Dolphin – one hit wonder
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  1. #1
    Member Afka's Avatar
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    Dolphin – one hit wonder

    I will compare here two generations of Russian/Chinese Dolphin. Both watches are well known and several times presented with or without beautiful pictures here in WUS and in other forums too. Here I try to present these two models next to each other and represent some information collected from different sources.

    Specifications – Dolphin One

    Name: Dolphin
    Model Reference: One (name used by some European sellers)
    Movement: automatic Shanghai B movement, 35 jewels, 21600 bph
    Time display: 24 hour, minute, seconds
    Date: quick set date at 3
    Case: all stainless steel with screw on back
    Size: 40 mm diameter without crown, 43 mm with crown
    Height: 14 mm
    Face: white, black odd hour numbers, black minute marks, rotating black second time zone circle with even hour numbers
    Text on dial: Dolphin, Made in Russia
    Text on back: no
    Hands and markers: lumed hours, minutes and seconds hands
    Water-resistance: 3 ATM (according to early sellers’ specifications)
    Crown: 2 crowns, main at 3, the other at 4 to set second time zone
    Crystal: domed mineral crystal
    Lug: 18 mm
    Bracelet: leather strap with buckle

    Specifications – Dolphin Worldtimer

    Name: Dolphin
    Model Reference: Worldtimer
    Movement: automatic Sea-Gull ST16, 21 jewels, 21600 bph
    Time display: 24 hour, minute, seconds
    Date: quick set date at 3
    Case: all stainless steel with screw on back, transparent caseback
    Size: 42 mm diameter without crown, 46 mm with crown
    Height: 14 mm
    Face: black, white odd hour numbers, white minute marks, rotating black cities circle
    Text on dial: Dolphin, Made in Russia
    Text on back: Worldtimer * 3 ATM * All Stainless Steel * Automatic
    Hands and markers: lumed hours, minutes and seconds hands
    Water-resistance: 3 ATM (30 m)
    Crown: 2 crowns, main at 3, the other at 4 to set cities circle
    Crystal: domed sapphire crystal
    Lug: 22 mm
    Bracelet: mesh stainless steel bracelet with buckle

    Attachment 1009676

    Purchase

    I was hunting for Dolphin One about one year! After I saw first pictures of this watch, it was clear for me that I need this watch. But this watch, ten years ago very popular, is now not so easy to find. You have to wait and wait. I got mine after I read in WUS, that somebody bought Dolphin One from some American seller who describes it as Russian alarm watch. Of course that was just a copy and paste from Poljot Dolphin and has nothing to do with this another Dolphin, who has no alarm and all the mechanics is Chinese, not Russian. This deal was denounced and I had only to wait until the watch was relisted again. USD 34 plus shipping, that was a good deal in January 2013.

    To buy a Dolphin Worldtimer was easy. In 2011-12 it was continuously offered by one seller from Hong Kong for about USD 99. Just go to the shop and buy. Boring. I bought it in April 2012.

    Comments

    First I would like to quote Michele
    Quote Originally Posted by michele View Post
    The Dolphin name was used almost ten years ago for a series of Poljot alarm watches with big case (43 mm).

    In the same period, the same name was used to brand a pseudo-Raketa 24H, it was available mostly with white dial, and it was sold by many Russian watch sellers, besides the classic Raketa 24H watches. We are talking about 2002-2003.

    The watch was basically a Raketa 24H lookalike, but with automatic winding, lumed hands, date window, mineral crystal and screwdown display back.

    I don't know if it can be compared to other Russian watches with Chinese movement (i.e. Orion).
    Dolphin One

    Attachment 1009689

    Dolphin One arrived in late 2002. In the beginning of 2003 several serious sellers of Russian watches, (like www.vostok.ch and RLT Watches, UK) started selling Dolphin as a Russian watch with Chinese movement. It was always questionable, how Russian (or Chinese) is Dolphin and several speculations were made during the years. The truth is still not out.

    My opinion is that the initiator and brand founder is from Russia. The idea was to produce a watch, which is based on popular 24h Raketas, but is upgraded to the year 2000 level.

    The 24h Raketas were, and are still until today produced by some grey market factories, as they arrived back in 80s – chrome plated brass case, manual movement, no water protection. The base for Dolphin One was popular Raketa case with hidden lugs. The dimensions are almost the same. (Very good review on Dolphin One with exact case dimensions analysis is by Ricky Lee McBroom – Dolphin 24-hour Dolphin 24-Hour Auto Review . With much better pictures in this review here - please visit.)

    On these pictures Dolphin is up and Raketa down.

    Attachment 1009695 Attachment 1009696

    For Dolphin all stainless steel case was ordered, with screw on back. This gave some level of water resistance too. For some reason the caseback is plain, no text at all, and the level of water resistance is unknown. According to resellers specification it is 3 ATM. Another main innovation was automatic movement. Both, cases and automatic movements were ordered from China.

    My next guess is that the assembly place was in Moscow. About in the same time (1999) Orion Watches were founded in Moscow. Their approach was similar – all the components from China, assembly in Moscow. Maybe Dolphin was even produced in the Orion fabric? I don’t know this, but Orion and Dolphin had same resellers in Europe and these resellers got watches directly from Russia.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy L. Taylor, March 22, 2003, thewatchforum.co.uk
    Sorry Owen, I do not know who makes it. I buy them from a third party in Russia.
    Dolphin One was very popular watch back in 2003.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy L. Taylor, March 14, 2003, thewatchforum.co.uk
    The Dolphin is a superb watch and my best seller this year. Everybody has been delighted with it. I just hope that stocks do not dry up.
    All other feedback from these years was also very positive. I have to agree. This watch is one of my favorites. The components and the assembly quality are something, what all Raketa fans would like to have. Case, movement, crystal, everything. The Shanghai movement is in my opinion very nice, reliable, with date quick set (but no hacking feature). As I’m rotating watches very often, important features of the mechanical watches for me are automatic, hand winding, date quick set.

    The dial legibility is super. Very easy is to set the 2nd time zone. I like 24h watches with 2 time zones. This is exactly what I need. I happen to have many friends in Pacific time zone. Difference with my home location is 10 hours, and usually with 2 time zone watches my 2nd time zone is set to Pacific. I don’t like worldtimers so much. The cities circles are mostly with too small font, not so legible and hard to use.

    All 3 hands are lumed, and here is one super picture by Ricky Lee McBroom (Dolphin update - StrapMeister!)

    Attachment 1009682

    BTW, beside Dolpin One, another model was offered in these days – Dolphin Tonneau, with silver or blue dial.

    Attachment 1009679

    This picture is by jon12w (Something A Bit Different - Stunning Dolphin Tonneau Complication)

    The selling price for Dolphin One was USD 100 in www.vostok.ch and GBP 45 in RLT, UK. Last Dolphin One was sold by www.vostok.ch in 2008 for USD 120, last by RLT in 2005 for GBP 45.

    Dolphin Worldtimer

    Attachment 1009690
    After success with Dolphin One it was quiet with Dolphin brand. Then after a while Worldtimer appeared, with somewhat similar design, but other movement inside. I’ve seen Dolphin Worldtimer sold only by one Hong Kong seller:

    Quote Originally Posted by Chascomm View Post
    This is a seller who a couple of years ago cornered the world market for genuine Soviet-era Vostok Radio Room watches, so he must have some good contacts in Russia. And most of his items are produced by his own company (specializing in vintage military homages) with no attempt at false branding.

    As Michele said, the Dolphin brand has been around for years, and has been sold in quantity by several Russian-based sellers. It is probable that the brand is Russian-owned, so the claim of 'Made in Russia' (if you interpret that as 'assembled in Russia') may even have some validity. They're not 'fakes', but there is no certainty about their degree of Russianness.

    Given the movement design, and the use of stainless steel from the earliest production, Dolphin watches are substantially Chinese. And by the look of this particular item, they are switching to lower cost movements than they have used in the past so bid accordingly.

    Personally I prefer Russian branded Russian watches and Chinese branded Chinese watches. I'd feel better about a hybrid if I knew the full story behind it.
    It is not known who the owner of Dolphin brand was, when Worldtimer arrived. It is very possible, that former Russian owner stepped aside and Dolphin brand with all the assembly line moved to China. As Chascomm messaged me:

    [QUOTE=Chascomm;]
    If they are only being sold direct from Hong Kong then it is quite likely that Dolphin has gone the way of Slava Sozvezdie i.e. the Chinese makers of the watch have taken direct control of the brand from the Russians. I can't say that for sure but it is likely. [QUOTE]

    Several Worldtimer features are step ahead in compare to One. Hacking feature is welcomed. Seller specifies that the watch has sapphire crystal. The transparent caseback is nice and easy to screw with normal case opener. One serious headache for me with Dolphine One was its coin type caseback. You need special tool to open it.

    From the other side, old Shanghai B movement looks much better than new Sea-Gull ST16.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chascomm View Post
    It's a very modern, efficient Japanese-influenced design, but lacking some of the refinement of the old-school Shanghai movement. Also Sea-Gull have recently ramped up production on these and reports of QC issues have started to show up on the forums. To be fair, that's partly down to the 3rd-party assemblers. Generally it's still a good solid movement but it must surely be cheaper for Dolphin to buy than the Shanghai due to the fewer, simpler parts.
    For me the newer Worldtimer is too big and heavy. Especially the steel mesh bracelet makes the watch heavy as ball and chain. The dimensions are not so different, but Worldtimer wears big.

    Surprisingly the old white dial with white hands has better legibility than new black dial with white hands. (I’ve seen a version of Worldtimer with white dial, but only on pictures.) And I like two time zone dial functionality more than worldtimer.

    Attachment 1009714

    Summary

    I like this old Dolphin One very much. Moreover, I would recommend this watch to every 24h watch collector as essential piece to be included into collection. Everything is right with this watch. And you can get it cheap from eBay, when you are waiting. I’m wearing Dolphin One frequently.

    The Dolphin Worldtimer is not so good. Some features are here better, the quality is about the same, but the overall look and feel is much worse for me. I’m wearing Dolphin Worldtimer rarely, if at all.

    Dolphin One pictures

    Attachment 1009692 Attachment 1009698 Attachment 1009699 Attachment 1009700 Attachment 1009701 Attachment 1009702

    Dolphin Worldtimer pictures

    Attachment 1009703 Attachment 1009707 Attachment 1009708 Attachment 1009705 Attachment 1009709 Attachment 1009710

    Many thanks to michele and Chascomm, two extraordinary experts we have here in WUS.
    Malakim, Perdendosi and l3wy like this.

  2. #2
    Member Starman66's Avatar
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    Re: Dolphin – one hit wonder

    Thank you so much for posting this very interesting information & comparison. I just came across a Dolphin Worldtimer on eBay. Poljot Dolphyn 24h Automatic | eBay I am very tempted by the Dolphin One, if one appears again at a good price.

  3. #3
    Member Afka's Avatar
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    Re: Dolphin – one hit wonder

    Quote Originally Posted by Starman66 View Post
    I just came across a Dolphin Worldtimer on eBay. Poljot Dolphyn 24h Automatic | eBay I am very tempted by the Dolphin One, if one appears again at a good price.
    Another eBay seller, who is thinking that all Dolphins are Poljots :)
    I wish you good luck finding yours Dolphin One.

  4. #4
    siv
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    Re: Dolphin – one hit wonder

    I too have a Dolphin - I was nicely surprised by the price ($50 at the time), the timekeeping and general heft.

    My favourite feature is that the rotating outer ring has the even numbers and the main dial has the odd numbers.
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    Member DM71's Avatar
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    Re: Dolphin – one hit wonder

    Great info, thanks for taking the time to put this together. I really like the Dolphin one, but indeed, doesn't seem easy to source. I can't find it no where : (

    The fact that the old Russian Dolphin use plated cases, always kept me away from them. The only thing I really can't stand in a watch, is a plated case.

    If anyone can point me to a seller who has the Dolphin One in stock, it would be appreciated.
    ~ Daniel ~

  6. #6
    Moderator 24 hour watches forum l3wy's Avatar
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    Re: Dolphin – one hit wonder

    Afka, great post on dolphin.. I keep hoping to find one.. just like I hope to find a good raketa :)

    Sent from my MZ609 using Tapatalk HD

  7. #7
    Member Afka's Avatar
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    Re: Dolphin – one hit wonder

    This was my weekly post number 6 (AWW 6). As all the attachments corrupted in WUS and there is no possibility to edit older posts I decided to repost the missing pictures.



    Dolphin One



    On these pictures Dolphin is up and Raketa down:





    Lumed Dolphin One:



    Dolphin Tonneau:



    Dolphin Worldtimer




    Dolphin One




    Dolphin Worldtimer


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