The Watches

According to NIIChasprom.ru the Institute was established by the order of People’s Commissariat of General Engineering in September 1940 as the Research Institute of Instruments or NIIP and later in December 1943 by order No. 459 of the People’s Commissariat Mortar Weapons, the Research Institute of the Main Directorate of the Fifth Commissariat of Mortar Weapons or NII-5**. Entrusted with all matters of technical policy in the field of watchmaking. During the Great Patriotic War, the institute continued to operate and carry out state orders for military purposes. Later transformed into the Research Institute of the Watch Industry or NIIChasprom.

 

The watch design chosen would be designated Type-1 (K43) and based upon the Hampden Size 16 movement. In addition there were the Types 2, 3 & 4, also based on Hampden designs. However, these latter watches were relatively short lived and not produced in the quantities associated with the Type-1. We should consider Type-1 (2, 3 & 4) watches as those made substantially of Soviet manufactured parts. Early watches which comprised of substantially, or completely, Hampden made parts are really no different to the other pre 1930 Tochmekh imports.

Type-1, (ChK6, K-43),

Type-1 and K-43... Type-1 is the designation/caliber of the movement and the name speaks for itself. K-43 is the designation of the completed watch, where K is the abbreviation of “kарманные” “pocket” in English and 43(mm) is the diameter of thewatch. Placing the Type-1 movement into the wristwatch ‘Saucepan” case did not change the designation,

these watches are still referred to as K-43’s. Additionally, Alexy Kobtsev explained to me that all early Soviet pocket watch movements were generically said to be calibre ChK-6 (also known as ЧК-6 or YK-6 or Cheka 6 or pocket-watch 6). This included models based on Lip movements like the Molnija.

The Type-1 in either pocket watch or wrist watch configuration are often referred to as Kirovskie’s. However, strictly speaking this should only be used to describe watches made after 1935 at 1GCHZ Kirov. Many post war models made at the First Moscow Watch Factory Kirov, like the Pobeda, are also called Kirovskie’s.

 

Some sources site the Lip collaboration as the foundation of Soviet manufacture, but it wasn’t until 1936, when Lip had financial problems back home in France, that Fred Lipmann signed a deal with the USSR to export technology and parts. This was some six years after the start of Type-1 production by 1GCHZ in Moscow. Lip’s modern designs no doubt highlighted the shortcomings of the aged Hampden pocket watch technology, nevertheless, the Type-1 was the first watch to be manufactured in the USSR and was modelled on a Hampden Size 16 movement with the distinctive Twin-Bridge layout (although in fact the two bridges were one piece with a milled out slot in the middle - later there is an example of a bridge without the slot.). It was robust, repairable, accurate and reliable. Furthermore the Type-1 probably lasted until the 1980’s in one guise or another.

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    Above: Type-1 movement schematic. The movement was based on the Hampden size 16.

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    Above: Types 1, 2, 3 & 4 from the former collection of PMWAS.      

Right. 1931 Factory catalog showing the four watches.     

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Type-2, 3 & 4 watches

The factory’s 1932 catalog lists Type-2 pocket watches and Type-3 and Type-4 wristwatches (don’t confuse the Type-4 with the cut-down Type-1 pictured on the Artel page., the Type-4 is modelled on a much smaller Hampden 8.0 movement). These watches could contain almost any suitable part or completed Hampden movement, obtained during the original purchase. Anything that would fit a stock case and operate. There is little evidence of the quantity of movements wholly made at the factory, the majority of surviving watches comprise of original Hampden movements. It’s worth reiterating that these watches are rare and very few have survived. Some have Hampden top plates with dates going back five or six years prior to the purchase date (1930), coupled with later balances and modified jewel settings. The best way to look at this period is as one of efficient housekeeping. Demand was outstripping supply and the ever thrifty Soviet system was using up every scrap of materials it could, after all it had been doing just that since the 1920’s. Nevertheless, example of Soviet manufactured Type-2, 3 and 4 do exist.

There may be two reason why these watches may have not survived.

1). Romanov seems to imply that the fledgling industry has troubles enough Much of the material was still either imported or not up to the standard used in the US factory, making production difficult. Some of the Canton workshops had not been sent to Moscow leaving gaps in manufacturing facilities. Taking on 4 types was curtailed and the vast majority of effort went into the Type-1.

2). There is anecdotal evidence that during the Great Patriotic War many of the women who wore Type-3 & 4 watches were communist party activists, probably given them as rewards. Ownership of these watches would be a ‘poisoned chalice’ marking out a wearer, making them especially vulnerable to capture by Axis forces resulting in almost certain death. Once this was recognised many women would seek to discarded their treasured watches and this may well account for the lack of surviving models. Indeed the very early Type-3 and 4 would have been handed out to very high ranking party members as they were very scarce. The Zvevda ladies watches from Penza made after 1936 would have been more numerous.

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    Above: Two Factory postcards depicting the four former Hampden models. The female worker is Zina Laurie, a star worker who featured in many pictures.     

All these variants have a basic Type-1 movement.

A: The “Gun Camera Clock” is a re-worked Type-1 Zlatoust movement with a modified dial face and central second hand. The case fits inside the movie camera (the housing beside the lens lower left) which is set in-line with the gun sight. When the gun is fired, the camera records the target with a time stamp. Thanks to Phil at ‘Russian Times’ for the use of his picture.

B: One of my favourite uses for the movement has to be the Type-1 mantle clock. With it’s milky white opaque glass and chrome body, it has a classic 50’s look. It was made in the 3rd quarter of 1957 at the Zlatoust Watch Factory and carries the factories distinct logo.

C: A female Zlatoust worker packing ‘Tank’ Clocks and right my 1952 example.

D: From the late 1950’s Zlatoust manufactured the impressive “Vodolaz” 191-ChS (191-ЧС) watch for Soviet Navy Divers. Vodolaz (водолаз) translates as Diver. A very large watch who’s diameter (without the crown) is about 60 millimetres and which weighed 250 grams. Production of these unique watches was stopped in the first half of the 1970s. The 191-ChS were issued together with a matching Depth Gauge and Compass. The Type-1 movement is significantly upgraded, being of a higher quality and finish. The one pictured has a fused bridge movement and the stopwatch logo. The fused bridge is found on other later Type-1’s from the Zlatoust factory. This feature was also found on some Hampden Size 16 movements like the one pictured behind and to the right of the Vodolaz movement. To the right you can see a photo of a Soviet diver wearing his Vodolaz watch. A watch, of which there are several replica’s and many fakes. Circa 1970 Vodolaz watch with fused bridges. The watch, compass and depth gauge are from my collection.

E: More examples of uses for the Type-1 movement can be seen below, tank clocks and aircraft clocks. There is also evidence of the movement being used as vehicle clocks. I think it’s safe to say the movement was adopted as a general purpose movement, initially for military use and then for domestic consumption.

Left. Cockpit clock from the I-16 Ishak (Little Donkey). Right. KV-1 heavy tank showing clock in centre.

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Above 'A' The "Saucepan" wristwatch adaptation.

Above 'B' A Kirovskie dialled Type-1 pocket watch.

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Above  Type-1 watch for the blind.

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Above  Left Top & Bottom, single button chronograph. Centre and Right. Stopwatches (pictures courtesy of Chasy.ru).

All made in Artels, satalite workshops.

Congress of General Ministry of Industry
Chistopol 1938_2
Type-3 1GCHZ
41:3 1GCHZ
40:4 People’s Commissariat of Heavy Indu
38:2 1GCHZ
33:4 7j !GCHZ
38 2GCHZ
39:1 Shop of Consumer Goods

A slideshow of a few of the watches from the collection of the late Mark Gordon

FANTASY ,  COMPOSITES  or  GENUINE ?

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Once again the problem of documentation, or lack of documentation hinders answering my question and so much of what you will read is conjecture. Soviet watch production was based on quantity first and watches like these would have been a diversion so it may point to Artels being their source. However, officially Artels had been disbanded.

 

The watch on top is known and seems to have been produced in limited numbers. The one pictured has been document by the reliable Pilguy site so we can be sure of its authenticity. The base movement is either from 2GCHZ or Chistopol; which is evident by the style of the evacuated wheels. The lack of stampings may indicate this is a wholly Chistopol made watch. The case which is not known to have been used by another factory is the component we carry forward to the next part of the puzzle. 

 

The central, inset, movement is the well documented single button chronograph based on the Swiss Valjoux 61 movement, first produced at 1GCHZ around 1938. It is shown here to illustrate the degree of expertise in chronograph manufacture. It's not unlike the next example.

 

The middle watch is an enigma that appeared for sale on a Russian auction site for a very high fee. The base movement is clearly marked 2GCHZ, the case is the Chistopol one. Putting those two elements together, it's possible to conjecture the  chronograph modifications were started in 2GCH and completed in Chistopol (fundamentally a Type-1 with mods based on the Valjoux 61). The dial is the alarming feature, it's a real work of art. It calls the watch a Strela and interestingly the second chapter ring says "Sound" and is marked as per a Telemeter scale which makes use of the principle of the speed of sound and would be used for artillery targeting.

 

Finally the bottom watch, which is owned by me and has no known siblings and no explanation. It is shown here with just a minute hand fitted e.g. in 'Regulator' mode. Of course the dial layout is not like a true regulator as the sub dials don’t align. I does have an hour hand, which when fitted could make it a 'dual time' watch. An additional hour sub dial is at the 5 O’clock position and can be set to be hours ahead or behind depending on where the main hour hand is fitted. The dial is pure fantasy as the movement is Zlatoust 1955 and not 1GCHZ as indicated by the crazy dial. The case is heavily silver plated and the movement modification has been professionally done. It may have been made for a senior government member who needed to know the time in another place e.g. New York, London or Paris.

The inset is a mock-up of how I believe the watch could have been dialled. My biggest problem with the watch is that by 1955 there were better movements than the Type-1 to alter.

 
 
 
 

The Type-1 is finally retired.

I have tried not to drift off the Hampden trail too much, it is the Type-1 design movements that carries through the Hampden connection. Right up to the 1970's this movement has survived and is easily recognisable as a twin bridge Hampden pattern Size 16. The Type-1, or K-43 when placed into a case, was a 15j pocket watch for governmental use. A Type-1 7j version was issued to the Red Army, although this was later upgraded to a 15j version. By the end of the 1940’s there was a gradual phasing out of the Type-1 movements, the legacy of the Hampden purchase in 1930. I have a Type-1 Pocket Watch from the Zlatoust Watch Factory made in the third quarter of 1958, possibly one of the last of the Type-1 pocket watches, although I have seen pictures of one made in the 3rd quarter of 1959. The movement went on to be used in specialised clocks and watches, but by the 70’s had disappeared.

 

It is most likely that no part of the latter Type-1’s were made on the original Canton machines. More likely on machines re-designed by the factories themselves.

 

There is a myth that American equipment was used to make the first watch in space, that of Yuri Gagarin. By the time his Sturmanskie watch was produced the 1MCHZ factory had been fully re-equipped. In any case the Canton machines were not suitable of producing such a modern watch. Had this have been the case I would have been very pleased to pronounce it.

 

The final destination, or disposal, of the original watch making equipment from Canton is impossible to determine but it’s reasonable to assume most of the equipment machines and tools ended their working lives in Zlatoust, Chistopol and the other satellite factories.

 
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Renowned American Horologist Prof. Henry Fried reported seeing Dueber-Hampden machines in a “Chinese factory” in the 1980‘s. As he visited Chinese watch factories on a regular basis it would be reasonably to assume the equipment was in a watch factory, or some kind of horological establishment.

 

Chinese watch manufacture started around 1958 at the 1st Watch Factory in Shanghai. The model produced is well documented and was based on a Swiss movement. No Chinese watches have ever resembled Hampden or Type-1 movements in any shape or form and it would be wrong to imagine any machines Fried saw were playing a significant role in watch manufacture. Most likely they were general purpose lathes or milling machines.

Nevertheless, the fact that they were there, and in use, is interesting in itself.

It is fair to say that the Hampden size 16 model 5 pattern Type-1 movement served the USSR for 50 years until the 1970’s - not bad value for money and not bad for a bankrupt design.

 

And so a lineage, that had it’s deepest roots back in Italy and travelled to the Ural’s via Providence, Springfield, Canton USA and Moscow, finally came to an end.