Seriously, you hear about watch brands from Japan, Switzerland, the UK, the US, Germany, etc. Even Scandinavian countries manage to manufacture their own watches. What about Russia? Does the giant country have a watch brand of their own? Do Russian watches even exist?
Well, Russian watches do exist. It would be unacceptable for a country with a population of 150 million citizens to not have a watch brand of their own. Besides vodka, looks like Russians can manage to deliver some good quality watches too, most of the time with entry-level prices.
From Pushkin to Putin, the world’s largest country is home to a gigantic watch industry. It took place prior to and during WW2 when historic leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin decided to equip their soldiers with badass durable watches. Lack of infrastructure and masterminds was no problem for Joseph Stalin as he managed to transfer two defunct watch companies from the US to Mother Russia within a short period.
The secrets of watchmaking were transferred too, from US artisans to the Russian staff, and by September 1930, the company was ready for manufacturing. Within five years, 450.000 pieces of Russian watches were made to equip the military machinery and administration as well.
Did you know?Russia has 11 time zones ( of just 24 total in the world). So when a fellow Russian on one side of the country is awakening at 7 a.m./ another on the other side may be sitting for dinner.
Russian Watches during World War 2
A few years after the creation of the First State Watch Factory – a stepping stone to Russia’s self-reliance in the watch industry, Operation Barbarossa happened. It was a Sunday, on 22 June 1941 when Nazi Germany decided to invade Russia.
Like all other aspects of life, the Russian watches industry was teetering on the edge of a cliff. With Germany on the doorstep, the decade-old watch house had to relocate to the city of Zlatoust.
After the retreat of German forces, the company had to pack up and move once again, this time for good. The heart of Russian watches landed in Moscow and got a new name, the First Moscow Watch Factory. Things were going smoothly for the watch company as the post-war chapter opened sales for the public.
Russian Watches after World War 2
From the 1940s to the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian watchmaking culture was mass-producing accurate timepieces on a tremendous scale. Russian Watches of the post-war era often faced a lack of full uniqueness as the movements were incorporated from Switzerland. This is partly true as in the 1950s till 1960s, the Russian watches industry managed to deliver some unique hair-spring designs, jewels with shock-protection, and beautifully decorated movements.
Even though none of the Russian watch brands is indexed in the “world’s-first catalog”, the Soviets were always in a rush to deliver the strongest, smallest, or the best divers’ watch, etc.
Ever since Russian watches have seen a constant improvement to amaze us to this day with their unique designs and movements.
Without further ado, below you will see a careful selection of some of the best Russian watches the country has ever manufactured. What watch does Putin wear? What watch did Lenin wear? The most sold Russian watch brand?
Check the answers below…
The Most Sold Russian Watch Brands
- Konstantin Chaykin
If it ever happens to encounter a Vostok, Raketa, or a Poljot watch brand, keep in mind that in front of you is being shown Russia’s finest watchmaking heritage. Vostok watches, for example, are known for their accuracy, unique designs, and affordability. The three main qualities that define a good watch. During the war, companies were producing only military equipment, which was replaced with fine timepieces as soon as the war ended. The Russian watch brand is defined as highly accurate as they were the official suppliers of the Russian military and the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The model they boast themselves: Vostok Amphibian
Raketa (Russian: Ракета) is a Russian watches brand that has been manufacturing wristwatches since 1961. Same as Vostok watches, Raketa watches started their journey to supply military and administration. Today the brand Raketa is opened to the global public and they produce their own movements, from start to finish. The brand has remarkably improved itself throughout the years, as they are supplying some Swiss watch houses with movements, good enough to pass the criteria of Swiss watches set by COSC. Raketa Russian watches feature some unique mechanical movements with all parts made in-house.
The model they boast themselves: Raketa Polar
Straight from the First Moscow Watch Factory, Poljot (Russian: Полёт), is the flagship watch brand of the USSR’s watch industry. The company was founded in 1930, under strict orders from Stalin to equip USSR with Russian watches only. The company has changed names and locations several times, been through World War 2, The Cold War, Quartz Crisis – and still to this day manages to stand strong and deliver some good quality Russian watches. A Poljot was the first watch brand to ever travel in outer space, worn by Yuri Gagarin in the world’s first space mission, Vostok.
The model they boast themselves: Poljot Aviator
Unlike the above-mentioned Russian watches, the Slava brand was focused on public distribution and had no relation with military, aerospace, or administration. The watch house was established in 1924, originally known, as the Second Moscow Watch Factory. Slava is world-known for its classic designs and movements made with parts in-house.
To this day, the brand’s ownership remains unexplained as watch manufacturers from both: Russia and China, claim to have purchased the rights of distribution. Slava watches manufactured after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 90s face a lack of quality and has nothing to do with the iconic Slava timepieces crafted between 1940 to 1990. However, they are considered collectible timepieces that hold a historical value.
The model they boast themselves: Slava Moscow
Luch was added to the list of Russian watch brands in 1953 after a rising need for expanding the production of wrist and pocket watches in the USSR (Russia) and Belarus. It would take another 7 years of training new employees and fully completing the operating enterprise so the Luch watch brand could start the development of their first in-house movement. In 1960, the first Luch caliber was created. Measuring 13mm in diameter and 3.4mm in height, the first Luch movement was little used on Luch watches. Instead, the Ministry of Industry of that time decided to suspend the development of Luch watches and use the factory to manufacture man’s Vympel (also a Russian watch brand). Throughout its existence, the Luch watch brand has worked on the design and manufacture of over 1700 different models. Today, since 2010, 80% of Luch watches (Minsk Watch Plant) belong to the Swiss company “Franck Muller International B.V.”
Konstantin Chaykin (Константин Чайкин) is a Russian independent watchmaker who started his journey to the world of watches about 15 years ago (2004-2005) initially repairing and restoring clocks and watches. Soon the watchmaker mastered the intricacies of creating watch movements and naturally began the development of his own movements. Today the Russian watchmaker owns over 70 registered patents related to innovations in watchmaking and in general mechanics. The young watchmaker is world-renowned for the making of his Joker watches – novelty timepieces treated as cinematic pop art objects that bring a flavor of that insanity to your wrist. The latest watch from the Konstantin Chaykin/ The Minotaur (released during Geneva Watch Days 2021) is another highly exclusive timepiece created by Mr. Chaykin. Limited to 8 pieces and with a price tag of $22,000/ “Wristmon” Minotaur is worth catching a glimpse.
FAQ about Russian Watches
Q: Are Russian watches expensive?
A: Russian watches feature innovative designs, accuracy, and movements made in-house. Even though these are the qualities that only luxury watches have, Russian watches are not expensive.
Q: Which are the best Russian watches?
A: Vostok, Raketa, Poljot, and Zlatoust are only some of the best Russian watches to have even been manufactured.
Q: Are Russian watches good?
A: If by Russian watches you mean Vostok, Raketa, or Poljot, look no further as these watch brands deliver nothing but the best of Russia’s watchmaking heritage.
Q: What watch did Lenin wear?
A: Russian authors that knew Lenin closely, claim to have seen the historic leader wear a watch from Buhre in the last days of his life.
Q: What watches does Putin wear?
A: Putin owns a lavish collection of watches where models from Patek Philippe and Blancpain are seen on the leader’s wrist.