A brief overview of most of the watch brands produced in the USSR
Chaika – Чайка (Uglich Watch Factory)
The Uglich Watch Factory is situated approximately 120km north north east from Moscow in Uglich on the river Volga. The factory makes Chaika “Seagull” watches. Chaika was a brand mainly used to small movement womens watches but some mens watches were also made under the Chaika brand including quartz watches in the early 1980s. The Uglich factory develop several different quartz caliber movements.
Cossak watches are a bit of a hybrid. Not many Cossak watches were made and they were not wholly Russian. The movements were made in the USSR, usually Vostok, but the case and dial were made elsewhere.
Luch – Луч (Minsk Watch Factory – Минский часовой завод)Luch watches are produced in Minsk Belorussia (http://www.luch.by/) The factory started in 1956. Luch means “beam”. The factory makes both mens and women’s watches and is still in business today producing watches for Belorussia.
Elektronika – Электроника
Elektronika was the Soviet response to the advent of quartz technology in the watchmaking industry in the west. The first Elektronika quartz watches appeared in the early 1970s and were based on technology from western brands such as Pulsar. Early models had very few functions but as the technology developed, chronograph and calendar Elektronika watches were produced. The Elektronika factory is based in Belorussia and continues to make LCD quartz watches.
Pobeda – победа (1st Moscow Watch Factory- 1МЧЗ)
Pobeda or “Victory” watches were first made by the First Moscow watch factory, Kirov following the Second World War in 1946. The name of the watches was personally endorsed by Stalin. The watch mechanism used was marked К-26 and was based on calibre R-26 of French watch company “Lip”. The mechanism was very successful and Pobeda watches were very popular throughout the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact states. Later, the brand name Pobeda was transferred to the ZIM factory (see below).
Poljot – Полёт (1st Moscow Watch Factory – 1МЧЗ)
Poljot watches are the premier Russian watches worn by cosmonauts and military commanders. Poljot watches were made in the First Moscow Watch Factory. The watches have higher quality jewelled movements and more detailed design. Poljot also made watches for Sekonda and some of these were sold as Sekonda de Luxe in the UK. Poljot chronographs are highly desirable by collectors and can command high prices.
The poljot brand name is still being used to produce watches today and the high quality is still evident.
Raketa – Paкeтa
Watches under the brand name Raketa have been manufactured since 1962 at the Petrovorets Watch Factory in Leningrad (ST Petersburg today). The factory is the oldest in Russia. It was founded byPeter the Great in 1721 as the Peterhof Lapidary Works. Raketa watches were produced for both Military and civilian use. The Raketa factory ceased production in the early 1990s following the collapse of the USSR. Today, the factory building is occupied by numerous commercial and retail business. A new company using the Raketa brand has recently been revived.
Rekord – Рекорд
Rekord watches are a new brand from Russia and did not exist during the Soviet era. Rekord is a post soviet watch company.
It is little known that Sekonda is a British company that sourced its watches from the former USSR until the early 1990s when the Soviet Union broke up. Sekonda watches were used in the 1970s by Russian Cosmonauts. All of the various Russian watch brands listed here supplied Sekonda and you will find their movements in pre 1991 Sekonda watches. Some Poljot and Slava watches are almost identical to the Sekonda examples. Following the break up of the Soviet Union, Sekonda sourced its watches from the far east. The older Russian watches are starting to become collectable particularly the Chronograph and alarm watches.
Sekonda Watch Advert from the 1970s – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1KdxNiKoAc
Slava – слава (2nd Moscow Watch Factory – 2МЧЗ)
Slava watches (Slava means Glory) were manufactured at the 2nd Moscow watch factory. The Slava brand was adopted in the late 1950s by the 2nd Moscow Watch Factory (also see Start – СТАРТ below) Slava watches were mainly produced for the domestic market in the former USSR. They do not have quite the same quality manufacture as Poljot or Vostok but are nonetheless robust in a Soviet way. There are many Slava watch designs that were sold in the United Kingdom under the Sekonda brand which are identical apart from the branding. The 2nd Moscow Watch Factory building has since been demolished. Older Slava watches should not be confused with modern Slava watches under the brand Slava Constellation (Слава Созвездие). These modern Slava watches use chinese made movements and Russian made cases and are sold and assemled in Russia.
Start – СТАРТ (Cmapm)
Start is a brand name used by the 2nd Moscow Watch Factory during the 1950s. By the late 1950s however, the factory had adopted the Slava brand name. Hence, Start watches were only made for a short period.
Vostok (Wostok) – Восток
Vostok means East and is a well known Russian brand which made high quality watches and instruments for the Russian military. It is not to be confused with the post soviet era, break away company of Vostok Europe which trades on its Russian credentials but which are made in Germany. Original Soviet made Vostok watches are mainly divers style watches although not exclusively. The movements are higher quality with multi jewelled movements. Vostok made, and still continue to do so the popular “komandirskie” and “Amphibia” watches with military images on the dial. These watches were original produced for officers in the soviet armed forces but have since become desirable watches in their own right. Examples with the wording “ЗАКАЗ МО СССР” “by order of the Ministry of Defence of the USSR” are the most desirable as these were commissioned by the soviet government.
Zarya – Заря (Pensa Watch Factory)
Watches from the Pensa Watch Factory are branded with the name Zarya (meaning Dawn). The factory was established in the 1930s but the Zarya brand was not adopted until 1965. The factory produced mainly womens watches of small caliber movements. However, some men’s watches were also produced. Pensa is located to the West of Samara in the Pensa Oblast.
ZIM – ЗИМ (Завод имени Масленникова – Maslennikov Watch Factory)
The factory opened at the beginning of the 20th century and originally made detonators for the military. Later during soviet times production moved to watches. The factory made both ZIM and Pobeda watches. ZIM watches were of lower quality than Vostok or Poljot but there are many different examples and diverse designs. The factory was made bankrupt in the early 1990s and the factory site has since been redeveloped.