Let us go back to Mid January 2022... I just received weekly news from Molnija with the announcement that the new watch - model Tank with 3603 movement - is available for a preorder.
Tank as a model was launched about half a year earlier but the first model is powered by Miyota 8205 automatic movement. I did not like that combination so I passed it (to be fair, I have one Molnija with Miyota movement - Baikal, but that is more than enough, and even though it is a nice watch, I am selling it ..). But the announcement of the revised model with the inhouse 3603 movement, that was far more intriguing. So I contacted their sales representative, I was able to agree on some discount (based on my collection of Molnija's watches) plus I got the chance to select the serial number. And - then the complication started. Firstly - the price published on the Molnija's weekly news was valid ONLY for the domestic market. For the non Russians price was 20% higher. Reason - Molnija changed it's price policy from January 2022. I was not willing to pay so much so I almost canceled my preorder, when I got the brilliant idea. My watchmaker, who is also my friend has a good horological friend in Russia. Asked for help, got the positive answer. So, I preordered a watch with the shipping address of this Russian friend. But that was not the end of the complication. I was not able to pay in advance! The only possible way of shipping within the Russia was cash on delivery option! So I had to ask my new friend for another favor - to accept money from me and pay for the watch at the delivery...
After all this complications, on 20.2.2022 I received an email, that watch is assembled and ready to be shipped. Two days latter watch was collected by the new friend. Since he was preparing a package of the watches also for my watchmaker, we agreed that he will ship everything together within one week.
What a mistake! Two days later Russia attacked Ukraine, there was a total confusion. Russia was isolated by the world's community, we were not sure if post service still works. Since the friend from Russia wanted to leave Russia ASAP we had no other option but to take a risk. Friend prepared the package and shipped it using Russian post. To our surprise - watch was here sooner than expected and faster than during the normal times!
But, watch arrived in poor condition. Winding extremely stiff, pulling the crown tough, and on top of everything - watch was in non working condition. It worked only turned upside down. It was of course impossible to return it to Russia, so again my watchmaker friend was my only hope. He repaired the watch (he said that shipping is to be blamed for the condition of the movement) however the crown function remained stiff. The problem was not in the movement but the stem (or the hole in the case). The hole was drilled smaller than the stem was. If this is the case on all Tank models or just on my watch, I don't know.
Pissed off by the Russian's attack, the fact that watch is celebrating aggressor's T-72 Tank and the fact that the watch has issues I just packed the watch into the box and never put it on my wrist, to be honest I almost forgot about it at all. Until last week. I was rearranging my closet where I keep my watch boxes and Tank appeared in front of me. In the meantime I have read in the news that Ukraine received quite a lot of old tanks T-72 from the reserves of some of the ex. Yugoslavia countries. I think that the biggest contingent was received from North Macedonia and Slovenia also participated some. So suddenly this watch represents Ukrainian fight for the freedom. What a paradox.
Putting aside this political issues I decided to give the watch a chance. To wear it, use it, make a review, as I intended to do at the beginning. So here it finally starts - the review of the watch...
The basic idea behind the Tank watch is to make a tribute to a special watch (or better clock) 127-CHS (127-ČS), which was integrated into the cockpit of a T-72 tank. The reason that I have 127-ČS was the main driver for my decision to purchase also the Tank watch. I don't have the case of the 127-ČS, I am not even sure if there was one or the clock was just mounted directly into a cockpit.
It is handled similar to some very old pocket watches. Namely, crown does not exist and hands are set directly by moving the hands by the fingers. Winding is done with the key from the front size. Second hand does not exist.
Back to a Tank watch. As said, first Tank model was launched in mid 2021 limited to 500 pieces, 250 in steel case and 250 in black PVD steel case. When I have seen the watch I wanted to buy it. But then I noticed that Molnija has chosen to instal an automatic Miyota 8205 movement inside. A Japanese automatic movement in a watch that is a tribute to hand winding Russian military clock was a total fail for my taste. I just could not go over it. A new release with hand winding standard 3603 Molnija movement was on the other hand the right choice. The new release was again limited to 500 pieces (250+250 again).My review is therefore strictly limited to 3603 version!
Let me first compare the outlook of the both watches. I will start with the best - hands of the Tank are very good reproduction of the 127-ČS. Shape, color, luminova. Even the tiny detail how the minute hand luminova is split to two parts is replicated. Excellent.
Luminova is very, very good. Last all night, fades out only after 6-8 hours. Original is not any worse despite the age. I believe for lumination some radium is still used on 127-ČS, so the brightness on an old watch is logical.
The dial itself is black as original, sadly the digits are not so directly replicated as hands. You can see the number 1 is shaped differently than on original. Pity.
The biggest mistake was done by leaving the small second hand on the dial. Watch would easily work without second hand, it is not a big deal to make a watch with a hidden second hand. In this case that would be a logical approach and it would make this tribute watch to be a real tribute. If Molnija designers really wanted to have a second hand they should at least have done it without second hand subdial which totally ruins the clean 127-ČS look.
I also miss "127-ČS" text on a dial. I would replace Molnija and 3603 with this text or at least I would add 127-ČS below Molnija.
What about the rest of the watch? How I see it - the main tribute to the 127-ČS is the fact that both 127-ČSand Tank are integrated into a T-72 tank. The entire watch and straps on a Tank simulates some parts of the tank. With a bit of an imagination you can see the watch (dial of the watch) integrated into the tank. The main case itself replicates the track gear wheel, the crown is again a small track wheel, both leather and rubber straps represents tank track. Watch itself is therefore a tank (that's why the name of the watch is Tank) while the dial is 127-ČS within that tank.
As it is expected from the name of the watch, it is a robust watch. Stainless steel case, sapphire glass are necessity in that kind of watch. I just wonder if tight stem is a mistake or deliberate design which gives additional masculinity to the watch. Even though official diameter is "just" 42mm, watch looks much bigger. 42mm is the measure of the smaller possible diameter - the bezel. But those four horns gives watch more square and bigger look. "Horn to horn" diameter is 53mm! Plus there is a big crown which gives additional oversize look.
Bezel is one directional with 120 clicks. I could not find a relevant link between bezel and a tank and this is the only part of the watch where I am lost. In general, bezel rotates well, it is not to stiff but also far from being self rotating. And even though it is not linked to any of tank's part, I think that it fits well on the watch and improves the general outlook of the watch.
So, on the wrist, watch has it's presence. And yet wearing the watch is not problematic. L2l is just 47mm, lugs are just 20mm. Watch is easily spotted and comments are to be expected. Mainly negative, I am afraid. In general a neutral observers declare watch to be "strange", "ugly". Even my watchmaker said: "Oh, my god, so much trouble for such an ugly watch with that awful green hands". The best what you can expect is "interesting watch". But the story behind leads to interesting discussions about the watch, T-72 tank, political situation, etc..
Both straps are surprisingly good, I can even say excelent for the leather one. Very soft, gentile. I must congratulate, that both straps have it's own quick release pins and it's own pin buckle. So replacement is really fast and easy.
Even though I would prefer a glass back plate (I always like to see the movement), I can't complain much about backplate used. There is a nice silhouette of T-72. A kind of expected, right? As you can see, I choose a very special serial number 127/500. Without the story told that would probably be a strange choice, with all being said this is the most wanted serial number. The serial number was also the main reason why I purchased the stainless steel case and not the black PVD case (which is my favorite in general). Namely, the SS cases are numbered from 1 to 250 and PVD from 251-500. So PVD with 127 serial number does not exist.
I described a movement 3603 in one of my previous reviews (check New Molnija's watches with 3603 movement). Let me just say that here the movement is much more accurate, just -5 sec/daily within one week of a nonstop wearing. And the case obviously reduce the noise of the movement, this watch is still heard but nothing compared to other Molnija's.
Box and papers are good but nothing spectacular. As already mentioned, it is good that by default you receive one leather and one rubber strap.
Official price for the domestic market was in February around 34.000 RUB, I was able to got the watch for a little more than 30.000 RUB. That was around 330 EUR. Plus import taxes, of course. Which is a decent price in the range of other Molnija's watches. It is interesting, that prices are almost the same for 3603 and Miyota versions (Miyota is a bit cheaper!). AS said, price for a foreign market was at that time 20% higher. What was not so decent anymore (having in mind also all taxes). At the time being the full price on Molnija web shop is 38.000 RUB, but 25% discount is offered to that price. Molnija removed the offer in English language and in USD currency, so it seems that Molnija now does not sell abroad at all. Due to all sanctions currently in place and incapability to pay something to Russia from the western world, that is logical.
So, If you want to buy this watch at the moment and you are not from Russia, the price is the least of your problem.
P.S.: Final important updates:
a) After constant use of the watch for more than two weeks, the stem of the crown is not so stiff anymore! Winding is almost normal. Seems that the stem or the case grinded.
b) Even though my first impression of the watch was not very positive, now I like it every day more. It is obviously that Tank is not that kind of watch that gives the great first impression and the soon became boring but quite opposite. I am glad that I gave this watch a second chance.