The Time Bum has shared his affinity for Russian watches before. I have reviewed a couple of Vostok Amphibias and a Soviet vintage Raketa "Big Zero." I like their mechanical movements, off-beat style, low price, and relative obscurity here in the United States. I am always on the look out for new and interesting Russians, so when I saw CCCP Watches, I was excited, then disappointed, then intrigued. I'll start from the beginning.
CCCP takes its name from the Cyrillic acronym for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR. The CCCP Time website says the collection "draws its design inspiration from the life and times of a significant part of the modern political era of the Soviet Union." Putting aside the fact that not everyone gets a warm fuzzy feeling when they recall the glory days of the USSR, the "inspired by" aspect left me cold. They are original designs meant to evoke the idea of a Cold War era watch. Many have Japanese quartz movements. There are some very attractive watches in the collection, but they are not Soviet so much as Sovietesque. The Bum was bummed, but then... Wait. What was this about Slava movements?
Slava (Слава or "Glory") was one of the first Soviet watch manufacturers, established as The State Trust for Precision Mechanics in 1924, becoming The Second Moscow Watch Factory in 1930. After World War 2, the factory produced watches and clocks for civilian consumption as Slava. The original factory was sold in 2006 and demolished in 2010; however, before the bulldozers rolled in, the founders of CCCP purchased a cache of movements from the Slava inventory. These were restored and incorporated into limited edition watches. Modern watches with vintage Russian hearts? Now it gets interesting.
The review sample is a Sputnik 1. The watch pays tribute to the first man made satellite. Launched by the Soviets in 1957, it was watershed moment in the Cold War, and the first volley in the space race. The satellite was a polished metal ball less than two feet in diameter with four radio antennae protruding like tails. The watch is a bit fancier than that. It has a round, stainless steel case, measuring 44mm wide, 50mm long, and over 16mm thick. These are tool watch proportions, but the Sputnik is really more of a dress watch. The bowed sides, large crown, and scalloped lugs soften the dimensions, creating a zaftig appearance. The model 7001-04 pictured here has an ion plated gold case, polished with a brushed finish on the bezel and upper surface of the lugs. The large push-pull crown is decorated with a cast star.
The dial and case back are both transparent, offering a view of the Slava S2437 automatic movement within. The display case back has "CCCP 1957" and four stars printed on it, and the glass itself is tinted red, another nod to the the Soviet Union. It is engraved with the model name in Cyrillic and the limited edition serial number. The dial is clear (other models offer blue or grey tinting) giving you an excellent view of the mechanical works. In contrast to the decorated case, movement is spartan. There are no blued screws or Geneva stripes here, just steel. It is clean, but not new. A welcome bit of patina betrays its age. The date wheel is also exposed, the "window" a gold loop floating at the 3 o'clock position.
I confess, I know next to nothing about the S2437 movement, and CCCP offers little information in their materials. My Internet research suggests this unit is a variant of the day/date 2427, a 27 jewel, 18k bph, dual mainspring automatic. It hand winds, but does not hack (i.e., the second hand cannot be stopped when setting the time). The date is set by a recessed button at 2 o'clock. You will need a tool to depress it. Sadly, CCCP does not supply one with the watch. A ballpoint pen will do in a pinch, but you must be careful not to scratch the case. Accuracy was very good, gaining only about 8 seconds per day.
In contrast to the utilitarian movement, the rest of the dial is quite fancy. The display window is bracketed with polished semi-circles. Gold markers in three styles adorn the black index ring surrounding the transparent dial: Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9; darts at 1, 5, 7, 11; and, lume filled circles at 2, 4, 8, 10. The gold Delphine hands are treated with a narrow stripe of lume. The gold second hand has a small loop in its tail and is tipped with red. Squint a bit, and you will see the same text as on the rear window, this time rendered in thin black letters, along with all very busy, the circles, darts, and lines recalling a satellite - not literally, but in a fanciful form like the satellite style pendant lamps and wall clocks popular in the 1960s.
The watch is supplied with a 22mm, crocodile print leather strap that tapers to a 20mm buckle finished to match the case with polished sides, brushed center, and the CCCP four star logo. It fit my 6.5" wrist with room for adjustment. The strap is black with a red lining that echoes the red case back display window.
On the wrist, the Sputnik 1 has huge presence, commiserate with its considerable girth. It is larger than I would usually choose for a dress watch, but it does fit that role. Once I found a shirt with a cuff barrel large enough to swallow it, it paired quite well with a coat and tie. It is not a subtle watch by any means, and I would not recommend wearing it to a formal occasion, but it will happily accompany you to the office. Water resistance is 50 meters, which is more than sufficient for a dress watch. Illumination is nearly non-existent.
I did not know what to make of the Sputnik 1 when it first arrived, but after a few days on the wrist, it found its way into my heart. The plump case and fussy details are a bit over the top, but kind of fun. I love that the exposed movement looks like the raw machine that it is and is not tarted up with baroque gingerbread like you see on skeleton watches. The Sputnik 1 also proved quite the conversation piece. Watch nerds are attracted to its uncommon movement. Normal people like the eye-catching details. I'm not sure its novelty would be sufficient to justify its $520 MSRP; however, for $145 at the CCCP online shop, I could be tempted.
Pro: Unique looks with an unusual movement.
Con: A tool to depress the date button would have been nice.
Sum: Eccentric chic. The Time Bum approves.