Tuesday, November 24, 2020

In Russia, Vostok Watch Wears You!

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. 

Until now.

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 Watch
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.

Snobbery is rampant in the world of watches and keeps me from desiring a new watch from marquees like Tag Heuer, Cartier or Tissot. They make good timepieces but I'm not a fan of the ostentatious crowd who wear them. I'm conflicted about Rolex and would probably buy their Milgauss in a moment of weakness. I especially loathe branded pieces of junk from Versace, Gucci, Bruno Magli, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein etc. as you're buying a name slapped on garbage. My collection focuses on 70s era Seikos, especially Bell-Matics and Bulova Accutrons, some of the most honest watches ever made. A Vostok slots in well to this aesthetic: effete watch snobs wouldn't wear them or know of their existence but any watch collector who appreciates simple mechanical designs and heritage will have a positive word for one of these.


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

The watch now fits perfectly and I'll be wearing it to secret informant meetings, during prisoner exchanges, using it to time interrogations and as a token of my rank within in the Soviet apparatus. I'd bet Putin still wears his from the days when he was an ambitious and murderous young GRU officer. Thanks Leo!

Damn good lume - second hand included


The following section is Google photo translations of the manual which came with the watch. I made no real effort to correct translation errors so be warned.

ACCELERATED FLOOR ADJUSTMENT  1 CALENDAR.  Floor.  3 Position 3. Move the crown Move the hour hand from the number “12” to the number “8” in the direction opposite to the arrows, and then along the direction of the arrows to the number “12” (until the new date of the calendar appears).  Repeat the cycle "12-8-12" until the required number appears, After Paul 2 to finish the calendar adjustment, turn the crown to position 1. MAINTENANCE INSTRUCTIONS the watch must be protected from shock, exposure to chemical products and the effects of magnetic fields;  - to prevent fogging of the glass on the inside, it's necessary to control that the threaded cap is well screwed in; - to avoid getting dust and dirt into the mechanism, do not open the watch case.

MANUAL FACTORY There's no need to wind the watch for everyday wear.  If the watch has not been used on the wrist for more than a day, wind it by making 20-25 turns of the crown.  To wind the watch, unscrew the crown from the sleeve - position 2 and wind it, slightly pulling the crown away from the case.  Don't immerse the watch in water if the crown is not in position 1. (Position 1 - crown is completely screwed onto the sleeve). TIME SETTING Move the head to position 2 and pulling it until it clicks - position 3 set the arrows by rotating the head. After setting the arrows, turn the head - position 1. CALENDAR ADJUSTMENT Move the crown to position 3 and turn the arrows in the direction of their movement to set the date. Screw the head back in and fix it in position 1.

Specifications for mechanical wrist watches "Amphibia", TU 25-07.1347-77, GOST 10733-98.  Watch with a central second hand and an instant calendar.  Automatic movement "Vostok" 24165. АЯ54 The number of ruby stones-31.  Anti-shock device of the balance assembly.  The case is stainless steel.  Water resistant up to 20 ATM.  Organic glass.  Stainless steel bracelet.  The daily rate at a temperature of 20 + 5 ° C within -20 .. + 60sec. / Day.  The power reserve from one spring winding is not less than 31 hours.  Average service life of the watch is 10 years.

WARRANTY OBLIGATIONS.  The warranty period of the watch from the date of its sale through the retail network. The shelf life of the watch is 1.5 years.  12 months.  In the event of any defects found during the warranty period, we recommend contacting the workshop at the address indicated in the appendix, the company that sold the watch, or the manufacturer.  Disadvantages of watches are eliminated free of charge within a period of not more than 20 working days from the date of their receipt at the factory or another organization authorized by the Manufacturer for repair or sale.  Warranty repair of watches, replacement or refund of money is carried out in accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation "On Protection of Consumer Rights".  For the addresses of the warranty workshops, see the Appendix "Service and Warranties".  OTK EXTERNAL NUMBER CODE RELEASE DATE REGISTRATION 420457-22 03.09.20

WARRANTY CARD 
Mechanical wrist watch "Amphibia" date of sale stamp of the store CJSC CHISTOPOLSKY WATCH FACTORY "VOSTOK" 


Closed Joint Stock Company Chistopol Watch Factory "VOSTOK" Russian Federation, Republic of Tatarstan 422981, Chistopol, st.  Engels, 129T, bldg.  Н-2 Phone / fax: (84342) 9-00-00 Sales department: (84342) 9-00-05 Warranty workshop (84342) 9-00-15 e-mail: rch6@mail.ru; B rch5 @ mail  .ru Vostok Russian watch since 1942 www.vostokinc.com www.ChZvostok.ru


Petersburg, st.  Odoevsky, 29, Primorsky shopping center, section 2, tel .: 8-812-904-5 / -01.  St. Petersburg, Komendantsky pr-t, 9 bldg.  2 lit.  A. TRK "Promenade" pom.  five;  tel .: 8-812-965-98-43.  St. Petersburg, Aurum Service Center "Lentrapny", Nevsky pr., 48, tel. :: +7 (812) 385-58-44.  St. Petersburg, Aurum Service Center "Severny".  Engels ave., 154, tel .: +7 (812) 385-58-33.  Degerurg, Service Center Aurum "Yuzhny", Kosmonavtov Ave., 14, tel .: +7 (812) 385-58-11.  tseterburg, Aurum Service Center "Zapadny", Komendantskiy pr., 9, building 2, tel .: +7 (812) 385-59-22- St. Petersburg, Aurum Service Center "Vostochny", Kollontai street, 3  , tel .: +7 (812) 385-56-95.  St. Petersburg, Clock House "Anker +", Ligovsky prospect, 111, tel .: +7 (812) 764-99-63 Ufa, Timeservice LLC, Prospect Oktyabrya, 62, tel .: 8 (347)  257-99-07.  Chelyabinsk, "Watch repair", st.  Engels, 34, tel .: 8-951-792-17-71.  Chelyabinsk, mn "Prospect", 2nd floor, st.  Kuznetsova, 12, tel .: 8-900-069-12-14.  Yaroslavl, shopping center "Frunzensky", Moskovsky prospect, 97, tel .: 8-901-994-23-61.  Vostok-Watches24.com - Thilo Muth, Neue Str: 3, DE-06311 Helbra, Germany Phone +49 178 1972073, e-mail vostok.watches24@icloud.com

Astrakhan, O00 Timesservice.  st.  N. Ostrovsky, 21, tel .: (8512) 62-63-03.  Balakovo, "Watch repair", st.  Lenin, 94/1, TC "Garant", tel .: 927-100-82-38.  Barnaul.  "Watch repair", st.  Yurina, 203 (2nd floor) 8 (3852) 40-20-37.  Barnaul, "Watch repair", st.  Pushkin, 76, tel .: 8-903-992-21-25.  Volgograd, OOO "Timesservice", st.  Naumova, 10, tel .: (8442) 98-03-33.  Volzhsky, Lenin Avenue, 84, Central Department Store, 1st floor, left wing, tel .: 8 (8443) 45-90-10.  Vinnitsa, LLC "Aviatekhservice LTD", per.  K. Marx, 56, apt.  3, tel .: 38 (067) 7970088, 26-13-16.  Yekaterinburg, IP Chinkova, TC "Moskovsky", pr-t.  Lenin, 5, 2nd floor, tel .: 8 (343) 2-68-52-26.  Yekaterinburg, LLC "Mokosh", TC "Kit", st.  Amundsen 65, tel .: 8 (343) 290-92-42.  Yekaterinburg, LLC "Mokosh", SEC "Megapolis", st.  March 8 149, tel.: 8 (343) 290-59-50.  Irkutsk, mn "Russian Watch", st.  Litvinova, 2, tel .: (3952) 488-262.  Kazan, "Workshop for repairing watches", Bauman st., 51, 2nd floor, TC "GUM", tel. +7 (987) 290-32-08.  Kazan, TC "Dolphin", IP Minizanova, st.  Zorge, d. 68, 1st floor, tel .: 898728945 39; B 8987 284 00 25. Kirov, LLC "Caliber-Plus", Khlebozavodskaya pr., Industrial complex No. 3, "MAYAK", tel .: (8332)  40-54-39.  Kiselevsk, Trade House Oksinite, st.  B-Dachnaya, 69 A, tel .: 8-960-915-69-09.  Krasiodar, O0 Timeservice, st.  Krasnaya, 174, tel .: (861) 242-46-88.  Lviv, FLP Khomenko, st.  B. Khmelnitsky, 212, bldg.  2, office, 212, tel .: (+38032) 232-97-67.