"SOVIET TROOPS of RADIATION CHEMICAL PROTECTION USSR RUSSIAN MILITARY WATCH 70s!"
(I do not believe this to be anything other than a novelty watch, but it runs well, has heroic Soviet proportions, and I really like it.) By Alan (email)
Это, для меня, похоже на совершенно изобретенные часы. Создан для новизны, красиво сделанного набора, но не имеет никакого отношения к каким-либо аутентичным «российским военным или российским радиационным» часам. Если у вас есть доказательства обратного, напишите мне. Доказательство должно включать в себя старинные фотографии этих часов (а не только нынешний вид на циферблате), старинные фотографии 1970-х годов из радиолокационных войск, которые носили эти часы, и некоторые документы из официального источника третьей стороны, такие как российское правительство, доказывающие существование этих часов в 1970-х годах , Если у вас нет этой подробной и 100% надежной информации, не пишите мне, чтобы жаловаться на мои мнения, в этом обзоре, спасибо.
I obtained this huge watch from an ebay seller in Ukraine, for $70 in April 2018. The seller was great, and I received the watch soon after buying it. It runs really well, has a nice mechanical tick. It's really large, 45 mm across, and is made from an old pocket watch case, having lugs soldered on at 12 and 6, converting a pocket watch into a wristwatch. There are others like this on ebay, and all are billed as being a watch with 1970s provenance from a watch issued to members of Russian radiation protection force. [New: way at bottom, or click here, to see example of the model of pocket watch that almost certainly was used to create this wristwatch.] There is indeed an agency, specifically called the "Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence," and this is an English-language informational link about their service. However, I have not been able to obtain any information that substantiates that the watch has origins with this group, which does not surprise me. More on this below, but there are a great many watches being sold on ebay from Russia and Ukraine which indicate very specific historical provenance of something official, or government, but which appear with almost no exception to be novelty watches created to satisfy a market for these items. This is not a criticism of the watches themselves. I've owned a few, and all have been well-running as promised, and using what appear to be good movements. Most have been quite affordable.
Above are three members of the Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence in action, and you can see they are wearing and holding all kinds of specialized equipment.
None of them are wearing the heroic Radiation Watch.
Here is a look at the movement. I didn't open it up, but it's the seller's photo. You can see it's a jeweled movement with the typical plates and other features of a decent quality movement.
Below is a pic of the back. It was clearly a medium-size pocket watch that has been converted to a wristwatch, by addition of lugs soldered on at 6 and 12 (see below pic for closeup of the solder job.) Note also the striated decorations ("damaskeening" I think?) of the back of the case, which is never anything found on a purpose-made wristwatch where the caseback is against your wrist, not seen and appreciated.
Above, from the ebay auction. States it uses a Molnija caliber 3602 movement. Here is a page on that movement, confirming it's a pocket watch movement. Interesting in that although it does not have a shock-protected balance, it does use the Breguet, "overcoil" hairspring, a feature more commonly found in more expensive movements. I wonder if this is what the seller is referring to by the movement being "clearly inspired by the legendary R0LEX..."
As it derives from a pocket watch, it is quite large as a wristwatch. Here it is next to a standard AA battery. 45 mm is the case diameter. It is much larger than any watch I normally wear, but in some ways I think that is fitting to the largesse, and heroic claims of radiation protection, etc. As a slight caricature of a watch, why not have it be huge. I love this for what it is, btw.
"FIG. 1 is a partially exploded sectional view of an AA alkaline dry battery in accordance with Embodiment 1."
This side view above shows the three-part construction, typical for pocket watches: a true bezel anteriorly where the crystal attaches; a middle part holding the movement and dial in place; and a caseback.
I have not said much about the dial so far. As you can see, there are a lot of markings against a black background. Moving centripetally, the outer marks are 0-60 minutes, each 5 minutes indicated by a yellow marker, and then large white numbers 5-60, by 5s. Next, an incomplete circle of words written in Russian. I'll try to find out what this says. Next a thin, white circle, alongside the 1-12 hour chapter in yellow numbers. Then, sixty white hash marks. Central to this, the 13-24 hour chapter in red numbers. Finally, an incomplete circle around the center post. (Note: Tony has translated the dial: "The inscription reads: "TROIKA (Troika has over 6 different translations from forces, to troops, arrays, or military, but all mean the same essentially) RADIATION, CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL PROTECTION USSR.")
At the 9 o'clock position is the "secondary seconds" chapter with sixty hash marks, counted off by 10 second markings 10-60. And how can I not mention what is simultaneously the SUPERSTAR of this watch and it's *most ridiculous feature,* the radiation hazard symbol in the center of the seconds chapter! I mean, COME ON.
Here is some information on the origins of the radiation hazard symbol, 1946 UC Berkeley. The color of the original trefoil was magenta (Martin Senour Roman Violet No. 2225) on a blue background, later changed to yellow background. This color combination has since undergone revisions. "Present regulations also permit the use of black as a substitute for magenta. In fact, black on yellow is the most common color combination outside of the U.S."
Why do I find the rad haz symbol on this watch so ridiculous? Well, for a kitchy, novelty / souvenir watch, which is what I believe all of these to be, it's perfectly fine. It is what is expected. These souvenir watches all must have some kind of symbol. Whether it is a coat of arms of a certain armed forces group, a tank of some particular regiment, parachutes of some particular regiment, fighter jets, submarines, aircraft carriers, satellites, radio antennae, or even the handsome, smiling face of Yuri Gagarin, these all must have a symbol, otherwise no one will buy them. Without a symbol, there can be no allure of provenance or history!
But back to this specific symbol, let's pretend for a moment that this was a watch worn in the 1970s by the members of the Soviet Union's Troops of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defence. Why would they need to put the rad haz symbol on it. The members know who they work for. They don't need a rad haz symbol to remind them. It makes no sense.
Also: the watch isn't radioactive, in case anyone is suggesting that is why the symbol is on the dial to "warn the user that they are wearing a radioactive watch." Yes, there were watch dials which were radioactive from the radioactive luminous material, but there would be no reason to -- and in fact every reason not to -- issue a radioactive watch to workers tasked with actually discovering and removing radiation! You would not give them a radioactive watch. This would only confound their investigations. So, this also makes no sense.
"Laborers work on construction of the Soviet Union's Chernobyl nuclear power plant on July 1, 1975." (CNN)
Thanks for reading this review. If you have any thought or comments, my contact details are below.
If you wish to contact me to tell me that this in indeed an authentic "radiation protection" etc watch from 1970s, I am very willing to listen. But please do not do so unless you possess facts (not hearsay, anecdotes, etc) which would support this claim. This would include actual vintage photos from the 1970s of the original watch (not modern pictures), vintage photos of radiation workers wearing this watch, government documents and specifications proving the existence of such watch, or other evidence of authenticity.
Thanks. [**More info & pics added below]
Some more info. Above is a pocket watch from Molnija. It is very likely that this wristwatch started out like this. It's probably the same case and movement. If you imagine blanking out this dial. moving the 12 to where the 9 is, soldering lugs to where the 9 and 3 are in this picture, modifying the step so that you can put in a wristwatch crown, there you have it. The secondary seconds chapter, currently at 6 in the watch pictured, becomes at 9 o'clock, as in my wristwatch. Thanks Don, for info on this pocket watch.
Below, a photo with the light-activated luminous material glowing, in a semi-darkened room. The hands are luminous, but nothing on the dial is luminous.