Poljot Sturmanski

The First Watch in Space (55 years ago today)

YuriIn 1957, the Soviet Union put the first satellite, Sputnik 1, into earth orbit. A month later, Laika, a stray dog from the streets of Moscow, became the first living creature in space. By 1961 the Soviets were well in front in the “space race” and to the great embarrassment of the “Free World”, pulled further in front when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

On Uris’ wrist was this Poljot Sturmanskie.

DSCN9511The Soviets may have been at the vanguard of space technology but nowhere near it when it came to timepieces; technically, the Sturmanskie is a very ordinary watch.

Let’s start with the movement. Small but quite rugged, this movement uses a copy of superb Swiss incabloc shock protection device. It has a hacking device (where the watch is stoped when in the hand setting mode for accurate synchronisation), a feature rarely found in Swiss watches. It has a Breguet (overcoil ) hairspring, a feature found in only the most accurate Swiss watches. The finish is pretty good and very good on the screw heads and other steel parts.

The dial is what really makes this otherwise ordinary looking watch stand out; large full figure numerals with black outline, long Cyrillic character branding stretching from the 10 to the 2, beautiful sword shaped hands tapering to long pointed sticks paired with a nice red sweep second hand and, best of all, an emblem of a winged bomb with a red Soviet star over it leaves us in no doubt of this watch’s military heritage.

Finally, the case. Chrome plated! Why Oh Why? The back is stainless steel, but so thin you can almost see through it. The crown is light as are the seals. Needless to say, the case is a disappointment.

The dimensions are a little disappointing too; very small for a military watch, only 33mm in diameter and very thick, 13mm, almost twice that of a comparable Swiss watch.

The Poljot Sturmanskie was, from the early 1950’s, presented to Soviet pilots upon their graduation, the model was not available to the general public. During the sixties, it was made available to the public and there was some variations produced.

A very nice watch and part of history.


About robswatches

I’m a horoligical “petrol head”! I love classical mechanical watches, not because they tell me the time, I can get the time from cheap quartz watches, my computer, phone, microwave or just about anywhere. I’m interested in the movements of watches, the aesthetics of case design and their construction, the history and the simple thrill of watching tiny, beautifully finished wheels, pinions and other parts turning and oscillating and marvelling at the craftsmanship that created it.
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