History of Poljot: From the First Moscow Watch Factory to Volmax and Maktime

russian watch Poljot Deluxe automatic

The “history of Poljot” begins with the establishment of the First Moscow Watch Factory (Первый Государственный Часовой Завод) in 1930, a key event within the framework of the first Soviet Five-Year Plan. This plan, launched in 1928, aimed to develop heavy industry and modernise the Soviet economy, and the creation of a state-owned watch factory was a significant part of this effort. On December 21, 1927, the Council of Labour and Defence approved a resolution to organise watch production in the USSR, with the goal of producing watches that were comparable in quality and precision to those from Switzerland and the United States​ (Poljot Watch)​​ (Moscow Watch)​.

Foundation and Early Years

The Birth within the Context of the Five-Year Plan

To achieve this goal, a group of Soviet engineers was sent to the United States to study production techniques. In 1929, the Soviet government purchased machinery and equipment from the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company in Canton, Ohio, and the Ansonia Clock Company in Brooklyn, New York. These machines were transported to Moscow, along with 23 American technicians, to initiate production​ (Caliber Corner)​​ (KaminskyBlog)​.

Initial Production Years

Construction of the factory began in February 1930 and was completed by June of the same year. Official production started on October 1, 1930, with the first 50 pocket watches, known as Type-1 or К-43, based on the Hampden Size 16 calibre. Despite initial difficulties, including a shortage of skilled workers and frequent machinery breakdowns, production rapidly improved thanks to intensive worker training and the establishment of a repair workshop​ (Moscow Watch)​.

Expansion and Development

Dedication to Kirov and Production Growth

In 1935, the factory was renamed in honour of Sergei Kirov, a Bolshevik leader who had been assassinated. This event marked a period of expansion, with production reaching 450,000 pieces per year and the beginning of special watch production for cars and aeroplanes​ (Moscow Watch)​.

Evacuation during World War II

During World War II, the factory was evacuated to Zlatoust due to the advancing German forces. However, part of the equipment was brought back to Moscow in 1943, and the factory resumed production, focusing on wristwatches. This period also marked the beginning of the production of the renowned Pobeda watch​ (KaminskyBlog)​.

The Birth of the Poljot Brand

Name Change and New Models

In 1947, the factory was renamed the First Moscow Watch Factory and started producing the Pobeda wristwatch. In the 1950s, the factory became well-known for numerous innovative models, including the first Soviet automatic watches and special watches for Antarctic expeditions​ (Moscow Watch)​​ (Poljot Watch)​.

Introduction of the Poljot Brand

In 1964, all previous brands were consolidated under the name Poljot, which means “flight” in Russian. Poljot quickly became the flagship brand of the Soviet watch industry, producing historical watches used in important space missions, including those worn by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space​ (Poljot Watch)​.

Decline and Post-Soviet Transformation

Decline in the 1980s and 1990s

In the 1980s, the quality of Soviet watches began to decline due to economic stagnation and technological difficulties. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the Poljot factory was privatised and transformed into a joint-stock company in 1992. However, financial and managerial difficulties continued to plague the company​ (KaminskyBlog)​.

Establishment of Volmax and Maktime

Volmax was founded in 2000 by a group of former Poljot employees. The company focused on producing high-quality watches using historical Poljot designs and movements. Brands such as Aviator, Buran, and Sturmanskie were revived under Volmax, keeping the Russian watchmaking tradition alive​ (Moscow Watch)​​ (KaminskyBlog)​.

Maktime, founded in 1996, acquired machinery and equipment from Poljot, including those necessary to produce the famous calibre 3133. Maktime continued the production of this movement and introduced various exclusive watch models, including skeleton watches with precious metal cases and decorations with precious stones​ (Caliber Corner)​.

Key Brands of the First Moscow Watch Factory

PoljotMeans “flight” in Russian; introduced in 1964, becoming the main brand for export and domestic markets.
PobedaMeans “victory” in Russian; one of the first watches produced after World War II.
SturmanskieWorn by Yuri Gagarin on his first space flight; means “navigator”.
KirovskieNamed in honour of Sergei Kirov; one of the first brands after the factory’s name change in 1935.
MayakMeans “lighthouse” in Russian; one of the brands used in the 1950s and 1960s.
MoskvaMeans “Moscow” in Russian; used in the 1950s.
RodinaMeans “motherland” in Russian; the first Soviet watch with an automatic winding function.
SportivnieMeans “sporting” in Russian; watches with chronograph functions.
SignalMechanical watches with alarm functions; introduced in the late 1950s.
SputnikCommemorative of the launch of the first artificial satellite; introduced in 1957.
AntarktidaSpecial watches produced for Antarctic expeditions.
KosmosMeans “cosmos” in Russian; commemorative space watches.
OrbitaMeans “orbit” in Russian; one of the brands used for wristwatches.
StrelaMeans “arrow” in Russian; worn by Alexei Leonov during the first spacewalk.
VympelA brand for high-precision watches.
BuranAlso used for more recent models.
AviatorMainly used for aviator watches.

Main Calibres Produced

Mechanical Calibres

  • Calibre 3133: Based on the Valjoux 7734, this is one of the most renowned chronograph movements.
  • Calibre 2612: Mechanical movement with an alarm function.
  • Calibre 2609: Used in Sturmanskie watches.

Quartz Calibres

  • Calibre 2416: Quartz movement used in various Poljot models in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Calibre 2431: Another quartz movement produced in the later years of Poljot’s operations.


The “history of Poljot” is a journey through decades of technological and historical changes, consistently maintaining the high quality and craftsmanship of Russian watches. The legacy of Poljot continues to live on through the efforts of Volmax and Maktime.

The French Branch of SLAVA in Besançon: A Fascinating Chapter in Soviet Watchmaking

Orologio Slava Besançon automatico con quadrante nero e indicatori gialli


The history of Soviet watchmaking is enriched by fascinating episodes of international cooperation. A significant example is the French branch of SLAVA, located in Besançon. This branch, established to facilitate Soviet industrial activities in the West, played a crucial role in the production of high-quality watches.

Orologio Slava Besançon automatico con quadrante nero e indicatori gialli
Orologio Slava Besançon automatico con quadrante nero e indicatori gialli

Origins and Historical Context

Besançon, known for its long tradition of watchmaking, hosted the SLAVA branch at number 7 rue Auguste Jouchoux, right next to the famous Lip company. The choice of this location was not accidental: the city not only had a strong tradition in the sector but also historical ties with the USSR. In fact, collaborations between Lip and the Soviets in the 1930s laid the foundations for the post-war revival of Soviet watchmaking.

Production and Innovation

The French branch of SLAVA began producing gold-plated cases as early as the late 1960s. This strategy allowed the Soviets to leverage local expertise to create high-quality products for the European market. The factory also produced and marketed various models under the Raketa brand. The dials of these Soviet-Besançon watches bore the inscription « механизм cccp » (« USSR mechanism »), distinguishing them from those produced in the USSR.

The SLAVA Besançon supply catalogue, probably dated to the late 1960s, lists spare parts for Chaika, Zaria, Slava, Molnia, and Poljot movements. This document is a valuable testimony to the diversification and quality of SLAVA’s production in France.

Expansion and Development

Slava Besançon also registered the trademarks Diamant, Diamant de Luxe, and Saintis, under which it marketed watches entirely made in the USSR. Initially, Slava was located in place Saint-Pierre, the headquarters of S.I.C.E.H., then in place du Jura. The first factory was installed in rue Henri Baigue, but in 1975 Slava built a new factory in rue Auguste Jouchoux. The industrial park still bears the name Slava today.

By the early 1980s, the factory employed 70 people for assembly, quality control, and after-sales service. Soviet mechanical movements were gradually replaced by quartz movements, all supplied by France-Ébauches. The company also marketed, in the last years of the USSR, the Big Zero and Rising Sun models, classics marked “Made in USSR”. It is unclear whether these watches were imported, assembled from Soviet parts, or assembled with a Soviet mechanism and a Besançon case.

Changes and Decline

In 1983, the Soviet board of directors (Mashpriborintorg representatives) of Slava parted ways first with its Besançon director, Bernard Le Varlet, then with Maurice Carruzzo a few months later. Dismissed for “technical reasons”, Maurice Carruzzo distributed leaflets through his wife at the factory gates on 16 August.

One possible explanation is that he had brought Slava closer to Lip and France-Ébauches, sourcing quartz mechanisms from them and thus creating 100% French watches, which probably was not in the Soviets’ interest.

Slava Precision: New Directions

On 15 January 1990, the joint-stock company Slava-Précision was founded, taking over Slava’s assets. It was led by M. Aubach, already active in the para-watchmaking industry (Interstrap and Watch Design companies), with the Russian supervisory board president, M. Korolev. The company continued its watchmaking activities in the same building on rue Jouchoux, importing from Russia and Hong Kong, and exporting to Canada, Switzerland, and Italy, but moving its optical activities to the Paris region.

Slava Précision still employed 24 people in 2004 but went into judicial liquidation on 12 June 2006 (the procedure was closed in 2009).

Union of Expertise and Tradition

The watches assembled in Besançon used movements produced in the USSR, such as the 2602 movement from 2MChZ. These watches bore the inscription “RUSSIAN MOVEMENT” on the dials, testifying to the Soviet origin of their components. This production avoided the commercial constraints that would have made the use of the “Made in USSR” label problematic in Europe.


The SLAVA branch in Besançon represents a fascinating example of industrial cooperation between the USSR and Western Europe. This story not only enriches the narrative of Soviet watchmaking but also demonstrates how the union of different skills can lead to the creation of exceptional products.

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