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Hi,

I am a novice watch enthusiast and have lately become interested in Soviet era Russian watches. Several of the watches I have purchased (or, am considering purchasing) on ebay are described by caliber, or, in the description as being 17 jewel, or, manual winding for example, but the dial indicates 31 jewel or self-winding. Have these watches been rebuilt? Is the mismatch a red flag (no pun intended) or is it common to find Vostok watches that are assembled from various parts not matching the original? How is such a watch dated? By the movement/caliber or by the case?

Thoughts and advice appreciated.

-Kokomodo
 

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Hi,

I am a novice watch enthusiast and have lately become interested in Soviet era Russian watches. Several of the watches I have purchased (or, am considering purchasing) on ebay are described by caliber, or, in the description as being 17 jewel, or, manual winding for example, but the dial indicates 31 jewel or self-winding. Have these watches been rebuilt? Is the mismatch a red flag (no pun intended) or is it common to find Vostok watches that are assembled from various parts not matching the original? How is such a watch dated? By the movement/caliber or by the case?

Thoughts and advice appreciated.

-Kokomodo
Anytime you notice a mismatch like that usually indicates a parts- bin watch.
 

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Anytime you notice a mismatch like that usually indicates a parts- bin watch.
So, if an ad claims "100% Original" but has a mismatch, does that mean that all of the parts are original parts, or is the ad disingenuous?
 

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So, if an ad claims "100% Original" but has a mismatch, does that mean that all of the parts are original parts, or is the ad disingenuous?
I'd agree with JacobC when it comes to ebay (and etsy, based on my own experiences). If there's some mismatch between the description and the pics of the watch, then it's a good assumption it could be franken - with some exceptions. There are hundreds of variations of Vostok watches out there and not all are consistent. That said, a description of 17 jewels in a watch with 31 actually mentioned on the dial would raise red flags.
 

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I think it is an agreed terminology now: ‘authentic’ means original. ‘Original’ means nothing (means it is build from original watch parts).
Haha, yes. All parts are 'original' Vostok, not necessarily from a single watch😋

That reminded me of the one I read about online somewhere ages ago...
Scottish Smoked Salmon = salmon smoked in Scotland, but farmed or caught somewhere else.
Smoked Scottish Salmon = salmon from Scotland, smoked somewhere else.

Always be careful of the wording! :rolleyes:

EDITED: because I'm hopeless
 

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It could also be a simple mistake on the seller's part; maybe the movement is, for example, 31 jewels but he has written 17 jewels out of habit if he sells lets say watches with 17 jewels more often... I would ask the seller about it before making conclusions (some sellers don't even know watches at all, they just have something they want to sell), and a photo of the movement is a muss.

One example - I bought a Raketa Copernicus on ebay where the seller had written that the watch has the "very reliable" 2609 NA movement, although on the photos it was clear to see it was 2609 NP - which by the way was the correct movement for the watch.
 

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It could also be a simple mistake on the seller's part; maybe the movement is, for example, 31 jewels but he has written 17 jewels out of habit if he sells lets say watches with 17 jewels more often... I would ask the seller about it before making conclusions (some sellers don't even know watches at all, they just have something they want to sell), and a photo of the movement is a muss.

One example - I bought a Raketa Copernicus on ebay where the seller had written that the watch has the "very reliable" 2609 NA movement, although on the photos it was clear to see it was 2609 NP - which by the way was the correct movement for the watch.
Sure, in fact, my assumption was that the seller had re-used boiler plate text (easy to understand with many watches to enter into the system.) But, when I checked with him he verified that the dial is marked "31 kamen" but the caliber was 17. So, I think it's pretty clear that someone at some point rebuilt the watch - possibly the seller himself.

Well, I'll take this as a learning experience and not let it dampen my spirits. It would be nice if the watches I have were "as originally produced." But, given the price range I'm in, I am beginning to see that that's unlikely.

Are there particular sellers on ebay who are reputable and honest? Any to stay away from? I have two soviet watches, and three on the way. Likely all franken watches. I'll post some pictures sometime and let the experts weigh in.

I thought my fascination with old soviet watches was unusual. Apparently there is a big market. Who knew?
 

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Haha, yes. All parts are 'original' Vostok, just necessarily from a single watch😋

That reminded me of the one I read about online somewhere ages ago...
Scottish Smoked Salmon = salmon smoked in Scotland, but farmed or caught somewhere else.
Smoked Scottish Salmon = salmon from Scotland, smoked somewhere else.

Always be careful of the wording! :rolleyes:
George Washington's Axe comes to mind.....
 

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I had an interesting discussion with one of the sellers I've bought from. I approached him non-confrontationally, and he was straightforward and honest. He wrote that the watches are original (I mean in the common use of the word, meaning "from origin"....that is, all the parts are as they were when the watch was produced and sold new) except for the dials. He drew a particular distinction between the CCCP watches and the Russian watches, as the CCCP watches are typically older. Some of his watches are completely original (I believe someone here used the word "authentic.") But some have been restored (dial replaced, etc.) He said that sometimes the indications on the dial (e.g., # kamen) do not match the calibers, but that the calibers are the original. I will say that his descriptions of the watches on ebay have been accurate, the pictures are clear and do not obscure the mismatch between the dial and the described caliber, and the only thing I might take issue with is the use of the phrase "100% original."

Is it safe to say that if a dial on a forty year old soviet watch looks new...it is mostly likely a replacement? Are the common replacements actually made by Vostok (or, whatever company) or are they reproductions made, say, in China or somewhere else? Are there catalogs available online that would show all of the authentic dials associated with a particular model and movement?
 

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As JacobC said so well above, you have to develop genuine expertise if you want to buy in any antique market. With watches especially, what you may know about Hamiltons will not even remotely carry over to Soviet watches, so you have to have the patience to learn each field. But there are some general rules of thumb when starting out buying antiques. First and foremost, buy quality and study it. The only way to train your eye is to spend time with good things. Pay up from someone reliable so you can learn. Later on, once you have an understanding of what is good and what is not, you can figure out what is a good buy. Fortunately, and most fun, the cost of entry to Soviet watches is low, so you can afford to learn from your mistakes. Understand that mismatched dials and movements, over restored or redialed pieces are to be avoided. Movements that have the wrong period parts are harder to figure out, but the seller should provide good photos and eventually you'll figure out at least the obvious (like shock protection on a balance wheel bearing that shouldn't be there). A watch that looks beaten up a bit, but with everything genuine to the watch, is the way to go. Such a thing can in time be sensitively restored. Keep away from great looking new things, unless of course they are new. Better looking things that don't quite show their age are most likely forgeries, whereas something a bit beaten up may very well be right.

And if you want to see what it takes to really collect, start reading this thread, the knowledge here is precious and spectacular:


And you were asking about catalogs...

 

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I had an interesting discussion with one of the sellers I've bought from. I approached him non-confrontationally, and he was straightforward and honest. He wrote that the watches are original (I mean in the common use of the word, meaning "from origin"....that is, all the parts are as they were when the watch was produced and sold new) except for the dials. He drew a particular distinction between the CCCP watches and the Russian watches, as the CCCP watches are typically older. Some of his watches are completely original (I believe someone here used the word "authentic.") But some have been restored (dial replaced, etc.) He said that sometimes the indications on the dial (e.g., # kamen) do not match the calibers, but that the calibers are the original. I will say that his descriptions of the watches on ebay have been accurate, the pictures are clear and do not obscure the mismatch between the dial and the described caliber, and the only thing I might take issue with is the use of the phrase "100% original."

Is it safe to say that if a dial on a forty year old soviet watch looks new...it is mostly likely a replacement? Are the common replacements actually made by Vostok (or, whatever company) or are they reproductions made, say, in China or somewhere else? Are there catalogs available online that would show all of the authentic dials associated with a particular model and movement?
So, in a nutshell he's selling franken watches and if you hadn't asked, you would have purchased thinking the watch was original and authentic? Hmmm. Using semantics to fool an unsuspecting customer into buying a watch that contains 'original' and 'authentic' parts - from different watches - is pretty shady. It's rife in the used watch market and can be hard to spot without lots of knowledge and experience.

You could write a book on the things to look for when buying older Vostok watches. The more old watches you look at, the more you learn to spot things that look wrong. Some of this is just common sense too.

Dials on old Vostoks rarely look new and the lume is often a dead giveaway. The coloured ones tend to have micro, hairline fractures in the enamel paint, or the colour of certain parts on the dial will have faded (red stars going pale or pinkish is a common one). Lumed paint degrades, crumbles and flakes away over time. It will also change colour. A new looking dial with hands that have cracked lume and a case where the brass is showing through the worn plating is not going to be completely original. Do all the changeable parts of the watch look like they have similar amounts of wear? No? Then be wary.

Check that the dial is central. Are there gaps around the edge anywhere? Could be a replacement dial or movement. Could be a missing movement spacer.

A 30-40yr old Komandirskie that has been well used will probably have a crown with little or no knurl left on it due to the watch being wound manually so many times - they often look quite smooth. A nice and sharp looking knurl on an old hand wound watch would raise a flag for me immediately. Look at the case around the crown. Does it show signs of wear, being rubbed by fingers for many years when winding? If so, and yet the crown looks new, it probably is.

Bezels on Vostok watches, particularly the cheaper ones, will usually have missing paint, scratches and more. Compare the bezel with the rest of the case. They should show similar amounts of wear and damage. Bezels are often swapped out.

Is the watch a few years old and showing signs of wear, but the crystal looks pristine? Could be a new crystal, could be that someone has just used polywatch on it. As Vostok use plastic, they do scratch very easily. If someone has gone to the trouble of polishing some scratches out of the crystal, could they have repaired or replaced anything else?

Should the watch have an anti-magnetic shield inside? If so, and there isn't one, ask why if the seller claims the watch is in original condition.

Buy a timegrapher if you can. Vostok watches, particularly older ones, will often not have been serviced or regulated and will need a bit of attention. A timegrapher is a good investment if you want to tinker with your own watches.

And on and on it goes. It is never ending with this hobby and that's precisely why it's so awesome :)
 

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My 2 cents: most sellers are actually honest and good people. But they are just sellers. Not experts. Not collectors. So you cannot expect they always know that something was replaced. Many of us who spent years looking at the watches get confused... study and compare. When you see a bargain and buy quickly you may make a mistake. Its part of the fun.
 

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My 2 cents: most sellers are actually honest and good people. But they are just sellers. Not experts. Not collectors. So you cannot expect they always know that something was replaced. Many of us who spent years looking at the watches get confused... study and compare. When you see a bargain and buy quickly you may make a mistake. Its part of the fun.
Yes, almost all the sellers I have dealt with have been great and I didn't want to suggest otherwise with my post. It pays to be careful with older watches even if the seller seems to know what they are talking about.

I have bought a few duds that turned out to be so franken that I ended up with many spares for future projects :) There are some bargains to be had too. Like the old Komandirskie I found in a job lot of cheap quartz watches that the seller thought was broken. It wasn't, it just needed winding.
 

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Haha, yes. All parts are 'original' Vostok, not necessarily from a single watch😋

That reminded me of the one I read about online somewhere ages ago...
Scottish Smoked Salmon = salmon smoked in Scotland, but farmed or caught somewhere else.
Smoked Scottish Salmon = salmon from Scotland, smoked somewhere else.

Always be careful of the wording! :rolleyes:

EDITED: because I'm hopeless
Very Off Topic Reply

Reminds me of staying with my brother and his wife for Christmas a few years ago; his oldest daughter and her Scottish husband were also there for Christmas.

I took along some smoked salmon to have on Christmas morning with scrambled eggs but apologised profusely at breakfast for only bringing second best smoked salmon. Rising to the bait my nephew-in-law asked "why second best?" to which I relied "I couldn't get any Irish so had to make do with Scottish" (yes, I'm Irish); the look he gave me was priceless (the look my niece gave me could kill). :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 
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