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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I recently received my grandfather's old watch. It was bought in the 1960's (definitely before 1969) in the USSR (my family is from St. Petersburg). It's a gold case, and is marked as having 20 jewels. I took it to a watch repair person today to have it looked at, and the mechanism is auto-winding. I didn't know about the movement numbers, so didn't record any, but it's in good condition. I haven't been able to pry open the case (not that I've tried hard since I don't want to damage it). I've looked around the Internet to see if I could identify it, but haven't found anything. Anyone have any ideas? Photo is attached.

Thanks,
David
 

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Welcome!

It is actually probably a 29 (not 20) jewel ΠΟΛΕΤ (Poljot, 1st Moscow Watch Factory, a well known Soviet brand that produced good-quality watches in the USSR). The Cyrlillic version you have is rarer than the Latin version (Poljot). Very nice. Wear it proudly and have it serviced; it should last forever after a service. It is probably gold-plated, not gold. The movement is very good! And it was your grandfather's!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the information. As a note, I can read Russian, so I did get as far as identifying the maker :) Any reasons why it would be marked 20 jewel while it's actually 29 jewel? If it helps at all, it's both automatic and manual (i.e. the knob winds the watch). It definitely is gold (at least the back) since it's marked 583 on the back (the проба).

The watch repair person recommended to only get it fully serviced if I was going to wear it every day (which I don't plan to do) and that if I wasn't, I could just bring it in if there were any problems with it. The inside is very clean and the only damage is a minor indentation over the main spring, which he said is not uncommon and is due to the movement. The outside definitely needs to be cleaned and polished, but that's not a major issue. My main worry with getting it serviced is that if any parts break, it'll be difficult to fix. Any thoughts on this?

I'm also planning to get it appraised for insurance purposes. Is it worth it (I have no idea how valuable it could be)?

Thanks,
David
 

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Thanks YG1. Definitely looks like it. Any thoughts of an approximate value? I found some latin Poljot De Lux gold watches for $700 or so, but very little information. I haven't found a single instance of the cyrillic version. I'm debating whether to get it appraised or not.
 

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Comrade, if you look carefully the 0 in 20 jewels is a probably a smudged 9. Google Poljot de luxe and compare photos. As an alternative to full service you can have only the balance assembly serviced... Much cheaper and the essential part for proper function in most cases.
 

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Yes, looking at it more carefully that is in fact a 9 - it's just almost impossible to distinguish from a 0. Searching for "полет 29 камней" leads me to many a thread in Russian watch forums about inheriting a 20 jewel watch from a grandfather :) (i.e. see http://forum.watch.ru/showthread.php?t=54985 for a few photos) Mine might just be the first in English.

Still debating on whether it's worth cleaning. If I get them cleaned, it'll be everything (I was quoted $150 for a full cleaning). My real worry is the lack of experience of anyone around here. The hands are somewhat corroded and should probably be replaced as well. Probably not worth appraising unless I want a record - from what I read on the Russian sites these are selling for about $500-600 (primarily value of the gold). I'll have to ask my insurance agent.

Thanks everyone for sending me on the right path!
 

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If this watch is valuable to you as a family relic
and... you are planning to wear it sometimes - then yes, it's worth restoring.
If it's still valuable, but you're not gonna wear it, then probably not.
 

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There might be other watchmakers who are just as good but at lower costs to get it serviced. Come to think of it: there is nothing as bad as finding a family heirloom watch and discover that it's too far gone.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The watch is in perfect running condition (so far). The outside needs a bit of polishing and buffing, but the only problem the watchmaker noted was that there was a slight depression around the mainspring likely caused by the motion itself. He didn't think it was a serious issue though and recommended that if I was planning to only wear it occasionally it doesn't need to be serviced until it stops working. The watch thus far has been keeping time to at least a minute accuracy (I haven't measured to the second accuracy yet). From what I saw of the motion, it looks almost brand new. My main worries with getting it fully serviced are the inexperience of the watchmaker with Soviet watches (and the lack of anyone better in the area) and that if anything breaks, it's not going to be as easy to get spare parts (though there are plenty of Poljot de Luxes on eBay so it shouldn't be too difficult).

The corrosion on the hands is annoying, but not a serious issue. Easy to fix, though the watchmaker said that the colors might not match exactly. I will defnitely get the outside polished - there are a few tiny scratches on the front that should be easily fixed. Other than that, I need to get a strap - I think that's the hardest part :)
 

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Having been lying idle for so long a clean and lubrication would go a long way too. The hands might buff up alright, and the crystal should polish up to perfection too.

I do not feel servicing Russian watches is very different from any other watch, nothing particularly funky about them actually. It's just that a lot of repairers would not want to work on them because they would not be able to charge quite as much as, say, servicing a Rolex, so they either ask for Rolex-money, or just bad-mouth them.

I heard a funny story: a man walked into a repair shop and handed the repairer a simple Russian watch; the repairer said every bad thing imaginable about it and said he could not fix it. The man put it back into his pocket and pulled out a Daytona from another pocket: "if you can't fix that, you can't fix this either" and walked away!
 

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The only negative thing the watchmaker I spoke with said was that Russian movements were not quite as finely made as Swiss movements, but that the ones he had seen were good watches. I don't think he's ever seen the 2415 that's in this watch though. Is $150 a reasonable price to pay for cleaning and lubrication? Cleaning the outside only would be $10. He didn't give me an estimate on the hands - I assume if he does the cleaning it wouldn't be too much more.
 

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What watchmakers charge vary widely; the one I work with fixed up three early Pobedas (all needed lubrications and cleaning, one needs resetting the keyless works, one needs a loose jewel fixed), regulating a Poljot 2614, and getting a totally stopped Komandirskie 2414 working again... for $100; that includes some further work like getting a slightly bent Pobeda balance shaft straightened, and a misbehaving Luch quartz done. Before meeting me he'd never worked on a Russian watch, and he's actually from Piaget!
 

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Just got my watch back from a different watch repair person (who has something like 60 5-star reviews on Yelp!). He cleaned and lubricated the watch, polished the hands (not perfectly, but they're now much better than before), and replaced the crystal for $50. Much more reasonable than the other person. For anyone in Los Angeles, A M Watch Repair in Los Feliz appears to be pretty good. Now I'm just waiting for the strap I ordered to come in.
 
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