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Poljot / Полет

In the mid-1940s, after over a decade of producing pocket watch movements using outdated technology purchased from two defunct American companies, the First State Watch Factory pivoted to focus heavily on wristwatch production. Engineers were working on the development of a diminutive wristwatch design based on the LIP caliber R-26, a former endeavour dating back to 1936 that was disrupted by the war effort. By the first quarter of 1946, in partnership with Penza Watch Factory, the First State Watch Factory had already begun production of the Pobeda. In the spring of 1947, at the height of these advances, and for reasons still unknown, the factory name was changed to First Moscow Watch Factory. 


During the 1950s, the First Moscow Watch Factory flourished with numerous watch designs, both traditional and advanced, including the first Soviet automatic watch, Sputnik-commemorative designs, military-issued timepieces, and also specialty 24-hour, antimagnetic watches manufactured for the first Antarctica expeditions. By 1955, the production of wristwatches had increased to 1.1 million.


Around 1960, the First Moscow Watch Factory produced the first Poljot-branded timepiece. This was a standard watch with calendar function, and was just one of many different brands offered by the factory at the time. Others included included Antarktida, Kirovskie, Kosmos, Mayak, Moskva, Orbita, Pobeda, Poljus, Rodina, Signal, Sportivnie, Sputnik, Stolichnie, Strela, Sturmanskie, and Vympel. Just a few years later, in 1964, the factory underwent a major rebranding, consolidating all aforementioned watch brands into a single marque: Poljot (Полeт, meaning “flight”). This was also the name given to the factory from 1964 onward.


The 1960s and 1970s were an extremely prolific time for the Poljot Watch Factory, with a great variety of watches produced for both domestic and international markets. This was a time of great technical success as well, leading to the release of ever-thinner, more advanced, and more complicated timepieces. In 1971, the factory was producing 2.5 million wristwatches per year, and by 1972, production had increased to 2.7 million units. During these years, up to 70% all Poljot watches were sold on the export market to one of 63 different countries. In 1972, new 26xx-caliber movements were developed that included a distinction with the letter “H”: 2609H, 2614H, 2616H, etc. Further achievements in the 1970s included the production of diver watches rated to 200m below water, and the development of the caliber 3133 chronograph for military purposes (and later, civilian use).


The 1980s saw a sharp decline in quality, fit, and finish of nearly all Soviet watches. In this era of stagnation, an overall "cheapening" of parts was evident, movements lost their decorative flourishes, and case materials worsened (e.g. the thickness of gold-plating reduced from 20µm in the 1960s to <5µm in the 1980s). These signs of deteriorating quality continued until and through the collapse of the USSR in 1991. 

In 1992, the Poljot Watch Factory transformed into a joint-stock company. In 2005, the watch company Maktime acquired the Poljot Watch Factory's production line which manufactured the caliber 3133 chronograph. Poljot staff who worked on this production line were subsequently employed by Maktime. The production of the caliber 3133 was discontinued in 2011.

(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4)

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