Stainless Steel Cases

When it came to watch case production, the Soviet watch industry primarily manufactured cases made from a brass substrate, which would then be plated with either chrome or gold. But numerous other case materials were tested, including aluminum, titanium, solid gold, sterling silver, plastic, wood, and stainless steel, among other less common composites and alloys. 

Of course, the sturdy and anti-corrosive properties of stainless steel were appealing to Soviet watch designers – as they were and continue to be for many watch designers around the world – but manufacturing cases with this material proved challenging. In the 1960s, steel case production was outsourced to other countries while Soviet designers continued to improve their own method of production.

 

In 1967, the first Soviet-designed steel case was introduced with the release of the Vostok Amphibia. However, this watch was rushed to market as engineers were continuing to struggle with the manufacture of steel lugs, so a compromise was struck: so-called "swing lugs" (separate, removable components) were attached in the final stages of assembly after the case body was already produced. This stopgap helped shape the identity of the first Soviet dive watches, but was retired after a few years once the Soviets finally perfected steel case production with integral lugs around 1970. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, a wide array of steel case types were designed and developed, though these remained exclusive to dive watches primarily and less-often found their way to classic civilian or dress pieces. Therefore, Soviet watches with all-steel designs remain quite uncommon today.

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