Vostok Banana vs. Omega Seamaster: A Comparison of Two Iconic Dive Watch Designs

Russian watch Vostok Amphibia Banana

The Vostok Banana, also known as the Vostok Amphibia “Banana,” is a Soviet dive watch that has captured the attention of collectors due to its distinctive design and fascinating history. This article provides a detailed comparison of this watch with the iconic Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana,” from which it draws inspiration.

Features of the Vostok Banana

Dial and Bezel:

  • The Vostok Banana features a yellow dial with black details. The 1990 Tento catalogue shows a black bakelite bezel, but many examples have a chrome bezel.
  • The hands are flat and filled with permanent-action phosphor for visibility.

Case:

  • The case is made of stainless steel, designed to withstand depths of up to 200 meters. It has a robust and durable shape typical of dive watches.

Movement:

  • The Vostok uses the automatic 2409A movement, known for its reliability and simplicity. This movement is less sophisticated than those used in luxury watches but still offers good precision.

Value and History:

  • With reference 320228, the Vostok Banana was introduced in the 1990 Tento catalogue, following the Omega. It is appreciated for its unique design and historical value, representing an accessible entry into the world of vintage watches for collectors.
Russian watch Vostok Amphibia Banana
Vostok Amphibia Banana

Features of the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana”

Dial and Bezel:

  • The Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” is known for its yellow dial with a grey border and a two-tone red and black bezel. This bold design is a symbol of the experimental aesthetics of the 1970s.

Case:

  • The stainless steel case has a diameter of 41 mm and a screw-down case back, ensuring water resistance up to 200 meters. The robust construction is ideal for diving.

Movement:

  • The Omega uses the automatic calibre 565, renowned for its precision and durability. It includes a date function and offers superior performance compared to simpler movements.

Value and History:

  • Introduced in 1972, the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” is highly sought after by collectors for its rarity and quality. Well-preserved examples can fetch high prices at auctions.

Direct Comparison

Design Quality and Materials:

  • The Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” uses high-quality materials and finishes, with a sophisticated movement that justifies its high price. The Vostok Banana, while well-constructed, uses more economical materials, making it a more accessible option for collectors.

Movement and Precision:

  • The Omega calibre 565 offers greater precision and reliability compared to the Vostok 2409A movement, making the Omega preferable for those seeking superior performance.

Market Value:

  • The Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” has a significantly higher market value due to its rarity and quality. The Vostok Banana is much more affordable but still appreciated for its design and history.

History and Iconicity:

  • Both watches have fascinating histories, but the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” is considered an icon of 1970s design. The Vostok Banana is seen as a Soviet homage to this legendary design, keeping the tradition alive with its variants.

The Luminous Paste Issue of the Vostok Banana

One common criticism of the Vostok Banana is the application of luminous paste on the dial. Often, the luminescence appears irregular and hand-applied, resulting in less than optimal results. This issue can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Material Quality: The chemical components used in the luminous paste may be of lower quality, leading to a less uniform application and reduced luminescence longevity.
  2. Hand Production: Many Vostok watches are hand-assembled, and the luminous paste is applied manually, causing significant variations in application quality.
  3. Quality Control: Tolerance in quality control can vary. Some examples show good luminescence application, while others may have obvious defects.
  4. Storage Conditions: Exposure to extreme storage conditions, such as excessive heat and cold, can deteriorate the luminous paste, reducing its effectiveness and stability over time.

Identifying Fake Vostok Banana Dials

There are several ways to identify fake Vostok Banana dials:

  1. Markings Print: Fake dials often have thicker, less defined markings. Fine, detailed printing is hard to replicate.
  2. Detail Alignment: Authentic dials have well-aligned details and lines. Fakes may show noticeable misalignments.
  3. Luminous Quality: On fake dials, the luminous paste application can be even more irregular and less uniform than on originals.
  4. Internal Movement: Checking the internal movement can be a good indicator. Fakes often do not use original Vostok movements.

Modern Versions and Special Editions of the Vostok Banana

Meranom offers modern and Special Edition versions of the Vostok Banana. These models feature improvements in material quality and finishes while retaining the iconic design:

  1. Special Edition (SE): SE versions include high-quality dials and custom stainless steel bezels. They use special variations of the 2409A movement and are sold exclusively on Meranom.
  2. Classic and SE Amphibia: These versions have better assembly quality and control, with dials free from visible defects and improved materials.

These modern editions keep the spirit of the original Vostok Banana alive while offering enhanced quality for today’s enthusiasts.

russian watch Vostok Amphibia Rising Banana
Vostok Amphibia SE Rising Banana

Conclusion

The Vostok Banana and the Omega Seamaster 200 “Banana” represent two distinct approaches to dive watch design. The Omega stands out for its superior quality and technical sophistication, making it a high-value collector’s piece. The Vostok, while less sophisticated, provides affordable access to the vintage charm and history of these iconic designs, making it a popular choice among Vostok Banana collectors.

Vremia Watches: Soviet Charm and European Quality

swiss watch Vremia Chrono black

Vremia watches, also known as Vremja (in Cyrillic время), are a fascinating example of how international collaboration can create unique and high-quality products. These watches were created in the late 1980s, thanks to the Italian company Binda, with the aim of capitalising on the growing popularity of Soviet culture in the West.

swiss watch Vremia CCCP
Vremia CCCP

The Birth of the Vremia Brand

The BPEMR (BPEMA) CCCP brand was officially registered on 24 March 1989, during a period of commercial opening in the USSR under Gorbachev’s leadership. This opening allowed for the export of various Soviet products to Western markets, where they were enthusiastically received thanks to their exotic charm and robust quality.

russian watch Vremia B&W
Vremia B&W

Features of Vremia Watches

Vremia watches are distinguished by a range of models with reliable mechanical movements such as the Slava 2414, Poljot 2612.1, and Poljot 3133. Their dials, essential and clean, embody the Soviet style of the era. Some models feature distinctive symbols like the Red Star, while others are more subtle, with a small “cccp” inscription in the centre of the dial.

swiss watch Vremia Gold
Vremia Gold

Binda: The Italian Heart of Vremia Watches

Founded in 1906 by Innocente Binda, the Binda company has played a crucial role in the watch sector for over a century. Under the leadership of his grandsons, Simone and Marcello Binda, the company continues to produce and distribute high-quality watches. Binda Italia is known for its ability to combine innovative design and advanced technologies, offering a variety of products ranging from fashion models to more classic and technical watches, including “Swiss Made” timepieces.

swiss russian watch Vremia Pocket
Vremia Pocket watch

The Uniqueness of Vremia Watches

Vremia watches represent a perfect fusion of Russian tradition and Western craftsmanship. The “zerone rosso” model is an emblematic example of this mix, with a design that could easily have been produced by Poljot. Even the time-only and alarm clock models are highly appreciated for their quality and design.

These watches are a true hybrid: Italian construction with Russian mechanics. While they are adapted to the Italian market, they retain a unique charm that distinguishes them from traditional Russian watches. Despite the criticisms of purists, Vremia watches offer exceptional value, with accessible prices ranging from 100 to 150 euros.

swiss russian watch vremia
Vremia Red Zero

Unique Details on the Case Back

A distinctive detail of Vremia watches is the inscription on the case back, which reads:

“Часы собранные в Швейцарии, двигатель механический подлинный русского производства. Mechanical movement originally produced in Russia, watch assembled in Switzerland.”

This inscription highlights the combination of Russian mechanics and Swiss assembly, ensuring the authenticity and high quality of these watches.

swiss watch Vremia Red Star black dial
Vremia Red Star black dial

Conclusion

Vremia watches are a fascinating chapter in the history of watchmaking, characterised by a unique mix of Soviet aesthetics and European quality. Thanks to Binda’s initiative, these watches reflect the best of both worlds, combining attractive design with high standards of quality. A true treasure for watch enthusiasts looking for something unique and meaningful.

Poljot History: Soviet Watchmaking Excellence

soviet watch Sturmanskie Type 2

The Poljot brand represents one of the most significant symbols of the Russian watchmaking industry, with a history rich in technical successes and space adventures. Since its founding, Poljot has embodied the Soviet ambition to achieve technological self-sufficiency and establish itself as a world leader in watch production.

The Origins: From the United States to the Soviet Union

In the late 1920s, the Soviet Union relied heavily on imported watches, a necessity that cost the government precious gold. To end this dependency, it was decided in 1927 to start domestic watch production. In 1929, through the Amtorg Trading Corporation, the Soviet government purchased the facilities of two bankrupt American factories: the Ansonia Clock Company and the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company. Twenty-one former Dueber-Hampden employees moved to Moscow to train local workers, marking the beginning of the First Soviet Watch Factory.

Initially, the factory produced four main models: a 15-jewel pocket watch for the Ministry of Communications, a 7-jewel wristwatch for the Red Army, a 7-jewel civilian pocket watch, and a 15-jewel ladies’ wristwatch. Thanks to the training received, local workers soon managed production autonomously.

The War Period and Innovation

With the German invasion during World War II, the factory was relocated to Zlatoust and returned to Moscow in 1943. During this period, the factory also began producing ammunition. In 1946, the K26 Pobeda model was launched, followed in 1949 by the Sturmanskie model, designed exclusively for military aviation. This watch became famous when Yuri Gagarin probably wore it during the first human space flight on April 12, 1961.

In the 1950s, the factory continued to innovate, introducing the first automatic watch under the Rodina brand in 1956 and special models for unique missions, such as the Soviet Antarctic expedition in 1957. That same year, to celebrate the success of the Sputnik mission, commemorative watches were produced, remaining in production for only one year.

The Establishment of the Poljot Brand

In 1960, the first models bearing the Poljot name, which means “flight” in Russian, were launched. The brand became synonymous with quality and precision, exporting watches worldwide. The Strela chronograph, inspired by the Swiss Venus 150, was used by Alexei Leonov during the first spacewalk in 1965.

With the introduction of the Poljot brand in 1964, the factory consolidated all its models under a single label. The 1970s saw a renewal of available movements and the acquisition of production lines from the Swiss Valjoux, leading to the creation of the 3133 movement, a chronograph used for both military and civilian purposes.

The Post-Soviet Era and Revival

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992, Poljot was named the official supplier to the President of the Russian Federation. The company ceased quartz watch production to focus on a niche market, introducing new lines based on modified 3133 movements. However, the company had to downsize and sell machinery to other companies, leading to the founding of Volmax by some former Poljot employees.

Despite the challenges, in 2003, Poljot adopted the name First Moscow Watch Factory, continuing production for the international market. Today, the Poljot brand is recognized for its tradition of precision and reliability, keeping alive a history inseparably linked to aviation and space adventures.

Curiosities and Iconic Models

Among the most famous Poljot models are the “Sturmanskie” worn by Gagarin and the “Strela” chronograph, symbols of Russian space exploration. Poljot watches are handcrafted by skilled artisans, giving them a distinctive and unique character. Limited editions and the “Aviator” collection are particularly appreciated by collectors for their bold design and cockpit readability.

Insights into Poljot’s History

The 1930s: The Birth of the Soviet Watch Industry

In 1930, with the construction of the factory in Moscow, watch production began at a brisk pace. The first watches produced still bore the Dueber-Hampden brand, but soon Soviet technicians managed to develop entirely new models. The First Soviet Watch Factory, renamed in 1935 in honor of Sergei Kirov, achieved notable success, producing millions of pocket and wristwatches.

The 1940s: War and Reconstruction

During World War II, the factory was evacuated to Zlatoust to avoid capture by the Germans. During this period, besides producing watches, the factory contributed to the war effort by manufacturing ammunition and other military materials. After the war, in 1946, the factory launched the famous Pobeda model, a symbol of Soviet victory.

The 1950s and 1960s: The Space Era

In the 1950s, Poljot began producing watches for military aviation and Soviet cosmonauts. The Sturmanskie model, worn by Gagarin during his historic space flight, became an icon. With the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik in 1957, Poljot celebrated the event with a commemorative watch. Producing automatic watches and chronographs became a priority, leading to the creation of models such as Rodina and Strela.

The 1970s and 1980s: Innovation and Expansion

During the 1970s, Poljot continued to innovate, introducing advanced movements such as the 3133 chronograph. The factory acquired production lines from the Swiss Valjoux, enabling the production of high-quality watches for both military and civilian markets. The 1980s saw an increase in exports, with Poljot becoming an internationally recognized brand.

The Foundation of Volmax and the End of 3133 Production

In the late 1990s, Poljot ceased quartz watch production to focus on high-quality mechanical movements. However, economic difficulties led to the sale of movement production machinery to other companies, including Vostok. In 2002, some discontented employees left Poljot to found Volmax, a company that continues to produce watches under the Aviator, Buran, and Sturmanskie brands.

In 2003, Poljot adopted the name First Moscow Watch Factory, limiting the Poljot brand to the domestic market. Production of the 3133 chronograph movement, a milestone in Poljot’s history, ceased definitively in 2011, marking the end of an era.

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.

0 Item | 0,00 
View Cart
Verified by MonsterInsights