Russian Dive watch History Author Koimaster Member
Subject: Russian Dive watch History
Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:59 pm
There has been a long running debate on the history of the Russian Divers all over the web. I posted at other forums the first post and at one particular forum the thread grew to 4 pages. This is not a bash but information to be used for a collector and for a novice who is looking to clear the air on this particular watch style. http://www.netgrafik.ch/history_of_russian_watches.htm From the site Time keeps ticking... An overview over Russians watchmaking history sorted by factory. For most western watch enthusiasts, the bulk of Russia's watchmaking history is nothing more than a compendium of hazy legends and whimsical rumors. However, the factual history is no less compelling than its fabulous history, and even a brief introduction to the great and not-so-great watchmakers of russias past makes a visit far more rewarding. By the way, nowhere does Invicta show up in these links but a google search for Russian Dive watches turns up almost all Invicta "russian divers".
As far as I know, Invicta had nothing to do with the Russian Dive watches. What is interesting though is comparing the review to what is posted at the website. A portion from Jim Skeltonâ€™s Review: "Eyal Lalo (President & CEO of Invicta Watch) was given one of the original Russian Divers by his grandmother and used that for a basis for this design. The original was carefully taken apart so that every part of it could be inspected, measured and replicated as closely as possible. " From the Invicta website; This time they have tackled a design they made in 1959 which was commissioned for the Russian Naval Fleet. The former Soviet Union commissioned roughly 100 pieces to be made by Invicta in Switzerland for their elite divers in their Navy, and proved to be one of the last
Swiss manufactures used by the USSR. Designed to be worn over a diver's suit this is a huge watch with large numerals and hands for better legibility under water, and in the dark. Protecting the crown is a large screwdown "cap" which tightens down for water resistance. Eyal Lalo (President & CEO of Invicta Watch) was given one of the original Russian Divers by his grandmother and has decided to use that for a basis for this design. Completely replicating this original took a lot of work by creating this one-off oversized case, and unique vintage dial. The original was carefully taken apart so that every part of it could be inspected, measured, and replicated as closely as possible. Invicta has surpassed the original by utilizing a stronger compound of Tritnite luminescent material on the dial, and a completely reworked and skeletonized Swiss Unitas movement. All of the work was performed in their newly built Swiss factory and it exhibits all of the finish and quality of any high end Swiss Made product. Excerpts from a reveiw of the original Diver by Ed The ORIGINAL RUSSIAN DIVER: Zlatoust Diver's Watch The Zlatoust diver's watch is big, really big. I've owned alarm clocks that weren't this big. How big, well its 58mm in diameter (not including the huge canteen crown which brings the overall width to 74mm!), 24mm in thickness (which is thicker than the width of many a ladies watch), the lugs are 24mm wide, lug to lug the watch measures 73mm and the it weighs 10oz. The Zlatoust uses a one piece case design (the movement is installed through the front) with an unusual screw-down bezel to hold the thick acrylic crystal tight against a rubber gasket. The watch ships with a sort of rubberized canvas band (complete with CCCP logo). In addition to the odd band, the bezel unscrews completely to allow the wearer to remove the protective grill and place a thicker (included) gasket in its place. The lug pins are of a screwed in type and can be removed with the small screwdriver that also came with the watch. The huge canteen style crown screws down and has a rubber gasket to protect the movement from water. An attached chain keeps the crown from getting lost. The numerals and hands on the watch face are luminous and, in a pleasant surprise, the lume is pretty good. The movement on this model is the same one used in the old First State Watch Factory Type One. It is a 15 jewel hand wound mechanism that must be wound once daily by unscrewing and partially removing the canteen crown cover. The Zlatoust watch factory has an interesting history. During WWII, the one of the Moscow watch factories was evacuated east to Zlatoust in the Chelyabinsk region to avoid being captured or destroyed by the advancing Nazi army. (many other Russian factories were moved this way as well) There, watch and clock production was quickly brought
back online. According to the factory, over 90 percent of the clocks installed in Soviet tanks and aircraft were made at Zlatoust. After the war, the factory continued to produce all sorts of clocks and watches including stopwatches and this huge diver watch. (As an aside, they donâ€™t just make watches in Zlatoust. This place was also the center of the old Soviet nuclear weapons industry. See: Zlatoust . It is also reputed to be one of the most contaminated places in the world as well.
Of course there is always a new version of events........ The story has changed at least 4 times in the last couple of years.
"As I have stated on more shows than I can count... Invicta did not create the Russian Diver. The Russian Navy came to Invicta and asked them to make a Swiss Made version (the first non-Russian version) of their existing Russian Diver design. Invicta did, and only made 100 to be given by the Russian government to the officers exclusively. Later on (2003) Eyal decided to replicate this original watch for release in 2004. " There has been a lot of confusion on the watch of course. I respoded to the above quote No one, including myself is arguing that point. A lot of new members may not know the history between the Russian Navy and Invicta nor the history of the company in general. From what I have found: Invicta Watch Group is a Florida-based watch company founded in 1837 by Raphael Picard in La Chaux-de-fonds, Switzerland. The Picard family owned and operated the company until 1991, when the company was purchased by a United States-based investment company. In fact, there is very little out there on the original company. Almost as if it never existed. The post is for information. Many confuse the part Invicta has played in the development of the watch. These two photos below are from a friend at another forum, Auto Movement. The photos below are copyrighted so please do not copy them with his consent. The watch on the left is an Invicta, the one on the right an original RD
ВМФ = Военно-Морском Флоте, or Military-Marine Fleet. ИМФ = Imaginary Marine Fleet? Invicta Marketing Fable?
Has anyone else familiar with Russian watches heard this story about Invicta being commissioned to create a limited run of 100 pieces for the Soviet Navy anywhere other than Invicta's marketing department. It's been repeated faithfully by those who promote and sell Invicta watches, and has made the rounds on watch sites, etc., but I've never
seen a picture, old article, or reference to an original 1959 anywhere. Some people I have run across have been collecting Soviet-era timepieces for over 20 years, specializing in military - particularly Navy pieces, and have never come across any such watch. Never heard of another collector having one, or giving much credence to the possibility of such a thing. If anyone has an *actual* 1959 Invicta-made Đ’ĐœĐ¤ diver, I'd love to see it, it would be worth a small fortune - not to mention one of the most sought after pieces ever. There seems to be two variations to the story. One, promoted by Invicta in which they provided 100 pieces *in 1959* for the elite Soviet navy divers, and the second that Invicta created a special *commemorative* batch of 100 as gifts for party officials/high ranking officers, presumably also in 1959. I don't think it happened, as I've never found any corroborating evidence to support either scenario. I would love to be wrong, as I truly wish these pieces exist (so I can collect them). It would be nice to see even a photo of these. The communists were famous for pomp and circumstance and kept complete records of all of these things. Somewhere in the world one of these watches exists or photos of it exist.
In the interest of fairness here, I am not going to post any responses from ownership of the site to spare Alan pulling out the rest of his hair. I have posted without names a couple of the posts made aside from mine. They are from the same person as is the one below. Well, I have the watch that was warn by Yuri Gagarin on his first space flight. I can show it to you. I've even posted pictures of it on the internet. What more proof do you need that it is authentic? Many of the watches in my collection have the original factory "passport", including date of manufacture, serial number, etc. As Invicta made 100 of these watches, SOME documentation must exist in their records. Invicta did not,AFAIK, produce their own ebauches then, so there would be a manifest of purchased unfinished ebauches from Unitas/whomever. There would be an export record from the Swiss government documenting the delivery to the Soviet Union. A list of serial numbers, dates of manufacture, photos of the exchange
- after all, that's a pretty big deal to present a limited run of only 100 watches that would have cost Invicta a fair amount of money to tool up for the production run. They would want to document the event, I would think. Maybe I am expecting too much from a Swiss watchmaker in terms of record keeping?