WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner

1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,145 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Comrades,

I have a deep-seated fascination with the early days of Soviet watchmaking and those clunky, original movements which started it all. Peering down at a Type-1 movement feels like witnessing the dawn of time (pun intended); there's just something so simple, so industrial, so mechanical about these pieces.

According to Mark Gordon, the Type-1 movement was introduced in late 1930 by the First State Watch Factory (later to be known as First Moscow Watch Factory, or 1MWF) in both 7-jewel and 15-jewel subtypes. Over the years, production of Type-1 movements spread to four other watch factories (2MWF, Chistopol, Zlatoust, and the somewhat mysterious "5th Watch Factory", aka Factory 53 -- stay tuned for an upcoming thread on this one) and continued until sometime in the 1980s, a full lifetime of nearly six decades. This lifespan is a testament to the robustness, reliability, and popularity of these movements.

Initially, Type-1 movements were found primarily in pocket-watch cases*, designed to be strictly utilitarian, and issued to factories, railroads, and the military to remedy the shortages of timepieces following the Revolution. By the middle of the decade, however, the movements were more commonly found in the infamous 'saucepan' cases designed for use on the wrist, and were distributed more widely to the general public as awards -- this explains the many engraved examples you may find today. According to Mark Gordon, there was no rhyme or reason as to who received which movement variation of the watch: "Important generals sometimes received engraved pieces with 7 jewels, and ordinary factory workers sometimes received engraved pieces with 15 jewels."

*Indeed, another common name for Type-1 watches is K-43; 'K' is derived from Карманные, meaning "pocket", while 43 refers to the diameter of the movement (43mm); see HERE.

Type-1 watches are not particularly rare or valuable, as most are in poor condition with generic, unsigned dials (many of which are modern recreations). But there are a few with beautiful and unusual dial signatures. One famous example of these dial signatures belonged to the grandfather watch factory of them all, the First State Watch Factory (1GChZ / 1ГЧЗ). Alan Garratt, through his fantastic blog, offers some interesting information about the early years of the factory:

Via its USA-based trading company Amtorg, the Soviet government bought the defunct Ansonia Clock Company of Brooklyn, New York in 1929, and the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company of Canton, Ohio. It moved twenty-eight freight cars full of machinery and parts from the USA to Moscow in order to establish the factory. Twenty-one former Dueber-Hampden watchmakers, engravers, and various other technicians helped to train the Russian workers in the art of watchmaking as part of the Soviet's First Five-Year Plan. Interestingly, the movements of very-early products were still stamped "Dueber-Hampden, Canton, Ohio, USA" (examples of these watches are very collectible today). In 1935, the factory was named after the murdered Soviet official Sergei Kirov.
As a result of the factory renaming in 1935, watches with signed dials produced after 1935 feature a signature reading "1ГЧЗ им Кирова" -- 1GChZ from Kirova.

I have been fortunate to recently come across a First State Watch Factory 15-jewels Type-1 in unusually good condition. The production date is the 4th trimester of the year 1940. This is truly a museum piece. The dial features original, hand-lumed numbers; an inner, non-lumed 24-hour scale; a stamp reading '4750', indicating this watch was military issue; and the gorgeous "1ГЧЗ им Кирова" signature, front and center. Apart from a small bit of lume missing on the 3, the dial is remarkably well-preserved.

DSC01303.jpg

DSC01284.jpg

DSC01296.jpg

I do not know if the crystal is original, but I love the low-profile design.

DSC01295.jpg

All three hands are lumed, and the color and texture of the lume appears consistent with that found on the dial. The watch lost all glow-in-the-dark ability years (perhaps decades) ago. Of particular note is the small, fully-lumed, sword-shaped second hand. These rare second hands are often replaced with generic hands or found without any lume remaining.

DSC01286.jpg

The lume is most certainly radium, as exhibited by the 'aura' around the numbers which can be seen in certain lighting conditions.

DSC01315.jpg

The movement is not signed, but I still believe it to be original. A 1ГЧЗ-signed movement would increase the collectability of this piece, but is not required for the movement to be authentic. To my eye, only the crown is possibly replaced.

DSC01276.jpg

DSC01278.jpg

According to Luís, a balance screwed from the bottom is consistent with a post-1939 production date.

DSC01272.jpg

Just look at that beautiful gear train.

DSC01282.jpg

The inside of the back case appears to be stamped "ABB", but I don't know the significance of this marking.

DSC01275.jpg

This piece will likely be display-only -- or for very occasional use.

DSC01800.jpg

Spasibo!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,379 Posts
Amazing! I can't find a certain Amphibia that they made until this year or a 52 year-old Pontiac (that over 73,000 of were built) in somewhat decent condition and Mr. Oatman is finding a 75 year old watch that they probably made less than 10,000 of that looks like it sat in a hermetically sealed bubble it's whole life AND which appears to be in it's original box

It must pay to live right o| :-d
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,645 Posts
I am not jealous, i am not jealous, ok maybe a little. :) Stunning piece mroatman and minty minty. Ive been searching a decent one for quite some time now and just as you described they are either in bad condition or wear a fake dial.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
517 Posts
Just WOW!!
Very nice piece! Thanks for showing. From time to time i was thinking about getting one...these pics just make me wanting one more and more :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,145 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Amazing! I can't find a certain Amphibia that they made until this year or a 52 year-old Pontiac (that over 73,000 of were built) in somewhat decent condition and Mr. Oatman is finding a 75 year old watch that they probably made less than 10,000 of that looks like it sat in a hermetically sealed bubble it's whole life AND which appears to be in it's original box
Don't worry, definitely not the original box. I have a friend in the Czech Republic who sold me a bunch of old Soviet boxes for a few dollars each, so I've taken to storing my nicer pieces in these. That's a 1MWF box, and 1MWF didn't exist until about three years after this watch was produced. It does make me wonder how Type-1s were originally distributed, however (i.e. what kind of box/packaging, if any).

Thanks for your comments, and good luck with that Pontiac :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,145 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Many congratulations Dashiell - that really is a beautiful piece! One of the jewels in your ever growing historically important collection. So well preserved, well done! My white dial piece of the same and my number-stamped military black dial piece say hi...
Yeah yeah, go on and rub it in with your gorgeous black-dialled Type-1 why don't ya!? See if I care!

Would love one of those eventually :)

Such a nice pair, congratulations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,294 Posts
Ah thanks Dashiell - that's very kind, but not why I put both the watches up on this thread. I did it because they are both number stamped on the dial, denoting they are both military issue - blood brothers, so to speak. One for high ranking officers, and the other for lower ranking - to the best of my knowledge. The condition of your piece is outstanding - as you say a real museum piece!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
128 Posts
I have a deep-seated fascination with the early days of Soviet watchmaking
You're not alone, that's for sure :)

Type-1 watches are not particularly rare or valuable
Why do you say so? :)

This is truly a museum piece.
Agreed. More about that later. I don't know where did you get this stunning timepiece, but I know you've got something *really* interesting beyond its beauty and appeal.

Apart from a small bit of lume missing [...]
Handmade lume might not always be perfect. Look at the figure 3 under a loupe. Is the empty part clean?

A 1ГЧЗ-signed movement would increase the collectability of this piece
Are you sure? ;-)

To my eye, only the crown is possibly replaced.
I don't think so. See below.

According to Luìs, a balance screwed from the bottom is consistent with a post-1939 production date.
Lol965 rules :-!

The inside of the back case appears to be stamped "ABB", but I don't know the significance of this marking.
Uhm, uhm. I think you ought to.
But let's start with the "museum piece" first.
In 2009, the historic exhibition "Russian Watches - 240 years of history" took place at the Crocus Expo Center in Moscow (see https://www.watchuseek.com/f10/russian-watches-240-years-history-795208.html)
Go to Âûñòàâêà "Ðîññèéñêèå ÷àñû – 240 ëåò èñòîðèè", ôîòî-êàòàëîã (many thanks to German!) and scroll down until you find this:
p035.jpg
Cool, isn't it? b-) Did you have a look at the crown, btw?

More on the subject. We know that the very first chronographs based on modified Type-1 movements were not made by the 1MWF. Instead, they were the result of small cooperative associations of watchmakers, named "artels" (btw, the term 'artel' predates the Russian revolution, and it refers to associations of craftsmen in general.)

One most renowned artel was called "The Right Time", and it is well represented in Mark Gordon's collection with several custom chronographs (see #0013, #0157, #0197, etc.) Few samples still appear now and then on auction sites like meshok.ru or avito.ru, but they're getting rarer and rarer.

The artel "The Right Time" used to stamp "пром. кооп." (промышленности кооператив, industrial cooperative) on their custom chronograph dials, see this pic from the web.
prom-koop-moscow.jpg

Although their custom wristwatches retained the original dial, but usually with custom hands, the artel "The Right Time" used to sign their wristwatches too. The acronym Artel "Right Time" beautifully sounds like "ART" in English. But for you it may be even sweeter in Russian, Artel' Vernoe Vremya, Артель Верное Время in Cyrillic, or "АВВ" :)
dashiell.jpg

Enjoy your treasure in good health |>
// ocram
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,145 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Ah thanks Dashiell - that's very kind, but not why I put both the watches up on this thread. I did it because they are both number stamped on the dial, denoting they are both military issue - blood brothers, so to speak. One for high ranking officers, and the other for lower ranking - to the best of my knowledge. The condition of your piece is outstanding - as you say a real museum piece!!!
Thanks, Geoff. You know I'm just giving you a hard time :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,145 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Thank you for such a fascinating and insightful response, ocram!!

"Type-1 watches are not particularly rare or valuable"
Why do you say so? :)
Well, this is of course an opinion statement -- but I say this because, in my experience, on any given day you can find several Type-1s available on a variety of platforms (eBay, Etsy, Aukro, local listings), and because you can, if you look, find decent examples for under $100. But that, of course, presumes rare to mean "not readily available online" and valuable to mean "over $100".

I don't know where did you get this stunning timepiece, but I know you've got something *really* interesting beyond its beauty and appeal.
This one came from Uzbekistan(!), a new country of origin for me. A woman living in Pennsylvania was the main point of contact, and her son, still living in Uzbekistan, was the primary collector/seller. I emailed and negotiated with the mother, who in turn translated each exchange for her son. It was a long process, especially because I am a relentless haggler, and each new offer took at least a day to be countered. If I earned more money than I do, I would have just bought at asking price -- but since I'm cheap, I took the risk of bargaining for about a week before finally agreeing on a much more comfortable price at about 60% of asking :)

Handmade lume might not always be perfect. Look at the figure 3 under a loupe. Is the empty part clean?
Unfortunately not. It's a bit darker, suggesting the lume has fallen away. All considered, it doesn't bother me in the least and is, in my opinion, a nice indication of authenticity and age.

"A 1ГЧЗ-signed movement would increase the collectability of this piece"
Are you sure? ;-)
Definitely not, but I've noticed those with signed movements typically demand higher prices. To me, that suggests they're more highly sought-after by collectors -- but I honestly don't mind. I have other Type-1s with signed movements if I want to stare at those ;)

"To my eye, only the crown is possibly replaced."
I don't think so. See below.
Sorry, I should have explained. The crown is certainly the right size and proper 'onion' shape. But it extends too far from the watch and does not sit flush with the case as I believe it should. A small thing, to be sure, but I always try to be transparent about what is original versus replaced on each of my pieces. At first, I thought the stem was replaced, but when I removed it to compare with my other Type-1s, it looked to be the correct length. Then I noticed a small protrusion on the crown itself. My other Type-1 crowns do not have this extension. Therefore, I believe the crown has been replaced with one that causes it to sit just a bit too far from the case. See the photos below to compare with two of my others:

DSC01801.jpg

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.32.16 PM 2.jpg

DSC01807 2.jpg

In 2009, the historic exhibition "Russian Watches - 240 years of history" took place at the Crocus Expo Center in Moscow
Cool, isn't it? b-) Did you have a look at the crown, btw?
Super cool! I never saw this thread, thank you for sharing. The watch on display that's similar to mine seems to have had the hands relumed :rodekaart

Although their custom wristwatches retained the original dial, but usually with custom hands, the artel "The Right Time" used to sign their wristwatches too. The acronym Artel "Right Time" beautifully sounds like "ART" in English. But for you it may be even sweeter in Russian, Artel' Vernoe Vremya, Артель Верное Время in Cyrillic, or "АВВ" :)
I would have never known this if it were for your encyclopedic knowledge of Soviet timepieces, ocram, thank you so much! Truly fascinating.

Enjoy your treasure in good health |>
I most certainly will, and even more so now that you have chimed in to fill the many gaps in my knowledge of Soviet watchmaking history. I really appreciate your help :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,380 Posts
Comrade mroatman,

once again you have astounded us with a splendid piece, fit as you say for a museum! By coincidence, I am currently wearing a much, much humbler watch than yours, but interesting in its own way. Another coincidence: date stamp is as yours from 4th quarter 1940, 1st State Watch Factory stamp and 5666 serial, compared to 50667 (yours)! A total of six sixes!


What I like is:

1) the watch has been on my wrist for 10 days and nights, and has gained less than half a minute TOTAL. It is very consistent day after day, gaining just a few second per day! Stupendous timekeeping for the Red Army, 70 years later! (has been serviced apparently).

2) I love the combination with the vintage strap, antedating that ridiculously named "NATO" style by decades, and very comfortable (if not from the 40's it is still quite old). I am always on the lookout for genuine vintage Soviet straps that fit these watches better than some modern western constructs

3) the spartan simplicity of the whole piece, including the minimalistic dial, which is in beautiful condition. The complete lack of any logo or unnecessary mark was often intentional in soviet military pieces, in order to maximize immediate readability in battle conditions (inaddition to cutting costs). Indeed, I find this piece to be one of the most readable, even without my glasses, among the (not so few) Soviet ones I am the current caretaker of. The whole thing is a joy to wear day after day.

4) So I got the unadorned, unlumed infantryman's version with plain dial, while you have a glorious officer's most likely, with beautiful radium lume and Kirov logo.


5) The case has a different stamp than yours: Tochmekh - RPT - Moskva. I have heard of Gostrest Tochmekh, but they were closed by 1933 or close to that. So was the Tochmekh Moskva apparently. What is RPT? Does Comrade ocram have any information on this?
Perhaps the caseback is from an earlier piece, but it seems to me the saucepan case and back was introduced around 1939, so it is unlikely that the case is from an early thirties piece. So is Tochmekh RPT another outft that maufactured the cases for some 1GChZ watches? and what is RPT?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,145 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Comrade mroatman,

once again you have astounded us with a splendid piece, fit as you say for a museum! By coincidence, I am currently wearing a much, much humbler watch than yours, but interesting in its own way. Another coincidence: date stamp is as yours from 4th quarter 1940, 1st State Watch Factory stamp and 5666 serial, compared to 50667 (yours)! A total of six sixes!
What a nice piece, OKEAH, thank you for sharing. I'm glad to see such an interest in this thread -- I thought everyone had forgotten about these gems in favor of Vostoks.

I completely agree with your preference for period straps rather than modern creations, and I'm always on the lookout for originals (or well-weathered replacements; impossible to really know of course). Did your strap come with the watch or did you purchase it separately? I've only ever found these attached to the watches themselves.

I have never heard the bit about these Type-1s being intentionally unadorned for heightened readability, but it makes perfect sense to me. Very interesting.

I wish I could help you with the "RPT" stamp, but I have no idea. I would love some enlightenment, however, so I hope some old hands will chime in here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,380 Posts
I'm glad to see such an interest in this thread -- I thought everyone had forgotten about these gems in favor of Vostoks.
Comrade oatman, the price of Type-1s has icreased substantially in the last 10 years, no doubt because of their popularity. I have actually been lusting after a saucepan with a dial number, full lume and a dial stamp, like yours, for a long time. The ones I find these days, not even Marshal Zhukov could afford. Regarding Vostoks, I consider the 350 with its swing/wire lugs the natural descendant of the saucepan; this is one of the reasons I like the 350, a waterproof saucepan so to speak (or sauceproof perhaps).
There, I said "waterproof"! The Swiss HoPo (Horological Police) will knock on my door at 3am, wake me up and force me to edit it to "water-resistant"

Did your strap come with the watch or did you purchase it separately? I've only ever found these attached to the watches themselves.
It came with the watch. Unlike the two-piece vintage straps usually attached to saucepans via rivets, this is one of the earliest bifurcating ones I have seen and thus easily removable (like a "bund" but the two pieces are permanently attached at one end; these evolved into the Gagarin or compass Soviet straps. Eventually the Watch Strap Command of NATO (WSC-NATO) b-) copied the idea for use in polyester straps). This one is fancly; it has a buckle at the other end and the leather is of good quality. Difficult to date it, but the leather is quite old, cracked but sturdy. It has the typical old Soviet leather smell, familiar to those who have handled Soviet camera cases.

I have never heard the bit about these Type-1s being intentionally unadorned for heightened readability, but it makes perfect sense to me. Very interesting.
The idea was expressed by Comrade Mark Gordon in connection with Soviet military, naval and spacecraft clock dials, not necessarily Type-1. I think it achieves a double goal: uncluttered readability and lower printing costs. Also there was no need to advertise the brand to Red Army soldiers!


I wish I could help you with the "RPT" stamp, but I have no idea. I would love some enlightenment, however, so I hope some old hands will chime in here.

Perhaps Comrade ocram could help?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,145 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Comrade oatman, the price of Type-1s has icreased substantially in the last 10 years, no doubt because of their popularity. I have actually been lusting after a saucepan with a dial number, full lume and a dial stamp, like yours, for a long time. The ones I find these days, not even Marshal Zhukov could afford. Regarding Vostoks, I consider the 350 with its swing/wire lugs the natural descendant of the saucepan; this is one of the reasons I like the 350, a waterproof saucepan so to speak (or sauceproof perhaps).
There, I said "waterproof"! The Swiss HoPo (Horological Police) will knock on my door at 3am, wake me up and force me to edit it to "water-resistant"
Haha, sauceproof, I love it!

I greatly admire your strap; never seen one quite like it. I've never handled a Soviet camera case, but I've been around enough of these straps to understand exactly the smell you describe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,380 Posts
Neither have I Comrade (seen a strap like that before). Now if you start handling Soviet Cameras (Zorki, FED, and the like) you have to be very careful, because they are as addictive to some as watches.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top