This is my first watch review so bear with me.
I recently purchased a 38mm Poljot Strela with the manual wind 3133 movement from Irina Maier at www.volstok-watches.com. The ordering was easy and the 15% VAT tax was deducted because I live in the states. I placed the order on Friday and the watch was shipped out Monday (after regulation over the weekend to make sure it was accurate). Irina is a pleasure to do business with, always cordial, polite, and efficient. Unfortunately, somewhere between Frankfurt, Germany and Los Angeles, CA, the post lost the watch. After waiting a few weeks and still not receiving it, I contacted Irina and she immediately sent out another watch to me. She even included an extra strap. Customer service is supreme and if I decide to make another purchase, they have earned my business. It is definetely worth the peace of mind to order from them, not to mention the watch comes with a limited 2 year guarantee.
Onto the watch itself:
Dial: I purchased the watch mainly because I loved the way the dial looked so this was no surprise. I love the paddle hands and the subdials. They are slightly lower, giving the watch face depth. After having the watch for a few weeks, I do think that it is a little harder to read the time than my other watches, partly because the tachymeter takes up the outer dial and there are no markings for the hours. However, this is not a big deal.
Case: The case is beautiful and I love the stub chronograph knobs. The bezel is polished and the case is brushed, giving a good contrasting look that is subtle but gorgeous. I do think that the 38mm watch is a little small on my 6.5'' wrist. However, I wear much smaller watches including vintage omegas and movados so this one is big enough for me. It is a good size but not too thick so it easily fits under the cuff of a dress shirt. The see through case back is very nice as well, allowing you to see the movement as you wind it if you so choose. The only critique I have is that the Russian word for Strela written in the middle of the clear case back is distracting and somewhat unattractive. I would remove that if possible.
Chronograph Function and Winding: This is my first manual wind watch and I love it. I have 4 other automatics in the watch rotation currently, and I have a daily routine of going through and winding them all. I find the manual a lot easier because you can wind it until you feel resistance, and know that it is fully wound. With the automatics, there is no way to know how far up the watch is charged, and sometimes they go dead on me. It would be nice if the movement wound to a dead stop to let you know when to stop rather than having to feel for the increased resistance. This sometimes makes me nervous I will over wind the watch. As for the chronograph movement, it seems to work very very well and be accurate. However, the chrono pushers aren't as nice as the ones on my Tag Heuer Carrera and seem to take a lot more force to get started. The last criticism I have is that the watch has no independent way of setting the date quickly. To advance the date, you have to change the time from roughly 1 o clock back to 11 o clock and then forward to 1 o clock again. This gets tedious if you have to do it for a lot of days (changing from 18 to 2). However, since I mostly keep my watch wound up, I haven't had this issue yet.
Lume: The lume is just okay. The hour markers and the minute and hour paddle hands light up, but not very brightly. It is sufficient to see in the dark but not as good as most lumes.
Accuracy: So far, in the few weeks that I have had it, the watch has kept to about +/-3 seconds a day. I am very impressed with the accuracy of the movement. I tested the power reserve also and it seems to get about 60 hours on a full wind with the chronograph off, which I'm very happy about also.
Strap: The watch takes a 20mm strap which is very convenient as it is a common lug size. I chose to forgo to stock black Poljot strap and selected this brown strap, available at no extra cost. Russian watches Vostok Europe, Poljot, Aviator, Buran, Sturmanskie, Denissov, Vostok, Molnija. It is a little lighter in color than depicted ( little more Cognac versus brown) and is a really really nice strap. The buckle also has the Poljot logo on it.
Overall: This is a very nice watch and I would not hesitate to buy another Russian watch based on the quality of this one. For the price, Poljot delivers very high quality. The watch on the cognac gator print strap is a little dressier than I would have anticipated with the shiny white face. I like this though as I wear it to work a lot. I appreciate the heritage of this watch which is a remake of a Strela worn by Leonov on the first space walk. I recommend this watch for anyone looking for a dressy chronograph at a bargain price.
2 quick photos: