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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Comrades,

If you were expecting to find a yellow polka-dot bikini, I'm sorry to disappoint. Instead, I would like to share with you a Chaika 1200 -- the smallest Soviet movement ever manufactured.

The real novelty of this piece is of course the size (9 x 13mm). It is impossible to convey how diminutive this watch is through photos alone. I had studied many examples online before purchasing, and nothing gave me a sense of the true size until I saw it in person. It is truly, amazingly, spectacularly small. I have attempted to demonstrate the scale of this watch in my photos below, but pictures just don't do it justice. The nearest strap I could find for this piece was a strand of dental floss.

The 17-jewel Chaika 1200 was produced at the Uglich Watch Plant from around 1964-1968, then promptly discontinued, probably due to high manufacturing costs. Therefore, relatively few examples were ever produced. Furthermore, I have read that Soviet watchmakers often did not repair these mechanisms (perhaps too small to work on effectively? or lack of parts?), meaning even fewer have survived to today. The watch was apparently issued in honor of the anniversary of the first female to have ever flown in space: cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who flew with Vostok-6 on June 16, 1963. Her call sign on this flight was Chaika (Ча́йка, "seagull").

Just a few years ago, these pieces were incredibly rare and difficult to source. Now, a quick scan of eBay reveals several listings, but all at outrageous prices ($200+). Finding a Cyrillic example in decent condition at a reasonable price is a challenge.

I have done my best to exhibit the size of this watch, but nothing can compare to holding it in your hand. It's an incredible piece indeed.

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I have average-sized hands.

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Here is our lovely 1200 beside an iPhone 5 home button -- not much larger.

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The case hugs the 17-jewel movement snugly; clearly a design intended to best exhibit the impressive size.

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I don't know what the numbers on the inside of the case mean. Does anyone else? Perhaps the top is referring to the caliber (should be 1200), the middle is some serial number, and the bottom refers to the gold plating? Random guesses here.

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I think this juxtaposition with a Pobeda, already a very modestly-sized watch, helps demonstrate the size.

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Spasibo!
 

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An absolutely fascinating rare piece Dashiell - many congratulations! I would say wear it in good health, but I doubt you will - therefore I will say keep it in your watch display case in good health, and enjoy!
 

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I have two of them, with slightly different dials. I need a minute hand for one of them, and the hour wheel and both hands for the other! Both movements run well, and the 1200 is surprisingly easy to work on, given that everything is so small. I'm not surprised they were made for only a short time - production costs must have been high, and the market quite limited. The watch is so small that I really need a loupe to see the dial well enough to tell the time - might be OK for good, young eyes, but... Working on the movement is fine if you have a stereo microscope, but for daily use as a practical timepiece I would consider it of limited value!

Can't help you with the internal case markings - mine have none - Just Chaika 1200 CCCP stamped on the outside of the back, but I suspect your interpretation of the marks is correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #5

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Oh wow, i remember my grandmother having one of these very small Chaikas.

Though what you have said is true, a regular watchmaker will more then like turn down a Chaika since they were considered hard to fix and to source parts for.

And also the difference between the Chaika and a simple Dirskie is immense, quite surprising really.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I don't know what the numbers on the inside of the case mean. Does anyone else? Perhaps the top is referring to the caliber (should be 1200), the middle is some serial number, and the bottom refers to the gold plating? Random guesses here.
Just a quick update, as I seem to have answered my own question. I've seen at least two other examples with the same "serial number" stamped into the inside of the case-back. This tells me that this number is not the serial at all, but in fact, the model number, as per the catalog: Model 513000. This also explains why examples with different dials don't have this number.

My only lingering question is why more Soviet watches didn't have model numbers written somewhere. It would make our Sherlock Holmes efforts so much easier...


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This seems to be by far the most logical and correct explanation, if it wasn't for a little problem: enlarging the catalog pictures, it looks rather clear that the dial style 513040 is the "round" one, while the "square"-shaped (just check the indexes in the corners) is coded 583000.


So following your theory (to which, by the way, I'd totally adhere), it would mean that your examples are both incorrect, but you got lucky because having one piece of each caseback style you could just swap them.... if it wasn't for a last little problem: my own example is a square-style dial marked "Chaika / Made in USSR" (belonging therefore to the 583000 family), but the caseback is just like yours: "1200/513000/12.5MK".

I agree they are too few to be statistically significant, but nonetheless makes me wonder how likely it is that 3 pieces out of 3 might have had their casebacks swapped during their lifetime (on such an uncommon watch?)... or, did the Soviets get confused when marking them? Or did they mean something else?


BTW, a very interesting detail I was totally unaware of is shown in your last post's first photo: late productions movements (according to the visible S/N) weren't stripes-decorated anymore, and on them the factory logo had been moved from the main bridge to the ratchet wheel, which also carried the "1200" marking on it -something not present at all on earlier models.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
This seems to be by far the most logical and correct explanation, if it wasn't for a little problem: enlarging the catalog pictures, it looks rather clear that the dial style 513040 is the "round" one, while the "square"-shaped (just check the indexes in the corners) is coded 583000. Did the Soviets get confused when marking them? Or did they mean something else?
Oh, it's much simpler than you realize. Take a look at the catalog again:


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Case type "583" refers to some bizarro never-before-seen case with integrated bracelet and no lugs. I don't know if this model ever make it to production, but I've never seen it before, and it's definitely not like any of those shown in prior photos. This "583" watch does have the correct dial, however, with even numbers only: dial type "000".

Now take a look at the first watch, with case type "513", and notice it is the familiar Chaika 1200 case we all know and love.

So, combining the traditional case type with fixed lugs (case type 513) and the dial type with even numbers (dial type 000) gives us the proper watch: Model 513000.



BTW, a very interesting detail I was totally unaware of is shown in your last post's first photo: late productions movements (according to the visible S/N) weren't stripes-decorated anymore, and on them the factory logo had been moved from the main bridge to the ratchet wheel, which also carried the "1200" marking on it -something not present at all on earlier models.
Thanks to Rusty, we can actually be sure there were at least three generations of Chaika 1200 movement. I've made a composite photo of the different bridge types below:


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They're all decorated with the same striping pattern (excuse the unclear photo in my previous post that doesn't capture this detail), and it further appears that serial numbers are not sequential/reliable. I can't be sure which movement type came first, but the model with inscribed barrel wheel was probably an earlier model. How do we know? As you can see below, this model has a larger pivot pin (circled in red; ignore the blue arrow) and therefore a thinner, weaker setting lever.

Presumably, Uglich manufacturers noticed this as a key weakness in the initial design, then redesigned the movement with a smaller pivot pin to allow for a sturdier setting lever. The parts are not interchangeable.


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Thanks to Rusty for investigating this "rare" movement, which -- given that there were at least three generations produced -- may not be as rare as we once believed.
 

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Thanks for concisely writing that up! I would offer only one clarification on the pivot pin issue. I think the larger pin came first. The weakness wasn't in the pin, it was in the set lever. In the photo with the circled pins (the one with the superfluous blue arrow) you can see the broken lever just below the larger pin. Most of the movements I have that have the larger pin, have a broken set lever. It appears that the hole drilled in the center of the lever was so big that it weakened the lever. The smaller hole, for the smaller pin, offered more set-lever strength.

The blue arrow, in fact, points to a broken piece of stem, which I think was probably broken off as someone tried to pull out the stem, but the broken set lever wouldn't release.

I think the smaller pin was the factory's answer to the problem, and it was the smaller pin that came last or, at least, after the large pin.

Edit: To add to the technical discussion: I called that pin a "pivot pin" only because the set lever pivots on it - you pull out the stem and the set lever pivots on the pin to move the clutch lever into setting position. The SAME pin and set lever are also the stem release mechanism. The set lever has a little peg on it that fits into the outer groove on the stem. When you push in the stem release button, it pushes the pin and lifts the set lever, the peg clears the groove in the stem, allowing you to withdraw the stem. It's a fairly typical mechanism, I think, but that tiny set lever gets a lot of stress every time you set the time, and even more when you push in the stem release button. The larger set lever hole to accommodate the larger pin didn't leave enough "meat" to handle the stress. All of the broken set levers I've looked at are broken right across the middle of the hole, like the one in the photo.
 

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By the way, of the five case backs I have, all of them have the "513000" stamped inside. None of them have "Chaika 1200" stamped on the outside of the caseback, as I've seen in other photographs.
I don't know if it means anything, just adding information.
 
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