Vostok Komandirskie #211428 “Battle cruiser”
This is my first Vostok watch. I have heard they are simple, reliable watches that come in hundreds of styles. The Komandirskie (Commander) watch is a 17 jewel, hand wound watch. Now that I have a Vostok, I understand why they are so collectable: They are inexpensive and stylish with a certain retro charm to them.
This model has star at the twelve o’clock position and a cruiser along the bottom of the dial. From the outside to the center, the color fades from light blue to white. The printing is very clear. There are hour markers at 1,2,5,7,9,10, and 11. There is no chapter ring, but there are minute markers all around. I do appreciate the lack of words on dial, just Commander and Made in Russia. The hour and minute hands are simple batons, with lume. They are a nice length, with the hour hand about 2/3rd the length of the minutes hand. The second hand is blood red and extends all the way to the minutes/seconds marks. The date window is at 3 o’clock, with clear black printing on a white dial. There are 2 lume pips at 12 and 6, and single pip at 9 o’clock. The lume is pretty weak, but not as useless as I have read online. Overall, it is a clean, well laid out dial. Easy to read, but attractive.
The case is chrome plated brass, with a stainless steel back. The back is held in place with some sort of spring, not screw down. The case back has a well stamped Russian coat of arms. The case is well sized at just shy of 39mm and is fairly thin at 12mn, with the domed crystal. The crystal is made of mineral glass and emulates the high domed acrylic crystals of the past. The lugs are 18mm. There is a rotating bezel, but it is not marked and there are no detents. The crown, 3 o’clock, is screw down and is very wobbly when winding, but this is to be expected. This was actually done on purpose to prevent excessive side loading on the stem. It does screw down easily. Water resistance is rated at 20m, but this may be a dynamic rating, as opposed to the static rating on most watches. The owner’s manual says you can swim with it, which would be unheard of on a normal 20m watch. I don’t think I will test that claim.
The movement is the in house Vostok 2414A, hand wound mechanical. The watch has 17 jewels, so it is fully jeweled for a non-automatic, and beats at a relaxed, very Russian, 19,800 BPH, 5.5 BPS. Not quite as smooth as the Seiko 21,600, but noticeably smoother than the 18,000 BPH of traditional watches. The relatively low beats will allow the movement to run for 10 years without service. Accuracy is surprisingly good on my example, +/- just a few seconds a day. The watch is rated at 36 hour power reserve, but I wind it every morning, so I have not tested this. Winding is quick, just about 5 or 6 turns. The movement is not hacking, no surprise here. The pseudo hacking trick of applying backwards pressure to the crown works, but I don’t want to push it. From what I have read, it is a very old design, but works very well. The date function is semi-quick set. You have to rotate between 8 and midnight to advance the date. The date does change instantly at midnight.
The ‘leather’ band that comes with it is just terrible. I swapped it out after 3 minutes with a calfskin with deployant. I did my homework and bought the band 4 minutes after I bought the watch on eBay, they arrived on the same day. On the wrist, the watch is very comfortable and thin enough to easily hide under your cuff.
I have been wearing this watch for almost a week straight, and I still smile when I look at it. It is the finest watch in my collection? Far from it. Did they create a fun, practical to wear watch? You better believe it. For less than $40 shipped, I have a mechanical watch, with an in house movement and a rich history behind it. If you are looking for a practical, reliable, reasonably sized and priced watch, you will love Vostok.
Case: 39mm diameter, chrome plated brass.
Back: Stainless Steel, wire spring retention.
Crystal: Mineral Glass, domed.
Movement: Hand wind mechanical, Vostok 2414a, 17 jewel, 19,800 BPH, 36 hour power reserve.
Complications: Screw down crown, date.
Other: Luminous Hands and markers.