Mechanical movements of the Cold War: how the Soviets revolutionized wristwatches

Originally published at:


In Soviet Union, watch watches you.


A Czech staggers into police station in 1968 during the Fraternal Assistance.

Czech: Hey, a few minutes ago a Swiss soldier knocked me out and took my Russian watch.

Desk Sergeant: You must still be rattled - you mean a Russian soldier knocked you out and took your Swiss watch.

Czech: Well, maybe, but you said it, not me.


I humbly suggest

“In Soviet Russia, wrist watches YOU.”


More likely they will crate a model demonstrating conclusively that trade deals coincide with oxidation. After all, economists aren’t supposed to count things, that’s a job for someone else.



At least they bought the watch factory.


The same rumour holds true for FSU camera equipment: the export versions are considered by some to have a higher degree of quality control than the domestic models. Though in my opinion/experience, export vs. domestic doesn’t make that much of a difference; the date of manufacture is often more important than what alphabet is on them, at least when it comes to photographic equipment.


I have a 17-jewel Poljot watch (they also made watches marketed as Sekonda in the West, but no longer own that trademark) that I picked up for €20 in a junk market in Leipzig. It runs really accurately when I can be bothered to keep it wound!

I really like the Soviet tendency to produce commemorative watches. Really interesting historical artefacts, now - the uber-commie-looking watches proclaiming ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ containing a particular irony…


Very old Soviet Joke on watches:

Three men are in prison, they chat:

I got to work thirty minutes late due to lousy Soviet watch. Was accused of treason against the People.

And I got to work thirty minutes early due to lousy Soviet watch and was accused of spying.

Me? I got to work on time and was accused of owning an American watch.


To be fair, we have mathematicians already, who handle arithmetic with less fantasy elements.


You sure this isn’t an American joke?

So literally the day after I wrote this post, I was leaving the house and as I wound my watch, the winder sheared off leaving the crown in my hand. A confirmation of the low opinion some have of Soviet horology, perhaps? Well, read on. I checked and the threaded part is all still in the crown, and I can’t see any way to fix it. I go to ebay to see whether I can get replacement parts (it’s a cheap watch and I can’t really fuck it up worse than it is now, I guess, probably wrongly). I find Poljot winders for sale, NOS, and would you believe that they bought this part in from Ronda, Switzerland?


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.