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Thread: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

  1. #1
    Journeyman
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    Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    Well,
    I have given in and got myself an old (very late 50s, I think) Volna chronometer. Its condition looks excellent (to the naked eye) and I think I got a lot of watch for $100 (£65.68) including delivery to England (from Ukraine).





    I was pleased to find the gold plate to be in near perfect condition and could not resist getting a display back (a little vulgar maybe, but what a beautiful movement).
    I little 'internet research' found the following information (from a couple of sources):-

    These Vostok/Volna Precisions were tested to Chronometer standards,[slightly different to COSC],10 Days testing instead of 15,temperature 0`c, +20`C, + 40`C. (Note the Micro regulator on Balance Cock)

    This compares to the COSC range of 8 deg C to 38 deg C. The COSC test is performed dial up and the limit is 0.6 seconds pre degree.


    Background and Origins

    In the late 1950s, the Soviet Union sought to jump start its expanding watchmaking industry, through the acquisition of modern watch manufacturing capabilities. While it had already achieved the ability to mass-produce mechanical movements, mostly through the First Moscow Watch Factory (later Poljot), and Vostok (the military contractor), it lacked the ability to manufacture high-end precision movements.

    In particular, one of the most sought after technologies was the ability to manufacture chronometer-grade wristwatch movements, which were capable of being adjusted to within COSC specifications. It is to be noted that almost all of the COSC capable watches of the era were Swiss in origin, (which added to the credentials of the formidable Swiss-watch-manufacturing sector).

    In the mid 1950s, Zenith (a Swiss manufacturer) introduced the caliber 135 movement, which was of their indigenous design and manufacture. This was a fully-adjustable 19-jewel movement. Of particular interest is the distinctive arrangement of the gear train, with the offset minute wheel, which allows for an exceptionally large balance wheel of 14mm (higher rotational intertia can allow more consistent performance, without increasing weight or beat rate). In addition, it sports a fine regulator mechanism, which was capable of very precise adjustments. In all, Zenith produced approximately 11,000 of these movements during a run of over 15 years, spanning from the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s.


    In the late 1950s, in a tale that is worthy of Cold War intrigue, the Soviet Union “acquired” the Zenith’s technology, and started to manufacture their own “version” of the same movement, albeit with some significant changes. While it retained the exceptionally large balance wheel, and the overall layout of the movement, it sought to improve the Swiss design, by adding 3 additional jewels, to arrive at the current 22-jewel movement. Additional, the placement of the second-hand was moved from the sub-dial position, to the central pinion.

    Typical of Russian manufacturing, the highly-decorated nature of the movement was toned-down, thereby reducing the cost and complexity of the manufacturing process.

    The 22-jewel movement was manufactured by a division of Vostok (or “Boctok” in Cyrillic), and used exclusively for the “Vostok Precision” line and the “Wolna” (Wave) series of watches. To date, these were the ONLY chronometer-capable mechanical wristwatch movements ever manufactured in the Soviet Union.

    The Soviet movement retained all of the key features and characteristics of the Zenith cal. 135 movement. For further review, you can compare the picture of the movement above with that of the Zenith movement, upon which it is based:



    What is most evident from a comparison of the two, is that the Soviet movement is less decorated, and has a generally rougher finish than that of the Zenith. In my opinion, this has always been the hallmark of Soviet manufacturing – technically excellent, but finished in a rougher form.

    It seems pretty accurate (a few seconds a day) but will only run for 18 hours on one wind. I guess I should try having it serviced and if that does not remedy this I will have to try to source a new mainspring (and Ideas anyone?)

  2. #2

    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    That's a pretty nice movement :D great informative post.

  3. #3

    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    I've got a couple of these, I thought they were a bargin for such a nice movement.

    The slow beat of the balance wheel combined with its very large size makes it easy to see the oscillations. Unlike more modern movements where the balance whizzes back and forth in somewhat of a blur the movement of this old fashioned Volna's wheel is easy to see. It's wonderful and really quite mesmerizing.


    Is this a Breguet overcoil I can see on this movement? ( not a wonderful pic but the best I could do )





    Because it is a two piece caseback you can make your own display back quite easily. The Volna piece caseback works in the same manner as the new Omega 1200m caseback, it has the cover with a flange on the outside then this is screwed down by a separate ring that fits over the flange. All you need to do is buy an acrylic crystal, the sort with a small flange round the edge and replace the normal metal cover. A very simple DIY display back.



    regards

    siggy

  4. #4
    Master
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    Handsome movt - thanks for posting as am a sucker for anything with blued hands.

    regards

    tim

  5. #5
    Grand Master Daddelvirks's Avatar
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    Very nice catch, I knew about the Zenith connection, but your info is more complete :)
    Fantastic price as well, I've seen them sold for a lot more.

    Cheers,

    Daddel.
    Got a new watch, divers watch it is, had to drown the bastard to get it!

  6. #6
    Master
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    I really enjoyed this, thank you very much for the effort and excellent pictures from everyone.

    cheers!

  7. #7
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    Very interesting post.

    For all the trumpeting of superiority from the Russians during the cold war it seems they nearly always had to steal their ideas from the decadent West. :wink:
    Cheers,
    Neil.

    My Speedmaster website:

    http://www.freewebs.com/neil271052

  8. #8

    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    The price is cheap for the movement alone imo - would be good to track down any knackered watches with these movements to make a home made watch - the movement looks great to me - I want one :)
    It's just a matter of time...

  9. #9
    Master majstro's Avatar
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    This kind of luck comes to those who wait and lurk on the wayside for an unsuspecting chronometer to pass by...
    Good luck to you and your Russian comrade!
    Regards,
    Marc

  10. #10
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    Here is a picture of mine Soviet chronometer that is):





    Even the hidden surfaces are well finished. It júst shows below the balance wheel. Some comrads were more equal than others :wink:

  11. #11
    Master Flashharry's Avatar
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    That's another watch I haven't seen before and one that ticks all the right boxes.

  12. #12
    Journeyman
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    Re: Volna (by Vostok) Chronometer.

    Thanks for the positive vibes- It is with 'my' watchmaker now and will hopefully make a usefull timepiece (A watch which does not get used is worth nothing, IMO).
    He thinks the glass is too bulbous and wants to replace it with someting flatter, but I have no idea how it should look(?)
    I feel lucky to have found this watchmaker- he is a retired jeweler/watchmaker that I remember speaking to a few years back and I knocked on his door today.
    It is funny how you can forget what you did last week but remember a conversation from years ago perfectly!.........

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