From Russia with Love

A facsimile of one my favourite circa 1989-1990 Soviet-made mechanical timepieces in my ever growing collection of quality mechanical watches. This watch was purchased either in Moscow or in Tallinn, Estonia (cannot recall) during the time period of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the concurrent political instability of the former Soviet Union.

Very few, if any, local jewellers or watchmakers even service high quality mechanical watch movements anymore. The 18 jewel (ruby) Molnija mechanical pocket watch will be sent to one of my contacts (a collector and former Engineer) in Montreal, Quebec to be disassembled, cleaned and lubed, reassembled, and the watch timing adjusted to perfection.

The USSR produced the Молния (Molnija) pocket watch movements in watch factories outside of Moscow and in the Ural town of Chelyabinsk. Production started end of 1947 and the last movements were made in 2007.

The movement is based on a design from the Swiss movement manufacturer Cortébert. Cortébert produced high end movements that were e.g used by Rolex in the 1940’s. The Molnija movement which was based on the Cortébert design had 15 jewels and was known as “ЧК-6” (ChK-6). This movement design was further improved by the Russians in 1964 and became then the 18 jewel movement known as 3602. The 3602 is a much better time keeper than ChK-6 but the ChK-6 has a nicer finish pattern known as Geneva stripes. External appearance was not a priority for the Russian watch makers since they operated in a regulated communist market with no competition. The focus was on the simplification of the production process and the functional improvement of the watch movement when they upgraded the Molnija movement design to 3602.

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