Strela / Стрела

After World War II, the First State Watch Factory focused heavily on wristwatch production. This lead to a proliferation of discrete brands in the 1950s, all powered by First Moscow Watch Factory movements. These brands included Antarktida, Kirovskie, Kosmos, Mayak, Moskva, Orbita, Pobeda, Poljus, Rodina, Signal, Sportivnie, Sputnik, Stolichnie, Strela, Sturmanskie, and Vympel. 

The Strela brand (Стрела, meaning "arrow") was first released in 1959, during a period of massive growth and success at the First Moscow Watch Factory.​ While the Soviets had technically produced various chronographs since the late 1930s (e.g. 1MWF/Valjoux caliber 61, Urofa/Type-59, 2MWF ЧК-28, АЧ-xx series [aircraft panel chronographs]), each of these was either a modified pocket watch movement or leaned heavily on preexisting technology. It wasn't until the Strela that the USSR produced the first 'pure' wristwatch chronograph movement, designed and developed in-house: the caliber 3017. 

This 19-jewel movement, based on the Venus 150, had a beat rate of 18,000 A/h and a power reserve of 34-37 hours (no fewer than 24 hours with the chronograph engaged). It is said that the first Strela chronographs were reserved for the Soviet Air Force, but there is no evidence to support the exclusivity of these early watches, and there is reason to doubt it (e.g. this catalog entry from 1960 and this advertisement from the same year). It seems more likely these pieces were manufactured for both military and civilian use. 

Still, the caliber 3017 played an undeniably important part in Soviet aviation, including the USSR Air Force and the space program. Many believe that Alexi Leonov wore a 3017-based chronograph on the first extravehicular activity (EVA) in 1965, when Leonov left the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission for a 12-minutes spacewalk. And in another historic event some thirteen years later, Alexey Gubarev famously wore a Sekonda-branded 3017 on the Soyuz 28 million in March, 1978. 

The Strela brand was retired in 1964, when all individual First Moscow Watch Factory brands were consolidated under the Poljot brand. But the caliber 3017 continued production for many years thereafter under the Poljot and Sekonda brand names, until the movement was eventually phased out in 1979. At this time, the more robust caliber 3133 (first introduced in 1976) took the 3017’s place as the next generation of Soviet chronographs. 

Strela / Стрела
Strela / Стрела

Caliber: 3017 (19 jewels) Model: УН-407К Year: 1959 Notes: Soviet Air Force issue chronograph, First Moscow Watch Factory

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Strela / Стрела
Strela / Стрела

Caliber: 3017 (19 jewels) Model: 401076 Year: early 1960s Notes: Chronograph, First Moscow Watch Factory

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