Vostok / Восток

The first official mention of the Vostok brand (Восток, meaning "east") comes from the 1960 Watch Catalog, in which a precision-grade caliber is featured in two configurations. In 1962, these chronometer-grade timepieces would go on to win the gold medal at the Leipzig International Exhibition in East Germany. In all likelihood, the Vostok brand name was inspired by the Space Race


However, despite the earlier usage of the name, it was until 1964 that the Chistopol Watch Factory was officially rebranded as "Vostok" with an accompanying logo redesign. Most watches produced after 1964 also bore the Vostok brand name on the dial.


In the second half of the 1960s, a project was undertaken to create a fully-waterproof watch, and by 1967, the design of the "Amphibian" was mastered. Mass production would soon follow. The standard civilian Amphibian was rated to a waterproof depth of 200 meters, while a special military version with a depth rating of 300 meters was later issued to some members of the Soviet Navy. 

Beginning in the 1950s, and increasing rapidly in the 1960s, the export market comprised an important part of Vostok watch production. These watches featured dials written in English and the brand name of "Wostok" (in many languages, "W" is pronounced "V"). By 1972, Vostoks were exported to 54 countries worldwide. 

The 1980s saw a sharp decline in quality, fit, and finish of nearly all Soviet watches. In this era of stagnation, an overall "cheapening" of parts was evident, movements lost their decorative flourishes, and case materials worsened (e.g. the thickness of gold-plating reduced from 20µm in the 1960s to <5µm in the 1980s). These signs of deteriorating quality continued until and through the collapse of the USSR in 1991. 

Despite a particularly rocky period in the 1990s, when the factory was largely defined by disorganization and a lack of quality control, Vostok has in recent years partially regained its footing. The factory is one of the few remaining Soviet watch factories.

(Sources: 1, 2, 3)


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