RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla
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  1. #1
    stuffler,mike
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    RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    The RUHLA NVA-Kampfschwimmer Re-Make (Limited Edition)

    Review by Mike Stuffler

    London, 2009-03-13




    Prologue: History

    With the end of WW II, stocks of Glashütte made watches, together with tools and machines and the testing appliances of Gesundbrunnen near Dresden, were sent to the Soviet Union as 'repair' payments.

    Under the Russian military government most private companies were taken from their owners and made into “Volkseigene Betriebe (VEB) “publicly owned facilities”.

    So Lange, Assmann, Muehle (later), UFAG, UROFA and many other small manufacturers were concentrated into the “Glashütter Uhren-Betriebe VEB” which became famous and known as the GUB.

    In the years to follow the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA) as well as the Zentralkommitee (ZK) der SED mostly used the GUB as a supplier.
    The ZK and subordinate party penals used GUB watches to celebrate their anniversaries and for honouring its members which could easily be described as the communist nomenclatura of the GDR.

    Konrad Knirim for example mentiones the GUB automatic wristwatch with cal. 75 to be used for gifts in the military and in political circles.

    A subsidiary of the GUB was located in Ruhla/Thuringia (Kombinat Mikro-Elektronik).

    This subsidiary historically dates back to 1862 when Georg and Christian THIEL founded a metal ware company. In 1892 the Thiel brothers started to produce watches.


    THIEL was expropriated in 1952 and integrated into the VEB in 1952.

    The “Ruhla” was always known for developping simple mechanical wristwatches / movements and later precision quartz movements for divers watches and for pocket watches.

    In the late 80ties however the “Ruhla” started to produce a huge diver´s watch to be issued to GDR armed forces and among them to the NVA-Kampfschwimmer (National People’s Army Combat Swimmers and Divers). Before that time the Kampfschwimmer used diver’s watches made in Russia and the Glashütte Spezichron diver’s watch.



    After the re-unification Ruhla was split up into several private companies, one of them became the “Gardé Uhren und Feinmechanik Ruhla GmbH”.


    Gardé is known for manufacturing Junkers and Zeppelin watches.

    If you are interested in the watchmaking history of RUHLA please click here: http://www.garde.de/html/history.shtml


    The Watch



    There is not much known about the Ruhla NVA-Kampfschmimmer. A lot of data is missing or uncomplete such as quantities, producing time, versions etc.

    The new watch is said to be re-constructed accordingly to the old drafts of 1983 which is a least a hint.



    However there is a great source with additional but still fragmentary information : http://ephemerol.de/ruhla/index.htm

    Konrad Knirim (“German Military Timepieces”) displays a Ruhla NVA Kampfschwimmer with a warranty paper which was obviously issued in 1987.
    In September 2006 a NVA Ruhla Kampfschwimmer with its individual no. 000829 on the back was sold on ebay. This watch came with a warranty tag stamped 1. August 1988.

    In 2008 two Ruhla NVA Kampfschwinner appeared on ebay, to know no. 001432 and 000914 (warranty stamped 1. August 1988 too).

    According to a time witness working at the Ruhla Museum the following time table was made:

    1983
    Ruhla designs the Kampfschwimmer in cooperation with NVA officials
    1985
    The first bunch of watches is delivered
    1986-1989
    annual production is about 100 – 150 pieces
    1989
    Production is stopped

    In 2009 Gardé launched a replica of the NVA-Kampfschwimmer which is produced in a limited run of 999 pieces (00101 – 01099).



    The watch – reference “Sonderuhr 5.5” – comes with a tin can, similar to those you get with a Fortis watch. You will find some imprinting on the cap:

    • Made in Germany
    • Waterresistant 20 ATM
    • NVA-Kampfschwimmer-Uhr
    • Limited Edition



    The Ruhla NVA Kampfschwimmer is a beast, a very huge watch, all my other watches look tiny compared to the Ruhla NVA.





    Weight: Rolex Submariner with bracelet: 135 gr
    Seiko Black Monster with bracelet: 175 gr
    Kampfschwimmer with strap: 137 gr

    And due to its dimensions I would not classify this watch to be a daily wearer.



    Mine got no. 00197 / 01099.



    Movement

    The Ruhla NVA was fitted with a Ruhla 13-32 quartz movement of low quality compared to swiss made quartz movements of that time Time keeping sometimes was a problem. According to sources on the www several movements have beem reported to have a tendency to "run slow".

    The current re-issue is also equipped with the Ruhla 13 movement.
    Up to now the movement worked flawless compared to my radio Junghans watch.

    Case

    The case of the original Ruhla NVA was made out of brass or an alloy of brass with a chrome coating.

    The current model however is made out of 316L stainless steel. The case is drilled out of one piece of steel.


    Case dimensions:

    lug to lug: 55 mm
    diameter w/o canteen cap 47,5 mm
    diameter with canteen cap: 52 mm
    diameter of dial and bezel: 43 mm
    lug width: 24mm
    height: 15mm


    Back of an original watch:



    The original watch was rated wr to 60 meters, the current model will withstand 20 atm (according to DIN 8310).

    Back of the re-make:



    With the watch you will get a small leaflet “Instruction for use of waterproof watches” which is a useful help for those not knowing about the ratings.

    Bezel

    The NVA Ruhla features a heavy bezel in a standard 60-min-divers-layout with numbers on 10, 20, 30 40, 50 and a triangle to indicate 0/60. On early Ruhlas an additional luminous dot appeared on the 0/60-triangle [the latest I have seen beared the number 000228]. The re-make Kampfschwimmer does feature that dot too.



    Both, the old and the new bezel is bi-directional and turns freely without any clicks.

    It is easy and smooth to operate because of its “teeth” which are quite impressive.

    However a clicking bezel would be more fun and more secure.


    Crown

    The original NVA Kampfschmimmer featured a "canteen crown" system. What on a first sight looks like a "crown" is in fact a protectional cap that is screwed over the actual setting crown.

    Original:



    Re-make:



    After unscrewing the “Canteen crown” you will get to the “real thing” which is a very tiny crown. It will need some time to get used to that tiny thing.However pulling out the crown just a few mm the watch is ready for setting.

    Hands and Indicies

    Hands and indicies of the current model are coated with Superluminova, the old watches have been coated with Tritium.


    Strap and buckle

    The Sonderuhr 5-5 comes with a rubber strap, lug width is 24mm. The trustworthy looking and solid buckle is made out of stainless steel and meassures 24 mm too.



    Lugs and buckle are screwed.


    Warranty

    24 month


    Retail:

    299 Euro (19% tax included).
    Last edited by stuffler,mike; March 14th, 2009 at 12:43.
    RTB and trueairspeed like this.

  2. #2
    Member Nalu's Avatar
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    Nice review Mike, very helpful. I have an original, but not at hand and so I'm not sure of the SN/date. Will try to remember to add that information later. I agree it's a large watch and not a daily wearer, though with the better strap and 316L case one could make a case for the re-issue. Thanks again
    "Deeds, not words, shall speak me." - John Fletcher

  3. #3
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    Thanks for the review, Mike!
    So, a very accurate remake, down to the bolts and nuts!

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    Member abmw's Avatar
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    Mike,

    Nice review. I was just about to pull the trigger on a JSAR and I saw this review. I am not sure if you have had a chance to review a JSAR but if you have how do the two compare to each other? I know the NVA is cheaper but I guess from your review the movement is inferior also.

    I also went to garde website but I didnt see the NVA. Where is it exactly because I didnt see in under their collections.

    Thanks

  6. #5
    stuffler,mike
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla


  7. #6
    Member abmw's Avatar
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    I sent them an email and hopefully they will reply soon. What kind of payments do they receive? I know in certain countries the requirements are a hassle for oversea purchases so I am hoping they take paypal.

    Thanks

  8. #7
    stuffler,mike
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    I am sure the won't take paypal. Ruhla hasn't yet made the step into out century regarding payment methods. I am not sure they take cc.

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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    Quote Originally Posted by stuffler,mike View Post
    I am sure the won't take paypal. Ruhla hasn't yet made the step into out century regarding payment methods. I am not sure they take cc.
    Thats pretty funny but from their website I sort of had a feeling they werent really that up to speed with technology. I guess it makes the purchase even more authentic! Mike I am assuming you had to wire transfer to them then?

  10. #9
    stuffler,mike
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    Quote Originally Posted by abmw View Post
    Thats pretty funny but from their website I sort of had a feeling they werent really that up to speed with technology. I guess it makes the purchase even more authentic! Mike I am assuming you had to wire transfer to them then?

    Yep, that's what I did.

  11. #10
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    Re: RUHLA Kampfschwimmer Re-make by Gardé Uhren/Ruhla

    Quote Originally Posted by stuffler,mike View Post
    Yep, that's what I did.
    Okay sounds good. I'll just have to wait for their reply. I am going to get the JSAR too (from the gf ) so I will post comparison pictures when I get them in both.

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