Category Archives: Russian wristwatches

Life on Mars With Konstantin Chaykin

Do you need a watch that tells the time on Earth and Mars? Maybe so if Elon Musk has his way and we establish a Tesla factory there. So yes, this latest Russian watch could be just the thing to check if your Jonny Cab is ready for you at the Doug Quaid Memorial Uber taxi rank when you dock at the Red Planet for your vacation in 2055.

Here’s the press release.

The prospect of flying to Mars has never been closer. Konstantin Chaykin is certain that the conquest of Mars necessitates the thinking over of many different aspects in advance, including the development of a specialised mechanical watch that is reliable and capable of functioning autonomously both in space and on Mars. That’s why in 2017 this expert watchmaker and inventor launched his own Mars programme – “Mars Time”.

The new “Mars Conqueror Mk3 Fighter” watch points to the future – hence its futuristic design, seasoned with a clearly tangible militaristic touch. The terrestrial time is supplemented in this watch by the 24-hour time zone indicator hand, while the Konstantin Chaykin-invented “Martian” wheel movement provides the precise indication of Martian time.

A functional module entirely created in Russia by Konstantin Chaykin Manufactory. The complexities of the watch mechanics of the “Mars Conqueror Mk3 Fighter” are shown by the fact that the functional module is made up of 125 separate parts, each meticulously processed and finished by hand in full accordance with the traditions of haute horlogerie.

Konstantin Mars 1

The first Martian aviator watch in history

The “Mars Conqueror Mk3 Fighter” watch looks to the future, which is why one can find in its design the futuristic forms of the Martian space fleet as imagined and designed by Konstantin Chaykin. In the brutal yet at the same time ergonomic case of a dynamic, trapezoidal design, which is dominated by triangular edges, there is a bezel fixed to the case by 24 functional screws, resembling the mooring lock of a spacecraft docking system.

Watches of the first edition are made of titanium, traditionally perceived as an aircraft and space material, which is in the best way consistent with the purpose and functionality of the new watch. Only 8 pieces will be released.

The “Mars Conqueror Mark3 Fighter” watch is equipped with automatic caliber K.15-0 with indicator of local Earth time; second time zone (UTC) indicator with central 24-hour hand; Mars time (MCT); mode indicator of the functional (winding) crown. There are two vertical crowns with unique functionality set on the titanium case invented by Konstantin Chaykin, with genuine black leather strap with orange stitching and orange lining.

There’s no word on pricing yet, but the Chaykin watches currently online here,  start at about £23,000.

 

Vostok Expedition Mixes Tough Looks with Reliable Tech

Your humble editor loves Vostok watches, owning an Amphibian with the famous wobbly winding crown. It’s a clever, durable watch, with that old school Soviet era styling. But that From Russia With Love look doesn’t suit everyone, so the Expedition range, made by Vostok-Europe is a moder modern take on an adventure automatic.

There’s a Seiko movement inside the 48mm – yep it’s a biggie – steel case, which has a unidirectional bezel and hardlex type domed crystal. Depth rating is 200m. You get 40 hours power reserve from the Seiko engine and there’s a power reserve indicator on the dial as well. Nice touch.

There’s also a quartz movement variant if you’re on a tighter budget, available in four different dial colours, featuring a worldtimer inner dial chapter ring, with all those cities you’re gonna visit once lockdown ends!

vostok expedition 2 blue

There are seven different colour options for the dial and we love the graduated green, reminds us of a 1980s camera magazine free filter – remember those? Lume? Tritium tube on the markers and hands, so there’s light all the time say Vostok – this model is inspired by the exploration of a very deep cave, so it should glow every nicely indeed.

We checked online and the quartz models of the Vostok Expedition Everest start at around £300, with the auto versions at £689. Rivals to the Vostok auto version include the LIV 7750 Valjoux powered GX models, at 800 quid or therabouts, the trusty Seiko Prospex 1968 Recreation, which we spotted at Watch Nation for £679, or the Enosken Deep Dive at £390 – it lacks a chrono function but at 1000m depth aces the Vostok. Or the Seiko.

 

 

 

Sekonda: A lot of Watch, For Very Little Money!

Lot of watch for very little money – that was the advertising slogan behind Sekonda back in the 1970s, when thousands of these cheap, reliable Russian watches made their way to the UK as communist Russia passed the begging bowl around the developed world, looking for hard currency. They traded crude oil for albums with Abba, they sold furs and skins from animals, culled on an industrial, Stalinist scale, and sold Jawa/CZ motorcycles that emitted more smoke than Casey Jones locomotive at full throttle.

But Sekonda watches, unlike a Jawa 350, were actually very good products. The reasons are simple; they took Swiss watch designs, copied them – sometimes improved them a little – but generally cut corners to make their watches simple to service, as well as mass produce. So a Poljot movement was based on a Valjoux 7731 for example.

sekonda 2
This one is just in – complete with original box! Ideal for a Shoreditch hipster

In the 1930s the Soviets bought in Jaeger Le Coultre chronoflights for their aircraft and ended up copying the movements for watches, manufacturing chronographs based on this design until the 1950s.

The most common mechanical Sekonda you’ll find knocking about for £30-£50 is a 19 jewel Raketa movement model, or sometimes an automatic Slava 27/25 jewel movement. Both are usually still ticking away even after 40 years of hard knock life, but if you strat to strip them down to repair them you’ll soon discover your only parts source is the pool of other working watches on ebay, or at car boot sales – why spend a day fixing a broken balance and meticulously cleaning a £30 Sekonda when you can simply buy another one?

So I say enjoy them while they’re still going and when you find one like the model pictured above, complete with its original box from the early 80s – keep it as a reminder of the era when Soviet Russia passed the hat around the West, simply to earn a few roubles. Very different now under Tsar Vladimir isn’t it?

pix 80s sekonda 2

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Old Quartz Watches?

Chuck `em in a skip obviously! OK, I’m being flippant, but in reality, you often need to fit a new movement – assuming there is a compatible Miyota/Ronda. This can be pricey to do, which is why many people do bin old watches – a great shame as not all them are useless, some just need a battery and some TLC.

Tip Of The Day: Any older quartz watch that’s behaving erratically, showing symptoms like a twitching second hand, that freezes, then jumps 2-3 seconds in one go, is often a sign that the movement is on the way out. A new battery will only delay the inevitable, so if you love it, get a price on a movement swap.

Generally a quartz movement will last about 20-30 years, depending on how well it was made in the first place, plus how well the owner cares for their watch: Bashing it against stuff at work, or doing DIY, dunking it in swimming pools on holiday, or leaving it in sweaty kitchens – these can all kill a watch fairly rapidly. Even ladies lotions, creams and scent can see off a quality Citizen, Michael Kors, DKNY, Skagen, Armani or similar decently made fashionista watch.

This slow death-by-moisture even happens to Swiss quartz watches too, eventually killing off £1000 Longines, Omega, TAG, Rado, Tissot and many more, which is why I’m always wary about buying them in.

I once bought a slightly shabby ladies Omega for £60 at an auction and put a new crystal & battery in, cleaned it inside etc. It ran for a while, we cleaned it again, it stopped again, fresh battery…you get the picture. It’s in my spares/junk box under the sink – just in case the dial and hands ever come in useful – the rest of it is basically scrap.

Damage to the gold plating on a Swiss quartz often means perfume or scent has attacked it and wealthy ladies love to squirt that stuff on every date night! So, lesson learned there.

YOUR BASIC BITCH QUARTZ WATCH – ANY GOOD?

Hell yeah, we’ve got customers getting new batteries in a £10 Sekonda that’s 25 years old. Still ticking reliably. Some brands, like say Bench or ICE watches, don’t tend to last a quarter of a century, but you can get a decade from them. Not bad on a £20 watch I’d say.

vostok 1

Today I took a chance and bought in three fashion quartz watches; a Vostok with a tank on the dial, an unbranded Chinese gents, and a 2010 England footie themed watch. All dead, non runners. Customer wanted to trade them for a links swap job on his Citizen, which is normally a fiver in our shop – so I did the deal.

The Vostok and Chinese budget special ran fine. The Vostok still had its protective film on the crystal and caseback – never used! Result. The England watch howver ran for a while, then the second hand caught the minute hand at the twenty-to the hour position. Bent hand. OK, movement out..nope, pressing stem button did nothing, no resistance, no pressure. Hmm, OK…join the ladies Omega then in the dark side of the sink matey!

random quartz 1
Tells the time, dummy buttons do nothing, clean as a whistle, new Renata battery in and yours for £8. I love to recycle just like the charity shops do!

That’s watch dealing folks – win some, lose some.