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On the eve of the new year, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a watch that was present a long time ago at the dawn of an even more momentous new era...

Technically speaking, it isn't really much of a watch. It is a small Swiss-made 15-jewel Anthos wristwatch with a copper and chrome-plated case. It was probably manufactured in the very first years of the 20th century.

What makes this watch significant is not the manufacturer, movement or design, but the inscription etched into the back. The inscription reads:

"To the honest warrior of the Red Army from the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Red Army's Deputates"

Petrograd was the name given to St. Petersberg in 1914, when Tsarist Russia entered the First World War. In January 1924, a few days after Lenin's death, the city's name was again changed, this time to Leningrad. These events date the inscription on this watch from early 1918, when the Bolsheviks consolidated their control over the city shortly after the 'October' (1917) Revolution, to earliest weeks of January 1924, when the city was renamed to honor Lenin's memory.

This wonderful piece of history, which I obtained from a seller in St. Petersberg, was apparently cherished by its earlier owners. Dates scratched on the inside of the back cover indicate that it was repaired in 1950 and again in 1955. A third repair code is unfortunately not legible (at least to me).

It is this kind of thing that makes Soviet watches special to me. I try to imagine what this 'honest' solider did to deserve such a valuable reward in such difficult times. I try to picture under what circumstances it was presented to him, and whether he wore it and used it in his duties, or displayed it proudly in his hime, or kept it hidden in some safe hideaway...

Happy New Year to all of you.
-- Mark

P.S. Special thanks to Andy_I for his help with this particularly difficult translation.
 

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On the eve of the new year, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a watch that was present a long time ago at the dawn of an even more momentous new era...

Technically speaking, it isn't really much of a watch. It is a small Swiss-made 15-jewel Anthos wristwatch with a copper and chrome-plated case. It was probably manufactured in the very first years of the 20th century.

What makes this watch significant is not the manufacturer, movement or design, but the inscription etched into the back. The inscription reads:

"To the honest warrior of the Red Army from the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Red Army's Deputates"

Petrograd was the name given to St. Petersberg in 1914, when Tsarist Russia entered the First World War. In January 1924, a few days after Lenin's death, the city's name was again changed, this time to Leningrad. These events date the inscription on this watch from early 1918, when the Bolsheviks consolidated their control over the city shortly after the 'October' (1917) Revolution, to earliest weeks of January 1924, when the city was renamed to honor Lenin's memory.

This wonderful piece of history, which I obtained from a seller in St. Petersberg, was apparently cherished by its earlier owners. Dates scratched on the inside of the back cover indicate that it was repaired in 1950 and again in 1955. A third repair code is unfortunately not legible (at least to me).

It is this kind of thing that makes Soviet watches special to me. I try to imagine what this 'honest' solider did to deserve such a valuable reward in such difficult times. I try to picture under what circumstances it was presented to him, and whether he wore it and used it in his duties, or displayed it proudly in his hime, or kept it hidden in some safe hideaway...

Happy New Year to all of you.
-- Mark

P.S. Special thanks to Andy_I for his help with this particularly difficult translation.
Although it was not made in Russia, that watch is fully worthy to obtain an outstanding place in your collection. The complicated events of that period are almost imprinted in the metal of that watch. The history of a watch, of a man, and of a nation, at the same time .
Another great find! :-!
 

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Although it was not made in Russia, that watch is fully worthy to obtain an outstanding place in your collection. The complicated events of that period are almost imprinted in the metal of that watch. The history of a watch, of a man, and of a nation, at the same time . Another great find! :-!
Yes, Michele. You are right.

I hope that the members of this forum, in their excitement to see all the newest models from Volmax and Vostok, etc., don't lose sight of the reason why the Russian watch industry came into being in the first place.

The Bolsheviks didn't create this industry to make pretty watches... Russian watch making was born almost at the beginning of the Soviet State because of a crippling economic boycott imposed by the Western powers and it was nurtured through the decades by the pressing technical needs of industry and the military. It is really a remarkable story filled with drama, political intrigue, spies, quirky innovation and, occasionally, comedy and incompetence.

It would be a real shame if this unique pedigree is forgotten and Russian-made watches become just another trendy alternative to a Breitling or Blancpain.

-- Mark
 

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