A Zim Watch That Tells a Glorious Story

russian watch Zim 400 years Kuibyshev monument of Glory

One of the most fascinating aspects of collecting watches is discovering what they commemorate or represent. This passion led me in November 2020 to discover a Soviet Zim watch with a champagne-colored dial and a monument depicted on it, which was unknown to me at the time.

The Zim Watch

This Soviet Zim is well-preserved, with a champagne-colored dial that is rich in detail but aesthetically very pleasing. The main elements are well distinguished, and the dial depicts the Monument of Glory in Kuibyshev, now known as Samara. The dial also bears the inscription “Kuybyshev,” the name Samara had from 1935 to 1991 in honor of the Bolshevik leader Valerian Kuybyshev.

russian watch Zim 400 years Kuibyshev monument of Glory
Zim 400 years Kuibyshev monument of Glory

Details of the Watch

The hands, including the small second hand, appear to be original. The dial is in excellent condition, although the watch seems to have been used. The plexiglass may have been replaced. On the dial, between three and nine o’clock, are the waves of the Volga River, adding a touch of elegance and geographical context to the watch.

The Back of the Watch

The case shows signs of wear that have removed the plating, revealing the brass underneath. The stainless steel case back is fixed with a screw-down ring, also in steel. The back bears a serial number: 524715. Although the serial numbers of Soviet watches do not have a particular significance, they are useful for identification through the watch passports.

The Movement of the Watch

The heart of the watch is a simple yet effective Pobeda 2602 caliber without antishock.

Characteristics of the Pobeda 2602 caliber

The Monument of Glory in Kuybyshev

History and Construction of the Monument

Located in the city of Samara, the Monument of Glory is dedicated to the workers of the aviation industry who contributed significantly during the Great Patriotic War. Built between 1968 and 1971, the monument was created by sculptor Pavel Bondarenko, artist Oleg Kiryuhin, and architect A. Samsonov. The structure, over thirty meters high, is made of a stainless steel alloy. The inauguration took place on November 5, 1971.

More information on the history of the monument

Historical Images of the Monument

A selection of historical images allows you to appreciate the monument in various periods, probably starting from its construction in 1971.

The Monument of Glory Today

The monument is located in Slavy Square, with the Volga River in the background. This detail is also depicted on the watch’s dial. The monument, made of an aeronautical alloy, features vertical lines at the base and shiny steel representing rays of light directed towards the sky. The statue on top, 13 meters high, depicts a figure with wings spread.

Video of the Monument

Various videos online show the grandeur of the Monument of Glory and the adjoining square. Here is one of the best from 2019:

The City of Samara

The watch dial shows the founding date of the city of Samara, 1586. Interestingly, one of the earliest representations of the city is on a 14th-century Italian map when Samara was considered a pirate haven.

The two dates on the dial refer to the city’s 400th anniversary (1586-1986).

History of Samara

This watch perfectly represents why I love collecting Russian and Soviet watches: each piece is a journey through time and space, allowing me to visit historical moments and fascinating places just by looking at the dial.

Discovering the Charm of Soviet and Russian Watch Collections

Ritaglio schermata pagina Lancette Sovietiche Collezionare Sovietaly intervista

It may seem unusual, but sometimes a collection of Soviet/Russian watches can capture the attention and appreciation of even those who are not experts in the field. This intriguing niche of collecting has recently been highlighted in an interview published by the magazine “Collezionare,” available in both print and digital formats (www.collezionare.com).

The Magazine “Collezionare”

The magazine “Collezionare” is a specialized publication focused on the world of collecting, offering in-depth articles, news, and interviews on a wide range of collectible items. From vintage to antiques and modern collectibles, the magazine serves as an authoritative and up-to-date resource for enthusiasts. Available in both print and online versions, “Collezionare” stands out for the quality of its content and the passion with which it tells the stories of collectors and their unique collections.

Two years ago, I contacted several journals related to collecting to promote my father’s Pirelli advertisement collection, including “Collezionare”. The interview with my father can be found at this link. Given the existing contact, a couple of months ago I reached out again to the journalist who conducted the interview, suggesting she might also be interested in my collection of Soviet/Russian watches. A few days later, she contacted me to schedule a phone interview.

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

On April 14, 2018, the online version of the interview was published and can be read at this link.

Soviet Watches

In the interview, Andrea Manini, a 44-year-old from Milan who has been collecting since 1992, shares insights into his collection of over 400 Russian watches. “What I really enjoy is that, unlike Swiss watches, Russian ones always have a story to tell.”

The Stories Behind Soviet Watches

Many stories surround Soviet watchmaking, particularly those involving Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. The watch he wore during the 1961 mission is still a mystery. Some claim it was a Poljot Sturmanskie, produced by the First Moscow Watch Factory, often referred to as the Russian equivalent of the Speedmaster used by Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon. Others believe it was the Type One by Sturmanskie, citing a photo where Gagarin wears this model over his red suit. “But who can say for sure? Maybe it was just a training shot,” says Andrea, emphasizing the mystery that often surrounds these famous timepieces.

The Influence of History on Soviet Watchmaking

The end of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s marked the beginning of a new era for Russian watchmaking in Italy. Andrea, like many other enthusiasts, started his collection in 1992, the year after the USSR’s dissolution. “1992 is my year zero, the year I began to appreciate these beautiful watches. That year, the first after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, all the unique goods from the former USSR became very sought after, including Russian watches, which started appearing in our jewelry stores. Over the years, I have expanded my collection to about 400 pieces.”

Early Discoveries

Andrea’s first purchase was a Vostok Komandirskie wristwatch. “The military look and the rocket on the dial attracted me, and only later did I discover that it was a Vostok Komandirskie model, with the Vostok 1 rocket that Gagarin used to orbit the Earth in 1961.”

Collection Categories

Russian watches are categorized in various ways. Andrea focuses on Russian space adventures and Soviet watches made for the Italian market. Other themes include Soviet polar explorations and Russian railways, particularly the BAM line.

The History of Russian Watchmaking

Russian watchmaking has a complex history intertwined with the country’s social, political, and military developments. During the Tsarist era, watches were mainly produced by artisanal workshops. With the advent of the Soviet Union, watch production became essential for both civilians and the military. Initially, pocket watches were produced, but gradually, wristwatches became the focus.

Watch Factories

Numerous companies arose in the Soviet Union, named after war or space adventures. “The First Moscow Watch Factory, later named Poljot (which means flight), Raketa (rocket), Pobeda (victory, dedicated to WWII), and Chaika (seagull, which was Valentina Tereshkova’s code name during her space flight).”

Export and Marketing

In the 1960s and 70s, Soviet watches were exported at low prices to promote sales. This was a state-imposed strategy. In Italy, Russian watchmaking has often been underrated due to its proximity to Switzerland. However, the Russians understood the importance of marketing and created watches with logos for export or specific models for certain markets.

Rare Models

Among the rarest models in Andrea’s collection is a Raketa Big Zero with a nephrite dial, a green stone similar to jade. Finding rare models is challenging, especially online where many fakes and assembled pieces are sold.

Tips for Collectors

To avoid buying fakes, Andrea advises consulting more experienced and reliable collectors. “Today, there are many forums and groups where you can exchange opinions and advice.”

This collection of Soviet/Russian watches, with its rich history and intriguing models, continues to captivate not only enthusiasts but also newcomers to the world of collecting.

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