Definitely, your best post to date! It's always great getting some insight into another's collectors preferences and collection. The Rado is a particularly interesting watch. I haven't seen any in a while, as our local AD (for RADO and several other brands closed their shop about 7 years ago). However, they have always been innovative with the use of different materials Tungsten Carbide, Ceramic and other materials to make largely scratch proof watches. The case reminds me a bit of the Omega Flightmasters from the 1970s, and I think the faceted crystal is very cool. You are correct, stone dials were used on some and are very difficult to work with and are quite costly. Piaget is famous for working with stone dials (onyx, lapis, tigers eye, etc). From what I heard recently, most of the largest tigers eye mine has been completely mined so it is something that might either be only available on a very limited scale, or perhaps in the future only if one chooses a vintage watch. Watches of the late 1960s and 1970s used some very funky cases and, while they sometimes do date a watch to a particular decade, I think its really cool to have case shapes that are something other than round. In fact, so far I have yet to buy a round cased dress watch, they are all other shapes (square,rectangular, and asymmetric). Thanks for sharing your collection with us. Cheers!
Thanks guys! It was the rocket ship hands that made me curious about figuring out how to calculate what time the hands on a watch would line up (its a fun little math teaser). I tend to go for a little bit more obscure stuff, its nice to be able to take the time and explain why. Honestly, I think the 60s and 70s were some of the best times for watch design. Manufacturers were not afraid to push the boundaries, and while some of the designs may have failed, even the more unique ones retain a certain timeless elegance of proportion that reminds me of Art Deco, in a way. I love the idea of a novel shape executed in a sparse, purposeful way. Very clean
DG, I love that Longines - a 38mm steel dress watch with small second and gold markers is something that should be seen more often. Gold is too much bling (and money), and most steel dress watches I see seem to either be very big and flat, or no small seconds, or spoiled by unbalancing elements like an Arabic 12 or a date window. That is bang on.
Also, I'm intrigued by your Russian items too - every one a winner in my eyes. How did that particular interest come about?
The earlist service date engraved is 1968, so this is likely an early 60s model, judging by the dial design:
As for the Russian watches, my entire family is Russian/Eastern European and emigrated out of the Soviet Union into Israel the second they were allowed, during the first wave of "Aaliyah" in the early 1970s. I grew up with Russian and Hebrew as my first languages, since having forgotten Hebrew completely (one day Ill get it back). I grew up exposed to Russian language, culture, and music, and while I would hesitate to call myself culturally "Russian", I have grown to have a healthy respect for the people, whom I find especially interesting considering their brutal history and melancholy nature. They are truly an intelligent lot, very clever and resourceful. While consumer goods in the USSR were in short supply, those that were available for consumption were simple, perhaps even spartan, but of extremely robust build. To this day in Russia cars and appliances from the 40s through the 60s work fine and well with minimal intervention.
As an example of their effective engineering, consider the Vostok Amphibia, a classic 200m diver that has attained cult status with its various cases and dials. When engineers set out to create a watch for navy/military use, they needed something strong and simple to produce. The Swiss approach of grease and gaskets everywhere, a thick crystal and a case torqued down would not facilitate ease of maintenance and cost of manufacture. The design had three notable features:
1) Instead of a thick domed glass, they used a thinner domed acrylic of a special polymer whose strength and mechanical characteristics were carefully chosen. The crystal is machined precisely and sits in the case with very certain tolerances. As the water pressure bears down on the face, the crystal flattens to predetermined dimensions and actually becomes more water resistant with depth!
2) Instead of a one piece screw caseback with a thin gasket that has to be replaced every time it is opened and closed, the Amphibia uses a two piece system. The case contains a wide gasket made of sintered rubber upon which a flat caseback plate sits. Around this caseback plate is screwed a bayonet ring. Therefore, as water pressure increases against the caseback, it is again shoved deeper into the wide rubber gasket, again increasing the water resistance with depth!
3) the Amphibia crown and stem assembly incorporates a clutch between the two pieces, hidden inside the crown: they are coupled only when the crown is pulled slightly away from the stem, otherwise they are decoupled and the crown wobbles somewhat in relation to the stem. During winding - and time setting - the crown needs to be manually pulled away slightly as it does not incorporate an internal spring, eliminating the pressures imparted on the keyless works with standard mechanisms, and the inherent "wobble" prevents the stem from getting bent. When the crown is screwed in, the clutch de-couples, which means the crown and case become one unit, and the movement and stem become another. In the unlikely event of serious shock, where the movement moves within the case, this decoupling means that the stem would never bear any load, and the wide clearance between the stem and stem tube facilitates that. The conventional designs do not offer this built-in protection.
For further information on the engineering of the Amphibia, this is a good start:
This is my personal Amphibia, modified with a sterile bezel that I will sandblast to match the matte tonneau case (so 70s!) and on a mesh strap (so 70s!):
The Shturmanskie chronograph was acquired because it is, IMO the best mechanical chronograph (vintage or new) you can get for that price range (under $500). When you factor in its history, military issue, reliability, and quality of engineering (mine has a power reserve of about 60 hours), along with the unique styling, it becomes a staple in a vintage collection. It doesnt hurt that they are gaining value quickly. The naval version, known as the OKEAH (ocean), is much more expensive as the exposure to marine environments makes quality examples very difficult to find.
I highly recommend anyone looking to expand their collections to examine Russian watches. Their current and vintage offerings allow you to get a variety of high quality, functional watches for pennies compared to Swiss or German counterparts, especially if you are looking for a fun summer watch to wear on a NATO or a diver you wont be afraid to knock around.
Edited by DerangedGoose - 7/5/14 at 5:34pm