Budget Watch Collecting/Russian Watches
Collecting Russian watches can be a rewarding experience, and at a very low cost. I always have 5-10 of them at a time and have only had one fail. The company name, Vostok (sometimes spelled Boctok), which means The East in Russian, stands for its location outside Moscow. Founded in 1942 to supply watches to Russian military forces the company still makes a tank of a watch. Many of them are now automatic with over 30 jewels, and are very reliable, but the best accuracy is with the windup mechanical 17-jewel versions. These can be purchased for as little as $10 brand new from buyers in the USA and abroad. I use eBay for purchasing and leave the geographical locations open as to worldwide, thus giving me access to foreign watches. These are usually from Russian neighbors and will cost about $20 for watch and shipping. The number of watch dials is astounding: tankers, parachutists, submariners, coast guard, and so on. The list is practically endless and the joy of finding a really rare one is great! The watches are made of brass covered with chrome, have a two-piece screwdown back, a gasket inside, and an easily accessible adjusting mechanism. Most Vostoks have screwdown crowns and a wobbly end crown which takes some getting used to when winding. I have never had one fail and it is a lot of fun to own something that few of your friends will have. The only real problem with Vostoks is that you can hardly get enough of them! I always quickly sell them on EBay because I buy carefully. There are individual sellers and some online traders who charge way too much for the Vostoks but you will soon discover this for yourself. Best sellers are individuals. Crystals are easily cleaned by rubbing with--toothpaste! That's right...toothpaste works great, and brasso as well. All band widths are 18mm which is a common size and a plain black leather one always looks great. Vostok makes some watches with branded metal bracelets but they are rare. Luminescense is usually not good except in the very newish Vostok Europes which are a bit more expensive and very good looking. These watches sell for the over $140 range and if you can find one for less, buy it now as they are great looking and highly accurate bargains.
Vostok was established in 1942, when the Second Moscow Watch factory was evacuated to Chistopol. Very rugged, often with themed dials.
Rakita (Rocket)/Pobeda Maker of civilian watches in Petrodvoretz, near St. Petersburg.
Poljot--First Moscow Watch Factory. Started by assembling foreign parts, eventually bought the defunct American Duber Hampton factory, and imported the machinery to Russia. Sekonda was the export brand. In England, Sekonda had the market position of Timex in the US, except with jeweled movements. Eventually the Sekonda name was used on other Russian watches, some Asian watches, and finally it lost all ties to Russia. Many Poljot watches are based on Swiss designs--In some cases by purchasing Swiss equipment, in some cases by merely copying a Swiss design.
Slava--Second Moscow Watch Factory, another making watches for civilian use. First movements were based on a French design.
Molnija--Primarily pocket watches
USSR--More than likely a watch for the export market, from before the fall of communism CCCP--Domestic watch, pre-fall Russia--Post-fall