Thread: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

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  1. #1
    Member Mark Gordon's Avatar
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    When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    There are a steady stream of posts on the Forum about whether a particular early Soviet watch is 'good' or 'bad'. Here is some advice that can help you minimize costly buying mistakes, from someone who has learned the hard way.

    A wise man once said...

    "Knowledge is knowing what you know. Wisdom is knowing what you don't know."

    When considering an old Soviet watch, be honest with yourself about whether you have the knowledge required to determine if it is authentic. If you don't, seek help.

    True, there aren't many good books on early Soviet watches out there, but there are plenty of web resources around for you to consult when you aren't sure if the watch you are considering is authentic. Among others, the site maintained by ill-phil is quite extensive and has many good photos of pieces that are authentic.

    My site is also quite comprehensive, with more 600 different watches and clocks illustrated -- many of them early pieces, which are my main interest. My site also has a search function which has pre-defined searches by date, type, and for many 'brands'. You can also do a custom search for any word or number.

    There is a sticky in the 'Articles' section at the top of the Russian Forum page that offers a very extensive list of other sites that can be of help to you in one way or another. USE THESE RESOURCES. They will keep you from wasting money and, ultimately, they will help you build a collection of Soviet watches you can be proud of.

    -- Mark
    Last edited by Mark Gordon; April 5th, 2008 at 06:38.
    View my collection at:
    http://www.ussrtime.com
    a fully searchable photo-info database containing more than 1500 Soviet-era clocks & watches

  2. #2
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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gordon View Post

    True, there aren't many good books on early Soviet watches out there Mark
    I would like to add ..with the danger that I start a “flame”

    There aren’t many watch brands or watch producing regions that have this extensive
    description and images as the Soviet watch brands
    ( well, may be Omega as the exception with their two 800 page books ).

    As said a few times before, the basis for everybody interested in Soviet watches from
    the late 40's to the early 90’s should be the Levenberg catalogues 6, 7 and 8 and the two
    Michael Ceyp books (Russian watches and Soviet watches).

    In conception, these 5 books are rather old (10-15 years) and were published just before Soviet watches
    were becoming a very popular collector’s item.
    The disadvantage is that from content/information point of view there wasn’t much research done at that time.
    So they are not so accurate or lacking information. But from photo/sample point of view
    they are very accurate in terms of authenticity (dial, hands, case, movement).
    “Marriages” and “Franken” were hardly found, because of the lack of commercial interest.

    These 5 books list several hundreds watches of the different Soviet brands how they looked originally in the late 80’s.

    This whole discussion about the “zakaz” and which “Vostok is franken” discussion the last few days can be easily
    solved if people have a look at the photo’s in these books. Especially the Michael Ceyp book which
    explains and shows clearly all the different case and dial variants of the Amphibia and Komandirskie Vostoks.
    Do not immediately come to the conclusion that is a “franken “ and what a real (and a tourist) “zakaz” are.

    In addition there are always a few hidden clues in the photographs. Here are a few. Not written in stone but a good indication to get “suspicious”.

    - Do the hands fit the circumference of the dial ( to long or to short)
    - Lumed dial, than also (the same) lumed hands
    - Are there marks scratches at the back cover (tried to open)
    - Looks the crown OK ( one the first pcs to go on a watch) New or heavy worn.
    - Scratches on the glass ( don’t mind if it is. It is likely more orginal, and can be polished)
    - The index pointer of the balance wheel to adjust the watch. If it positioned to more “negative” , this means that it runs too fast. (Dirty and or heavy worn watches start to run fast)
    - Cyrillic text means for internal use within Russia. English text means for export to the west or former Comecon countries. But a Cyrillic dial needs also a Cyrillic text on the movement.


    And finally be patient. More often the quest to find a watch and buying it, has more joy than having it finally in your hands.
    Try to find background information and facts. Where and when were they sold, How did the World look like in these days. etc.


    Just my 2 cents, and have nice weekend

    Tammo

  3. #3
    Member Mark Gordon's Avatar
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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Quote Originally Posted by _Tammo_ View Post
    I would like to add ..with the danger that I start a “flame”...
    Yes, Tammo, your advice is good. The only problem is that, with the exception of Levenburg's first catalog, these books are written in German and/or they are difficult to find.

    For those who who would like to find these books, here is a more complete description. It is repeated from information I posted about a year ago...

    If you are Looking for books in English, there is only one and it isn't great. That would be the English version of Juri Levenberg's first book, titled 'Russian Wristwatches', that was originally published in German. The English edition is published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd (77 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310). Last I checked a while ago, it was available on Amazon.com. It is little more than a photo catalog of watches from the 70s through the 90s.

    If you speak German there are several other books. Again, none of them are great.

    Juri's first book was published by Verlog Georg D.W. Callwey, Munchen. It is titled 'Russische Armbanduhren und Taschenuhren, Stoppuhren, Borduhren, Marinechronometer'. I am not sure of the copyright date on the original edition.

    His second book is available only in German and is titled 'Russische Armbanduhren und Taschenuhren, Stoppuhren, Boruhren 2'. It was also published by Callwey, in 1995. More of the same.

    Two slightly better books, also in German, were written by Michael Ceyp. Both of these have more historical text than Levenberg's books.

    The first, "Faszination Sowjetische Uhren - Fruhe sowjetische Armband-, Taschen- und Borduhren" was co-authored with Klaus Pachnicke. It was published 1n 1997 by Verlag H.M. Hauschild GmbH. This volume deals with 'early' post-war production, mostly the 1950s and 60s.

    The second volume, which he authored alone, is titled "Faszination Sowjetische Uhren - Von der Militaruhr bis zim Schiffschronometer". It was published in 1995 by the same publisher. This deals with watches from the late 70s, 80s and early 90s. Poljot, Vostok, Slava, etc. It also has a nice little compact section on early pocketwatches, chronographs and chronometers.

    I don't know the availability of these 2 books now. I purchased my copies through Amazon.de.

    For information on the earliest, pre-war, period of the Soviet watch and clock industry there is a privately printed catalog (again in German) " URI in Tucher - Berlin, Pariser Platz - Katalog sur Uhrenausstellung Russland International - Sammlung Johannes Altmeppen". It is undated. This book has lots of plates and information on pieces from about 1920 through 1950. If you are interested in this catalog, you can contact a lady who in the past has sold it for the author. Her name is Claudia Brandis. She is based in Germany and her eBay ID is 'bfu9'. I believe her email address is -- bfu9@gmx.de -- but I have not communicated with her in a long time.

    If you are REALLY serious, Altmeppan also published a series of articles on the pre-War Soviet watch industry in the late 1980s in the German magazine UHREN. I can give you dates if you want them (again in German).

    Finally, Levenberg has published several catalogs, numbers 6, 7 and 8. Together, they are a good collecting guide, but they are not complete and there are some errors. I recall that Number 8 has some summaries of the watch descriptions in English. You can write directly to Juri about their availability -- his eBay seller ID is: sonnenflasche .

    I hope this helps.
    Regards from REALLY sunny Singapore.
    -- Mark
    Last edited by Mark Gordon; April 5th, 2008 at 14:19.
    View my collection at:
    http://www.ussrtime.com
    a fully searchable photo-info database containing more than 1500 Soviet-era clocks & watches

  4. #4
    Member sllee's Avatar
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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    I think both Tammo and Mark summed up nicely on the do's and don't of Russian watch collecting. This thread so be made a 'sticky'
    Rgds,
    Lee

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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Thank you Mark, Tammo and ill-phill for your guidance.
    I strarted collecting russian watches about one year ago and I followed these guidelines naturally. Your site along WUS amount for a good knowledge base that makes collecting Russian Watches interesting and fun. I do have JL books and it is also helpfull.

    As I mentioned in another thread, I try to keep buying only classic collector piece and I stay away from odd looking watches.
    Last edited by Mayak; April 6th, 2008 at 03:39.

  6. #6
    Member Mark Gordon's Avatar
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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayak View Post
    As I mentioned in another thread, I try to keep buying only classic collector piece and I stay away from odd looking watches.
    Unfortunately, even 'classic' collector's pieces are commonly faked these days.

    I haven't seen a legitimate 1950s Sturmanskie on eBay in more than a year... and there are several up for auction almost every day. The situation is similar for early Sputnik pieces, early Type-1 wristwatches, and early Molnija pieces.

    Don't be complacent. Look carefully and critically at any piece you are thinking of buying.

    -- Mark
    View my collection at:
    http://www.ussrtime.com
    a fully searchable photo-info database containing more than 1500 Soviet-era clocks & watches

  7. #7
    Member Mayak's Avatar
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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Once again your wisdom has spoken Mark.

    Luckily for me, I am not after these “world class classics” which are the perfect choice for the creative watchmaker who wants to make money. When I meant classic, I was talking about the watches that we see more often on this forum and are the pride and joy of the members. Watches like the radio room and other Vostok Amphibia & Komandirskie… are what I meant.

    You can see my collection on the latest tread on watch storage.

    My latest acquisition is a new 3133 black Strela… Hard to be more classic then that one!

  8. #8
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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gordon View Post
    There are a steady stream of posts on the Forum about whether a particular early Soviet watch is 'good' or 'bad'. Here is some advice that can help you minimize costly buying mistakes, from someone who has learned the hard way.

    A wise man once said...

    "Knowledge is knowing what you know. Wisdom is knowing what you don't know."

    When considering an old Soviet watch, be honest with yourself about whether you have the knowledge required to determine if it is authentic. If you don't, seek help.

    True, there aren't many good books on early Soviet watches out there, but there are plenty of web resources around for you to consult when you aren't sure if the watch you are considering is authentic. Among others, the site maintained by ill-phil is quite extensive and has many good photos of pieces that are authentic.

    My site is also quite comprehensive, with more 600 different watches and clocks illustrated -- many of them early pieces, which are my main interest. My site also has a search function which has pre-defined searches by date, type, and for many 'brands'. You can also do a custom search for any word or number.

    There is a sticky in the 'Articles' section at the top of the Russian Forum page that offers a very extensive list of other sites that can be of help to you in one way or another. USE THESE RESOURCES. They will keep you from wasting money and, ultimately, they will help you build a collection of Soviet watches you can be proud of.

    -- Mark

    Have you ever thought of putting your thoughts, knowledge and experience down on paper in some way? There would be people not least on here, me included, who would enjoy reading and benefit from experience on the sub.ject

  9. #9
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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Time View Post
    Have you ever thought of putting your thoughts, knowledge and experience down on paper in some way? There would be people not least on here, me included, who would enjoy reading and benefit from experience on the sub.ject
    See here:

    Soviet Time – new book on soviet time watches coming soon

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    Re: When Considering An Early Soviet Timepiece...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raketa View Post

    Just read that thread, looks good.

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