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In the USSR, there was a thriving underground watchmaking industry which produced replacement dials for use on Soviet watches. These dials are sometimes referred to as Warsaw dials or artel dials. There are many stories surrounding these dials, one of which cites an Armenian watchmaker living in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, who used a secret method for printing these dials. As the story goes, the final step involved baking the dials in an oven. 


These dials are different from the counterfeits we see today, which attempt to mimic a known, collectible style as closely as possible for maximum profit. Instead, these period dials were quite unlike factory-original dials, often including unique brand insignias or unusual logo designs. Many even featured inaccurate details, such as a mistake in the factory of manufacture. These mistakes may have been intentional to circumvent the harsh counterfeiting penalties of that era. If any of these dial producers were caught and charged, the producer could point to these overt inaccuracies as a way to escape severe punishment.


While these dials were not official USSR production, they represent a unique era where authenticity wasn't as important as something that was legible and worked well, and where individuals would go to great lengths to satisfy a market demand that was not met by the State.

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