75 years has passed since the WW2 ended. In some countries this historic moment is still among the most important in it's history and miltary parades, holidays, etc. are organised. Russia is for sure one of the leading countires in celebration of the "Great Victory".
On this occasion Alexander Shorokoff's company Poljot International launched on the market watch "Pobeda" (Victory), by which the company added it's respect not just to the important win over the nacism but also to the iconic USSR watch Pobeda.
Before I start with my review of the stated watch, let me give you some basic informations about the history of Pobeda watch and why this watch is so important fot the USSR watch history.
History of the Pobeda watch starts well before WW2 even started - in 1935. Due to high demand and low production capacities in the USSR they decided to buy the entire production facilities, patents and stocks from french company LIP for one simple and cheap movement which would be the base for mass produced watch intended for general population. A new watch company called 3rd State watch company was opened in Penza. In 1940 company was renamed to Časovoj zavod Penza. Before the Pobeda production was set up, company first produced it's own movement called T-18, later called Zvezda. In 1940 production of Pobeda was ready to be lauched however the second world war distrupt this plans and in fact production started only after the war in 1945. Urban legend says that Stalin explicitly insisted on giving the name Pobeda to this watch. What is the truth reamins questionable.
Even though Penza was the first to produce Pobeda watches, production in this company ended already in 1947 and almost all at thatt time existing watch companies took over the production of Pobeda. From today's point of view that might be strange but soviet watch production has for a long time not known competition in capitalist sense. All watch companes were of course state owned and were a kind of joint conglomerate of companies with close cooperation between them. For this reason it is sometimes very difficult for the collector to be absolutly sure which company made which watch and if watch is original or "franken".
Pobeda was beside Penza produced by 1MČZ (Poljot) from 1947-1957, 2MČZ (Slava) from 1953-1964; TTK1 (PČZ, Raketa) from 1949; ČČZ (Vostok) from 1949-1950; ZIM from 1951-2004. Today's "new" Raketa in it's booklet which is given to any new watch claims that Raketa is the exclusively owner of the Pobeda brand since 1964, what is not consistent with the fact that main Pobeda producer until 2004 was ZIM.
I have to mention that there are at least three different approaches among collectors, what Pobeda watch in fact is. The most orthodox group claims Pobeda watch is only the watch which has traditional movement with 15 jewels and small second and is branded with Pobeda on it's dial. The second group of collectors expand Pobeda watches to all watches with Pobeda brand on it's dial and powered with any movement which is based on the traditional movement (so also watches with for example central second, stop second..). The last group claims Pobeda watch to be any watch which has movement based on the traditional movement. So that different treatment gives an additional confusion to this Pobeda story.
Let me now show, what watch we are talking about. Here is my Pobeda watch, made by 1MČZ in 1953. Almost all versions of Pobeda watches from this period have inscription "15 kamnej" on the bridge, stamp of the company which produced the watch (so in this case 1MČZ), the "Pobeda" mark on the wheel, production period (quarter of the year and year) and serial number.
Next watch shows one Pobeda in a wider meaning. It's ZIM watch where movement is upgraded to central second. Because of this transfer of the small second to central second bridge is lifted and there another train gear is seen.
In the widest sense even Gagarin Šturmanskie watch can be treated as Pobeda watch where in addition to central second also small second complication is added.
As said from the beginning od 1960's ZIM took over the main production of Pobeda. After the unique classification of the soviet movements standard Pobeda movement got the 2602 classification number. First version of the movement after classification is on the following picture. Please note that fatctory stamp (ZIM) is still located on the bridge, where also 15 kamnej is located while 2602 mark is under the balance wheel.
In later eddition bridge is empty, ZIM stamp and 2602 sign are both located under the balance wheel.
ZIM produced whole bunch of different Pobeda versions, I have 6 watches from USSR time and also two watches from Russia.
Beside Pobeda ZIM produced also ZIM and Kamerton watches but all their watches used 2602 movement.
Now, it's finally time to focus on Poljot International new Pobeda. At the time being four versions of the watch were released. Two versions are "original" Poljot International versions with 25 watches with champagne dial and 25 watches with blue dial. Two versions were made exclusevily for Julius Kampmann (poljot24.de) with 100 watches in white dial and 100 watches in black dial.
Note: Pictures are taken from official web pages of both companies...
As it is seen from the pictures, dial colour is not the only difference. The most notifiable difference are hands, where design of the hands is different and Kampmann hands also have luminova.
If we look on the back side, "original" PI watches looks like this whereas Kampann's versions have clear glass, without text Pobeda 1945 1958.
Kampann's versions are much cheaper (399 original vs. 329 Kampmann). But the review is focused on "original" version since that is the version that I decided to buy. One might wonder, why original? Well, the most important reason is of course that for me the original version looks better and cleaner. The second reason is that in general I don't like Kampmann's type of hands (and that is true for all watches) and that this type of hands for me does not reflect the hands which were used in original Pobeda's. But lumination has it's benefits and that was the only thing that make me think. Everything stated is really very subjective and I am sure a lot of you would or will choose different. Well,a s far as I know, Kampmann's watches were sold out very fast, so this just shows that not all thinks the same as I...
Story about PI Pobeda starts with the story that Shorokoff was able to get a bulk of new old stock ZIM2602 movements. If that is just a marketing trick or the story is true, I can't say. Getting the ZIM 2602 movement (of course used and not NOS) is a piece of cake. On ebay you can get it for no money at all. So if those movements are really old stock from ZIM or movements were got on some other way, I don't know. But I can give a lot of credits to Shorokoff to go into such a project in a very limited number of piecies. To make just 50 watches with this price, that is more a watch lover move than profit maker company. Well done!
How to describe the watch and the general impression? First, you can at once notice, that "Pobeda" inscription is not seen anywhere on the watch. Just Poljot International on the head of the dial, and a small text "For pobeda 75 years". So strictly speaking this watch is even not Pobeda watch at all! Of course logical question is - Why?? I don't have the answer but my speculation is that PI didn't want to mess with the licence fight with the Raketa, who claims to be the official licence owner for the Pobeda as already stated before. Raketa in fact sells Pobeda watches today, but it's Pobeda watches just looks like Pobeda, inside are quartz movements and not 2602 movement. So to that Raketa Pobeda's the main Pobeda factor is missing. For me, Raketa's Pobeda is not a Pobeda at all. Just to give you an idea, here is an example how Raketa's Pobeda looks like (again, picture is from their web shop):
Original Pobeda's were small watches with diameter of 34mm, some even 36mm. At that time watches with such a diameter were normal men's watches, today watches with this diameter are clearly lady's watches what also Raketa's Pobeda is. PI Pobeda is extended to 38mm, what is in today's standard some minimum for the men's watch. For me personally still small, maybe too small (I have 19,4mm wrist size). If they would decided to extend it to 40mm, that would be great. Well I was pleasently surprised. Even though "just" 38mm watch is wearable also for me! L2L is 42mm, lug size is 20mm. I think that exactly this detail makes this watch opticaly bigger (expected lug size would be 18mm for this diameter of the watch...). Bigger lug means wider strap, all together looks more masculine. With the thickness of 12mm and with lightness of the watch one can of course categorise this watch as "dress watch".
For the entire watch I can admit that whoever designed it, he knew what he is doing. It is done with a lot of sense and watch has that vintage smell but still it shouts out that it is a modern reproduction. Case is steel one, so something old Pobeda's did not have. But glass is acyrille so has that vintage approach. Old Pobeda's also never had open backcase, but here that is an important touch. It is absolutlely right choice to have glass behind since this gives us an opportunity to see that iconic original vintage movement. If you check closely, you can see ZIM stamp and 2602 declaration under the balance wheel, as it has to be.
Sunburst blue dial with rosegold hands and dial numbers were things that attracted me to choose this combination. Blue dials have always been my favorites, this combination with the rosegold is something I really like. But again that is purely personal taste. To be quite honest, blue hands on champagne dial also looks great and if I were an orthodox Pobeda lover, that combination should preveil., since among all this is the closest to the original old Pobeda watches.
Watch offers basic water resistance 3 ATM, which is 3 ATM more than original ones :)
Leather strap seems of good quality, of course with PI stamp on the inside, buckle as well. Even though new, strap is soft with vintage style. I am not particulary happy with the colour of the strap for this dial colour, maybe brown colour of the strap would even fit better. I still need to check this. Hovewer I did try several other blue straps that I have but I am affraid none of them looks good. This blue dial has a very specific tone of the blue and it is not easy to find a strap which would combine well. That's why brown will be my next test.
What can I say about the precision of the watch? Well, it's hard to expect any sensational precision from the ZIM 2602 movement however it seems that PI was eble to get the best from it. In the 24h watch runs in +10s/day where 8 of 24 hours is spent in the box, the rest on the hand. That is very good result, I don't know how long will it last. Watch winds well, hard enough that you can feel the winding but soft enough that winding is not a pain in the ass. It winds loud but runs quiet. It is not Molnija 3602 where the whole coffe shop can hear your watch on your wrist while drinking morning coffe. All in all I have an impression - and knowing the Shorokoff approach, that also in this movement Shorokof watchmakeres has done the best to get maximum result from 2602 movement. Again, good work Mr. Shorokoff!
Wacth comes in box with new design which was not used in their previous watches (at least the ones I owe). I don't know if this box is special box just for Pobeda watch, but Stonehenge, Kremlj, Eiffel tower and Statue of Liberty assosiate to WW2 winning coallition UK, France, Russia, USA. But that is just my speculation and it is also quite possible that this is PI new standard box.
So, final question an verdict. Is this watch worth 399 EUR? For me - for sure since it upgrades my collection. That this is not a general opinion probably shows the fact that 7 out of 50 are still available (and that Kampmann with 329 EUR sold almost 200 watches faster). But again, it is quite obvious that Shorokoff and PI developed this watch for watch enthusiasts and lovers of soviet watch history.
Let me for the end point out that final release of the watch was late. It was expected to be launched in May 2020, I got mine (preordered!) only at the end of July, but blue ones were the last. The release was late due to extended final control which again confirms my observation that PI invested a lot of time in getting the best from 2602 movement.
To conclude, when I preordered the watch seeing it's "just" 38mm, I expected watch will just improve my collection and will be forgoten in the box. However watch impressed far more than expected, it is wearable and it certanly is a watch which will become a part of my watches which I wear in rotation.
Recomended and for the last time - GOOD WORK POLJOT INTERNATIONAL!
p.s.: This article was first published in "PortalSatova" watch forum on August 2020.