Research Directions

In-Depth Studies:

The research suggests the need for further in-depth studies to better understand the internal dynamics of the Russian watchmaking industry. This includes analyzing individual factories, production techniques, and the personal histories of artisans.

Preservation of Heritage:

It is essential to preserve and value the cultural and technical heritage of Russian watchmaking. This can be achieved through the conservation of artifacts, documentation of traditional techniques, and promotion of Russian watchmaking history in educational and museum contexts.


Watch production in Russia has a long and rich history that continues to influence the present. Despite challenges, the Russian watchmaking industry has demonstrated remarkable innovation and adaptability. The book’s conclusion calls for recognizing the importance of this sector and supporting further research and initiatives to preserve and promote the Russian watchmaking tradition.

This summary of the concluding chapter provides a detailed overview of the main research findings and the author’s reflections on the historical and future importance of the watchmaking industry in Russia.

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