Note: I have inserted cyrillic versions of certain words which I hope you will not consider pretentious. I do so to help those wishing to research deeper into key organisations, people or places.
1917 - 1930.
After the upheaval of the revolution, and civil war, the remains of the Kahn, Buhre and Moser watch businesses, together with the remnants of other watch enterprises and workshops, came under the umbrella of various bodies. Importantly, it eventually became the responsibility of Гострест Точмех (English; Gostrest Tochmekh) meaning “State Trust of Precision Mechanics”. According to the Russian State Archive of the Economy, RGAE, it was established in 1920, during the civil war period, as Glavtochmekh (meaning Chief Administration) and became Gostrest Tochmekh in 1922, after the civil war, under the direction of Andrey Mikhaylovich Bodrov. 
MÈMZ in 1930 (
Slava history records that at the start of Stalins 1st Five Year Plan, in 1928, Tochmekh absorbed the troubled Moscow Electro Mechanical Plant (MÈMZ) which was housed in a renovated stone building at Tverskoy Zastavy, Moscow. Initially the factory employed around 125 production workers, who were mainly engaged in the custom manufacture of telegraphic equipment, radios, projectors, as well as repairing electromechanical timers used in the control of Moscow’s trams. In November 1930 it became the 2nd State Watch Factory 2ГЧЗ or in English 2GCHZ (later 2nd Moscow Watch Factory, 2MCHZ - then Slava - Cлава meaning Glory), to distinguish it from the newly created 1st State Watch Factory 1ГЧЗ or in English 1GCHZ.

Tochmekh would eventually be dissolved at the beginning of the 2nd Five Year Plan in 1933, three years after 1 and 2GCHZ were established.

Right. Gostrest Precision Mechanics postage stamp illustrating their scope of instruments. 
Top left. Tochmekh Moscow shop in 1926 and below as Paul Buhre's shop pre-1917

The Tsentrochasy episode March - May 1923
As early as March 1923 the Soviet trade mission in Berlin, reported that the People's Commissar of Foreign Trade, Leonid Krasin, had been made, by representatives of five minor Swiss watch companies, a proposal to form a mixed company "for import into Russia of pocket watches and wristwatches". However, the Supreme Economic Council “cut the project in the bud”. It said that all those firms were producers of low-quality watches and, since the war, had accumulated large reserves of watches of “worthless quality” which they intend to sell in Russia because of the lack of demand for them in other countries.
At the same time Soviet representatives in Berlin were in talks with major Swiss watchmakers, including Moser, Nardin, Doxa, Tissot, Omega, Longines and Zenith. Moscow even sanctioned the formation of joint stock company 'Tsentrochasy' with these companies. Under the terms of the preliminary agreement, the Soviet Union received 49% of the shares, whilst the remaining were divided proportionately between the Swiss firms. It was assumed that in exchange for the right to import watches (up to 400 thousand units per year). These firms would help establish Soviet production of alarms, high quality clocks, wall and desktop clocks. A factory was to be built and equipped, the workers would be trained for three years and by the fourth year production would reach full capacity.
Then in May 1923 in Lausanne Switzerland, a Russian exile assasinated the Soviet ambassador to Italy. A Swiss court acquitted the assassin and relations between the countries were hopelessly corrupted. In June the Central Executive Committee and the People's Commissars issued a joint resolution to boycott Swiss companies. The Soviet representatives in Berlin specifically asked Moscow whether the boycott applied to the Tsentrochasah negotiations, and received a response that further negotiations should be conducted only with German watch companies. But nothing came of the latter talks.

Tochmekh Swiss import - image from Ebay.
The Stalin era begins.
Lenin died of a stroke on January 21, 1924. His participation in, and influence on, these events are negligible (see guest article V. O. Pruss). Upon his death, Joseph Stalin was officially hailed as his successor as the leader of the ruling Communist Party and of the Soviet Union itself. By April of the same year Stalin replaced Lenin's 'New Economic Policy' with his highly centralised 'Command Economy' which heralded in both industrialisation and collectivisation resulting in the Soviet Union moving quickly from a predominantly agrarian society into an industrial power. In horological terms this was opportune as within two years the warehouses were depleted of the imported watchmaking stock Tochmekh relied upon to feed the ever increasing demand for timepieces, of all sorts.
To supply their network of co-operative workshops (Artels Aрте́ль), Tochmekh had had to import whatever components they could acquire on the international market, finishing the timepieces with internally manufactured parts and "Гострест Точмех" signed dials. This chaotic, unsystematic production continued into the early 1930's and was supplemented throughout the 1920's by timepieces imported, in some quantities, from Switzerland and Germany. The country's industrialisation, the development of transport, raising the cultural level of the population, the needs of the Red Army and Navy all increased the demand for watches. In 1926, Heinrich Kann, the prominent pre-revolutionary specialist watchmaker, wrote. "It is time we buck-up and realise that we can get in the way of serious competition from abroad in watch production. Do not turn a blind eye to the fact that the current technique of watchmaking abroad is so high that it would take considerable effort to catch up. We are late in the industry, extremely late, but it is not hopeless, because on our side is the advantage of the vastness of the domestic market. "
1927 Council of Labour and Defense directive (added translation courtesy of Alexey Kobtsev).
Bogdanov and Romanov tell us in their histories of the Soviet watch industry that in March 1927 (Three years into Stalins regime) and after heading Gostrest Tochmekh for 5 years, Andrei Mikhailovich Bodrov took up Heinrich Kann call to organise watch production in the Soviet Union. He persisted until eventually the Council of Labour and Defence listened, they then debated the subject for the next nine months. On December 20, 1927 they issued a directive (see above) “About setting up the manufacture of watches in the USSR”. It would organise factories for the production of 500 thousand pocket watches and 500 thousand large clocks.

The factories were to be in line with those in Switzerland and the USA and with this in mind Bodrov planned to send engineers abroad to report on foreign production. In March 1928 then Chief Engineer of the Moscow Electromechanical Plant (MEMZ) Mikhail Fedorovich Izmalkov was sent into Germany to study the production of wall and alarm clocks. After returning from the trip, Izmalkov proposed a plan for accelerating Soviet watch manufacture by acquiring turn-key plants; machines, patterns and tools.

But on March 20, 1928 the Trust of Precision Mechanics receives the outline of an alternative proposal from watchmaker V. O. (Wolf) Pruss. Unlike Izmalkova, Pruss proposes to deploy the construction of Soviet based assembly workshops, followed by the gradual purchase of state-of-the-art Swiss and German watchmaking equipment, together with the commissioning of factory shops and departments. All to be financed from the profit from the sale of watches, assembled from imported components. He argued that the construction and furnishing of complete plant and equipment would require several years to complete, whilst the timepiece hungry country (especially in the People's Commissariat of Railways Systems, Narkomat) waits. Pruss notes that "in 2 to 3 years we will be in full swing with complete production of watches". He proposed to "properly organize" the school of watchmaking for Tochmekh, as he believed the existing school was completely inadequate for the preparation of skilled watchmakers. He went on "if we immediately get down to business, by August of the same year, our products will be ready for the consumer”. Pruss also presented workshops scheme to build 500 watches per day using 98 workers.
Pruss did in fact establish, and for a short period run, the MONO (Moscow Department of Education) training facility, which trained teenagers in the watchmaking arts. A high proportion of the students were desitute street children many of whom were female, this infact set a trend whereby the majority of Soviet watchmaking was undertaken by women right up to the present time. In September 1929 the People's Commissariat transferred the MONO organisation to Tochmekh and Pruss was reduced to the role of "General Consultant". Just before his arrest and execution in 1937 he worked at the 4th office of Ministry of Defense Industry.
Pruss teaching at the MONO school. Picture courtesy of Dmitry Pruss and the Pruss family.

No doubt there was a need to make preparations in time for the start of Stalin's First Five Year Plan. In April 1928 the management of Tochmekh adopted Izmalkov's approach and by October 1928 had set up an 11 man commission to look into purchasing the necessary equipment from Europe or America. Bodrov and Sarkine from the Trust, together with Professor Zavadsky, Wolf Pruss, Alexander Breytburt, Percy Dreyer, Chief Mechanic of MEMZ I.V. Surin(ov) and four others made up the commission (see below).

Three documents that: Set up the commission (top). List the participants (centre). Report on the outcome (bottom). 

The commission planned to visit Germany, Austria, France, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland. The Swiss refused to let the commission enter the country, which may have been the result of a breakdown in earlier negotiations after the Tsentrochasy episode.
At this time none of the European watch companies would agree to collaborate with the USSR. The Soviets believed this was because the Europeans, especially Germany, had large stocks of unsold watches and wanted to have unrestricted access to the Soviet market. Overall this failure was not such a great disappointment because such collaboration did not sit well ideological, it did not fulfil the Soviet ideal of a self-sufficient industry.

The commission was then sent into America where they visited around 21 precision engineering plants, including 8 watch factories. At the beginning of 1929 at a meeting with the Amtorg Trading Corp., which had located the factories and planned the US visit, Andrey Bodrov reported that "the manufacture of watches in America was at a considerably higher level than in Europe. In contrast to the half-amateur European method of the production, America was almost fully automated". Bodrov proposed to purchase America equipment for the production of watches. He recognised the equipment was old and is recorded as saying, "Staff are yet inexperienced, and can do a lot of damage, even in the new machines. They will learn even better on the old, and then they will have to gradually be replaced by new ones. It is better to have something than to have nothing. We are not rich enough to immediately go to the new expensive suits while hiking and threadbare". However, he was concerned in case Moscow would say they had "purchased junk”. Certainly if compared with the latest Swiss, German or French equipment it was outdated. Wolf Pruss, again, argued strongly that the new enterprise should be started using only the most modern equipment. He himself had worked in the best Swiss factories and was probably the most advanced watchmaker at that time. Whilst on the one hand he patriotically wanted his country to make the best watches, he was not a even a Bolshevik. 

The purchase of the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company.
Pragmatism prevailed and with the bankrupt Dueber-Hampden (and Ansonia Clock Co.), plant up for sale the Soviets, through Amtorg*, purchase the patterns, machinery, tools and stock. The Dueber-Hampden Watch Company was located in Canton. Ohio and sold it's watches under the Hampden brand. With no interest in the Hampden or Dueber trade names, they assigned them back to the liquidator.
*The Amtorg Trading Corporation was based at 165 Broadway, New York City, and after 1929 at 261 Fifth Avenue. Amtorg is an acronym of Американская торговая - American Trading. It was formed by the amalgamation of the Products Exchange Corp. (1919), Armand Hammer’s Alamerico and Arcos-America Inc. (1923). The latter was the US office of the UK based All Russian Co-operative Society (ACROS).
It became the first Soviet trade delegation in the US when in May 1924 it was established to assist the USSR’s import and export companies seeking to conduct legitimate trade. It would continue in this role throughout the Soviet era.
Amtorg's chief commissioner for the purchase of the Dueber-Hampden factory was Mr A. Vladiminsky. Although based in New York, he would spend much time in Canton negociating with the Receiver Raymond Loichot.
Another major Amtorg contract was concluded with the American Architect Albert Kahn. Kahn was best known as the architect who designed many Detroit car plants, including Ford's. Around the time of the construction of 1GCHZ Kahn had set up a factory design bureau in Moscow. It is most probable that 1GCHZ was designed by Kahn's company as it meets all the criteria he established for model Soviet factories.
Three Soviet specialists travelled to Canton to help pack and label the boxes. Samuel Zubkoff who was a watchmaker by trade and two commission members Alexander Breytburt (see below) and Percy Dreyer*.

* It was reported by one of the American watchmakers, who later travelled to Moscow, that one of the men they met, as the Canton equipment was packed, had defected to Germany on the return trip. This may have been Dreyer, about whom little is recorded.

Report from a Canton newspaper in 1930
By April 1930 a steamboat with the Dueber-Hampden equipment aboard had left for Russia. Twenty-eight freight cars full of machinery and parts were transported from Canton to Moscow. These acquisitions were the embryo that helped to establish an impressive industry that still flourishes to this day.

1930 - The First State Watch Factory comes into being.
At about the same time the equipment was shipped from the USA, the building of the 1st State Watch Factory Trust of Precision Mechanics (1-й Государственной Часовой Завод Треста Точной Механики) was started as a ‘top-priority’ project. The main block was built on the previous location of a Tobacco Factory called “Krasnaya Zvevda” (Red Star) in Vorontsovskaya Ul., d.35/a (Street), Moscow. Work commenced in February 1930 and would be finished by June 1930. Installing the main equipment was finished by September 15 of 1930. The abbreviation for the factory is 1ГЧЗ or in English 1GCHZ.
Site before, during and after construction. Lower center and right pictures courtesy of D. Miller. Upper right & lower left from Romonov's history 1986.
Dueber-Hampden watchmakers train the workers in Moscow.
Twenty three former Dueber-Hampden watchmakers,  engravers and various other technicians, who lost their jobs when the company went bust, were re-hired, on a years contract, to help train the Russian workers in the art of watchmaking. The party (including Sue Killin the only female watchmaker) left Canton on the 25th of February 1930 and spent several days in New York before setting sail aboard the RMS Aquitania on March 1st. The 8 day sea voyage was reportedly rough and ended in Cherbourg. The party reached Moscow on the 16th of March via Berlin and Warsaw. A band and a large crowd greeted them before they were taken to their allotted accommodation throughout the city. On the 18th of March they were given a banquet at the Grand Hotel with table settings belonging to the late Tzar. During the wait until the factory was finished they were entertained and enjoyed being shown around the city, including a visit to the Kremlin.
Aboard the RMS Aquitaine. Photo courtesy of Ralph Goodenberger (his grandfather is 3rd left on the back row)
1 GCHZ Factory pre 1935. Probably designed by Albert Kahn.

1 GCHZ Factory after 1935 with the name Kirov (С.М. Кирова) added.
The top four pictures, of the factory under construction, originally belonged to John Miller and I am grateful to his great grandson Dave Miller for permission to use them. Dave told me "Great grandfather was the superintendent of the Hampden Watch Works in Canton. He started with the Works about 1889 when he was only 14-years-old and spent 41 years working for Dueber-Hampden Watch Works moving up through the ranks. When the Works moved to Russia it was great-grandfather who was in charge".

The report says 21 workers but 23 actually went..
The photo of the banquet was sent home by Louis Ryman and published in the Canton News,

Above picture taken in the Canton factory during it's operation. John C. Miller the Superintendant is pictured in the centre.
Below: 22 of the 23 Dueber-Hampden staff who travelled to Moscow. Sue Killin is missing.
Pictures courtesy of Canton Repository

The 22 men and 1 woman were alphabetically; Ira Aungst, Bert Beebout, James Davis, Theodore Freymark, Al Fravel, Hugo Gebhardt, William Goodenberger, Charles Hammer, David Jackson, Sue Killin, Karl Krumm, Herman London, John Miller, Charles Poizel, Charles Poyser, Victor Roust, Louis Ryman, Albert Shoutz, Joseph Snyder, Collins Wilcox, Edward Wilson, William Woesner & Guy Woolston.

Top. Left: Isaac Jackson instructing with Markov and Zwilling watching on © RGAKFD
Top. Right: Markov operating a machine watched by Isaac Jackson and John Miller 
© D. Miller
Second row. Left & Right: John Miller, seated, giving instructions © RGAKFD
Third row.Isaac Jackson in the middle of his shop workers 
Forth row. Collins Wilcox in the middle of his shop 
Bottom row. Charles Hammer (very Lenin like with his pointed beard and flat cap) 
shows Zwilling how to operate this machine © Canton Repository
Each Canton man, who was originally a foreman or above, would head-up a Moscow department to train the Russian workers. For example Collins Wilcox, was head of the flat steel screw department, at which he had worked in Canton for 41 years. William Goodenberger was a Master Mechanic. Albert Shoutz ran the Machine Shop. Karl Krumm had been responsible for jeweling the movements. All the Americans reported that they were well looked after and that all their expenses were met. They were given pay even when they were too ill to work and free hospital treatment, neither of which they enjoyed in Canton. Each worker was said to have been paid around $4,650 ($66,000 in todays money) plus $300 expences and provided with a cook and a waiter. One of the party, Ira Aungst, head of Modelmaking and the first Cantononian to have been employed by John Dueber, was very impressed by the speed that the Russians picked up the skills, especially the women. German was the most common language spoken between the US and Russian workers. It's interesting to note that North Canton (the site of the Dueber-Hampden factory) was called New Berlin until 1918 and had been predominantly settled by German immigrants. The photographs below were kept by the men as mementos and show some of the first Soviet trained watchmakers (часовщиком).
William Goodenberger's photos of his comrades. Courtesy of Ralph Goodenberger.
The Soviets would have been happy for any American to stay after their one year contracts were up (and a six month extension for some six men) but at Soviet pay rates. All returned to the US.
Many friendships were formed and the comrades tried to keep in touch, but over a relatively short period the heavily (Soviet) censored correspondence dried-up.
There is not evidence that souvenir watches were brought back, nor that they were they given as presentations. Certainly their leader, John C. Miller, was not rewarded this way.
In a radio broadcast on Canton's WHBC station in 1949, it was reported that Karl Krumm had died in October 1949, but that seven of the watchmakers from the Russian expedition, all residents of Canton, were still living; namely, Burt Beebout, James Davis, Alfred Fravel, Victor Roust, Louis Rymanat, Albert Shoutz and William Woessner. There was a strong possibility that William Goodenberger was also still living, but that could not be verified.

Первый Часовой THE FIRST WATCH.
By November 7th the first 50 pocket watches were ordered for manufacture. These watches were presented at a ceremonial meeting in the Revolution Theater, now known as the Bolshoi Theater.
The actual body ordering production is difficult to pinpoint, but was most likely either the Council of Labor and Defence, or the Supreme Economic Council (which begat later Commissariat's).

These are some of the relevant bodies that existed after Tochmekh was dissolved...
  • НКТП - 1932 to 1936 People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry.
  • НКМ - 1936 to 1938 People's Commissariat of Engineering.*
  • НКОМ - 1938 to 1940 People's Commissariat of General Engineering.*
  • NIIP, NII-5 & NIIChasprom - 1940+ (see below).
According to, 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 Research Institute of the Watch Industry or NIIChasprom.
* HKM & HKOM appears on the movements of watches from 1GCHZ & 2GCHZ during the dates shown. ** Marine/Aviation chronometer with a NII-5 signed dial is cataloged in Mark Gordon's former collection.
Typical Hampden, Canton made, Size 16 movement with its distinctive Twin-Bridge layout.
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 great 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 cased watches with other Foreign movements.

These 1930-1 Type-1 watches are the earliest in my collection.
Top. A Pin/Button Set movement - the hand setting button is between the 12 and 1 markers.
Bottom. A regular Stem Set movement - it has English balance markings as well as Cyrillic. 

The best explanation of the designations was told to me by an NAWCC aquaintance, Wojtek. 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 the watch. 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, Alexey 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 Probeda, are also called Kirovskie's.

Some sources site the Lip (see Guest Contributions) 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 the 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. It was robust, repairable, accurate and reliable. Furthermore the Type-1 lasted until the 1980's in one guise or another.

Bodrov's decision to buy old technology with which the country could cope was vindicated in testaments found in reports from the mid 30's. With the introduction of more sophisticated watches (Lip), the Soviets desperately tried to recruit hundreds of Swiss and other western watchmakers, as there were too few skilled workers in the SU. Many of these recruits were suffering deprevation from the depression affecting the west, some were idealistic socialists. But the plan failed generally; for one thing the Swiss authorities made emigration difficult, for another the promised Soviet utopia failed to materialise, making life harsh for those watchmakers and their families that had emigrated. In the period leading unto WWII the vast majority returned having all their possessions and funds confiscated at the border.
Pruss was fundamental in this recruitment as he was one of a few Russians with good contacts in Switzerland. He was still convinced that the pocket watch technology approach had been a mistake. In the end his attempts failed and because of his association with foriegners it possibly contributed to him facing a trumped-up charged of spying, for which he paid with his life.

During the early part of the 20th century 'Dollar Watches' were popular in America and made the ownership of a timepiece available to the masses. One such basic pin-pallet movement was offered by the Ansonia company at 99¢ and it would have seemed logical for the Soviets to adopt this Ansonia model. In 1957 a British delegation visiting the Moscow and Penza watch factories (see appendix) discovered that no pin-pallets were made at all. Some time ago, they reported, a pin-pallet wrist watch was put on the Soviet market but it was not successful and apparently "would not sell, even to a timepiece hungry population". The Dollar Watch was a disposable item in a non-disposable economy and I think the term "would not sell" probably got misinterpreted. More likely the powers-to-be decided the Type-1 was a repairable watch that could last a lifetime and that quality needed improving rather than curtailing. Remember earlier, in the 'Tsentrochasy episode', how the thought of inferior quality timepieces was 'nipped in the bud'.

For an understanding of the different early Soviet movements take a look at the guest article, at the end, written by PMWAS. Unlike me, he is able to explain the technical details in some depth.

From the outset Soviet engineers and inovators set out to simplify the manufacturing process, for example they discovered that outsourced Hampden watch hands had taken eight separate operations to make, they were able to reduced it to one.

Hampden had not manufactured 100% of it's watch components in-house and this had a knock-on effect for 1GCHZ. In 1930 V. O. Pruss was sent to Lörrach, near the Swiss German border (he wasn't allowed into Switzerland), to meet Swiss wholesalers and negotiate the purchase of equipment and supplies to feed the production of watches in Moscow. In particular, he was asked to buy watch hands by the director of the 1GCHZ, Vladimirsky. The Swiss asked for unsustainable amount of money, so Pruss communicates (in the memo below) that he bought no hands and implores Vladimirsky to speed up the domestic production.
Memo from V.O.Pruss 1930. 

This situation is further highlighted by the document below. Hand, Mainspring, Hairspring and Jewel manufacture was being introduced gradually and 1GCHZ management are tersely stating that without the import of these components production would cease.
I'm grateful for the co-operation of Marco Stella for his interpretation and understanding of this document. 

These factual accounts of the difficulties and tensions clash with the sanitised version of events reported to the public. Well illustrated by a book published in the early 30's called First Watch (Clock or Time depending on your choice of translation) первые часы. M. A. Gershenzon and his photographer had been sent by the Proletarian World, a Moscow publishing house, to cover the workers gathering celebrating the end of a decisive period for 1GCHZ  It is written for a naive audiance and has an almost adolescent tone. It chooses to describe the factory in terms of Gulliver's Tales. The photographs used to illustrate the book are quite comprehensive and are a valuable record of this very early period, despite being of poor quality. There is little doubt the machinery depicted will be the original Hampden equipment installed just a few years earlier.
Before the evening meeting the pair were given a tour of the factory by Comrade Rakov, the head of the Bureau of Plant Inventions. Gershenzon reported how modern, spacious and well lit the rooms were. He was somewhat taken aback by the scale of things. He said that it was like being in the land of Gulliver where Lilliputian workers operated Lilliputian machines. Rakov explained to him that the production of watches was a "tricky business". "The pocket watches consist of about three hundred different items. To make them, it takes more than two and a half thousand operations. And some of the details so delicate that we have to work with very strong lenses". He showed them a balance staff, which Gershenzon reported was no more than the size of a carawayseed. Precise and minute gears wheels were picked up on the tip of an oiled finger and the finger look like it belonged to a giant.
Later in the evening the workers and engineers of 1GCHZ gathered in the social club for a conference, to take stock and to discuss their progress and the forthcoming year of 1932, the last year of the First Five Year Plan.
The chairman of the factory committee Sokova (Salkova) welcomed their guests from the 2GCHZ  who were, in addition to electric clocks and other timers, now producing alarm clocks and table clocks using the parts and machines from the American Ansonia company.
Sokova gave a presentation on the work of the plant and a brief history of watchmaking. “Before the revolution, we had no watchmaking. Tsarist Russia imported watches from abroad. We bought in America two old factories - Dueber-Hampden and Ansonia". Dueber-Hampden was an old factory, with worn equipment. We brought their machines and complete sets of watch movements; also finished and unfinished parts. This purchase was installed at our new plant.
On on October 1st 1930, "the day of the hammer" we started up the plant. The first year was a learning year for us. We did not fulfill our financial plan, we have made only forty-two thousand pieces of watches. Machines were breaking down and there was no repair shop. There was a shortage of skilled workers. Elaborate rules were not yet established. What rules there were lacked teeth and there was not enough detail. What about the second year? We have solved our bottlenecks one by one. We now have an excellent repair shop and the machines are repaired. Our teaching schools give us trained and well prepared youths. Three thousand rules of operation are now available. By December our plan was fulfilled by 135 percent. These figures, comrades, must be music to our factory!” 
Gershenzon says that after that Sokova then discussed the plan for 1932, incidentally the last year of Stalin's 1st Five Year Plan.
“We got an order from the trust to release in 1932 sixty thousand watches. However, the factory workers have put forward a counter-plan for seventy thousand watches, of good quality!”.

I have greatly reduced and simplified the content, which goes into far more detail about the production of watches and discusses the workers inventiveness. Overall I found the book informative, but it isn't possible not to be a little cynical - such as with the last quotation above.

The photo's above illustrate the "FIRST WATCH' book.

1932 postcard depicting Type-1, 2, 3 & 4 watches plus Zina Lurie a worker. (Zina featured in many photos and was a genuine worker).

Type-2, 3 & 4 and watches made by Artels (co-operatives). 
The 1932 catalog (below) 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 below it. 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.

I am yet to add a Type-2 and Type-3 to my collection. My one and only Type-4 is in good running condition but it's original dial has not survived and I have refinished it in a style based on surviving examples.
You can find more technical information, and see examples, in the guest article by PMWAS later in this blog.

Two reason why these watches may have not survived.
1). In Romanov's 1981 book on the history of watchmaking he seems to imply that the fledgling industry has troubles enough producing one type of watch. 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 acount 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 ultra scarce. The Zvevda ladies watches from Penza made after 1936 would have been more numerous.

During the 1920’s the range of articles produced by Artel (Artisan) co-operatives was very extensive; they produced not only consumer goods but also factory equipment, tractor parts and precision instruments. The 1930's saw a change towards confining Artel production primarily to consumer goods. This curtailment allowed the highly centralised 'Command Economy' to replace co-operative production.
This charter was awarded to a 'masters of our workshop' Yuri Davidovich - Artel Right Time 1933. Taken from ABB's history .
In the transition period after the 1st and 2nd State Watch Factories started-up, Artels, that had been the main stay of pre-1930 watch repair and maintenance, were still in existance.  The two better recorded Artel's in Moscow were ABB, abbreviation of Артель Верное Время (Artel Right Time) and ТМП, abbreviation of Трест Местной Промышленности (Trust of Local Industry). According to their own history the Artel Right Time, ABB, was situated at "Arbat House 5." and were primarily responsible for repairing foriegn watches and were staffed by master watchmakers. Both were responsible for the assembly of early Type-1 modified chronograph stopwatches, like my single button example below. To paraphrase Mark Gordon's description... "Engineers added an additional stage to a standard Type-1 pocket watch movement. With a start/stop/reset button at '11'. Note that the Chronograph sub-dial counts elapsed minutes in an anticlockwise direction. This was probably done to minimize the number of gears that needed to be added; additional gears would have increased the thickness of the watch."

1939 ABB dialed and cased Single Button Chronograph 
These two pages are from the 1932 catalog shown on the USSR Watches website of Dmitry Trošinu
A collection courtesy of Pmwas (WUS/f10 and NAWCC forum). He has reinstated them whilst retaining their originality.

A collection courtesy of Alex Ballod. Types 2/3/4 have Hampden movements, the Type-2 being a 'Viking' movement, the Type-3 a No. "400" and an "8.0" movement in the Type-4.
It is possible that Artels were encouraged initially to utilise the stock of imported Hampden parts to produce the cataloged Type-2, 3 & 4 watches, in some quantities.
PKK (РПК), another Artel, but possibly one that was hastily organised at the start of the Great Patriotic War rather than one in the accepted sense of the Artel movement. Type-1 watches were produced/finished-off/assembled in Pushkino a town located at the confluence of the Ucha and Serebryanka rivers, 30 kilometers northeast of Moscow. Surviving examples are uncommon.
Smaller, possibly unofficial, workshops or watchmakers were more likely to have produced modified Type-1 movements, almost to order. Like the undocumented rare examples that crop-up for sale on the internet, from where the upper images below were taken. Example 'A' is a Type-1 movement that has been modified, and re-bridged, in a crude way to fit it's case. The original stamps have been ground down and re-engraved by hand. The illustration shows how it originated from a superimposed Type-1 movement. The lower version on the right just reinforces the view that these models were one-off's. It has no visible markings on the movement but this time the case appears to be a little larger allowing both bridges to remain. The example lower left has retained both it's bridges and it's factory stamp. More likely to be the work of an individual watchmakers, I have included them as they illustrate the robustness of the movement.
The eventual fate of the watchmaking Artels is elusive but as a child of Lenin's 'State Capitalism' policy they may have struggled to survive Stalin's 'Collectivization' period which extended up to the start of the Great Patriotic War.

Lower left has a clear 1936 - 1939 1GCHZ mark and is in my collection 

The Type-17 'Brick'.
Still on the subject of Artels, the first watch thought to have be wholly designed and manufactured in the USSR was designated the Type-17 and it is the rarest watch I own. It's not clear if the Type-17 ends as seventeen or in effect Type-1 version 7. If it is the former then it means there are 13 unknown types, between the Type-4  (above) and the Type-17.

My own Type-17 in GWO 
Type-17 dial fonts, hands & logos
Mark Gordon catalogues three, which he refers to as "Type-17, Type-1 modified" and says there were often known as 'Boys Watches'. I have also seen them referred to on Russian speaking forums as 'Bricks'. It is possible that this model was assembled in an Artel with the machined parts and components coming from the factory (one of the dials above is marked ТМП (Trust of Local Industry). However as many Type-17's are stamped 1941 there is also a compelling argument for saying that these watches were indeed factory made, as the Artels were under great threat during that period. In comparison with the mass produced Type-1 watches there were relatively few Type-17's manufactured. Most examples I've seen date from 1939 to 1941 and it may have been the wartime imperative to stick to the more easily replicated Type-1. After the war with the modern Lip and Glashütte movements readily available the Type-17 was in effect rendered obsolete.

TYPE-1 MODIFIED STOPWATCHES  (likeness courtesy of

Type-1 dials. 
Many dials are plain, especially true of wartime watches. Dials with pictures of tanks, planes, subs, hammer & sickle, Stalin or Lenin are tourist/fantasy fakes.

Other pionts about dials...
Some dials have a 12 hour chapter ring some have an extra 24 hour ring.
Reverse designs of black dials with white lettering were made for instances where that arrangement aided visibility or stealth.
There are serial numbers stamped into some dial, most likely for military issue.
Radium was used to highlight numbers, hour spots and hands, in the dark.
Most dials are metal (brass), painted and screen printed, however, there were some early paper covered dials.

On the excellent Russian Times web site you'll find chronologically listed factory movement stamps.

In my experience factory logo's only appear on the dials of the first four factories to produce Type-1's (see above) and not on the other satellite factories (movements are different, they do all have distinct stamps). Many Type-1's do not have any dial markings at all. In addition I have not seen an authentic Type-1 with a 1st Moscow Watch Factory logo, or 2nd Moscow Factory logo.  My observations only.
  • First State Watch Factory (1ый ГЧЗ). 
  • First Moscow Watch Factory (1ый МЧЗ). 
PMWAS discusses the differences in Type-1 movements from factory to factory in his guest article section towards the end.

One way collectors ensure the watch is not a franken (enthusiasts word for a watch made up from different watches - from frankenstein) is to cross reference the logo on the dial with the movement stamp or style. However, there are exceptions, for example when the Second State Factory started Type-1 production, they used movements supplied by the First State Factory.
This may help to correctly identify Type-1 Saucepan wristwatches. 
A & B are cosmetic. The logo C may be missing from some watches especially when the factory was being moved at the start of the war. D shows no recess on 1GCHZ dials. E shows the flat winding & ratchet wheels from 1GCHZ. F shows the different ratchet between the factories. G indicates that 1GCHZ is steel and 2GCHZ is brass. Of course the plates should be marked.
I took the basic images from the web some time ago and cannot remember the source.
1935. Kirov award, Second State Watch Factory begins making Type-1's and Penza starts-up.
In 1935 the “All-Union elder” Mikhail Kalinin signed a decree awarding The First State Watch Factory the name of Kirov after Sergei Kirov. He was a prominent early Bolshevik leader in the Soviet Union, Kirov rose through the Communist Party ranks to become head of the party organization in Leningrad. He was seen as a focal point of opposition to the more extreme policies of Joseph Stalin and on the 1st of December 1934, he was shot and killed (by Leonid Nikolaev a former apprentice watchmaker) at his offices in the Smolny Insitute.

Kalinin's decree, the root of the Kirovskie! - Translated courtesy DP & Google.
The name change heralded a crucial time in the history of the factory as the reconstruction of the enterprise was perfected. Production of pocket watches (nicknamed Kirovskies) increased to 450,000 pieces. In addition the production of special clocks for cars and airplanes began. Watches produced during the 1940's were commonly used by officers of the Red Army. Watches with distinctive engravings were given by the army as a form of reward. Indeed watches were used extensively to reward Soviet citizens, party officials and especially the Armed Forces. Ownership of a pocket watch, and especially a wristwatch was very desirable (the iPad of it's day).

During the period from 1935 to 1941, 2.7 million Type-1 wrist and pocket watches were produced, according to Poljot's history. Whilst this was a great achievement, the quantity (even if doubled to account for both state factories) is insignificant when compared against a population of 170 million (1939 SU census).

It was in April 1935 that a third factory, 3GCHZ, was formed in Penza, a city 625 kilometers southeast of Moscow, from the remnants of the old Frunze Plant, using tooling aquired from Lip. The watches they produced were small, modern wristwatch designs which would later be branded under the name Zvezda (Star).  Type-1's were never made at Penza.

On April 21st 1935 a decision was made by the Council of Labor and Defense that instructed 2GCHZ to also assemble pocket watches from parts made at the 1GCHZ.

I wonder if these latter events don't conveniently coincide with the assignment of the Kirov name to 1GCHZ  Was this perhaps by way of a placation?

Other Type-1 Factories

In the main production of Type-1 devices were confined to these factories...
1GCHZ - 1930 - 194  
2GCHZ - 1935 - 1941
Zlatoust - 1941 - 197(inconclusive) 
Chistopol - 1941 - 195(inconclusive)
Factory 53 - 1943 - 1945

2nd State Watch Factory 2GCHZ
Earlier we read that in 1928, Tochmekh absorbed the troubled Moscow Electro Mechanical Plant (MÈMZ) which was housed in a renovated three-story stone building at Tverskoy Zastavy, Moscow.
With the establishment of the 1GCHZ in 1930 this institution now needed to become known as the 2GCHZ, second only because of the timing not because it was the second oldest. Indeed, Tochmekh still operated from there until it's demise a few years later.

As the 1GCHZ embarked upon the production of pocket watches, so the 2GCHZ set about utilizing the Ansonia clock making equipment also sourced from the USA.

On April 21st 1935 a decision was made by the Council of Labor and Defense that instructed the 2GCHZ to also assemble pocket watches from parts made at the 1GCHZ. Production continued upto the start of the Great Patriotic War (WWII). During this time the manufacturing of parts was started at the 2GCHZ and differences in patterns became discernible.

From the first days of the war the work of 2GCHZ was placed on a war footing. They discontinued alarm clocks, clocks and greatly reduced the release of pocket watches, at the same time significantly increasing the number of military orders (timers and fuses). Many workers were called upon to join the army, about 200 people joined the national militia, formed in the Leningrad region of Moscow. Their places are taken by women and young people. The working day was increased to 12 hours. Despite the growing alarm inside Moscow, the resolution of the Council concerning the evacuation the factory to Chistopol (dated 15th October 1941. No.180) was a surprise for the plants management.

After the factory returned to full production it is doubtful Type-1 equipment was returned from Chistopol as the now 2GCHZ would begin to produce watches based on the LIP designs. Watches made at this factory would become branded as Slava (Слава) meaning Glory.

Factory 853.
Researching the history of the Soviet watch industry is not easy, access to documentation is very limited. As a consequence parts of the Type-1 story has been the most difficult to assemble. In addition to the general lack of written evidence, all this happened during a time of what could only be described as organised chaos. Much of what I write is conjecture on my part, combined with valued observations from other enthusiasts. Indeed discussions regarding the Great Patriotic War period are evolving constantly. It does appear that whilst the need to evacuate expanded the number of satellite and new factories, workers were still able to keep the original Moscow factories active, as the threat to Moscow alleviated.  Factory 53 (or 853) is probably one of the most difficult area to research. The majority of this information has been derived from the Slava (Second State Watch Factory) site history and I must thank Dorofey Goremykin for her assistance with the translation.  
Kazan is a city in Tartastan on the Kama river, en-route to Chistopol and may be the location of factory 853. As the 2GCHZ was evacuated part of the equipment may have stayed in Kazan where it was used to establish the elusive Factory 53 during the war. Rightly not entitled a watch factory as it was designated to make timing devices with priority on the needs of the war. The Type-1 watches made there certainly look like 2GCHZ watches apart from the stamp of 53 inside a pyramid. The official factory number was 853 and was established by 1943 to build fuses and pocket watches. The factory operated under the Ministry of Mortar Weapons of the USSR. The factory manager was Ivan Bocharov.
In 1944 a machine-tool plant is created in plant 853.

The Zlatoust (or Slatoustowsky). Factory 834.
Due to the military situation in Moscow work stopped at 1GCHZ on the 22nd of October. An order of the People's Commissariat of General Engineering of the USSR ordered plant director Ivan Bocharov to evacuate to Zlatoust a city beyond the Ural mountains.

November 26. People's Commissariat of General Engineering of the USSR transformed into the People's Commissariat Mortar Weapons of the USSR.

By November 28 the complete evacuation of 1GCHZ  Kirov, was underway. It removed 1260 pieces of equipment, a significant amount of basic and auxiliary materials, other production assets and inventory. Together with the equipment 296 technicians and watchmakers were evacuated. On November 30th. there was a farewell performance at the Drama Theatre of Alexander Griboyedov's comedy "Woe from Wit". 

25th December production at Zlatoust was started and the first workshop, N2, produced parts for the N 24 (fuse/timer). By January 1942 the watch assembly was established and the mass training of new factory workers started (mostly teens 14-16 years). April 29th 1942, Plant Manager Ivan Bocharov reported that "the main work of installation and commissioning was mostly finished. He said the staff of the factory have done a great job in re-establishing the plant after the evacuation. 16 watch factory employees and 10 other employees were awarded the Order of Lenin. 

Despite the difficult operating environment, the factory now produced more than 300 thousand watches and more than 14 million parts (timers) for ammunition. Zlatoustsky clocks (with pocket watch movements) were fitted to 92% of Soviet tanks and 98% of the aircraft during the war. 

After the war, the plant switched to production of products for civilian use; including pocket watches, special watches for the blind, car clocks, time switches for washing machines, odometers (instrument for measuring curves). 

Examples of timepieces made during the first period are indistinguishable from Moscow made models of 1940-41. Zlatoust operated as 1GCHZ - Kirov (logo 1ГЧЗ) including the continued use of factory stampings and logo's; cosmetic considerations not being a priority during those days. The earliest pocket watch I've seen with the familiar Zlatoust mark, of ЗЧЗ inside it's pyramid, is 1951.

A copy of the order which instructs the senior management of the 1GCHZ in Moscow to transfer their duties to the 1GCHZ in Zlatoust. 
The English version was greatly facilitated by Marco Stella. Link source.
Note the date is one day after the factory is said to have started, so the document is confirmation of the appointments.

By 1943 the Red Army was on the offensive and the Moscow factory was re-established. This probably coinsides with the time 'State' was replaced in the title with 'Moscow', thus becoming the 'First Moscow Watch Factory - Kirov (logo 1МЧЗ or 1MCHZ in English). The proliferation of factories that occurred when the Zlatoust and Chistopol units were established during WWII may well have prompted the need for a name change. In the excellent Russian Times web site you can find a chronological series of movement logo's with 'State' still being referred to in 1942 but by 1945 they have become "Moscow". In addition, I have a document from 1942 which orders aircraft clocks from 1GCHZ (then in Zlatoust).
To date no documented proof of the name change is readily available, perhaps one day one will surface. What is for sure is that a number of cataloged watches, said to be First Moscow, all have First State logo's and I think that speaks for itself.
The Zlatoust factory was responsible for manufacturing Agat Stopwatches and these had their own movement stamp. This stamp can also be seen on later Type-1 movements. The Agat named lived on and still today markets watches (including a good replica's of the Soviet Navy Divers - Vodolaz).

Directors at Zlatoust.
  • 1941 - 1948 Ivan Bocharov.
  • 1948 - 1954 Nikolay Gurevich (director of the Chelyabinsk watch plant 1954-1969).
  • 1954 - 1961 Alexey V. Kazantsev.
  • 1961 - 1967 Boris Potapov
  • 1967 - 1968 Boris Prokopevich Klimov
  • 1968 - 2000 Anatoly I. Goncharenko
Chistopol (Tschistopolsky). Factory 835.
Otnce again he majority of this information has been derived from the Slava (Second State Watch Factory) site history and I must thank Dorofey Goremykin for her assistance with the translation. 
On October 20, 1941, there began the evacuation of 2GCHZ to Chistopol, a small town on the river Kama, in the Republic of Tatarstan. 170 trucks evacuated equipment and property, alongside 488 people, of whom 128 were engineers and technicians. Much of the equipment got held up in the midway town of Kazan when the river Kama froze and the marina was locked up. What did get through was also delayed in Chistopol until the local government managed to accommodated the factory in an old distillery. This, however, accounted for only 25% of the required space. Nevertheless, in early 1942, it began production of magnetic fuzes.

The factory was given the number 835 and indeed did not exclusively become a watch factory until after the end of the war.

By the spring of 1942 the rest of the equipment has been moved from Kazan and in June it is reasonable to assume that the plant was fully operational. In addition to purely military production, there was full-scale production of watches caliber Type-1. During 1941-42 local people were trained in various specialties for the factory. 

Immediately after the threat of the German forces was removed from Moscow, 2GCHZ began to revive and re-employ the skilled workers that had remained in the Moscow region. The Director of the restored factory was Sergey Tarasov and later V. I. Sergeyevich. 

After the war ended most of the Type-1 equipment remained in Chistopol. The factory brand would eventually be known as Vostok (Boctok).

After the Great Patriotic War
The Type-1 family of watches would continue in production for some time but by 1956 the watch industry had embarked on a new stage of development. New factories were being established and the old ones revamped. This expansion required the intrduction of many new workers with multiple skills. Glavchasprom, the Administration of the Watchmaking Industry, and NIIChasProm, the Scientific Research Institute of the Watchmaking Industry, lead the way and make no mistake the industry became a serious enterprise second only to the Swiss in production terms.

Please look in the appendix, where you will see a 1957 US article about the state of the watchmaking industry in the Soviet Union. It reports on a visit by a British horological delegation and contains interesting facts and figures.

Lip engineers and technicians had supervised the installation of a factory at Penza near Moscow and trained Russian engineers. Over the years many Lip type movements appeared. The first and undoubtably, the most prolific was the Lip R26. This movement was installed in the Soviet Unions most popular wristwatch. Called “Pobeda” meaning Victory (the name chosen by Stalin), it was first released in 1945 and went on to be manufactured across many of the new factories as well as the existing Moscow plants. In 1950 the assembly of Pobeda watches was switched to a conveyor belt automated system which not only increased the output, but also improved quality. By 1951 the annual total output of watches at 1MCHZ had reached half a million and by 1955, 1.1 million pieces. Pobeda models remain in production. However, the modern watches have different movements (Raketa 2609) than the original R26, and are re-issued as commemorative, anniversary watches. Back in Soviet days they were often given as prizes for achievements, or as gifts to lower level visitors.
Pobeda or Victory watch was probably the most prodigious model ever made, anywhere in the world.
POBEDA production...
  • Penza Watch Factory (Пензенский Часовой Завод): for a few years from 1945
  • First Moscow Watch Factory (Первый Московский Часовой Завод): 1946 to 1953
  • Petrodvorets Watch Factory (Петродворцовый Часовой Завод): 1946 to current time
  • Chistopol Watch Factory (Чистопольский часовой завод): 1949 to the c.1950
  • Second Moscow Watch Factory (Второй московский часовой завод): 1953 to 1964
  • Maslennikov Factory - ZIM (Завод имени Масленникова): c.1951 to 2004
The Lip R43 was called “Zim”. In 1969 Lip were invited back to bring the Soviet technology up to date and later in 1972 a deal was agreed giving the Soviets fresh technical assistance. This co-operation lasted until 1975 when Lip went under.

There is a nice 'Guest Article' about the Lip company, just scroll down.

I am not a Soviet watch collector per-se, my watch accumulation simply reflects my interest in the Hampden legacy. 
There are two exceptions however, my wafer thin Luch 2209 Vymple and a Zvevda Tank, based on the Lip T-18.
Another major advance in the technology of watch production was facilitated by the reparations the USSR imposed on Germany following the war. The Glashütte factories lost almost all their machinery. This was relatively new equipment, allowing the Soviets to produce some of the most modern movements of the time and with a high class finish. All the famous watch manufacturing companies of the little town of Glashütte, such as Lange, Kurtz, Assmann, Muehle, UFAG, UROFA and many other small workshops were forced to join the 'Glashütte Uhren-Betriebe VEB'.

Walter Lange reported that the Soviet occupiers expropriated the firm in 1948. "The little that was left after the war was taken away by the Soviets, I myself helped packing machines into boxes to be shipped to Russia. At Lange, we had to make sketches to teach the Russians how to make marine chronometers," he said.

The Type-1 is finally retired.
I have tried not drift off the Hampden trail too much, it is the Type-1 design movements that carries through the Hampden connection. Right up to the 1980s this movement has survived and is easily recognizable 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 (see 1932 catalogue above).

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 (see 4-1959 watch below). The movement went on to be used in specialized clocks and watches, as we will see below, but by the 80'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.

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 satallite factories.

It is fair to say that the Hampden, size 16 model 5 pattern, Type-1 movement served the USSR for 50 years until the 1980'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 Urals via Providence, Springfield, Canton USA and Moscow, finally came to an end

So far 4-59 is the most recent Type-1 domestic watch I've seen (the Vodolaz Type-1's went into the 70's)
Despite the Type-1 being old technology it can clearly be seen worn by high ranking Andrei Zhdanov, Chairman of the Soviet Union in the initial post war period. It was Zhdanov who back in 1935 took over Kirov's position as head of the party organisation in Leningrad.

Some examples of the diverse uses of the Type-1 movement...
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 millimeters 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 (see photo below).
The Type-1 movement is significantly upgraded, being of a higher quality and finish. The one pictured below 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 design was also found on original some Hampden movements like the one pictured behind and to the right of the Vodolaz movement. Below that 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 Volodaz watch with fused bridges. The watch, compass and depth gauge are from my collection. 
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 female Zlatoust worker packing 'Tank' Clocks. Right my 1952 example. 
Left. Cockpit clock from the I-16 Ishak (Little Donkey). Right. KV-1 heavy tank showing clock in centre.
Another clock in my collection is a "Gun Camera Clock". It's 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 this picture

Mantle clock. The milky white translucent glass is not adequately captured by photographs
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 the classic 50's look. It was made in the 3rd quarter of 1957 at the Zlatoust Watch Factory and carries the factories distinct logo.


Straps available here on Etsy

Contact me if you wish to contribute to this project

        • V. O. Pruss
        • Heinrich Kann
        • Lip
        • The birth of Russian made watch movements

V. O. Pruss by Dmitry Pruss (great-grandson)

Vladimir Osipovich (Wolf) Pruss had been jailed for pacifist agitation against the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 when he worked as a railroad chronometer repairman in Irkutsk.
During an anmesty he was released, undeterred he joined the socialist protest movement in then-Russian-ruled Lithuania, was rearrested, skipped bail, and escaped to Switzerland. 
In Switzerland he sought advice from Lenin, who was a law student and made a living advising fellow exiles. Wolf's girlfriend had joined him in Switzerland but in the conservative northern Swiss cantons, where they worked, the landlords wouldn't recognize their civil marriage and wouldn't rent them a house. Lenin shrewdly advised them to move to Geneva for a year, where the landlords weren't morals-obsessed and then move back with a recommendation letter from the previous landlord. But the Prusses ended up staying in Geneva, and Wolf also studied there as a vocational educator in the newly formed J-J. Rousseau Institute. 
Like other left-leaning exiles, he sought to return to Russia after the fall of the Tzar, in the 1917 German-sponsored "Sealed Traincars" operation which Lenin also used to get home. Wolf's wife was pregnant with their 4th and youngest child at that time and their friends talked them out of this risky travel scheme, assuring them that it won't be long before the next opportunity came along. However, owing to the Civil War and destruction in Russia, they had to wait for a further 9 years. 
By then, Pruss had put down roots and wasn't planning to return. He was keenly interested in education, social work, and supporting education charities. An American in Geneva, the brother of Anna Louise Strong, collected funds to rescue and educate homeless children from Russia. Wolf helped him and, eventually in 1926, signed up for a stint in Russia as a vocational teacher. They built a watchmaking workshop under the auspices of the American Industrial Workshops Charitable Project, which, whilst being plagued by red tape, managed to train the children to become Precision Engineers and Watchmakers.
Above. Pruss and his own watch. Below. Article about Pruss at the MONO school 
Transcript of the above "Ogonyok" magazine, Feb 19, 1928 
There is no timepiece production in the USSR. French and Swiss-made watches are very expensive. Some cooperative enterprises buy up old watches, "refresh" then and resell, also for a fairly high price. We must create our own watchmaking industry. In Moscow, this work has been started by a leading specialist of watchmaking technology, Vl. Pruss who once escaped Czarist Russia as a "political lawbreaker", who has 20 years of experience at the best Swiss factories. Comrade Pruss teaches manufacturring and watch assembly to homeless children in the Central Workshop of the MONO School System. The equipment and the materials for the workshop has been brought by Comrade Pruss from Switzerland.

 The article text and pictures © Dimitry Pruss 2016

Heinrich Kann by A. Garratt and M. Stella 

Heinrich Kann (Kahn - also known as Henry Kan) 1872 to 1945* - was one of the major timepiece trading houses of the Russian Empire, and supplier to the Imperial Guard of watches, medals and mementos. There are pocket watches bearing his name with both cryillic and latin spelling.

Heinrich Kann's name has German origins and was written Kahn pre-1917
Heinrich Kahn himself was a remarkable craftsman, with a profound understanding of watchmaking.
Pocket watches made in his workshop were much appreciated and highly sought after at the times of Imperial Russia, on a par with Pavel Buhre and perhaps better than other local watchmakers of Swiss origin like Henry Moser, William Gabus, Georges Favre-Jacot, etc.

Of all the pre-revolution watchmakers, Kann was the only one of them who did not flee abroad after the October Revolution, but instead he stayed and joined the cause. His contribution to the birth of Soviet watchmaking is enormous, especially as a teacher at the School of Precision Mechanics. Lately he worked at the Peterhof Lapidary Works, which in 1930 was renamed the 1st State Plant of Precision Technical Stones. 

He has left us the legacy of his 1937 "Practical Guide to watchmaking, parts 1-4" ONTI NKTP USSR, Leningrad, Moscow, 1937. These publications have stood the test of time and are still used for reference by watchmakers today. Previously, Kann had written two other reference books "A Brief History of Watchmaking" (1926) and "Watches and their application" (1928).

Interestingly, these books were published either side of the Council of Labour and Defence's 1927 directive, which set out the establishment of the watch industry in the USSR. In his Brief History of Watchmaking (1926) he famous exhorts his superiors to establish a great domestic watch industry, in what was to become a kind of manifesto for the subsequent years. Indeed, it probably greatly influenced Andrey Bodrov, head of Gostrest Tochmekh, to push for the Council of Labour and Defence decision.
“Its time to shake things up, and we understand that we can become a serious competitor in international watchmaking. However, we must not close our eyes to the fact that the current standard of watchmaking abroad is at such a height that it will require considerable efforts to catch up. We are late starting in the industry, very late, but it is not hopeless, because on our side we have the advantage of a large domestic market. The current consumption of our watches, and all kinds of movements, is negligible compared to the potential future demand. Our people certainly have the innate abilities and talents needed for planning and developing a great watch industry, running like clockwork. At this time our craftsmen are not good enough watchmakers and we need to support them by providing them with the modern means of production and the necessary materials. The State Trust of Precision Mechanics should, first and foremost, serve the watchmakers and meet their immediate needs, by supplying them with materials for manufacturing and repairing watches from our own resources. Currently, this is their most important task as it will free us from buying from other watchmaking countries. With this I conclude in the hope that my modest work, together with the respective authorities in the Russian Federation, will combine to do everything in our power to uplift and develope some of the finest timepieces in the world.”
* Спасибо Iiahim

Lip by Nick Downes

In 1867, Emmanuel Lipmann set up a watch making business, the Comptoir Lipmann, in Besançon, the center of France’s watch making industry. Soon, fifteen employees were producing watches using ebauches bought from local and Swiss suppliers. In 1893 the company became the Societe Anonyme d’Horlogerie Lipmann Freres, and Emmanuel, his sons Ernest and Camille, and 25 employees produced cylinder escapement pocket watches under a range of registered trademarks such as Gallus, la Nantaise and Tandem. In 1895 they produced 2,500 watches.

Around 1900 they produced their first movement, the 20mm diameter caliber 20, which was used in early wristlets. Their first factory was built in 1907, in 1908 the name Lip was registered, and in 1910 they produced 10,000 watches.

Much of their early success is probably due to their marketing campaigns. They ran large-scale, nationwide publicity campaigns, something unheard of at the time for watches, and so started establishing the name Lip in the minds of the public.

They also registered the names Chronometre Lip and Chronometre de France, in a period when the accuracy of a watch was a major selling point. It’s widely assumed that they used these names on dials of non-chronometer watches to trick people into thinking they were chronometers. However, it’s not certain that the watches were not certified as chronometers. Lip regularly won medals, bulletins and awards from the Observatoire de Besançon (the French equivalent of the COSC), and at the start of the 20th century claimed that their top grade watches were regulated to “a minute a month”. Movements which were chronometer-certified by Besançon, were stamped with the viper’s head, and this is probably the best indication. It’s also worth noting that some of their chronometer-certified watches do not have “chronometre” on the dial.

During the 1914 -18 war they produced products such as fuses and chronometers for the military. Ernest Lipmann rebuilt the business after the war, and by 1925 they were producing their own movements again.
Agents advert
In 1931 the company became Lip SA d’Horlogerie, and they expanded the factory and installed the latest machine tools. They managed to keep their heads above water during the recession, and even to introduce new movements and technical improvements. One of their failures was an attempt to get the hide-bound French watch industry to use millimeters instead of lignes. Lip had used millimeters in the naming of their own calibers since the 1900s (e.g. the R25 is a 25mm round movement), but they were unable to overcome the inherent conservatism of the industry, and were obliged to give all measurement in their technical literature in lignes. On the other hand, they did manage to get their watchmakers to wear white instead of the traditional black smock.

The roots of the Russian watch industry.
In 1936, Fred Lipmann, grandson of the founder, became technical director. Amongst other things, he signed deals with the USSR to export technology and parts to enable Russia to create its own watch industry.
Fred Lipmann, born 2nd Nov 1905; died 9th Nov 1996
Russia bought the liquidated American watch company Dueber-Hampden in 1930, and moved the machine tools and production facilities to Russia. Unfortunately, the movements and the equipment did not allow them to produce good quality watches, and so they looked for other ways to get better watch technology. In 1936, Fred Lipmann signed a deal which allowed Russia to buy movements and watch parts, and then to buy Lip’s technology. Russia got modern, reliable watch technology, and Lip got the cash it needed to get over the financial problems caused by its rapid expansion.

Lip engineers and technicians supervised the installation of a factory at Penza near Moscow, and trained Russian engineers. They also sold a large quantity of T18 (tonneau) and R43 (pocket watch) movements to feed the factories while they were getting up to speed. All told, Russia produced some 10 million Lip-designed movements in the pre- and post-WWII periods. The Russian-produced T18 was called the Zvevda, the R43 was called the Zim and the R26 was called the Pobjeda. The watches Salyut and Molnija used the R36 movement, which was also part of a deal between Lip and Russia.
T-18 movement which became the Zvevda
Russia produced the Poljot between 1965 and 1973, and virtually all its parts are interchangeable with the Lip R25. Similarly, there is a striking resemblance between the Lip T15 and the Slava. It seems certain that Lip sold technology at around this time to Russia. In 1969 Lip were invited to Russia to investigate bringing the Russian technology up to date, and a deal was signed in 1972 to allow Russia to get technical help from Lip. This cooperation continued until Lip’s demise in 1975, and resulted in the design of a Franco-Russian quartz watch.

Post-war expansion
As soon as France was liberated, Fred Lip took back control of the factories and, as president of Lip, started to reconstruct the company. By 1945, the factory was rebuilt, and 200 people produced some 50,000 watches.

During the post-war period, Saprolip was running at full speed supplying the military, and Lip built up large cash reserves that helped it survive and expand in the next few years.

In 1946, they restarted the research work on electric watches they had halted during WWII. This research was undertaken in the greatest secrecy, as Fred Lip was convinced the future lay with electric watches, and wanted Lip to establish a strong lead in the market with their own movements. They were involved with Elgin at this period, though it is not clear if they simply acquired technology from Elgin in exchange for machine tools, or if they actually cooperated on research. In 1958, nearly two years after Hamilton released the world’s first electric watch, Lip put its first electric watch on the market. In 1971 they released their first quartz watch.

In 1952, 800 employees produced 180,00 watches, and by 1954 1,500 employees produced 300,000 watches, making them by far France’s biggest watch producer. Their attitude to their employees had always been ahead of its time, and working conditions continued to improve, including a reduction in hours, on-going training, excellent retirement and benefits packages and the installation of a crèche. This wasn’t purely altruism, but was also done to foster good labor relations, create a contented workforce, and hence ensure productivity and quality. This long-term strategy of “pandering” to the workforce eventually backfired on them, as at the time of their downfall in the 1970s their labor-related costs were excessively high.

The start of the end.
In early 1960s, their sales had began slowing, as the French market was flooded with cheaper, lower quality watches. In a market growing at 10%, Lip’s sales were only growing at 3%, and one of their major shareholders pulled out. One of Lip’s problems was that their key selling points – accuracy, quality, and reliability – were no longer valid in the new market place. Their production costs were low for the quality of their watches, but they were too high compared to their new competitors’, and their average watch sold for roughly twice the price of the new cheap watches.

Fred Lip tried to interest other watch companies, including Omega and Timex, in taking a share in the company, but without success. Eventually, in 1967, the Swiss company Ebauches SA took a 33% share in the company. In 1968, the turnover was 78 million francs, and the net profit was only 57,000 francs. Things weren’t going well.

From 1968 to 1973, distributed Breitling chronographs in France, including the Navitimer, Cosmonaute and Superocean. The watches were signed on the dials by both Breitling and Lip.

In December 1969, 200 employees were laid off. This was only a precursor, and throughout 1970 there was short time work, layoffs and strikes. Lip never got back its share of the market, and its financial problems worsened.

Finally, in February 1971, at the age of 65, Fred Lip stepped down as president of the company, ending over 100 years of control by the Lipmann family.

In the years that followed there were management changes, refinancement, and new publicity campaigns, but none of it helped, and in 1973 they went into pre-liquidation. However, the unions did not agree with the closing of the factory, and so began the spectacular union actions that were to mark the end of the company. Lip ceased production in 1976.

This text is copyright © Nick Downes 2002 - 2016

NOTE: The Lip brand name was sold after the collapse. Modern Lip watches rightly or wrongly claim the 1867 heritage.

The birth of Russian made watch movements by PMWAS

As you already know (reading the website), the need to make whole watches in the Soviet Union itself resulted in buying the bankrupt factories of Dueber Hampden Watch Co, as well as the Ansonia Clock Co, and bringing them both to Moscow.
This write-up is to show some features of the movements made in the early period of Russian watchmaking (up to 1941).

Starting with the 1st State Watch Factory in Moscow, I’d like to show all four types of movements made in the early thirties. The Type-1, Type-2, Type-3 and Type-4.
A picture you’re already familiar with from the main story. The four types of watches made in 1st State Watch Factory (1SWF), signed either Gostrest Tochmekh, or 1GosChasZavod on the dial.

The first watches were made using mostly the old stock of American parts, or even entire movements, finished or not, that arrived from the USA.
What you see above is a late Hampden 16 size movement, from 1930 on known as the Type 1.
In early Tochmekh/1SWF watches you’ll find 7 and 15 jewel movements, along with some American grades (like I mentioned - more or less finished, downgraded sometimes), including some RR (Railroad) grades as well.
Seen above are the two early versions. Notice that both have American F (fast) S (slow) markings on the balance cock, and a bi-metallic expansion balance with blue hairspring. The 7 jewel one has a single roller as well. Clearly old stock parts, as all later Russian made pieces have double rollers installed.
Looking at some other details inside the movement, you’ll find many traces of it’s American DNA, including the numbers stamped under every plate. One has the number re-stamped and still wrong, nonetheless.
The setting mechanism is still of the original design, with the stem and sleeve in the case’s pendant.
Some had a setting pusher, but I’m not sure if that’s factory fitted or a later modification (perhaps both).

During the next years, the movements were made with parts made in Russia gradually replacing the old stock or imported parts. Below is a 15 jewel movement with Russian marked balance cock, but still with a complete old stock balance.
This one still has the sleeve in it’s pendant, so it was made likely around 1934-35. It was probably in 1935 when 1SWF came up with it’s new detent stem design.
The picture above shows the dial side of a 1941 piece. This was first used in damaskeened (badly, but damaskeened) movements of the mid-thirties. Just like the one below.
Along with the detent stem and lousy damaskeening, this movement has a bright silver tone hairspring. Which I believe was still being imported in those days.

The further development of Type 1 included friction fitted jewels and a mono-metallic (plated brass) balance wheel with Russian made hairspring and Swiss style cap jewel settings, that appeared around 1940. Notice also that the dial logo has changed now the factory is now named after Kirov.
The pictures below show some details of such late 1SWF Type-1 made in 1941. It’s worth mentioning, that the decrease in quality of those movements between 1930 and 1941 is very significant.
A bent, and oxidated, very low quality hairspring – typical for late Moscow made pieces.
Finally, an oversized Type-1 wristwatches made since the late 1930s…
The story of the 1SWF type one movement ends in 1941, when the factory is evacuated to Zlatoust, where the Type-1 will be made until circa 1970. With the quality gradually increasing during this period.

The story of the other type of movements made in 1SWF is much shorter.
The other three types of Dueber-Hampden movements were made for a short time, probably until the factory ran out of old stock parts. The Type-2 and the Type-3 were signed either in English or in Russian, whereas all the Type-4 movements, I’ve seen, were American old stock.
The Type-2 was Hampden’s 12 size open face model. The one shown is an example of an unfinished Hampden movement, cased as found, barely touched by the finishing department. No damaskeening on the plates, no precision regulator installed. All parts American made, of course.
The Type-3 was Hampden’s 3-0 size model. It was used in small gents’ wristwatches like this one. The setting mechanism, again, required a sleeve.
Some of the movements were American old stock as well.
This one has a setting pusher installed outside of the factory, no doubt.
And the last of the early 1SWF movements, the 8-0 size Type-4.
It was used in ladies’ watches of the American design (just lacking the decorations on the case). The dial did not survive until today, sadly. It was probably marked Gostrest Tochmekh.
Detent stem this time.
That was only the second one I’ve found. There are not many of those around, most likely because many were damaged and simply thrown away.

While the Type-2, 3 & 4 movements were quickly discontinued, it left the Type-1 as the only model produced. New designs began to appear in the late thirties. These would include the stopwatch, the Type-17 wristwatch movement, a Type-1 based chronograph and a 5 day car/military clock.
Type-1 based Stopwatch
The Type-17 with it’s bizarre design.
Having listed the movements made by the 1st State Watch Factory, I’d like to mention other movements made in the USSR, in the pre WW2 period.

The 2nd State Watch Factory in Moscow made the K-43 movement, being a Type-1 clone, with some modifications:
The 2nd State Watch Factory movement had different ratchet, different detent stem mechanism, pallet cock instead of pallet bridge and different hairspring stud screw position on the balance cock.
Those were made in Moscow between 1936-1945 (with some interruptions during the WW2) and in Chistopol from 1942 until circa 1950.

At the same time, the 2nd SWF made Ansonia based 8 day wall clocks, like the one below…
In the second half of 1930s, thanks to the cooperation with the French Lip company, new models of movements were now made in Penza and Samara, the ZiF/Zvezda wristwatches and ZiM pocket watches, are shown below with a ZiF.
Pre-WW2 pieces I used to own in my collection.
And last, but not least – a ZiM pocket watch.
This was made in Samara between the late 1930s and circa 1950. Nickel or gold plated versions were offered. Surely a much more modern design than the Type 1, but soon beaten in every aspect by the well known cal 36 (Molnija). But that’s a different, post WW2 story.
ZiM pocket watch

I hope you found this write up – covering most early Soviet calibers – at least a little interesting, thanks for reading.

The article text & pictures are copyright © pmwas 2016

Authors note: PMWAS is a valued member of many watch forums and his knowledge of early American and Russian watches is invaluable to novice collectors and enthusiasts. If you have time I recommend you take a look at his collection HERE.


Extract from the SEKONDA web site... "Sekonda is a British brand which was established in 1966 to offer a collection of mechanical watches which were manufactured in Russia [sic]. With extensive marketing support and superb customer service Sekonda quickly became a household name. The introduction of the quartz movement saw manufacture moved to Hong Kong and this enabled Sekonda to introduce more fashionable styles. This combination and continued marketing support led to Sekonda becoming the best selling watch brand in units in the UK in 1988, a position that is still held today."

With the end of the Soviet Union the old factories were re-organized, in 2000 the Volmax organization is formed by ex-Poljot employees. Today it is a little unclear who is selling what and where the brands are being made. To the best of my knowledge Volmax sells watches under the Aviator, Shturmanskie and Piljot brand names. Vostok watches (Bostok) are sold by Vostok Europe.

Soviet watches (post 1950) would be exported to over 70 countries including, USA, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong and Greece.


I've included the following extract for what it's worth. Many Americams did seek out the Soviet utopia at that time. If, as is likely, the man existed, the question remains as to the facts. Much that was written at that time was done so with good (Soviet) intentions, but habitualy distorts, or omits facts that are not on-message.
The Sagamore Metal Goods Corp., certainly existed in New York around the time of the article and was a hotbed of workers agitation. The Dial Watch Case Co., is not listed in any contemporary trade directories (see directory here).



Duke University Library Pamphlet Collection 

(New York USA) The foreman came over to me and said that I was temporarily laid off. It was just 5:30 p.m. and the bell rang. I gathered my tools and packed them in my box. Then I went to see Mr. Dienstman, the owner of the Dial Watch Case Company. He explained that he was forced by the depression to cut down expenses but hoped in a short time to send for me again. While I was still in his office, he told the same story to the other workers who by this time had crowded around him. I looked at these fellow worker and they looked at me, each of us troubled by the same thought - unemployment. The menace under capitalism had reached out and scooped another handful for the army of the unemployed. Until now the highly skilled and specially privileged worker among us had not felt the struggle for existence.

We'd thought we could easily get another job. However, when I went to ask for work at the Sagamor Metal Goods Corporation, where I had previously earned sixty five dollars a week, the manager told me that he no longer paid high wages; but if I'd work for thirty dollars a week until times were better he could give me a steady job. I would not submit to that, rent alone was forty seven dollars a month. Would the landlord take less? So I told Manager sorry no.

Three month after losing my job I left New York harbour on the Aquitania and, seven days later, landed in Southampton England, where I got on the train for London.

(Authors note: The story goes on to tell of his journey across Europe to Moscow and highlights the plight of workers and the desolation caused by capatilism. We pick up the story in Moscow)

There were no watches made in pre-war (pre-revolutionary) Russia. Only the bourgeois and middle classes were the possessors of pocket watches. Most of the Russian population never owned a watch. Many never learned to tell the time. Some had never even seen a watch in their lives. What watches there were in the country were mainly old style makes from Switzerland, France and Germany. During the World War wrist watches were imported by the Russian war promoters for the exclusive use of military officers. Otherwise, modern style watches did not exist. In 1917, with the October Revolution, the proletariat inherited only a negligible amount of watches. Imports, also, were stopped altogether. It was only during the period of the New Economic Policy that watches again made their appearance in the Soviet Union. A concession was granted to a clock manufacturer in Moscow. He made a cheap wall clock of the chain and weight style. The quantity was very small and the quality poor.

In the first Five-Year Plan provision was made for the establislment of two large factories, one to make watches and the other to specialize in clocks. A survey of the watch and clock factories for sale resulted, in 1928-29, in the purchase by Soviet commissions of the Dueber Hamden (sic) Watch Company of Canton, Ohio, and of the Ansonia Clock Company of New York. The machines of these factories were then shipped to Moscow where two magnificent, modern, daylight buildings were being erected by the Watch Trust to house them.

The First State Watch Factory is on Voronzovskaya. The Second State Clock Factory was built adjoining the old concession factory on Leningrad Road. In October, 1930, the First Watch Factory began producing four types of watches - two pocket watches and two wrist watches. The Plan for 1931 was 70,000 watches, but only half that number were made. The plan for 1932 called for 70,000 watches and it was exceeded by 10 per cent. For 1933, the plan has been raised to 100,000 and all indications show that more than this number will be produced.

The factory employs 1,200 workers and employees who have learned to produce watches of good quality. The watches were ordered by the government for railroad workers and other officials who must do their work on time. So now Soviet workers can become the proud possessors of well made, accurate timepieces of seven-jewel and fifteen-jewel types. These watches are made entirely of Soviet metal. Even the jewels which used lo be imported are now made in the Soviet Union. Until recently the watch springs also were imported. But after persistent experiment we have now succeeded in freeing ourselves of foreign imports.

The Second State Factory manufactures clocks on a mass scale. It specializes in four types. A cheap, peasant chain-and-weight wall clook of which it plans to turn out three million this year; an alarm clock for which its planned figure is 500,000 for 1933; a standard table clock, 50,000 of which it will make in 1933 and an electric wall clock of which it plans to make 10,000 this year. This factory employs over 3,000 workers. These clocks are also made entirely of Soviet material by Soviet workers. Much has yet to be done to improve the quality of this production, but the workers are learning fast. The end of the second Five-Year Plan will undoubtedly see a great increase not only in output but also in quality. The Soviet watch industry as a whole is only at the beginning of its achievements. The demand for clocks and watches is infinitely greater than the supply. Therefore, in the second Five Year Plan provision is made for two additional factories. A commission was set to work locating and buying the plants abroad.

Meantime, the Watch Trust has opened a research laboratory, an institute which is now functioning at high pressure. This laboratory experiments with all kinds of chronological mechanisms or movements. It has three sectors. One sector experiments with watches. Another experiments with clocks and electric timepieces. The third experiments with other time measuring instruments, such as stop watches, counters, etc. This laboratory employs 150 specially trained workers, and according to mooted plans will presenlly be enlarged to employ a personnel of 750 highly skilled workers.

The institute has completed some very fine original electric clocks which have gone through the most severe tests and proved successful. All the designs are made with a view to confining production to Soviet metal and machinery.

Soviet engineers are looking to the automatic machine to do the precision work in the new factories. This will free the workers from eye strain and the very difficult operations which require the highest skill. It will raise production, reduce waste and lower costs.

Cont... (The full text is available courtesy of this link)


Here is another western article giving testimony to the Soviet industry in the mid 50's.

TIMELY TOPICS November - 1957 

Published for the Employees of the Hamilton Watch Co., Lancaster, Pa. USA. 


In October one year ago an interesting report on the very rapidly expanding horological industry in the USSR was released. A party of British horologists returned in September, 1956, from a tour of Moscow and Penza watch and clock factories and submitted a report on their findings. This was the first time any Western observers had been admitted to the Russian factories; in fact, it was the first time ANY Westerners had even been in the town of Penza for many, many years.

The British group was a guest of the Russian Government and, in particular, of the Minister of Instrument Production and Means of Automation. Through the report by these curious and observant horologists has come the only news available on the progress and production of horological instruments in this scientifically vigorous country. At the Twentieth Communist Party Congress, Bulganin stated the aim of the Soviet leaders as being, "To overtake and outstrip the most developed capitalist countries in per capita production. In achieving this aim automation will playa leading part." As you will note by reading further, the Russian push of its watch and clock industry is a vivid example of this.

The manufacture of watches in Russia was of no consequence at all until 1930, when the country’s first Five-Year Plan was adopted. Just a few years earlier, in 1927, Russia had purchased the Dueber-Hampden Company in Ohio, and shortly after moved it to the Soviet Union. In 1940 Russia began her first watch manufacturing using mass production methods. World War II followed, and development work was stopped-the factories being turned over to the development of fuzes. However, through rapid progress in the post-war years, the industry today has become very large- to the extent of production of over 5.5 million watches in 1954, and close to 7 million in 1956. The combined output of clocks and watches is now running at a level of about 24 million units a year, with expectations of 32 million by 1960. However, several new factories and extensions were already under construction or in the planning stage in the fall of 1956, so these might put the production up to at least 50 million a year by the close of the next Five-Year Plan.

One factory, 500 miles southeast of Moscow, employs 7,800 people and is making 70,000 16/17 jeweled watches a week - ladies watches only. It is the largest such factory known anywhere in the world and is still expanding. In the Moscow area are two factories each known to employ about 5,000 people and to produce over 3 million 15/17 jeweled lever watches a year between them. One of these plants also produces chronometers, deck watches, marine clocks and miniature alarms with II jewel lever movements. In Leningrad there is reported to be a factory producing jewels for watches, clocks and instruments at the rate of 2 million a week. 

At present, Russia's horological industry probably rates as the second largest in the world, its output ranking below only that of Switzerland. And if this rate of development is maintained, it is very possible that in a few years she can have the LARGEST watch and clockmaking industry in the world.


Unlike other watch and clock producing countries, Russia is interested only in the production of 15/17 jeweled lever watches; therefore she probably turns out a higher average standard of watch than any other nation. Even in the manufacture of miniature alarms (which run for one day on a winding) the movements are all-jeweled. The British delegation observed that no pin pallets are made at all. Some time ago, they reported, a pin-pallet wrist watch was put on the Soviet market but it was not successful and apparently "would not sell" even to a timepiece- hungry population. The number of styles in watches is limited and they are mainly simple and unsophisticated. It must be realized that her industry is in competition with no one, for she allows no importation of any watches or clocks. It is interesting to note that the Russian timepieces sell in the shops for as much as 10 to 14 times their actual factory production cost. The high profits that are made go to the national exchequer.

The control of the whole industry, from the technical point of view, is carried on by the Horological Research Institute in Moscow. It was set up in 1946 to coordinate the design of watches and clocks, the design and building of machinery and to help solve a ll technical, material and production difficulties of the industry. The Institute, which employs over 300 qualified technicians, receives unlimited funds from the government, and through a representative in each factory any problem the plant may have is handled by this technical group regardless of the cost. Because of this central controlling organization the industry is always ready to design and develop any horological instrument which might be needed by the Soviet Union.

The following reasons for Russia's tremendous progress in the industry were submitted in the British report:
No foreign imports, thus no competition.
Workers were only recently allowed to change jobs: to do so even now means loss of certain benefits.
A very high standard of labor in the industry. This may be partly due to the fact that Russian women do much of the heavy work mining, road-building, pneumatic drill operating, etc., so when there's an opportunity for clean, precision work such as the horological industry offers, they try extra hard to do their best. Thus the industry attracts a very high class of labor.
Rigid discipline is imposed on the workers and they accept it willingly.
Unity of purpose through central direction. plus the encouragement and drive of management and political pressure, exhortation and propaganda.
Complete freedom from labor problems and disputes such as strikes. There is no word in the Russian language for "strike."
Criticism by fellow workers for any form of slackness on the job.
Wages set mainly on an incentive basis.
Watch component quality is high, proving the skill of toolmakers and machine setters.
Production is held to a very few types of movements and complete watch designs.
Unlimited capital is available.
High profits which go into the national treasury.

Right now Russia is still meeting her own unsatisfied horological demands within her own boundaries, and exports do not amount to more than 2 per cent of her total production. However, her technical advance in the field is so evident that it cannot be ignored. She is striving for the highest quality and her industry is backed by a strong research organization. Undoubtedly the world market will one day be the target for Soviet horological domination.

Source: NAWCC

Thank you; To all those who gave permission for me to use their material including Lee Horrisberger, Dave Miller & Dmitry Pruss. (As a policy I always persue copyright owners to seek permission to republish material. Where contact could not be made I welcome such release.) To the collectors of Dueber-Hampden and Soviet watches who inspired and encourage me. To Marco Stella for his understanding and translation of Russian documents. Finally to Mark Gordon who did much to open-up Soviet horology to the west. The record of his former collection (which was greatly enhanced when it amalgamated with that of the late Dieter Brunow) has become one of the significant reference points of the genre.

These links are either the sources of material or just great horology...

Books in my collection (alphabetically)...
  • Arnold, Robert F. and Hernick, James L. Hampden Watch Co.
  • Blair, Harry. Mr Horology - The Life and Times of Henry B. Fried.
  • Gibbs, James W. From Springfield to Moscow.
  • Harrold, Michael C. American Watchmaking. 
  • Sterling, Ronald E. Canton, Ohio (Images of America).
  • Watkins Richard and Jacques, David American and Swiss Watchmaking in 1876

© Author: Alan F. Garratt. 2008 - 2016 all rights reserved. 
All brands, trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. No reproducing anything embedded herin without the prior written permission of the author.