Today, I would like to present you a very interesting, monstrous watch from the brand Specnaz. Even though this brand is already presented on my web pages, I think that for the vast majority of the readers this brand is not well known, so I will start this review with a short presentation of the brand and the company behind this brand.
The watch company Verny Hod (Right move) is a Russian watch company which was founded in 2000. Very soon they took over the Derzhava trademark, which first appeared in 1993. The production of watches under the Specnaz (Spetsnaz) trademark began after 2002. In 2007, another brand, Petroff, was added. Since 2005, Trade House Slava has been an exclusive distributor of all Vernij Hod watches and all stated brands are sold only under the TH Slava umbrella. Hence, it is a common, yet an incorrect understanding that Specnaz is a part of TH Slava brands.
in 2004, Verny Hod, in cooperation with cosmonaut Vladimir Janibekov (or Dzanibekov), developed a very interesting space watch "Kosmonavigator" with 24h movement Vostok 2423, where a 24-h dial helps a cosmonaut to calculate where above the Earth the space vehicle is located. THe watch was issued in limited edition of 350 pieces. A very interesting article about that watch can be found here:
To be quite honest, I don't believe cosmonauts actually used this watch. I believe that the watch was taken into space by two cosmonauts solely for the marketing purposes and to do their fellow Janibekov a favor. Vostok 2423 movement is from the 24xx family, a poor quality movement even for the russian/soviet standards, and is far from being the right choice for the serious space purposes. However, the exact watch, shown in the article, was sold on an auction for 32.000 USD. The winner of the auction and now the owner of that watch is shown in the article.
The stated article also mentions a reissue watch. However, the statement about the unknown origin of "Kosmonavigator II" at the end of the article is incorrect. Kosmonavigator II is issued by the same company "Verny Hod" as the original version. It is also not true that the reissue does not have a 24h dial. In fact, the dial is really just 12h, but it has a 24h hand as well, so this 24h hand replaces the 24h dial. It uses Miyota 6M17 quartz movement with three hand - so with 24h and date complications. So, instead of the hour hand, 24h hand shows the position of the space vehicle on the bezel. What is also important is that the reissue does not have any Roscosmos stamps anywhere, while original version had it.
As one can conclude, the company has experience in developing space watches and has had a real connection to the Roscosmos space agency in the past (and as you will see later on, that is the main reason why I spent so much time on explaining the history of the Kosmonavigator watch).
Later, Specnaz brand has developed to a very military style watches. Even the brand name itself suggests that these watches are watches used in Special task forces of the Russian army. In fact, some lines of watches were developed in close cooperation with the Specnaz.
Everything is set now to finally start the review of the watch Specnaz 5 Stihij Kosmonaut.
First, I owe you an explanation of what "5 stihij" means. As stated in the title already, 5 stihij means 5 basic elements. In the old cultures, 5 basic elements motive is quite common, but the five elements are not always the same ones. Specnaz took what seems to be a Buddhist version (maybe some other cultures used the same...), where 5 elements are Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Space. They developed 5 models in the "Spetsnaz 5 Elements" series, where each model represents one element and every particular element/watch is dedicated to one of the main Russia military forces : Fire - Emergencies Ministry - Rescuer, Water - Navy - Marine, Air - Airborne Forces - Paratrooper, Earth - GRU - Reconnaissance and Space -Roskosmos - Cosmonaut. The series are limited, 100 watches are produced in each series and each watch has its own serial number.
Even though 5 versions are dedicated to specific military forces, they do not differ significantly, generally only in colors of the dial, as well as the case and bracelet. Also, each element uses its own specific military tag on the dial and on the backplate. Since I am a space watches collector, I of course took the Kosmonaut version and my review is based on the Kosmonaut - Space element type of the watch. This watch also looks the best among all 5 versions to me (in fact, I picked it as the best before having realized that I had picked exactly the Space version) but that is of course highly subjective.
I ordered the watch online without actually having seen it in person. And even though that already on the pictures, the watch gives an impression that it is a big watch, you are shocked when it is in front of you. The 50mm diameter of the watch is huge (measured of course without the crown, the crown protector, pushers on the right side of the watch), PLUS the flashlight from the left side of the watch and crown protectors adds additional almost 1,6cm. Also, there is an additional watch on the bracelet... When ordering the watch, I wondered whether this watch is wearable at all, and with everything on the watch, I am polite if I say - yes, but hardly. Still, the good thing is that the watch is not too thick, it has only 12mm, and that makes it a bit more normal. Check the picture of the watch on my 19,4 cm wrist...
Why I bolded "everything"? Well, designers of the watch clearly knew that the watch is not wearable for the 99,9% of population in full scope. So the first good thing is that the flashlight is easily removed without any tool. You just have to push a small button and pull the flashlight back. Easy. Then, in the package you receive an additional leather strap and tools for changing the bracelet with the strap. Yes, you need a special tool to change the bracelet with the strap since fastening of the watch case to the bracelet is made not with classic spring pins, but with threaded bushings - clamps. By replacing the bracelet with the strap, you also remove the second watch, since this second watch is integrated into the bracelet. After those two steps you get a chronograph that is still big, but now wearable normally, and can be used as an everyday watch. Here is the same watch on my wrist before and after all stated transformations.
But that is not all. You also receive a nato velcro/leather strap, but it is huge and it is obviously meant to be attached when the watch needs to be worn over the spacesuit. Very useful :)
Although the watch is huge, it is not heavy at all. Total weight of the watch with the bracelet shortened to my wrist size is 130 grams. I have had it on my wrist for a while now and I feel very comfortable. The case and bracelet are made of titanium, which - at least to me - is a good choice. I like titanium watches, but I also know that a lot of users prefer steel. In this case I think steel would be just too heavy. The bracelet is very good, with a small complain - this integrated watch does not help in making the bracelet user friendly to wear. Namely, the small watch is a kind of fixed element near the lug and due to that, the bracelet does not hug the wrist smoothly or better to say, the watch is a bit decentralized on the wrist. It would be great if this small watch was integrated as a big link which could be removed as other links. However, saying that, I must also admit that after testing all variants, at the end I have chosen the bracelet as my standard equipment, so this decentralization is not such a big deal. Otherwise, setting the length of the bracelet is easy, links are easily removed with the standard tools for removing the pins in the bracelet links. Also, the bracelet has a double deployment clasp, therefore the microregulator does not exist, which is a minus. The leather strap is thick but soft with a standard pin buckle.
Both watches have sapphire glass with anti-reflective coating. The main watch has a good illumination of all numbers, hands and even totalizers, while the small one has no luminova at all. Moving on, the flashlight is not very strong. It gives some light, but it is far from being spectacular. You can illuminate well smaller objects in a close distance or use it to light up your step, but that is more or less all, so I don't find it particularly useful. The flashlight is powered by four button LR41 batteries, which are easily replaced when needed.
Both watches use quartz movement. The main watch uses Ronda 5130.D, however I was not able to find any information about the small watch movement (except that it is also Swiss made).
Ronda 5130.D is an interesting chronograph movement, which also has an alarm complication. Chronograph has a joint totalizer for minutes and hours, it can count up to 12 hours (left counter dial). The chronograph allows counting of accumulated timing, interval timing and intermediate timing. Since this is a quartz movement watch, it is also quite easy to adjust potentially misplaced hands.
The lower dial is used for the alarm function. In the standard position of the crown, it shows when the alarm is set (it can be set up to 12 hours in advance), but I must say that setting the alarm is not so intuitive. Namely, the alarm uses its own internal clock, so-called "reference time", and you have to be careful that this reference time is in line with the time shown on the watch itself. Otherwise you can be unpleasantly surprised when the alarm does not ring when you expect! As I also collect mechanical alarm watches where all watches use basic movement for the reference time, I must say that this approach with separate internal alarm time is annoying to me. The alarm is quite loud and turning the alarm on/off is easy. It is done by just pushing the lower chronograph button.
The watch is packed in a very good heavy-duty waterproof watch box.
As you can see from all of the pictures, the watch is marked with Roskosmos sign all over the place. Either by Roskosmos hallmark, either by text or both. The backplate is no exception.
I don't believe that Roskosmos uses nor will ever really use this watch for their kosmonauts. However, I am quite sure that Roskosmos has given the official approval for the use of their symbols. And by this, the watch is a nice tribute to all soviet and Russian kosmonauts and to their achievements in space. My guess is that the story of Kosmonavigator from the beginning of this article has contributed a lot to this.
My final general impression of the watch and of its quality is extremely good, and I don't have any serious complaints about the final outlook of the watch. It is well made, and it gives the impression that some serious final control and care of every detail was performed. But, as usual, at the end I also have to say something about the price of the watch. The full price of the watch in Russia is 125.000 RUB (cca. 1.400 EUR), and in EU, it costs 1.620 EUR including all taxes. Even though the watch is fully made of titanium, with a titanium bracelet, plus has two additional straps, sapphire glass and a great box, it is expensive for a quartz watch. For example, ex. Russian and now Swiss company Aviator used the same Ronda movement in their Mig-29 collection and the price for that watch in EU was around 650 EUR (Aviator replaced that model with the model Mig-29 SMP, which uses Ronda 5030 without alarm instead of 5130, and new model costs 750 EUR). I deliberately refer to Aviator since this company has a Russian past and its quality can be generally compared to Specnaz. Of course. direct comparison is unfair due to the already stated titanium case and bracelet, and other important features of the Kosmonaut watch. But still, 2,5x higher price is a huge difference.
To be honest, with the bit of luck, I was able to get this watch much cheaper. On the commemoration of the 9.5. (Victory Day), Slava web shop (which is - as said at the beginning - the exclusive distributor of Specnaz watches) offered a 30% discount, and I was able to get this watch for 1230 EUR including all taxes. And that is the price which is, in my opinion, a fair price for this watch.
If you are interested in buying it, you can find it
or directly on Slava web shop here: https://slava.su/s9155340-5130-d-chasy-naruchnye-specnaz-kvarcevyy-hronograf-kosmonavt
All stated shops deliver worldwide.
If you will buy it in Slava shop or Smirs I must worn you that you will receive instruction manual only in Russian language written in Cyrillic. I don't know about the Meier shop, but I am quite sure that the manual is translated to German and English. I can highly recommend all stated shops, since I have a very pleasant experience with all of them, so these recommendations are based on my personal experience. As said, I bought the Kosmonaut in Slava and all their consultants are always very helpful (I always use the chat platform for my orders...) and there is no problem with the order and shipping to EU. Everything works smoothly.