Before the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), watches made in Russia were assembled locally from parts produced in other watchmaking centers like Switzerland. Though the USSR was formally established at the end of 1922, the Soviets didn’t launch their own watchmaking industry until 1930.

That year, the Soviet government purchased two bankrupted American companies, the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company and the Ansonia Clock Company, and transported all of their assets to Moscow. Several former employees were temporarily hired to train Soviet citizens in watch manufacturing at the newly established First State Watch Factory, which was later renamed the First Moscow Watch Factory. The Dueber-Hampden pocket-watch designs they used became known as Type-1.

Military operations during World War II made accurate timekeeping even more essential, and the USSR soon opened new factories to help meet demand. The defeat of the Axis powers also gave the Soviets an opportunity to acquire some of Germany’s surviving machinery. In the late 1940s, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin launched the production of a watch brand known as Pobeda (“Victory”), which quickly became the country’s most popular style.

Throughout the 1950s, the Soviet Union continued to increase production of mechanical watches, adding styles explicitly aimed at exporting, including the popular Sekonda brand watches sold in the United Kingdom. Soviet watchmakers excelled at adapting cutting-edge designs to a more affordable price point, while also improving the accuracy or durability of styles that originated in places like Switzerland and the United States.

By the mid-1950s, the USSR’s watchmaking industry was second only to the Swiss. Soviet manufacturers introduced several innovative watches for special purposes, like the Braille wristwatches whose dial could be read by the blind or the Amphibia diver watches that could withstand the high pressures experienced underwater.

The space race also inspired several designs, like those with imagery of Sputnik or rockets circling the globe on their dials. Other styles were popularized by astronauts like Yuri Gagarin, who wore a Sturmanskie (“Navigator’s”), which was only available to flight-academy graduates.

Major brands produced in the Soviet Union also include Elektronika, Kirovskie, Komandirskie (“Commander’s”), Luch (“Ray” or “Beam”), Mir (“Peace”), Molnija (“Lightning”), Moskva ...

Along with the stagnating Soviet economy, watch production decreased in the 1970s and ‘80s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the region’s watchmaking industry took its final blow, never regaining the status it held during the Cold War era.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Sekonda Moonphase Mens WatchWatch Elektronika 5 (29367) Ussr Vintage, RareVintage Gents Sekonda Wristwatch - Spares/repairJob Lot Of 4 All Working & Keeping Time One Pocket,sekonda ,womaga,paul JardinMen's Classic Ussr Russian Mechanical Watch Vostok, Wostok18 Jew Rare Old Vintage Strela / Poljot 3017 Chronograph With Kirova Box From 1960's!Sturmanskie Space Pioneer Auto Watch -- Free Shipping!Vintage Russian Poljot 14 Kt 583 Solid Rose Gold Men's Automatic Wristwatch- Nr!Russian Men's Wrist Watch Vostok Komandirskie K34 Automatic Shockproof #476613Poljot Sturmanskie Chronograph 3133 Russian Aviator Pilot Watch 23jLot Of 12x Vintage Sekonda, Seiko, Oris, Everite Etc Mechanical Watches- RepairsVtg Soviet Vostok Rare Vesion Komandirskie 3aka3 Mo Cccp Russian Militaty WatchHand-engraved Chinese Dragon Gold Plated Case Rare Molnija 1950" Pocket WatchVintage Soviet Large Wristwatch Strela First Chronograph In Free SpaceUltra Military Mens Ussr Watch Ural 1958 Type Kirovskie Air Force Ww2 PilotPocket Watch Is A Real Brushwork In Miniature 100% Handmade Skeleton MolnijaWatch Raketa Ussr Russia Soviet Kopernik PlaneteVintage Soviet Molnija/molnia Visible Wheels Gent's Wristwatch, 18j. No ReservedRare! Vintage Soviet Raketa Medical Pulsometer Quartz Watch 2356. Gold PlatedVintage Very Rare Alarm Poljot Men's Watch From 1970's Years! Russian Harmony!Rare Vintage Soviet Military Army Watch Automatic Russian Diver 119 Bar Ussr Vintage 1960 Soviet Classic Wristwatch Luch 23 JewelsPoljot Men's Wristwatch Aviator Sturmovik Russian MilitarySoviet Military Mechanical Watch Raketa 24 Hours Aviator Cal.2623.h Serviced.Beautiful Poljot AlarmVintage Rare Raketa 24h Antarctic 24 Hours Soviet Ussr Watch Russian Military Watch Scuba Diver Amphibian Vostok Ussr Soviet Boctok SeikoLot Of 6x Vintage Sekonda, Titus, Avia Etc Gents Hand-wind Wristwatches, WorkingUssr Collectible Watch Vostok Amphibian Automatic Scuba Dude Frogman ServicedRare, Beautiful Poljot Aviator Alarm, Rare Watch, Hard To FindVintage Poljot 23 Jewel Chronograph 3133 UssrVintage Poljot Russian Chronograph 3133 (hand-winding)Molnija Aviator's Vintage Ussr Soviet Air Force Big Pilot's Steel WatchVintage Soviet Molnija Regulateur (regulator) Oversized Wristwatch, No Reserved!Vostok Komandirskie Automatic 100m DiverInteresting Wristwatch Zim. To The Heroes Liquidators. The Chernobyl Nuclear. Ussr Vintage Poljot Rodina Automatic Kirovskie Russian Soviet Men's WatchVintage Rare Ural Molnija Molniya Molnia Ussr Russian Soviet Men's WatchWatch Slava 2427 Automatic Men's Vintage Soviet Wristwatch Mechanical UssrVintage Soviet Poljot Mechanical Alarm Russian Watch Ussr 18 Jewels Gold PlatedSet Of 2 Ussr Watch Raketa Perpetual Calendar 2628.h White Blue Dial Serviced Vostok Amphibian Military Soviet Era Men's Watch Cal.2209 Mens 18 JewelsVintage Soviet Molnija Regulateur (regulator) Oversized Wristwatch No Reserved!!Luch Vintage Ussr Soviet Men's Wrist Watch 23 Jewels, Cal.2209 Serviced.Pobeda Zim "sturmanskie" Soviet Mechanical Wrist Watches Vintage Ussr (0722)Wave Precision Vintage 1960 Soviet Hq Chronometer WatchSuperb 1960s Russian Pilots Molnija Regulator Jumbo Size Watch .black Dial. Wow.Poljot De Luxe Vintage Ussr Soviet Men's Wrist Watch 23 Jewels, Cal.2209 Rare Vintage Soviet Ussr Russian Watch Vostok Wostok Cal 2209Vintage Poljot 18-jewel Mechanical Alarm Watch Rare! Military Wostok (vostok) Komandirskie 2234 Wristwatch. Su, Ussr 1980sNos Slava Cccp Perestroika Watch 2414 Made In Ussr In 1989 Mechanical Mint WatchSlava Russian Soviet Ussr Mens Watch 1980s VintageVintage Rare Men's Mechanical Wrist Watch Raketa 2609.ha Soviet Cccp MilitarySoviet Military Watch Wostok Amphibian Komandirskie UssrRussian/watch/raketa/ussr/24hours#4573Russian Military Watch Vostok Ussr Soviet Cccp 1980's Komandirskie BoctokVostok. Komandirskie.#819499 Mens Wrist Watch Rom The Russian FederationWristwatch Poljot Alarm 18 Jewels Ussr Soviet RussiaVintage Russian Pocket Watch, Soviet Union Cccp, Molnija, 2" Diam