Top 10 Russian Watches
The top 10 iconic Russian watches of all time. Ten of the Best Russian watches.
1. Poljot Aviator
Many iconic Russian watches have emerged from Poljot factory and among the best of them is the Poljot Aviator I Chronograph, a new chapter in Russian watchmaking. Poljot Aviator is a contemporary hi-tech Russian military pilot watch, its production started in 2002 and it is assembled at the state-of-the-art production facilities. Its distinctive (thanks to its Cyrillic symbols) still classic Russian aviation watch design really stands out. Poljot Aviator Chronograph has become one of all-time favorites when it comes to the Russian military watches.
It’s not just a functional mechanical chronograph with reliable hand-winding Poljot 3133 movement, but a stylish accessory, too. True, its stainless steel 40 mm case with black PVD-coating and 23 jewels make it look a bit like its Swiss analogues but the great benefit is that Poljot Aviator I 3133 Chronograph is still the authentic production. Any major characteristic you choose, be it design, quality or functionality, this Russian Aviator watch is truly a very decent value-for-money option to its Swiss counterparts.
See our favourite Poljot Aviator
2. Vostok Amphibia
This legendary Russian diver watch was born in a very fierce competition. It was meant to challenge Rolex Submariner and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms used by the Royal and French navies, correspondingly. Vostok Amphibia has become their equivalent for the Russian navy. Some argue that this still is the world’s best divers watch around $100, especially the one with ‘Scuba Dude’ iconic graphics.
A fascinating story lies behind its making. The initial brief for designers was to create a bomb-proof 200 meter-rated dive watch for the Soviet military – without any access to the Swiss technology. Eventually, Soviet watchmakers have developed an alternative, a bold solution to achieve Rolex’s performance. Instead of glass they used plastic crystal to cover the case. It would not crack under pressure in the depth, unlike glass or sapphire crystal, but just slightly deform. The pressure would push the cover down into the case making the seal tighter. The bigger the depth is, the stronger pressure tightens the seal. Here we go: the Russian low-budget but very efficient way to fix things up. The outcome? Design classics admired by many.
See our Vostok Amphibia
3. Poljot Strela 3017
This classic Soviet Air Force 37 mm pilot chronograph is equipped with original Strela 3017 movement. It has been in production since 1959 to 1979. It’s got an iconic status after Russian cosmonaut Alexey Leonov made first-ever space walk in 1965 wearing this Strela watch. Since that very moment the Strela was known as one of the ‘space watch’. Its name stands for ‘Arrow’ in Russian.
This model comes in a number of dial and case variations with Leonov’s white-dialed version with gold indices being the classic design. Some sensitive souls might not like its ‘too-functional’ look but still it is a perfect watch for everyday use. After all, it was made to be functional on purpose, it is not some fancy stuff anyway: a standard model for the Russian Air Force and Cosmonauts. There’s also an upgraded Strela version available: larger size and powered by the famous Poljot 3133 movement.
Browse our collection of Poljot Strela
4. Sturmanskie Gagarin
The Russians were first to launch the Sputnik into the orbit. Then they beat America and put the first man in space. When Yuri Gagarin made his historic flight in April 1961, he also took the first watch into space. This now iconic mechanical timepiece was specially designed for the Cosmonaut to take it onboard. Yes, it was Omega that became the first watch on the Moon back in July 1969 but Sturmanskie Gagarin watch is the first truly ‘space watch’, getting into outer space 8 years before Neil Armstrong’s famous moonwalk.
This watch model has been produced at the First Moscow Watch Factory, renamed Poljot after Gagarin’s flight. By the way, an upscale Sturmanskie 3133 chronograph version has also been released to further widen the choice for the model’s devotees.
The Sturmanskie Gagarin model now is a must-have Russian watch equipped with the advanced manual winding movement 3133 Chronograph. This is a true design classic, too. The factory’s name, Poljot, stands for ‘Flight’. The model’s name, Shturmanskie, stands for ‘Navigator’s’. It is exactly the case: this is the watch that navigated Yuri Gagarin’s space flight. Picture perfect.
5. Vostok Komandirskie
Vostok Komandirskie, or ‘Commander’s’ watch is a legend of the Russian military watches. Its name speaks for itself. While the Vostok Amphibia still being one of the world’s best diver watches in terms of budget, the Komandirskie alike is one of the best value-for-money pieces when it comes to Russian Army watches. It was meant to be not as sophisticated and technically advanced as the Amphibia, and for a good reason. It was designed to be a regular military watch: simple, functional and reliable in harsh conditions. You’re probably not supposed to submerge 200 meters deep with it on your wrist but you might be riding your T-72 tank down the dusty road getting ready for the action.
This iconic mid-size watch has been introduced half a century ago with a number of variations released, including both automatic and hand wound watches. This watch is still being produced, but for many military watches fans a Soviet Red Army vintage model would have the greatest appeal.
Here’s a tip once you get it: replace the very budget factory strap and your Komandirskie would instantly look much more impressive, probably even like a Soviet Army Colonel’s property.
See our favourite Vostok Komandirskie
6. Raketa Copernicus
This eye-catching Raketa Copernicus watch was designed in the late 1980s to reflect Soviet Union’s strive to explore outer space. It has its own distinctive futuristic style dedicated to one of the greatest scientists and space explorers, Nikolay Kopernik. It’s also got a certain flare of avantgarde – by the way, an artistic style that originated in the early 20th century Russia. The model’s got fine lines and is full of colors, overall making a massive message from its owner to the world.
The Raketa Copernic is a certain difference compared to ‘typical’ Russian watch if we’re talking about military or diver watches. Sure, it doesn’t look like Sturmanskie by Poljot or Vostok Amphibia. But it doesn’t need to. With its unique planet-shaped hands this Raketa watch is a timepiece that really stands out.
Its modern version is a bit more refined and provided with an automatic mechanical movement built in-house. But if you’re looking for the real thing produced in the late-Soviet times, choose the original vintage watch: its production started back in 1980s.
See our favourite Raketa Copernicus
7. Zlatoust Diver Watch
What could be the most basic item in the world of the Russian watches? The answer: this Zlatoust diver watch. Yes, it’s a beast! Imagine yourself driving a Hummer H1: this is exactly what you would feel wearing this dive watch. Its coolest version got a 58 mm diameter plus a huge crown. Altogether this makes it up a true monster, one of the biggest and heaviest wrist watches you’d ever see in your life!
Designed at the peak of the Soviet Union’s might, back in the 1970s, for the certain units of the Russian Navy, this model is still produced in small numbers in Zlatoust, a small industrial town at the footsteps of the Urals mountains. According to some reports, the overall factory’s yearly production is less than a thousand pieces. This is why this diver watch could be a precious thing in any collection of the Russian military watches. And, just like a Hummer H1, it is certainly not for everyday use.
See our favourite Zlatoust Diver watches
8. Raketa Big Zero
The Big Zero model is a fun watch by Raketa. It is known to be worn by Mikhail Gorbachev to show the Soviet leader’s devotion to his reformist policies, Glasnost & Perestroika. Now looking very vintage, this Russian watch is really very affordable, making it a good combination for a buyer. As such, it is ideal to serve as your entrance ticket to the world of vintage Russian watches in general.
Raketa Big Zero watch is full of contrasts. Its case diameter is only 39 mm making this wrist watch one of the smallest men’s timepieces. On the other hand, the massive numbers look very quirky but clearly they’re meant to look like this and they’re in obvious harmony with dial and case: the model’s got a smart design. The watch has a reliable Russian-made Raketa hand wind movement, to complete with its authenticity.
This pretty little thing looks fun and having it would, no doubt, add some fun to your life.
See our favourite Raketa Big Zero
9. Luch One Hand
This wrist watch looks a bit odd, and in more than just one way. First, it is produced outside of Mother-Russia, in Belarus, one of the former Slavic republics of the Soviet Union, now an independent state, at the Minsk Watch Plant. Second, this Luch watch is a one-handed model with a 38 mm diameter when most of the wrist watches, as you know, are equipped with two hands and a diameter of 40 mm or much more.
Nobody knows now why it was designed like that. Was it specially made to beam some vintage magic or it is just so outdated that with its minimalist design it is now back in fashion? Whatever is was, today this Luch One Hand looks trendy and this is why it could be a good new arrival for any Russian watch collection. Plus, this watch is hand wound in today’s world of automatic and quartz movements. And don’t you forget that Luch in both Russian and Byelorussian languages stands for Ray. This is probably why it radiates such unique vintage flavor.
See our favourite Luch One Hand
10. Akula Submarine 24 hour watch
This large 51 mm diameter watch got a 24 hour dial – and this is just the beginning of the story.
This Russian 24 hour watch is inspired by a soviet model designed for use by Russian submarine crews. 24 hour dial enables submariners to distinguish between night and day deep under the sea. The luminous paint on the hands enables the wearer to read the time in the darkness of a submarine.
Akula Submarine 24 hour watch is water-resistant to a level of 30 ATM (equivalent to the pressure under 300 metres of water) with crown protection device.
The engine of this watch, the reliable Raketa 2623 mechanical movement, is entirely produced at the Raketa Watch Factory in Saint Petersburg.
On its dial there is a NATO classification submarine name, Typhoon. In Russia it is known as Akula submarine, its name stands for ‘Shark’. The first of those nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines has been enlisted in the Soviet Navy back in the late 1980s. Typhoon-type subs are the largest submarines ever built by a naval power. The famous Hollywood movie ‘Hunt for Red October’ with Sean Connery starring in it, was depicting this deep-water monster.
Finally, this Russian 24 hour watch has been produced in a very limited series of 300 pieces. Each watch got its unique number on the back of its massive stainless steel case. So… yes, this watch is much more than just a watch. It’s a legend designed for true men.
See our favourite Russian submarine 24 hour watches