Wednesday Watch Day! Vintage Vostok

Vostok or Bostock?

Spellcheck is having a difficult time with this one. For some reason it thinks I want to talk about a fancy kind of French toast, not a Russian-made watch.

Then there’s all that Russian alphabet craziness that makes things even more confusing – the English transliteration is “Boctok.” It’s pronounced “Vostok,” even if you spell it as Vostoc or Vostock.

Anyhoo…

Welcome to the first weekly instalment I’m calling “Wednesday Watch Day!” where I will dedicate each post to a watch that is currently in my personal collection.

The Komandirskie

What was that? Oh, that’s another Russian word. It means “Commander.” And it’s my vintage Vostok Komandirskie that will be the focus of today’s post.

Why this watch? Well, this is not the oldest watch I own, but it is the watch which I’ve owned the longest (30 years!). It’s also the watch that I bought in the most unusual place.

Back in August of 1991, while on a mission trip to the newly-opened Romania, I spent a few days in Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is divided by the Danube River, and the beautiful Széchenyi Chain Bridge, which spans from Buda to Pest, is where I picked up this piece.

See the source image
If you look to the far end on the right, there is a lion, right above the bow of the riverboat. That’s where I bought my watch.

I had already spent half the day walking all over town, but then I came to the bridge. No more than 100 feet across I was stopped by a guy that reminded me of the men in movies with long trench coats. He asked, “Buy a watch?” Well, I think that’s what he asked. I mean, he offered me this cool-looking watch with a Russian star on it and seemed to want my money in exchange.

Honestly, by the time this moment had rolled around, I was looking for anything at all that I could take back as a souvenir. I had no idea if what I was buying was legit, overpriced, or a great deal. All I know was that I paid around 25 dollars for this watch, which was more than likely what they were going for new at the time, at least over there. But you can pick a new one up these days for literally less than $50.

Memories

I have a very eclectic collection of watches. None were purchased as investments, and only a few have any real resale value. The fact is that most all the watches in my collection hold sentimental value or are attached to some story in my life. That’s why this watch is one of the most important ones.

When I bought this watch back in 1991, I had just about concluded a month-long trip to eastern Europe during which I rode an overnight train through Transylvania, saw Roman ruins, gave out hundreds of Bibles to people who hadn’t seen one in 70 years, and led nearly 80 people to Christ! Every time I wear this watch I remember those days.

Specs

So, let’s finish up with a few important details. First off, Vostok is a Russian watchmaker that in 1965 was contracted by the Soviet government to create and supply watches to the military. The Kamandirskie was the first model developed and is still be manufactured with very little changes. It is a simple, manually wound tank of a watch that mirrors the non-complexity of the typical Russian weapon. It ain’t fancy, but it works – and will keep working.

  • Case diameter: 39.8mm
  • Thickness: 11.5mm
  • Lug width: 18mm
  • Lug-to-lug: 40.8mm
  • Screw down crown
  • Screw down case back
  • Stainless steel case
  • Omni-directional, friction based bezel
  • Plexiglass crystal
  • 17-jewel manually wound movement

So, that’s it for this week. Next week we will look at my next-oldest watch, one my wife bought for me 🙂

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