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.

Baikonur Azia-TV Poljot Watch: An Iconic and Mysterious Timepiece

russian watch Poljot Baiukonur Azia-TV

Introduction

The Baikonur Azia-TV Poljot watch is an iconic piece celebrating Soviet space achievements. With its unique design and historical significance, it is highly sought after by collectors. This article explores the watch’s technical details, the history of AZIA-TV, and the context where these elements intersect.

russian watch Poljot Baiukonur Azia-TV
Poljot Baiukonur Azia-TV

Technical Details of the Watch

  • Movement: Poljot 2614.2H
  • Diameter: 34mm
  • Functions: Date indicator
  • Design: Black dial with a red star and Yuri Gagarin’s image

Produced between the late 1980s and early 1990s, this watch pays tribute to Soviet space missions, referencing the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The History of AZIA-TV

“АЗИЯ-ТВ” (AZIA-TV) was a television company operating in Kazakhstan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Based in Almaty, it was part of a broader movement of independent broadcasters like “Otrar” and “Dala”. These channels played a crucial role in diversifying Kazakhstan’s post-Soviet media landscape, offering a variety of content including news, cultural programs, and entertainment.

Connections with Baikonur

Baikonur is renowned for its cosmodrome, the launch site for numerous Soviet space missions. While there are no direct references to specific collaborations between AZIA-TV and Baikonur, it is plausible that the channel featured content related to space activities due to regional ties and the cosmodrome’s importance.

Development of the Television Industry in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s television industry began developing in the 1950s, with significant growth in the following decades. By the 1980s, television broadcasting had expanded considerably, offering mixed programming in Kazakh and Russian. The emergence of independent broadcasters like AZIA-TV marked an important shift towards a more diverse national media landscape.

Conclusion

The Baikonur Azia-TV Poljot watch is more than just a timepiece; it is a piece of history celebrating Soviet space achievements and the dynamic post-Soviet media landscape in Kazakhstan. This makes the watch of great interest to both collectors and history enthusiasts.

The CARDI Vostok Watch Brand: A Collaboration Between Design and Russian Mechanics

cardi vostok russian watch

Introduction

The CARDI Vostok watch brand represents a unique collaboration between Western design and Russian mechanical precision. Founded in the early 1990s, this brand distinguished itself with unique designs and the use of high-quality movements produced by the renowned Vostok watch factory.

Origins and History

The history of CARDI Vostok begins in 1991, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The name “Cardi” is derived from the abbreviation of “Car Design Studio,” a Russian company specializing in automobile customization. In an attempt to diversify its activities, Cardi began collaborating with the Vostok watch factory to produce watches with a more “Western” aesthetic​ (WatchUSeek Watch Forums)​​ (WatchUSeek Watch Forums)​.

The early models of CARDI Vostok were known for their innovative design and the use of materials such as brass and cheap alloys, mainly produced by the Minsk Watch Factory. These watches were considered high quality, but over time the quality of the materials declined, leading the brand to lose popularity and cease production around 2009​ (Sovietaly)​.

Design and Movements

cardi vostok russian watch
Cardi Vostok Racingtime GP

CARDI Vostok models combine Cardi’s creative design with Vostok’s robust mechanical movements. The designs were often inspired by the automotive world, with names like “Capitan,” “MVM Sport,” “GP,” “Racing Time,” and “Radar”​ (WatchUSeek Watch Forums)​.

The watches used high-quality mechanical movements, such as the 2409 caliber produced by the Vostok factory. Some later models used movements from the 1st Moscow Watch Factory (Poljot) and the Slava factory, in addition to the original Vostok movements. However, after being acquired by Interex-Orion in 2000, the brand began using Chinese movements to reduce costs, further impacting the overall quality of the watches​ (WatchCrunch)​​ (WatchUSeek Watch Forums)​.

cardi vostok russian watch
Cardi Vostok Racingtime GP

Decline and End of Production

Despite initial success, various factors led to the brand’s decline. The quality of the materials used decreased over time, and the introduction of Chinese movements compromised the brand’s reputation for quality. These changes led to a drop in sales and, ultimately, the cessation of production around 2009. Today, Cardi has withdrawn from the watch market and refocused on automotive design​ (Sovietaly)​​ (WatchUSeek Watch Forums)​.

Conclusion

CARDI Vostok watches represent an interesting chapter in the history of Russian watchmaking, characterized by a mix of Western design and Russian mechanics. Although production has ceased, these watches remain collectible items for vintage watch enthusiasts and symbolize a period of transition and innovation.

For more information, you can consult the sources used in this article: WatchCrunch, WatchUSeek, Sovietaly, and SovietWatchStore.

Vostok Codes: A Complete Guide

Tabella identificativa dei codici degli orologi Vostok con modelli Amphibia e Komandirskie, diverse forme di casse e materiali, e elementi di sfondo dell'era sovietica e militare.

Vostok watches, produced in Russia, are icons of reliability and robustness in the watchmaking world. Known for their ability to withstand extreme conditions, these watches are cherished by both collectors and enthusiasts. Their history dates back to the Soviet era, during which they were developed to meet the needs of both the military and civilians. In this article, we will explore in detail the identification codes used to describe the movements and cases of Vostok watches. For convenience, the notation ABCDE/FGHIJKH is taken from the site: netgrafik.ch.

Understanding Vostok Watch Codes

Russian/Soviet movement and case codes follow a specific format: ABCDE/FGHIJKH.

ABCDE

  • AB: Movement diameter in mm.
  • CD, CDE: Soviet movement specification. For more details, refer to the table at the bottom of the page.

FGH

  • FGH: Case variation. Each combination of numbers represents a different case design or style.

I

  • I: Case material. Here are some examples from Vostok models:
    • 0: Stainless steel and other metals without plating.
    • 1: Chrome plated.
    • 2: Gold plated.
    • 3: Gilded (at least 5 microns).
    • 4: Colour coated.
    • 5: Synthetic, polymer, rubber.
    • 7: Titanium alloy.
    • 9: Glass, crystal, ceramics, marble.

JKH

  • JKH: Handset. Each combination represents a specific type of hands used on the watch.

Classification of Vostok Cases

The table below categorises the different cases used in Vostok watch models. The information is organised by case code (FGH), case material (I), watch model, and case shape.

Vostok Case Table

Case Code FGHMaterial IHandset Code JKHModelCase MaterialCase Shape
350XXXAmphibiaStainless steelTonneau
1190XXXAmphibiaStainless steelOctagonal
710XXXAmphibiaStainless steelOctagonal
470XXXAmphibiaStainless steelCarre
320XXXAmphibiaStainless steelTonneau
9370XXXAmphibiaStainless steelRound
960XXXAmphibiaStainless steelBig Lug
250XXXAmphibiaStainless steelMinistry
020XXXAmphibiaStainless steelRound
420XXXAmphibiaStainless steelRound
627XXXAmphibiaTitanium alloyTonneau
381XXXKomandirskieChrome platedRound
383XXXKomandirskieGold platedRound
781XXXKomandirskieChrome platedRound
783XXXKomandirskieGold platedRound
441XXXKomandirskieChrome platedCarre
443XXXKomandirskieGold platedCarre
791XXXKomandirskieChrome platedRound
793XXXKomandirskieGold platedRound
1391XXXKomandirskieChrome platedRound
1393XXXKomandirskieGold platedRound
291XXXKomandirskieChrome platedRound
293XXXKomandirskieGold platedRound
341XXXKomandirskieChrome platedCarre
349XXXKomandirskieTiNCarre
331XXXKomandirskieChrome platedTonneau
339XXXKomandirskieTiNTonneau
091XXXGeneralskieChrome platedRound

Case Materials

Vostok watch cases are made from various materials, each with its own durability and aesthetic characteristics:

  • Stainless Steel (0): Offers exceptional resistance to corrosion and long durability. It is the predominant material for Amphibia models, known for their robustness.
  • Chrome Plated (1): Primarily used in Komandirskie models, providing a shiny finish and good corrosion resistance.
  • Gold Plated (3): Found in some Komandirskie models, giving a luxurious and refined appearance.
  • Titanium Alloy (7): Lightweight and highly resistant, used in models like the Amphibia for increased durability.
  • TiN (Titanium Nitride) (9): Known for its extreme hardness and scratch resistance, providing a distinctive golden finish.

Case Shapes

Vostok watch cases come in various shapes, each with a unique design to suit different tastes and aesthetic preferences:

  • Tonneau: An elegant, barrel-shaped design.
  • Octagonal: An eight-sided design often associated with robustness.
  • Carre: A square or rectangular shape offering a classic look.
  • Round: The most common and versatile shape, suitable for any style.

Main Models

  • Amphibia: Famous for their water resistance and robust construction, these watches feature cases in stainless steel or titanium alloy. Originally designed for the Soviet naval forces, they have become popular among divers and adventurers.
  • Komandirskie: Inspired by military style, these watches, though not officially used by the military, are available in chrome plated, gold plated, and TiN versions. They are known for their classic design and reliability.
  • Generalskie: These watches also feature a military-inspired style but lack evidence of official military use. They often include models with chrome plated cases.

Conclusion

Vostok watches perfectly combine history, engineering, and design. The diversity of cases, in terms of materials, models, and shapes, offers enthusiasts a wide range of choices. Whether you are a collector or simply a watch lover, Vostok models with their unique characteristics and reliability make an excellent choice. Their history and continuous evolution make them a fascinating topic for anyone interested in horology.

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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