Amphibia Watch History

Amphibia Watch History

“… 10… 7… 5. Inevitably, the car wheel gradually moves. People stiffened with bated breath. What will it be?… 3… 1 meter and at last what with such curiosity was expected by the people which have gathered here, happened: the wheel of Volga has moved… watch.”

So in 1967 newspapers described demonstration of “Amphibia” opportunities — the first Soviet waterproof watch. Today its creators tell about the birth and features of this model. mikhail-novikovvera-belova

Mikhail Novikov:

The task was so: to develop the watches which aren’t conceding to foreign analogs and ensuring reliable functioning at a depth up to 200 meters in the conditions of considerable pressure differences and temperature.

At that time I was the chief of New Developments Bureau and generally worked on “Amphibia”. The name was thought up by someone from our employees. We were held peculiar competition for the new watch’s name, and this, symbolizing being equally comfortably feeling both in water and on the land has been chosen.

At that time there was a set of the waterproof watch various designstin in Switzerland. It would seem that we didn’t have to invent the bicycle. But we couldn’t repeat many designs as our equipment didn’t allow to provide necessary accuracy. Besides, almost all designs were protected by patents and it was impossible to copy them. The question of the patent acquisition didn’t even stand — on my memory there was no attempt to purchase the patent or the license in the USSR. We patented the developments, protected, didn’t buy “their” patent.

Patents for the waterproof watch, so-called 43rd class I studied very carefully. And stories about the Italian and other watches for submariners learned and began to collect already later when work on “Amphibia” was complete.

Our task was not in finding technical solution but in finding the same effective solution, as well as abroad (if it is possible — better), but patent net. And we developed own design which could be made and which didn’t repeat someone’s others. Of course, at the same time many options of sealing were considered, we compared them by efficiency of sealing and at cost.

And the machine running into watch — just evident demonstration of durability of hours having nothing in common with these testing. Pressure under which hours at the maximum depth are several times more than pressure of the tire upon the road, but the mechanical pressure and pressure in liquid work differently, and it is impossible to compare them.

At first sight “Amphibia” doesn’t differ from usual watch. But actually almost all elements of the case here are special and it was necessary to tinker with each of them.

Let’s take glass: it is almost not noticeable, but it has a special cross-section. Glass is under pressure of 20 kg/cm2, it is several times more than pressure of car tire upon the road. With such pressure glass caves in on 0,5 mm. Caving in, being a little flattened out, it has to pressurize in addition the case and not concern at the same time a second hand. It is difficult to calculate a bend even for flat glass, and especially for as at “Amphibia”.

Vera Belova

Glass at “Amphibia” is thicker than usual: if “Komandirskie” has 2 mm, then Amphibia — 3 mm. But matter not only in thickness and configuration: it is also made by special technology. Unlike usual, it isn’t just cast from plastic, but also ground. To provide tightness with a big pressure, it’s necessaryvery high precision on diameter and even the slightest scratches on a contour are inadmissible. To achieve all this, glass is ground in a special way.

Mikhail Novikov:

It would seem that what can be simpler than rubber laying? Sometimes they speak: you could establish from a water tap. But to laying in “Amphibia” requirements are much more tough. Watch laying thickness is 0,5 mm in usual and about 0,75 mm — in “Amphibia”. Under pressure of 20 atm laying contracts for 20-30%. If to squeeze an elastic band from the crane for 30%, it won’t be straightened back, residual deformation is too big. And our laying has to restore an initial form completely. Add temperature drops here, and you will understand all complexity of a problem. To provide the set parameters, it was necessary to develop not only details but also even materials of which they are made. For achievement of necessary laying characteristics at one time we even tried to process them by an ionic method, on the technology used in the space equipment.

Vera Belova:

We selected rubber very long time. That there was no leak, rubber has to be smooth, without pores. For simple watch we put laying from usual rubber from the Kazan plant of rubber products. They are good for small pressure, but don’t maintain big. Therefore we made laying for “Amphibia” at the plant, cementing them from crude rubber, and then cutting down.

Mikhail Novikov:

There were problems with other materials too. Case of “Amphibia” was for the first time made not of brass but of stainless steel. The steel case is better: it is stronger, more durable than usual and besides has anti-allergenic properties.

Traditionally the case is manufactured so: from a brass tape on a special press is cut down procurement of the case which is ground, chiseled and etc. But steel of which the Amphibian case is made is much more tough than brass. And we couldn’t cut down procurement of the necessary form for a long time: ears to which the stripe fastens broke off. Therefore the first cases were with “fragments” instead of habitual ears. Then we tried to cut down the case not for one but for 12 passes, at each stage the press form approached a case form more and more. But also it turned out not directly

Vera Belova:

Change in the case have concerned not only material. The screwing-up head and a disk of time (bezel) have been used on “Amphibia” for the first time. If before immersion establish “O” of disk against a minute hand, then on a disk it will be possible to determine the time spent under water by figures. Only in the nineties these elements have appeared on “Komandirskie”. The back cover was special too: instead of 0,5 mm as on usual watch, it had thickness of 1 mm. Even the nut which holds a cover has been strengthened.

Mikhail Novikov:

After creation of “Amphibia” according to our offer the international standard for scuba diving watch was changed. It included point that if under water perpendicularly to make effort for a head or buttons of watch, then they shan’t pass moisture. Of course, “Amphibia” met this requirement.

Also military modification of “Amphibian” — NVCh-30 was issued. When seamen came to NIIChASPROM with the order for diver watch, they were told that they in Chistopol already produce similar model. To provide the hermeticity required to the fleet 30 atm, we had to modify serial “Amphibia”. Differed in NVCh-30 was a glass configuration, thicker cover.

Vera Belova:

These hours were tested according to very tough program. Even the stripe for durability was checked. By the way, the stripe of NVCh-30 had the fastening a little strange in appearance too, but very strong.

Mikhail Novikov:

The main part of tests was carried out in NIIChASPROM, and acceptance passed during manoeuvers of the fleet on the North Sea. By the way, on them rehearsed something similar to rescue of Kursk crew. The submarine laid down on a bottom at a depth of 120-130 meters, imitating accident. There were two saving ships, the enormous buoyant easel “Carpathians”, diving bells, decompression cameras, a crew of divers. I don’t know where all this got to now. The diagram of operation such is. The bell goes down from the ship, is set on the special attached platform by the boat, nestles on it at the expense of pressure. From the boat people pass into a bell, lift them upward in the decompression chamber. On those doctrines lifted one group of seamen of six people. Divers who worked at depth had our watches. Both tests and doctrines took place well.

On these tests watch checked at limit depths — more than 100 meters though really they intended for other purposes. Divers-deep-water-transport workers have a continuous radio communication with the ship and in their heavy equipment at such depth it is simply inconvenient to look at the watch. And for scuba divers, fighting swimmers our were irreplaceable NVCh-30.


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