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Discussion Starter #1
I'm kinda new to the watch enthusiast hobby. I was hoping I could get some opinions on Vostok watches. From what I've read, they seem extremely rugged. And some of them look really nice. And there are so many options.

What are your experiences with longevity? Reliability? Water resistance? Failure? Getting it serviced?
 

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I'm kinda new to the watch enthusiast hobby. I was hoping I could get some opinions on Vostok watches. From what I've read, they seem extremely rugged. And some of them look really nice. And there are so many options.

What are your experiences with longevity? Reliability? Water resistance? Failure? Getting it serviced?
If you don't know much about Vostok... check this out. Vostok Amphibia

Vostok is a great brand to get started in the WISness. I only have one, but I am sure with time, I will also get an Amphibia. So much, I've had this Komandiskie which is a mechanical (winds up). The amphibia is pretty much alike, but it is an auto. Super watches for the price and a modders best friend.

Vostok by Wolfsatz, on Flickr

Vostok by Wolfsatz, on Flickr
 

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You'll get some people praising them, others saying they aren't worth their very affordable price. They have a few idiosyncracies -- no quick adjust date, wobbly crown, acrylic crystal... Personally, I think they are great. Have had a few and there will probably always be one in my collection. They are classics in the watch world.
 

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Vostok are super freaking cool watches. even cooler when you start to understand the history behind some of the designs.

Imagine being responsible for making a dive-watch for a communist republic. It needs to be functional (e.g. waterproof), and wearable. You have some of the best and brightest engineers in the world, but a small budget, and... oh yeah, you can't use anyone else's patent. Basically, re-design the wheel. That is the story behind the Amphibia.

Their designs are dated (but arguably charming), the movements are virtually unchanged since the 60s/70s (but "IN-HOUSE"!!), and they are not produced with any extremity of QC. BUT! They are all virtually under $200 - most under $100! For the more expensive models, you are usually getting newer dials or bezels, etc.

So... yeah. Buy Vostok - they are cool!

EDIT: I totally didn't answer the question. lol. Sorry.

Longevity: Probably hit or miss here - I'm not sure what you want out of $100 dive watch - for me they have been fine.

Reliability: See above

Water resistance: Yes! In particular, the Amphibia (the Kommandirskie, less so). See the vignette above. The WR engineering on the Amphibia is counter to the brute force method innovated in large part by Rolex, but used by virtually every watchmaker on earth today. Rather than fight the force, they use the force to increase the resistance. I'm not an engineer, and I won't even attempt to explain it. A google search should yield an adequate explanation. Bottom Line: the WR is good.

Failure: I'm sure this happens, but you sure as heck don't hear about it all that often. Also - $100

Getting it serviced: I don't know anyone who is servicing these - I guess most folks are just plopping in a new movement when or if they need.
 

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I love the way they look but they feel like cheap crap to me. I might buy one in the future but up to date I found better value in other watches.
 

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I bought an Amphibia. When I tried to set the time, the crown came off completely (not just wobbly), and so I returned the watch. I bought from Amazon, so return was easy, and since then, I lost interest in Vostok. I would only buy from Amazon with free returns so that I have protection in case something went wrong. The bracelet was worse than Seiko 5 bracelets.

If you want cheap and decent, get a Winner, Fngeen, Tevise, or mushroom from Alix. The designs are okay (derived from classic designs), and the Tongji movement, while not the most accurate nor good at autowinding, is reliable enough. Get a Vostok if you like the classic look and are willing to overlook the idiosyncrasies of Vostok.
 

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They are neat; some of their cases (e.g. the cushion variants) are hilariously poorly milled and not symmetric; the crown feels like liquid dogsh**, and they are not any tougher than any generic automatic watch.

Also, apparently these watches are a big hit with old-timey soviet military groupies, so knowing that can be a pro or a con for you.
 

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Vostoks are the modders best friend. The extremely modular design and wide availability of factory and aftermarket items like dials, movements, handsets, cases etc allows you to custom build almost anything that appeals to you for a very modest cost.
They are robust and reliable timepieces by any measure.
 

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Hi! Welcome to the forums!
Vostoks are... interesting. In some senses, yes, they're extremely rugged, underappreciated, and fun. In some other senses, they're finnicky, fragile, and not up to modern watchmaking standards.
So in some ways that they're rugged and to understand the design and history, check out this thread:

The tl;dr version is that the two-piece case back, "wobbly" crown, and hesalite crystal are all designed to be functional and assist with water resistance and prevention of catastrophic failure. Many of those design choices have not been implemented on watches, or have been abandoned in modern watches from other places. And the fact that a "classic" (non-special edition) Amphibia from Vostok is essentially the same as ones created 40 years ago is kinda cool.

They promise a 10-year service interval. No one I know has ever tested that because it would cost WAY more to service a Vostok than they're worth, and drop-in replacement movements are widely and cheaply available. That said, over the half-decade or so I owned a Vostok, I never noticed problems because I didn't service mine. (I also owned some from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and while some eventually had mechanical failures, many worked flawlessly, and I'm going to guess that they were never serviced. Ever.)

But there are problems. The movement caliber is old. They don't "hack" (meaning that the seconds hand doesn't stop when you pull out the crown to set the time), and, most importantly, they don't have a quickset date (meaning that you have to basically move the hands from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. to set the time, and do that over and over again until you get to the right date). The bezels are friction-fit, which means they rotate in either direction and they do not "click". There are some advantages to that -- you never have to worry about misalignment of the bezel if it doesn't click 'just right', and they're easy to pop off and adjust or mod, but there's a greater chance that they'll get knocked out of place, and that mechanism is just cheaper. Most of the "classic" Vostoks have bezels that are chrome-plated brass, which means the finish can come off, and they're more susceptible to bending. (Some of their watches have steel bezels-- you just have to look for them.) And the "classic" Kommandirskie versions have chrome plated brass cases, which is a very cheap, base-metal construction. And most of the crystals are hesalite (plastic). In some ways that's good -- they're basically shatter-proof, and they give a warm, vintage look to the dial. But they're extremely scratch prone. You'll either have to get used to all the scratches you'll acquire, or you'll have to get good at using toothpaste, polywatch, or even wet sandpaper to buff out the scratches. Their lume is notoriously bad (though I hear they're trying to make it better. I don't know if they have, or if it can compete with other ultra-value providers.) And their older "classic" bracelets are awful. Folded links, folded endlinks, almost impossible to resize. Now many, of the newer models use "solid" metal bracelets (still with folded endlinks though). I haven't tried those out.

Finally, there are quality control problems. I stopped buying new Vostoks about 5 years ago, but right about that time there were all sorts of complaints about people getting watches that had little to no lubrication in them, causing serious problems with the movements. They may also come off the assembly line not well regulated, or with other mechanical problems. I don't know if they have fixed these problems in the last half decade, or whether they've gotten worse.

But, because of the solid design and "workhorse" movement, if you get a good one, chances are it will really be a tank. Like, you can freeze it or run over it with your car and it'll work just fine.

Would I recommend a Vostok to someone starting a watch collection? Yes. They're cheap, they're fun, they have a styling that you can't get anywhere else, they're easily moddable and regulable (and you don't really have to freak out about opening the case back, since you're not shearing any gaskets by opening and closing the two-piece back), they're "living history," and they remind you about everything you like about mechanical watches. However, I wouldn't choose a model with a date wheel, unless you (a) plan to keep it wound all the time, or (b) don't care that the date is wrong when you put it on. The "semi-quick-set date" is a HUGE PAIN to use.

Would I recommend a Vostok as someone's only watch? No. The lume isn't good enough. The accuracy isn't good enough (at least not without lots of regulation). The way I treat watches, I'd be banging up the crystal and have to polish it like every weekend. :)

Would I recommend Vostok in comparison to other ultra-value watches? It depends. I like them more than those uber-entry level Seiko 5s (SNK809s and the like), which don't have hacking or handwinding movements, are too small, have just as bad of bracelets, have crowns so tiny that you can barely use them, have Harlex crystals that can scratch (and that you can't really buff out), and have a kind of generic styling. I like them more than the mushroom brands because the mushroom brands' styling is usually too much of a ripoff, or the quality of many is just SO up in the air. But some of the entry-level Chinese brands look like they're upping their game and delivering decent quality watches with decent specs. In a true value-for-money comparison, something like an Orient Mako or one of the better Seiko 5 Sports models at between $100 and $150 probably gives you more value for money, and will most likely give you a more consistently good product (except for Seiko's repeated failures to line their chapter rings up with their dials, but I digress). And as I said before if you were looking for one watch to wear every day, in every situation, I'd probably suggest an Orient or Seiko over a Vostok. But in the end, they're interesting, fun, and different, AND if you end up not liking it, you can sell it on the used market and probably only take a $25 loss.

I hope my wall of text helps. And enjoy your watch journey!
 

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Yes, they are a great way to dip your toe into mechanical/automatic watches without wasting a lot of dough. Unlike many expensive "Swiss Made" brands claiming 100+ years of history (usually B.S.), Vostok offers an authentic, continuous heritage of watches with real horological significance. The crown operation takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you really miss it in other watches (at least I do). Build quality is industrial grade, not necessarily streamlined or well refined except in modern designs. Even when I bought a more expensive Special Edition Amphibia, it had sharp edges on the underside. But the movements are built like tanks (as long as you don't get a lemon) that last for decades.

Keep in mind that Amphibias are rated for 200m WR and have stainless steel cases (except the bezels). Komandirskies also use a "bayonet" caseback design but are only rated for 50m, and the cases are chromed brass. OTOH, Dirskies are manual winding, so they are thinner without the bubble back rotor housings of Amphibias. I loved the way my Amphibias looked from the front, but it always bothered me how tall they stood on my tiny wrist.

I sold off my last Amphibia several years ago as I moved up to a higher tier of divers. But I still miss their carefree ruggedness and unique handwinding feel (smoother than the scraping of a Swiss ETA 2824). So I just placed an order for a vintage Komandirskie with tons of patina, yellowed lume, and beaten-up exposed brass. It's from the Soviet era and actually says "3AKA3 MO CCCP" meaning it was issued by the Ministry of Defense. How cool is that? It cost merely $30 and that includes a recent service by a watchmaker in Ukraine. It's going to be my beater for yard work, camping, etc.... I can't wait.

15326511
 

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They're cheap fun watches with quirky designs. They tend to be a bit rough around the edges, quite literally. I don't expect them to be built to last, and they're so cheap they're pretty much disposable anyway. No sense in bothering to service it when you can just buy another one for way cheaper. And yes, their water resistance is legit.

Every collection should have one!
 

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Vostok got me into this crazy hobby, and my first few watches were Vostok Amphibias. They're affordable, rugged, and easy to mod, if that's your thing. They can be regulated to amazing accuracy if you take the time to do so. They're also very much products of a time and place, and you have to take that into account.

Personally, I recommend staying below the $100 mark with Vostoks, as that's their natural place in the universe, and the cheaper the better. Once you get much above that price point, they just don't have the fit and finish to compete on an objective level (like fans everywhere, Vostok addicts will disagree with me here). Compare a Vostok Neptune to an Orient Mako II or a Citizen BN0151 and you'll see what I mean.

That said, if you find them attractive, give them a try. You won't be out much if you don't like it, and you may like it very much indeed.

One last piece of advice: buy from Meranom. Dmitri will treat you right.

Tap, talk, and buy another watch.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I've checked out Meranom. Definitely going to place an order with them. Although, a lot the ones that really caught my eye are sold out. I found another place that sells them, Vostok-Watches24.com. Are they respectable, as well? They seem a bit more expensive there.
 

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The good ones are certainly waterproof, but how to know when you get a good one? The first one I bought new leaked in a few cm of water. Badly shaped crystal the factory said. Sort of put lie to their claim that they batch pressure test all of their watches though, unless that's something they only started since 2013 when this incident occured. I wouldn't trust one in water that's not either been pressure tested or is one you can afford to drown.

Re. the non-quickset date, I would always go with no-date. On the old forum I had what I thought was a pretty funny image illustrating a workaround for date setting though, but on the new forum I can't find any of my old images, so I guess I won't post it. (Not too delighted with the new software yet, speed and - assumed - stability aside.)

I wouldn't say a Vostok is a must buy. They are charming little watches though. Maybe wait until you get a chance to see one someone else owns and decide what you think then.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I was curious too. So I put one watch in my cart and started check out. It was like $6. Super cheap.

But I'm seeing other posts that people have been waiting a couple of months for their order. There are a number of countries that Menarom isn't shipping orders to right now. Those countries aren't accepting international mail because of Covid19. But even the countries that are, they are still waiting a long time for their orders to show up. I don't think Menarom is to blame. It's problems with delivery services and transportation.
 
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