It was only a matter of time before a Vostok watch found its way onto my watch bench for a thorough review. When it did it came in the form of the unashamedly bright ‘soviet red’ colour that you can see in the picture to the right. And let me say from the outset that it was the boldness and confidence of this design that drew me to this particular reference in the first place. So the watch used in this review is the reference 650841 and it is most definitely …. red!
Vostok as a brand is extremely popular and has somewhat of a cult following. The watches are produced in Christopol the Russian Federation and should not be confused with those of the Vostok-Europe brand which have a separate identity and are the result of an agreement between Vostok in Christopol and the Vilnius Koliz company.
For a comprehensive guide to the Vostok company please take a look at this … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vostok_watches
This review deals with a ‘traditional’ Vostok in Christopol watch. It was a lot of fun to do and the findings, to me at least,were surprising.
Vostok Komdandirskie Watchmaker Review – The Video
I filmed it! Yes, you can watch me actually conduct the review on this Vostok Komandirskie wristwatch on my YouTube Channel.
As with all of my watch reviews I use the following categorisation to break down the inherent complexity of the review.
- Engineering – Features and Quality (Pretty Objective)
- Aesthetics (Prone to be subjective)
- Value for Money (Pretty Objective)
Engineering – Features and Quality
- Keyless Works
- Case and Bezel
- Dial and Hands
- Water Resistance
The Movement – Vostok 2416b
The movement inside this Komandirskie reference is the 19800 vph Vostok 2416b which is an automatic 31 jewel movement. I have to say that I really liked this little movement by Vostok. The balance looks wide for the footprint of the movement and everything looks business like and highly functional. Granted there is no real attempt to make the movement look pretty but then there is a certain honesty in that, the movement exists to power a workaday, inexpensive watch with military origins so hods of damaskeening and gilt engraving would not really be expected.
As far as performance goes the example I tested really delivered very well. Whilst videoing the watch was for a while giving Zero seconds a day deviation, 293 degrees of amplitude and 0.0 ms beat error. In the dial up position the results were like those demanded of chronometer; it was really extremely impressive.
The performance in all five positions was …..
So, the figures above settle it! This is a sweet and nicely regulated movement. It looks business like and it performs in a businesslike, no fuss way. As a mechanical timekeeper it is really impressive, but …..
Hacking and Rapid Date Change
The bad news is that with the Vostok 2416b there is no hacking and there is no rapid date change. This is pretty disappointing as both are key features in my opinion and it was this lack of these two ‘pretty standard for modern watches’ features that dragged the score down for the movement
… there is no hacking and there is no rapid date change …
A Hacking Hack to The Rescue!
So maybe all is not lost with the ability to accurately set the time. With this particular reference it was possible to stop the second hand by setting the watch into the ‘time setting’mode (ie with the stem pulled right out) and pulling out gently still further on the crown and applying a little clockwise rotation (ie turning hands anti-clockwise). It’s a bit tricky to do and set the time as well but I guess if practiced it will, after a while, be a pretty effective work around.
‘Nearly Rapid’ Date Change
There is also a workaround for the absence of the rapid date change and it is this. The date can be flipped on by turning the hands ‘passed midnight’ in the normal fashion. Then rather than continue turning the hands clockwise for another 24 hours (2 whole revolutions) simply turn the hands back to the previous 8 pm position (or thereabouts); you’ll know when to stop turning back as you will feel a little click. This backward motions sets up the calendar ring for moving forward again so once you feel that click then just wind forward again past midnight and the next date will spring forward. Not super rapid but way better that endless winding forward. Nice!
Score Given – 7 out of 10
The Vostok Komandirskie has an unusual design of crown and stem in that the crown is allowed to pivot around on the end of the stem and not pushed out straight via an integral spring as is normally the case. This actually works surprisingly well and has the added advantage that it seems significantly easier than normal to reseat the crown on the pendant tube thread.
Also the winding action is nice and positive and there is a reassuring sense of contact with the winding pinion.
Score Given – 8 out of 10
Case and Bezel
The case is really very nicely done in stainless steel. The design of the case back is especially impressive and it involves a solid case back driven down onto a nice wide rubber gasket with a threaded securing ring. This again is a deviation from the more standard one piece threaded case back but it seems to work very well and the pressure downward on that nice big gasket seems to indicate that the watch will happily meet the 200 meter waterproof rating.
The bezel to me was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe my particular piece was shipped without sufficient friction in the retaining spring but I found this bidirectional bezel, without clicking action, to be a little tinny and feeling like it was not up to the job. Also the colour in the insert was not quite right.
Score Given – 6 out of 10
The crystal did not get much coverage in the video but inspection with a loop shows a very nicely fitted domed acrylic which is very clear and suits the feel of the watch extremely well. Feedback in the video comments indicate that the Lucite crystal has very fine tolerances and assists greatly with the reliability of the waterproofing.
Score Given – 8 out of 10
Dial and Hands
The finish of the dial and hands is really very nice on this watch and I was encouraged by the decision to not use applied hour markers but rather to have these integral to the dial itself. Hour markers, especially in lower end budget models, have a nasty habit of falling off and a rattling around annoying inside the dial eventually jamming up the hands and bringing things to a halt.
The printing is nice and sharp and the lume is applied very accurately and very neatly.
All in all this is a nice job with the hands and dial so a high score was given.
Score given: 9 out of 10
Vostok did a good job with this bracelet. It is a very secure design with a safety release mechanism on the deployment clasp. Vostok had used nicely size, double shouldered spring bars to attach the bracelet to the case and the contrast in finish on he links; brushed and polished was excellent. Brushed was very brushed and polished was very polished. My only gripe was the end links and the way they left a big gap between the end of the bracelet and the watch. This looks a bit unfinished and that I think is a shame as the result the bracelet is pretty good.
Score given: 8 out of 10
The lume on this watch is also pretty good. I do not include images in this article as I think it comes across better in the video and if you follow the link below it will take straight to this section in the video ..
Score given: 8 out of 10
High levels of water resistance are embodied into the design of this watch. The back is designed so that as water pressure increases it actually forces the back harder on the rubber gasket which is super elegant and effective. The crown screws down nice and easily and being wide it is easy to apply enough torque to keep the moisture out.
These design elements do however need to be properly implemented by the watchmaker and user. For my likely the back came of a little to easily on the watch that I received and I would like to see it torqued up a little harder, even better a torque rating given to the watchmaker to achieve after servicing.
Score given: 8 out of 10
There is a kind of honesty about the look of this range of watches by Vostok. I love my red version but there is a very wide selection of dial styles and colours to choose from. The use of military motifs is pretty prevalent and this I think is a nod to the watches and enhances the appeal (to me) at least.
Despite being highly functional and having nicey the finished links the bracelet for me doesn’t really work and I have seen a lot of guys fit NATO straps to these watches (got to love the irony in that!)
Customising the Look
I took one look at the gap between the spring bar and the case and said a NATO strap would look good filling that. So I sourced a nice red and white one the correct width and voila …
Ok the box it comes in is a bit rubbish but the presentation and the look on this watch on the wrist is I think really nice and deserves a good solid score.
Score given: 8 out of 10
Value for Money
£54 !!!! (Plus £19.78 UK Customs fee and Royal Mail Handling Charge). So, even £73.78!!! For a watch that looks this good, is solid engineering and performs in all six positions better than most Rolex watches that haven’t been serviced in a while.
It’s a 10 out of 10. No doubt about it.
Score given: 10 out of 10
Total Score and Summary
The final score for this watch then is …. 8 out of 10 !
In summary I would rate the modern Vostok Komandirskie a very impressive watch. Whilst it lacks some features the 2416b movement is particularly sweet and businesslike, the case is rugged and the whole watch (with the possible exception of the dial) is tough and engineered to take a few knocks.
I am now keen to take a look at the Amphibian which is very similar but it’s very name will lead me to take a closer look at the water resistance and that has the potential of being fun to do!
I hope you found this article useful and fun to read.
Watchmaker of Pembroke Dock