Familiar name – Russian watch

A bit of an oldie here this time – another “vintage” watch for my collection and a first for me.  A USSR made watch, rebadged in the 1960’s and sold as “Sekonda” – this was a company set up in 1966 by “Chasprom” the USSR watch industry central agency who’s remit was to sell their Russian made watches to a wider audience.  And very successfully too…

USSR Sekonda

I bought this as I loved the simple elegance of the dial and the fact that it is a proper USSR marked vintage watch – ie. one that was manufactured before the “wall” came down and the old Soviet regime disappeared.

Now the first thing I should say is that I am no expert on USSR watches, but managed a little research – as one does when just having bought a new “old” watch.

This watch was advertised as 1950’s I seem to recall which maybe wasn’t quite right, as if I’m not mistaken the name “Sekonda” didn’t actually appear until much later when Sekonda was established as I said previously – in 1966 in the United Kingdom and supplied USSR made watches such as the Poljot, Raketa and others – but re-badged them as “Sekonda” to a wider world market.

Classic Sekonda (Raketa) movement

So I have to assume this watch is maybe 1966 or later ( mind you pre-1966 watch movements can be found in Sekonda named watches ).  Possibly dependent on available movement stock at the time I suppose.


However after digging around I think this is a type 2609 or a 2609.1 – 17 jewel movement and most likely produced in the Petrodworzowy Factory in Russia.  This movement and versions of it were used in Raketa, Sim, maybe Poljot and perhaps other Russian models of the period.

It is in very good almost perfect condition and numbered 70708 but no factory stamp that I can spot without dismantling it anyway.  Maybe even assembled in the Masleunikower Watch Factory where often Petro’ factory marks were omitted and sent out as “clean” models.

So far I’m unable to confirm a date.  The 2609 movement series seems to have had a long usage from the late ’50’s into the ’80’s.  But as said USSR watches have never been my forte and no doubt someone with far greater knowledge than I will kindly let me know.


What is certain however is the quality – which is not an issue here!  In the  ’50’s to late 70’s period the USSR produced watches of real high quality.  In fact there are excellent Russian watches around today that are amazing value for money.

As said I particularly like this model as it has nice thin black coloured high contrast hour & minute hands, plus a centre seconds and the dial is populated with numerals with a slight italic font, thus giving the watch a very simple and clean look.  It also has to my mind that English “Smiths” look – simple,  understated and elegant that I have to confess I particularly like in a vintage dress watch.


The case is gold plated (marked au 20 for 20 micron I assume) and is a classic and elegant style which eminently suits the period.

Neat crown/back recess

There are nice touches too that you notice after handling it for a bit – like where the round case is flattened on the edge between the lugs so that the strap fits easier to the watch and the fact that the case has a neatly sculpted projection under the crown giving both support and protection – but subtly – a neat touch.

I haven’t bought any Russian watches before though am well aware that there are very keen collectors out there and with very good reason – so maybe this is a start of something new for me   …..   We’ll see…!

Note – 1992 – End of Soviet Union, Chasprom disperses, privatisation of the Russian Watch Industry and Sekonda (UK) in 1993 abandoned Russian manufacturers and started to market all-Asian watch suppliers.

England’s finest

A simple and stylish English under-statement of timekeeping – a Smiths Astral gold plate Gents watch from the 1950’s.

Smiths Astral 17j

An elegant watch indeed and with “Made in England” below the 6 makes it a rarity these days.  Produced by the Smiths Watch Company in the 1950’s it shows all the best attributes of English watchmaking.
Lovely blued steel hands on a virtually unmarked clear dial plus a red filled tip centre seconds hand and with neat raised numerals – it is quite simply – a classic.

Smiths 17 jewel lever movement with centre seconds

A neat Smiths 17 jewel hack shockproof lever movement is fitted underneath an unmarked well fitting press stainless steel back keeps this watch ticking along nicely.

Sometimes mistaken for a Jaeger LeCoultre movement, whilst it has some technical similarities it has nothing to do with that Company at all.  This is a common misconception as the only link with that company was because Robert Lenoir, Smith’s Technical Director was an ex LeCoultre employee.

High quality models were manufactured at Cheltenham mostly whilst the lower market models were produced at Ystradgynlais in Wales in a joint venture with Ingersol.   Usually noted by the dial inscription “Gt Britain” or “Made in Britain” – which is quite a useful way of identifying the origins of particular watch models.

Classic dial Smiths.

So it would appear that this particular model is not a product of the Anglo-Celtic Watch Co of Wales, but from the Smiths factory at Cheltenham.
The Astral model is perhaps not top of the range or as popular as the “everest” models, but I think does represent the classic elegance of a “Made in England” watch to perfection.

This particular movement is going as strong now as when it was new.  This one is a manual wound version which feels nice and strong when wound and set.  Perhaps a little wear in the hand setting I admit but easily sorted should this be necessary.

The watch is also a good size at 34mm diameter without crown and 39mm top to bottom with a strap size of 18mm and in consequence wears very well –

At 34mm diameter – a nice size for the wrist.

So another nice purchase for my “UK” – “Made in England” vintage collectors cabinet and this one will hold quite a decent position in that box.
Not a UK built or assembled watch with a Swiss movement, but an English watch built with an English movement too – and in reality a darned good one at that – so a bit unique in my opinion.  AND as it happens this one is pretty much original and in superb condition – another plus.

I’m sure this one will receive quite a bit of wrist time which is always a good sign as my philosophy on watch collecting is simple – if I get it I must wear it – these watches are for wearing and every watch I own MUST work – that’s what they do best.

My next purchase though may be a little bit different.  A choice of two really.  One an early “electric” watch (around 1962) and the other a “direct read” watch from about the same era  – a mechanical “digital” if you will and somewhat different from their more commonly seen “mystery dial” style.

I’m I’m looking forward to posting both here – so watch this space.