|Vostok Komanderskie watches, broken & new|
Some people deal with their deep insecurities about aging by attempting to manipulate their slightly older friends into feeling paranoid about their age, all while casting themselves as a paragon of youth. To wit: my pal Scott who perceives wearing a watch as synonymous with sending telegrams, mail order catalogs, rotary phones and perhaps banging rocks together to make fire. "Just look at your phone for the time," he says then adds "older people sure like their watches". I had this conversation with him just before the Apple Watch came out so I guess the joke's on him now that everyone has a glowing screen on their wrist. The rest of the joke was that I was 46 at the time and Scott was taciturn to admit his age: thirtymumblemumble he'd say. I had an earned schadenfreude when I later discovered he'd turned forty and I could then call him fortysomething for the next decade of his life. But I digress.
Phones don't scratch the itch of having a nice timepiece on your arm and don't allow the subtlety of a sidelong glance at your wrist when you want to be covert about checking the time. More than that is the appreciation of excellent mechanical engineering that is embodied in a bespoke watch, especially if the timepiece has a mechanical automatic movement. The idea of the artistry and engineering that goes into microscopic gears, cogs and jewels for fulcrums to pivot on inspires in a way that quartz controlled battery powered watch cannot.
To that end, the variation on this theme is nearly infinite. Picking what inspires you can be difficult. I've pushed some friends into watch ownership by gifting them one. The idea that this manifestation of my respect for them then becomes a daily article of appreciation brings me joy. I've given mechanical watches to more than a few friends over the years ... but I've never had the favor returned.
Leonid is a cool fellow from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia who stayed in our Airbnb a couple times over the years with his wife and daughter. He and his family are a good natured, progressive group who Jennifer and I got along with surprisingly well. It was an opportunity for me to show the section in my library on Russian history, their space program, dissertations on communism, collectives and Soviet era armaments. Similarly he was interested in American aerospace, music and our insane politics. It was a fortuitous meeting. We sent them home with our NASA flag to be discreetly flown in private quarters. Maybe Russians neighbors might not react well to this display of fandom but I could be wrong.
We've been discussing visiting Russia and I expressed my desire to replace my broken KGB Vostok Komandirskie watch I've owned since shortly after the wall fell. Looking online at the Vostok website a number of great replacements called out to me and I fully intended to stuff my bags while there with a dozen of them considering how insanely inexpensive they'd be after the dollar to ruble conversion. Then the pandemic struck and we all know what happened after that.
Cut forward in time a number of months and an unannounced package arrived from Russia with no fanfare at all. Here's what I got:
|Vostok Komandirskie "Amphibia" TU 25-07.1347-77, GOST 10733-98|
A very tidy standard KGB issue Vostok watch, the most representative of the genre that one could find on the Vostok site! Honestly, many of the modern Vostok watches are styled awkwardly, are ungainly or have unfortunate or cliched graphics on their watch face. But this one was already in my fantasy cart when the day came that we visited. For the record, I'm very anti-fascist and don't celebrate the brutal foreign intelligence and domestic security agency of the Soviet Union, but I do find it fascinating and hew to the dictum that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. There's elements of Russian workmanship I admire, from their very reliable Soyuz capsules to their Ural motorcycles based on an ancient BMW design to the Lada Niva VAZ-2121 to the Mig-15. A Vostok watch is a collectible example of their heritage for making work-a-day mechanical items for the common man.
|Sizing my Komandirskie|
I needed to size my watch and keep tools on hand for sizing and most watch repairs. For this I needed the blue press with the rotating collar for driving out the pins that hold the links on the watch band. I did help one out with the hammer and push-pin, removing a total of four links as five was too tight. There's also four notches on the clasp that allows for finer adjustment of size. It's important to injure yourself at least once when removing or reinstalling the link pins.
|No task is too small for an injury|
|Damn good lume - second hand included|