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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Two of the most challenging aspects of collecting Poljot chronographs are determining their age, and whether or not they are in original form. I have always been amazed at how little information is available in regards to dating these watches. This is especially true of the early chronographs produced during the Soviet era, where hard evidence indicating year of production as well as catalogues are few and far between. So here's hoping this guide will help all those interested in determining the age and originality of a Poljot chronograph.

A 3133 Chronograph appears on the front cover of Poljot's 1982 Catalogue:
poljot82.jpg

Unfortunately, I will not be able to add sufficient information to allow you to pinpoint an exact year of production during much of the Soviet era. However, after cross-referencing a chronograph with the following information, you should be able to narrow the age down to within a few years. In most cases, you will have to rely on more than just one element to determine a) the approximate age of the chronograph, b) whether or not it has been repaired at some point, and c) whether or not it has been frankened together using available parts. In addition, you can expect to see a replacement part or two on many of the older chronographs that can confuse the dating process.

I would welcome any information that would help identify the age of a particular early model chronograph, and I will be happy to make changes/updates when necessary. However, if you have previously posted information about dating a 3133, or have posted images of a 3133 movement, I have more than likely already viewed it and taken it into consideration - and thank you for that. What we need now is hard-evidence such as a chronograph with papers from the late '70s or early '80s. Even circumstantial evidence such as Dad or Gradpa "received this watch in 1980 while serving in the military" or "when visiting the Soviet Union", or possibly an engraving that indicates the latest possible production date. Again, if it's already "out there", I've probably seen it.

The majority of watches and photographs in the following presentation are from my own collection. However, my conclusions are by no means based on my collection alone. I am simply using my own images, whenever possible, to avoid having to make numerous and sometimes impossible requests. Thanks to those who have, unknowingly, provided images for this presentation, as I have no record of where I copied them from.

The Balance Wheel

By the beginning of 1993, all Poljot Chronograph movement are fitted with a new silver alloy balance wheel. Checking the balance wheel is a quick way of determining which side of Q4-1992 a Poljot chronograph is on. However, there's always the chance that a well worn chronograph from the '80s has been retrofitted when serviced.

A "Made in Russia" in '92 chronograph with brass balance wheel:
balance1.jpg

A NOS "Kosmos-1992" with brass balance wheel:
balance2.jpg

A NOS "Space'92" tagged June, 1993 with a new silver alloy balance wheel:
balance3.jpg

A "MADE IN RUSSIA" stamp appeared on the balance wheel bridge between 1997-2004:
balance4.jpg
balance5.jpg

The Chronograph Wheels

A switch from silver to gold coloured chronograph wheels took place ca. 1983 - around the same time the chronographs became available to the public. Often you will see a mix of silver and gold chronograph wheels due either to repair or franken-work. See examples of both versions in the images below.

Chronograph Bridge Stamps - Model Number Stamp

The Initial Model Stamp - 1976-1990

Font type: OCR-B
3133stamp1.jpg

Note that on the "3" the open end of the top bar extends out equally as far as the open end of the bottom bowl.

Early Poljot 3133 chronograph:
3133stamp1a.jpg

Late Soviet era Poljot Chronograph 1990:
3133stamp1b.jpg

Second Model Stamp early-"SU 3133" - 1990-1993

Font Type: OCR-B

An "SU" is prefixed just prior to the break up of the Soviet Union.
3133stamp2.jpg

A late Soviet era early-"SU 3133" stamp 1991:
3133stamp2a.jpg

A Russian early-"SU 3133" stamp 1992:
3133stamp2b.jpg

Frankenmakers will fit this movement to an original or reproduction '80s dial because it has the "SU" stamp, and in most cases a brass balance wheel. Later model movements are also fitted with fake bridge stamps and brass balance wheels:
fake.jpg
Having cross-referenced the above chronograph with the information in this document, one should be able to conclude that this is the ultimate 3133 frankenchrono! :-(

The bridge stamp has been faked - "23 JEWELS" in latin on a so-called '80s OKEAH?

Different era bridge stamp - "SU 3133" on an '80s OKEAH?

"SU 3133" + "23JEWELS" in latin never happened.

The dial is a reproduction, the hands are wrong...

Just about everything about this watch is not right. The movement is a late-'90s fitted with brass balance and faked chrono bridge stamp. And here's the kicker... it can be all yours for the "Buy It Now" price of $625US! b-)

Third Model Stamp late-"SU 3133" - 1993-1995

The font-type is a bolder modification of the previous stamp.
3133stamp3.jpg

Note that:

A)On the "3", the open end of the bottom bowl extends out further than the upper bar.
B)The right stem of the "U" is leaning slightly to the left.

NOS "Space'92" tagged June, 1993 with late-"SU 3133" stamp:
3133stamp3a.jpg

NOS "Kosmos 1994-1996"" with late-"SU 3133" stamp:
3133stamp3b.jpg

Forth model stamp - 1995-1997

The "SU" is removed prior to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. A coincidence? Maybe. Poljot produced numerous commemorative watches for the 1996 Olympics.
3133stamp4.jpg
3133stamp4a.jpg

NOS Poljot "Body Guard" 1996:
3133stamp4b.jpg

Poljot "Casino" 1997:
3133stamp4c.jpg

Fifth model stamp - 1997-present-day

A new stamp with a "P" (which presumably stands for "Russia") prefixed to a bolder version of the original style number font.
3133stamp5.jpg

NOS Poljot "Alpha Group Sniper" 1997:
3133stamp5a.jpg

Aviator with MakTime 3133 assembled in 2010:
3133stamp5b.jpg

Chronograph Bridge Stamps - 23Jewels Stamp

A conversion from Cyrillic to Latin on the "23JEWELS" stamp was introduced with the "Fifth model stamp - 1997-present"(see above).

Chronograph Bridge Stamps - Movement Serial Number and Poljot Crown

Assuming that the top of the chronograph bridge is where the jewels are located, for the vast majority of Poljot chronographs we are use to seeing a 4 or 5 digit serial number rotated counter-clockwise approximately 120 degrees from the normal horizontal position - with the lower part of the numbers being closest to the centre of the chronograph bridge. The top of the number is to the left, and the bottom is to the right. Some of the earliest models, however, are a mirror image of this with the top of the numbers being closest to the centre of the chronograph bridge(Image 1).

There are more than a few examples of this.

Also, note the head of crown/stem release push button on all of these movements is protruding instead of being machined hollow. Want to know if you have an early Poljot chronograph movement? Check this button!

Image 1:
serial1.jpg

Image 2:
serial2.jpg

Image 3:
serial3.jpg

Image 4:
serial4.jpg

Some versions have the Poljot crown stamped on the bridge(2,3), and some do not(1). Also note than neither of the above examples has a Poljot crown stamped on the main body of the movement.

Now, the question is which of the bridge stamp variations came first?

The most logical explanation would be the initial bridge stamp had the mirrored serial number without the Poljot crown(1); followed by version two which had a Poljot crown added(2); then version three with the cast about modern application of the serial number with crown(3); and then version four with the crown eliminated from the bridge stamp and placed on the main body beside the balance wheel as seen below.

EDIT: Another version with the protruding crown release button on the movement. This version has the crown stamp on the main body of the movement, indicating that is the newest version of the early 3133 chronograph movements. The chronograph is very similar to the one pictured in the 1982 catalogue(see above).
polet_1.jpg

polet_2.jpg

A typical mid-80s bridge stamp:
serial5.jpg

Of course, this is just my own theory. However, any other scenario would involve an extra flip-flop of the serial number at some point.

Whatever the case may be, the lack of a Poljot crown on the main body of the movement, and the protruding stem release button head, are the two common properties that enable you to date a movement to the early years of production. Plus, if you were to take into account serial numbers on the high side of 5000, it's not hard to imagine movements with these bridge stamps running into the early '80s. According to a few sources, production of the 3017 chronograph was approximately 5000 unit per year, and there is no reason to believe it was much higher for the pre-1989 3133 chronographs. Again, if anyone has some hard evidence--I'd love to see it!

Moving on from the so-called military-issue period, the only change of significance made to the serial number was in 1989 when it was changed from a 4-digit number to a 5-digit number. At this point during the era of Perestroika, projected production would have been in excess of 10,000 units per year and hence an extra digit would have been necessary.

An early 5-digit serial number "04226" 1989:
serial6.jpg

A complete bridge stamp overhaul took place in 1997 with a noticeable downsizing of the serial number font.
serial7.jpg


The Date Ring

The San Serif font on the early date ring prints is slightly bolder.

An early '80s aviator model sporting a replaced chrono second hand, repaired second and chrono minute hand, a replaced crystal, and the original older date ring print:
datering1.jpg

A mid-80s Aviator with a slightly more refined print of the same Sans Serif font on the date ring:
datering3.jpg
datering2.jpg

A new thin and tall Gothic-style font replaces the old Sans Serif date ring font in 1988.
datering4.jpg
datering5.jpg

Over a decade later, just Prior to the demise of Poljot, a new and much bolder font made it's debut in 2001.
datering6.jpg
datering7.jpg


The Chronograph Reset Lever

Converted from a two-piece adjustable to one-piece non-adjustable between 1986-87. Another easy way to date your chronograph.
reset.jpg


Dials, Bezels and Cases

To keep things manageable, I'm going to limit coverage to the late-seventies and majority of the eighties. Juri Levenberg’s numerous catalogues, available through his eBay store, adequately cover the hundreds of dials available throughout the nineties.

Documented history of the early Poljot 3133 chronographs is, to say the least, vague. According to numerous sources(all repeating the same thing), the military-issue OKEAH was produced first, followed shortly thereafter by the military-issue Aviator Sturmanskie, and then we jump ahead 5-years to the release of the 3133 movement for non-military use in 1983 - with nothing more than a few links to spaceflights for other pre-1983 models. Beyond 1983, however, you can find a much greater degree of information, mostly imagery, supplied by sources across the internet.

A quick reference timeline chart:
80sDials.jpg

First, I'd like to touch on something all the chronograph dials have in common; the machining of the chronograph eyes. There are a few different variations. On the early dials, the ridge connecting the sunken chronograph eyes and the main face of the dial has a curved slope:
chronoeye1.jpg
Note the slight curvature at the far end of the the painted indices adjacent to the chronograph eye.

Some mid-'80s dials had what looks to be a trench around the vertical walls that connect the sunken chronograph eyes and the main face of the dial.
chronoeye2.jpg

Later versions are simple straight cut right angles:
chronoeye3.jpg


The so-called "Civilian" dials:

dials1.jpg
dials2.jpg
dials3.jpg
dials4.jpg
dials5.jpg
Not all of the colour variations (silver, black or blue) are listed.

A high-resolution scan of the chronograph(3) alledged to have been worn by Berezovoy on the T-5 Soyuz mission between May 13 - December 10, 1982:
berezovoy.jpg
At the time new to Poljot chronographs, Serif-type fonts began to appear on Poljot watches ca. 1980.

Although it's clear that the dials with the Sans Serif font date back to the seventies, there is evidence to support both the San Serif dials, and the newer style dials with the slab Serif-type font, existed side by side through the early and mid-'80s:
dials.jpg
Almost identical dials.

The chronograph(2) in the centre of the image below is identical to the one alleged to have been worn by Gorbatko during the Soyuz 24 flight between February 7-25, 1977. Somehow, it made it's way into Poljot's 1992 catalogue. Unfortunately, I have no evidence to suggest that the older Sans Serif dials survived into the '90s. Therefore, I can only assume that (in the absence of an image of the newer model [i.e. with Serif-type font]) an older image from a previous catalogue was used in it’s place.
dials_civil.jpg
Note the positioning of the hands? For catalogue presentation, all Poljot watches had their hands positioned at 1:43. Also, notice the wrong hands on the model on the left, and the misaligned dial overlay! How did that make it to print?

OKEAH

One the most sought after Poljot Chronographs, limited production OKEAH chronographs from the late 1970s are almost non-existent, and original 1980s models are few and far between in today's online marketplaces.

The chronograph alleged to have been worn by Razhdestvensky on the Soyuz 23 mission between October 14-16, 1976:
okeah1.jpg

The one easily identifiable difference between early(late-‘70s, early-‘80s) and later model OKEAH dials is the slightly smaller font used to print the name "OKEAH".

A picture taken from the official Volmax web site with the same small font:
okeah2.jpg

A Poljot catalogue image (probably from the early '80s) of an early OKEAH:
okeah3.jpg
Again, for catalogue presentation, all Poljot watches had their hands positioned at 1:43. Also note the red time zone numbers on the rotating bezel, another indication of an early model.

And here is what I believe to be the definitive proof that this is the original OKEAH dial:
okeah4.jpg
okeah5.jpg
This watch has a later model of the original 3133 movement with the protruding head on the crown release button(see "Chronograph Bridge Stamps - Poljot Crown" above).

A mid-'80s OKEAH:
dials6.jpg
Military-issue OKEAHs have stainless steel cases. To date, I have no evidence of OKEAHs being produced into the nineties.

AVIATOR STURMANSKIES

Limited editions of the Aviator model were released up until it was replaced by the new grey painted version beginning in 1986. I own two of the older Aviator Sturmanskies. Both are fitted with stainless steel cases and stainless steel push buttons. I doubt this chronograph was ever available to the general public.

A mid-'80s Aviator Sturmanskie:
dials7.jpg

The early version of the new style stainless steel Aviator Sturmanskie 31569 - 1987:
sturmanskie1.jpg

How do you tell whether on not the case is stainless steel? It's not that easy. Check for wear-through on the chronograph push buttons and back side of the case - not the actual screwed down case back which is stainless steel on all models. The screw down stainless steel case back is a good excuse for vendors to claim "Stainless Steel".

A late Soviet-era Sturmanskie 31569 and 3133 -1991:
sturmanskie2.jpg

An excerpt from an early '90s Poljot catalogue: "During the latest Soviet-German space flight the new design of watch "Schturmanskie" was highly appreciated by spacemen."

An by modern-day collectors too! :-d

My late Soviet-era Sturmanskie:
dials8.jpg

Replica Dials

There out there, so take a good look at the dial of any '80s chronograph before purchasing. The easiest way to tell if the dial is a reproduction is by checking for a contemporary application of luminance, as the colour, texture, and volume is way off.
replicadial.jpg

I hate to end on a sour note, so here's an awesome image of the still available Volmax OKEAH 3133:
volmaxokeah.jpg
 

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Thank you!!! Great job! Hope you will continue on it! It's a very interesting subject and you know very well the 3133! So lot of things to learn from you!

About the crown's mark:

533157d1318383593-guide-determining-age-originality-poljot-3133-chronograph-3133stamp1a.jpg

Do you know more about it. I asked because I saw some early 3133 with ou without it, but with the same range of numbers!

Also, about dial:

Here is an early model (beginning of 80's):

old_poljot.jpg


And here is a dial from the end of 80's:

new_poljot.jpg

So we can see the difference of the fonts and the big difference with the USSR.
 

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Great! Add to fav. Many thanks.
 

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Wow - a staggering amount of work there, Polmax, and a very valuable addition to the body of Russian watch knowledge. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, guys! I've been meaning to put this guide together for some time now.

In regards to the dials you have, frantsous, the Sans Serif model has a thick black border around the date window, therefore I would suspect that it also has the silver coloured chrono wheels. Curiously, the Latin Sans Serif dial seems to have survived, alongside the Serif dials, well into the ‘80s with a more refined version of the date-window-border and gold coloured chrono wheels.

As for the Crown, I suspect that after deciding to stamp it on the chrono bridge, Poljot later found a problem that necessitated a relocation. Maybe it was too close to the jewel.
 

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In regards to the dials you have, frantsous, the Sans Serif model has a thick black border around the date window, therefore I would suspect that it also has the silver coloured chrono wheels. Curiously, the Latin Sans Serif dial seems to have survived, alongside the Serif dials, well into the ‘80s with a more refined version of the date-window-border and gold coloured chrono wheels.
Here is my early 80's latin Poljot:

poljot_old.jpg

Look like my old cyrillic Poljot:

poljot_oldold.jpg
 

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Edit: I just noticed that hair on the movement! :-d
Oh my! I know it. That's must be an hair of my cat Ivan....:-|
(I REALLY don' know how could it arrive into your watch :-d )
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I had to retrace my steps through the deepest, darkest corners of the i-net to find these images again... but here they are:

CHINA WATCHES :: Zobacz temat - Katalogi z Radzieckimi Zegarkami

Only obtainable through a Google Poland search!

Unfortunately, the link to the catalogue is broken. Maybe one of our Polish friends can contact the forum member and arrange another upload. I was only interested in the cover, as it displays the only chronograph in the catalogue.

He has a Raketa `84 as well.
 

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Great article, and everything makes sense IMO. :-! I have just some doubts about the faked V-shaped bridge. I have seen a good number of bridges, and i have often found SU bridges in models that were produced
much time after the USSR collapse.

Moreover, for at least 4 or 5 times, i have found bridges marked as 31659 (typical of hacking-stop Shturmanskies) on normal, post-Soviet calibers 3133. I'm pretty sure that those watches were not frankened, they were often brand-new "basic" chronographs, the installation of a 31659 bridge makes no sense of those watches. I think that inscriptions on that bridge were quite mixed during the time.

On that Franken Okeah, the most logical and easier solution for the frankenmaker would be to install a normal, easily available SU 3133 bridge in Cyrillic, quite than taking an engraving machine to write "SU" on an English-stamped bridge. Also, we should draw up statistics about dial/bridge language to check if they always match.

Great source anyway, i have already moved it in the Articles section. |>
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Great article, and everything makes sense IMO. :-! I have just some doubts about the faked V-shaped bridge. I have seen a good number of bridges, and i have often found SU bridges in models that were produced
much time after the USSR collapse.

Moreover, for at least 4 or 5 times, i have found bridges marked as 31659 (typical of hacking-stop Shturmanskies) on normal, post-Soviet calibers 3133. I'm pretty sure that those watches were not frankened, they were often brand-new "basic" chronographs, the installation of a 31659 bridge makes no sense of those watches. I think that inscriptions on that bridge were quite mixed during the time.
Yes, as stated in the article, the "SU 3133" bridge stamp(s) were used between the years 1990-1995 - for the most part in the post-Soviet era. In my opinion, and I think I have adequate evidence to back this up, the bridge stamp is fake because "23 JEWELS" in English was never mixed with "SU 3133". Furthermore, if you examine the image closely, the "SU 3133" on the fake OKEAH is the earlier version(1990-1992). This is the first time I have ever seen a bridge stamp with "SU 3133" + "23 JEWELS" in English. I would be interested in seeing some more examples, if they exist. The switch to "23 JEWELS" in Latin, in my opinion, began in 1997.

On that Franken Okeah, the most logical and easier solution for the frankenmaker would be to install a normal, easily available SU 3133 bridge in Cyrillic, quite than taking an engraving machine to write "SU" on an English-stamped bridge. Also, we should draw up statistics about dial/bridge language to check if they always match.

Yes, if the frankenmaker actually had one available, and if he believed that the general public(eBay buyers) were actually aware that "SU 3133" + "23 JEWELS" in English was never mixed. I don’t think they are giving us that much credit.

Great source anyway, i have already moved it in the Articles section. |>
Thanks for posting to the articles section Michele!
 

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On that Franken Okeah, the most logical and easier solution for the frankenmaker would be to install a normal, easily available SU 3133 bridge in Cyrillic, quite than taking an engraving machine to write "SU" on an English-stamped bridge. Also, we should draw up statistics about dial/bridge language to check if they always match.

Yes, if the frankenmaker actually had one available, and if he believed that the general public(eBay buyers) were actually aware that "SU 3133" + "23 JEWELS" in English was never mixed.
As said, the "31659" bridges are an example of bridges added to theorically wrong movements (BTW, the Kosmos 1992 that you posted has exactly one of those bridges). The movement on the Okeah is clearly replaced (wheels and levers are totally wrong) and, given the general poor knowledge, it would be a useless effort to make a so precise "SU 3133" engraving.

However, on the other side, i think that the (obscene o| ) current level of prices makes convenient for Frankenmakers to "improve the details" (as seen with the Shturmanskie and Strela dials, at least in comparison with the old, dear, recognizable "inkjet dials" made until some years ago).

So a fake SU 3133 inscription to "counterbalance" the English inscription, is probably a good investment for the frankenmaker. If that inscription is really fake, its precision and sharpness (perfectly sized and centered) is very worrying. :think:

Brilliant work! |>
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yes, you're right, I was going to mention that my "31659" Cosmos is actually a 3133, and my 31659 Sturmanskie is stamped "SU 3133". As we've seen in recent threads, this also happens with present-day Volmax chronographs.

So a fake SU 3133 inscription to "counterbalance" the English inscription, is probably a good investment for the frankenmaker. If that inscription is really fake, its precision and sharpness (perfectly sized and centered) is very worrying.

Let's keep an eye out for this on eBay. I wouldn't be surprised if the factory produced a batch of fake old-style chrono bridges. :-(
 

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This is a very informative thread which has filled a lot of gaps in the history of the 3133. I didn't realize that the Aviator Sturmanskie with the gray dial only dates back to 1986. Juri Levenburg's book claims that it dates back to the '60s!
 
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