Tag - 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 the thing that people expected with such curiosity finally happened: the wheel of Volga rolled over the… watch.”

This is how newspapers described the demonstration of “Amphibia” –
the first Soviet waterproof watch – capabilities in 1967. Today its creators tell us about the birth and features of this model.

Mikhail Novikov:

The task was this: to develop a watch that is not inferior to foreign analogs and can function reliably at a depth of up to 200 meters in the conditions of considerable pressure differences and temperature.

At that time, I was the chief of New Design Bureau and generally worked on “Amphibia”. The name was thought up by one of our employees. We held a peculiar competition for the new watch’s name and chose “Amphibia” for symbolizing being equally comfortable both in water and on land.

At that time there was a set of waterproof watches of various designs produced in Switzerland. It would seem that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. But we couldn’t repeat the designs as our equipment didn’t allow to provide the required 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 arise, as far as I remember, there was no attempt to purchase a patent or a license in the USSR. We patented our work, protected it, and didn’t buy “their” patent.

I studied patents for the waterproof watch, the so-called 43rd class, very carefully. But the stories about Italian and other watches for submariners and I learned and began collecting later when work on “Amphibia” was completed.

Our task was not in finding a technical solution but in finding the same effective solution, as good as foreign examples were (if possible, find better), but not patent. And we developed our own design which could be manufactured and which didn’t repeat someone else’s. Of course, at the same time, many options of sealing were considered, we rated them by the efficiency of sealing and the cost.

And the car rolling over the watch was just a demonstration of its durability and had nothing in common with real testing. The pressure at the maximum depth is several times more than the 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 the first glance “Amphibia” doesn’t differ from a 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 the pressure of car tire upon the road. With such pressure glass caves in on 0,5 mm. When caving in and flattening a little, it has to additionally pressurize the case and at the same time not touch the second hand. It is difficult to calculate bending even for flat glass, and far more difficult for “Amphibia’s” glass.

Vera Belova

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

Mikhail Novikov:

It would seem that what could be simpler than rubber laying? Sometimes they say: you get one from a water tap. But requirements to rubber laying in “Amphibia” are much tougher. In a usual watch its thickness is 0,5 mm and in “Amphibia” it is 0,75 mm. Under the pressure of 20 atm laying is compressed in size by 20-30%. If you squeeze the rubber band from the tap like that it won’t be straightened back, residual deformation is too big. And our laying has to restore its 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 materials. For achievement of necessary laying characteristics at one time, we even tried to process them by an ionic method – the technology that is used in space equipment.

Vera Belova:

We were choosing rubber for a very long time. To avoid leaks the rubber had to be smooth, without pores. For a regular watch we used laying from usual rubber from the Kazan plant of rubber products. They are good for small pressure but cannot maintain the big one. That’s why we made laying for “Amphibia” at the plant ourselves, producing it from crude rubber and then cutting.

Mikhail Novikov:

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

Traditionally the case is manufactured like that: we cut work pieces of the case from brass tape on a special press, it is later ground, chiseled, etc. But steel is much more tough than brass. And we couldn’t cut work pieces of the necessary form for a long time: “ears” to which the watch band fastens broke off constantly. Therefore the first cases were with “fragments” instead of actual ears. Then we tried to cut the case in 12 stages. But it also did not go very smoothly.

By the way about steel, from which the cases are made. When the “Amphibia” was developed there was no such brand of steel produced in the country. And we had to add a new position to the GOST (the state standard).

Vera Belova:

The change in the case has concerned not only material. The screwing-up head and the timing disk (bezel) have been used on “Amphibia” for the first time. If before immersion you set “O” on the disk against a minute hand, then it will be possible to determine the time spent under water. Only in the 90s these elements have appeared on the “Komandirskie” watch. The back cover was special too: instead of 0,5 mm, it was 1 mm thick. Even the screw which holds a cover has been strengthened.

Mikhail Novikov:

After creation of “Amphibia” according to our proposal, the international standard for scuba diving watch was changed. A condition was added that if one applies pressure perpendicularly to the head or buttons of a watch under water no moisture should get in the watch. Of course, “Amphibia” met this requirement.

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

Vera Belova:

These watches were tested according to a very tough program. Even the watch band was checked for durability. By the way, the band of NVCh-30 had the unique fastening that was a little strange in appearance but very strong.

Mikhail Novikov:

The main part of tests was carried out in NIICHASPROM, and the component acceptance test was passed during maneuvers of the fleet in the North Sea. By the way, there was a rehearsal of something similar to the rescue of Kursk crew. The submarine laid down on the bottom at a depth of 120-130 meters, imitating accident. There were two saving ships, the enormous pontoon crane “Carpaty”, diving bells, decompression cameras, and a crew of divers. The scheme of operation is this: the bell goes down from the ship, it is set on the special attached platform by the boat, it is forced to it by the pressure. People go from the boat into the bell and they are lifted up to the decompression chamber. During that training, we lifted one group of six people. Divers who worked at depth had our watches. Both tests and maneuvers went well.

During this training, the watches were tested at maximum depths of more than 100 meters though really they intended for other purposes. Deep-water divers have a continuous radio communication with the ship and in their heavy equipment, it is simply inconvenient to look at the watch at such depth. But for scuba divers and fighting swimmers our NVCh-30 were irreplaceable.



Dials and Hands

As the case, his form and decorative elements can be good reference points by determining an origin and age of watches,  dials and hands can give to the collector valuable information about these watches. The first mechanical clock had only one hour hand and rough German or Italian dial, i.e. with a 12- or 24-hour scale. Renaissance one-arrow watches usually had Roman figures. At the floor watch with the square brass dial we often can see the scale engraved in the brass ring attached to not round dial plate. Visible parts of a dial plate around a ring were decorated with the engraved ornaments or cast brass relief applications located first of all in dial corners. Such type of the dial practically prevailed till 18th century when he has gradually been forced out by the enamel dial.

Varnished iron dials became popular approximately in 1780. We often find them at cheap completely iron wall clock with drawings of birds, with figured bible motives, etc. The drawn dials had also some floor wall watch. The sizes of dials gradually increased. About 1725 the board in the form of a round segment which gradually increased to a semicircle was added to a square dial plate. Besides ornamental elements, watchmakers put in a board various scales for strike mechanism inclusion and switching off, for the choice of  playing mechanism composition, calendar and various astronomical dials or figured elements of the automatic mechanism.


You can find the round dial attached to the main dial plate at some Renaissance watches, but English lantern watches have it almost always. On these dials under the Roman figures there is an engraved narrow scale divided into 48 parts which separates an interval of every hour for 4 identical parts. At the Roman scales they applied, as a rule, for the fourth hour a symbol IIII, but not IV. Apparently, because IIII looks more esthetically.

The increased accuracy of time measurement has come to a chronometry with the pendulum clock and with it also the minute hand on the dial has appeared. Special minute scale located on an external circle of a former hour scale was also produced for this hand. Firstly only Arab figures served for designation of five-minute intervals on this scale, which were at small dials for reasons of space economy directly parts of a scale, and at the big clock they were graven or drew over an hour scale. Watches of the second half of 18th century had sometimes so big minute figures that they almost didn’t differ from hour figures. At colored dials and at hours of provincial masters minute scales sometimes became simpler to 60 points applied directly on an hour hand.

Chistopol Watch Factory

History of Chistopol Watch Factory

Chistopol Watch Factory “Vostok” is situated in Chistopol, Russia. It is a town-forming enterprise.

Today the factory changed its business line pulse counters, electricity, gas, water meters and other devices for different economic sectors.
Chistopol Watch FactoryThe history of the factory begins in 1941. In November Chistopol saw  the first freighters with equipment and 500 workers evacuated from Moscow Second Watch Factory. In spring 1942 CWF started mass production of timepieces for military purposes, and by July 1 the factory was running at full capacity. The company was founded as production facility working for the army. But since February 1943 by order of the People’s Commissariat for Mortar Weapons the factory began to produce peaceful products. For example, the first watch for men “Kirovskie”.

After the war the factory started production of mechanical watches which became its main products. In 1949 the factory started serial production of men’s watches K-26 “Pobeda”, wall marine clocks with a luminous dial, clocks for the cars “ZiM”, “Volga”, “Pobeda”, wall and street industrial clocks. In July 1950 the factory started to erect its own production buildings.

In 1952 the factory began production of “Kama” watches with shockproof device and leakproof body. At the same time the factory manufactured timepieces for various industries.

In 1952 at the international exhibition in Milan Chistopol watch gained wide recognition and popularity.

In 1957 there was a new production line started: K-28, “Vostok”, “Mir”, “Volna”, “Saturn” and “Kosmos” watches with side and central second hands, lens and shockproof device.

Komandirskie watchIn 1962, at Leipzig International Exhibition “Vostok” watch was awarded a large gold medal.

Since 1965 CWP became the official watch supplier for the Ministry of Defence. That time saw the first famous “Komandirskie” watch characterized by high durability and waterproof body. In 1967 experience gained in the development of this watch allowed to release “Amphibia” watches having increased water resistance up to 200 meters.

Since 1969 all watches produced by the factory had the same brand name “Vostok” and the company was named Chistopol Watch Factory “Vostok”.

Success at the professional watch market determined the development plan for the coming years. Mechanical watches accurate at any temperature, in any environment, under any pressure.

In 1972 the factory started producing men’s watches of the new 24 caliber with a numerical calendar, double calendar, automatic winding. The watches are exported to 54 countries around the world.Desert Shield

In 1976 cosmonaut Georgy Grechko visited the factory and thanked the watchmakers for high quality products and presented them “Vostok” watch which travelled to space.


In the 1990s CWF continued watch production by expanding the range of products. Large lots are exported to Italy, USA, Switzerland. “Desert Shield” Vostok watch became the most popular one in the USA.

In 2000 the factory started production of mechanical alarm clock with seven-day winding. It is the only one of the kind in Russia and the whole world.

In 2001 CWF was awarded “Russian National Olympus” in the category “Technology: Science”.

In the early 2000s the factory developed new watchworks for wristwatches. They were provide with the day and night indicator as well as a lunar calendar.

This factory is one of the two Russian watch factories (together with Petrodvorets Watch Factory “Rocket”) having a full production cycle.

The factory is also one of the largest ones in Russia producing a large range of pressure gauges, tachometers, tachographs, pulse counters, electricity, gas, water meters and other devices for various economic sectors.

In September 2010 the factory was declared bankrupt, but production is still on in several subsidiaries.