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Luch / Луч

In the early-1950s, the Soviet watch industry was experiencing explosive growth and unprecedented success. In order to satisfy increasing demand domestically and abroad, on September 22, 1953, the USSR Council of Ministers ordered the creation of a watch industry in Belarus. And so began the journey of one of the most successful ancillary watch factories in the Soviet Union.


Construction of the new watch factory began in late 1953, and by 1955, the Minsk Watch Factory was completed. On December 14, 1955, the first watches were rolled off the assembly line: tiny ladies watches branded "Zaria", with movements just 18mm wide. These movements were originally developed at the Penza Watch Factory, and at the time, these were the smallest watches ever produced in the USSR. By 1960, an even smaller caliber measuring only 13mm across was in development. This tiny watch – the second-smallest the Soviets ever produced – would be the first to ever bear the name Luch (Луч, meaning "ray"). 

From this time until the fall of the USSR, the Minsk Watch Factory manufactured Luch-branded car clocks, alarm clocks, and a staggering variety of pocket and wristwatches for men, women, and children. Despite producing more than a dozen different watch calibers over the decades, perhaps none was more famous or successful than the ultra-thin caliber 2209 movement. This movement was pioneered at First Moscow Watch Factory with the release of the Vympel in 1961, but the following year, work began on a Minsk version of the movement (technically identical, but destined for Luch-branded timepieces). By 1963, mass production of the caliber 2209 had begun.

The following decades, the Minsk Watch Factory thrived, continuing to create new and interesting designs for the Luch brand. In 1964, production began on electromechanical wristwatches; in 1973, the factory began to manufacture automotive clocks; in 1974, the caliber 1816 was awarded a gold medal at the Leipzig Trade Fair; and by 1980, the factory's 25th anniversary, the plant was exporting to 13 countries and had produced more than 56 million watches. These included mechanical watches for men and women, solid gold watches, quartz watches, children's watches, table clocks, and automobile clocks.


The 1980s witnessed a decline in the quality and finish of most watches until and through the breakup of the USSR in 1991, and in 2006, the Minsk Watch Factory declared bankruptcy. The filing was complete in 2009. In 2010, thanks to a Swiss watchmaking company, the Minsk Watch Factory was revived. The plant is still manufacturing watches today, making it one of the few remaining watch factories from the Soviet era. In 2017, the factory employed some 700 individuals and exported watches to 15 countries worldwide.  

(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

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