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Sturmanskie / Штурманские

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 Sturmanskie brand (Штурманские, meaning "navigator's") denoted an exclusive, military-issued timepiece which was awarded to graduates of the Soviet Air Force flight school. Such timepieces were never available in the open market or otherwise available to the general public. The Sturmanskie was produced in four main versions, each with its own movement, and always including the iconic USSR Air Force logo on the bottom of the dial. 


The 15-jewel Sturmanskie

The first Sturmanskie began production in the third quarter of 1949. This watch was equipped with a specialized movement, found only on this watch, which modified the traditional caliber 2608 (found in Pobeda and Moskva watches) to including a hacking complication. This modification allowed the time to be more precisely set and enabled the watch to perform interval timing operations. The 15-jewel model was phased out in or around 1954 in favor of the 17-jewel variant. 

The 17-jewel Sturmanskie

Using a more advanced, shockproof movement design (technically identical to the Sportivnie), the 17-jewel Sturmanskie began production in 1954 to replace the 15-jewel model, and production didn't cease until the early-1960s. In addition to an upgraded movement, this watch featured a more water-resistant case (thanks to a screw-down case-back), a larger crown, and unique lazenform hands. This particular incarnation of the Sturmanskie made history on April 12, 1961, when the Soviet Union launched the first successful manned space flight. Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, wore a 17-jewel Sturmanskie on his wrist during that historic flight (he received this watch upon his graduation from the Soviet Air Force fligth school in 1957). The watch operated flawlessly in weightlessness and became the first watch ever to go into the cosmos.

The 3133 Sturmanskie

With the introduction in 1976 of the 23-jewel caliber 3133 chronograph in the Soviet Navy (Океан), the Soviet Air Force also received a new chronograph for its pilots: the Sturmanskie chronograph, which would replace the 3017-based Strela. This watch featured all stainless steel external parts (case, crown, pushers, and case-back), dual time-zone capability via a rotating inner bezel, and a silver sunburst dial. 

The 31659 Sturmanskie

Starting in the late 1980's, the USSR Air Force regained the hacking feature lost in the 1960s–1970s with the adoption of the caliber 3017 and 3133 movements. The new hacking movement was named the caliber 31659. Like the 3133 Sturmanskie on which it was based, the new 31659 model was equipped with all stainless steel external parts, but did not provide dual time-zone capabilities. A unique 31659 sub-type, dubbed the "Black Raven", featured a few distinctive cosmetic differences, but was otherwise identical to the traditional models.

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