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Ural / Урал

In the early 1940s, as the German forces advanced, over 1500 factories were evacuated to safety in the eastern part of Russia. One such factory was stationed in Chelyabinsk, Russia, east of the Ural Mountains. This factory specialized in the production of timekeeping devices for the war effort. It was to be named the Chelyabinsk Watch and Clock Factory. The Soviet Union Department of Defense relied heavily on this factory to manufacture various wrist watches, pocket watches, and table clocks during World War II. Many clocks were also produced for special naval and aviation applications, including those for use in Soviet tanks, fighter aircraft cockpits, submarines, and spacecraft.


After the war, it was decided that more than 100 factory laborers and over 30 engineers/technical workers would be transferred from Zlatoust Watch Factory to Chelyabinsk, along with some heavy machinery and equipment. The first phase of the renovation was completed in late 1947, and the plant was fully operational as of November 17, 1947.

The Ural brand was named after the eponymous mountain chain, along which the Chelyabinsk Watch Factory was established. These wristwatches were a bit unlike any other Soviet watches produced in the 1950s. Ural watches were powered by pocket watch movements, resulting in an overall size that was much larger than other watches at the time. Urals were produced in two configurations: a 15-jewel two-handed variant, and a 16-jewel model with sweep second hand. Another notable feature is the large, fancy-lug cases, which were often made out of aluminum (most Soviet cases were made of brass).

In the early 1960s, when most of the Soviet watch factories were undergoing reorganization and rebranding, Chelyabinsk followed suit. A new movement design was developed, and a fresh name was assigned to the factory: Molnija (Молния, meaning “lightning”). Ural wristwatches were discontinued at this time.

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