Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Watch, straight from Moscow.

Vostok has been making watches for the Russian military for a number of years. In fact, it is possible to find Vostoks marked "Made in the USSR" (CCCP) on eBay if you keep a good lookout. I wanted a new one, so I poked around until I found this one, sold by an eBay seller called Zenitar, who also sells Russian made camera equipment of the same name.

This watch is called the Vostok Amphibian. It is a 31 jewel, fully automatic movement mechanical watch. In other words, an internal pendulum winds the watch using only the movement of your body. I've had this watch running over 96 hours so far on one winding, and that includes at least 8 hours per night of sitting on the nightstand not moving.

I'd always heard about jewels being used in watches, but never understood what the advantage was. Turns out, they are used as bearings and friction points, and the more jewels you have, the less metal-to-metal friction is present, which could eventually cause the watch to become inaccurate.

The best part is, lower end Vostoks are not super expensive. Some of the fancier models can go for several hundred dollars, but the Amphibian pictured here sold for $49, with $15 air mail shipping directly from Moscow.

It takes a long time to get something from Moscow to the United States. I waited about 18 days before the watch arrived at my door. It is supposed to be water resistant to 200 meters and it seems rather ruggedly built. In fact, a friend of mine remarked that it seemed like you could use it for self defense in an emergency...just smack someone with the back of your wrist, and let the mass of the Vostok do the rest.

It does have some slightly rough edges, but nothing that is obvious nor troublesome. All in all, it is a handsome watch that's completely functional. Accuracy is not what you would expect from a modern quartz watch, but it's still pretty good. It should get better as the watch becomes broken in. So far, it seems to gain about 5-10 seconds or so per day, which means that in a week, it will be about a minute or so "off". It is not a big deal to set it once a week, however, and it's more than accurate enough to get me to work on time.

It also has a calendar window, and luminescent hands and face marks. The numbers look like they would be luminescent, but they are not. A shame, because that would make this thing really easy to read in the dark.

Nevertheless, for around $65 shipped, this is a pretty cool thing to have. I've shown it to several people I know, and a couple of them are now thinking about getting Vostoks for themselves.

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