Affordable Automatic: Vostok Retro 2415

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Here at worn&wound, we aren’t shy about our appreciation for Russian timepieces.  Last summer, we kicked off our Pairs Well With column by matching a vintage Raketa with an outfit to get you through the hottest days of the year, and earlier this year, we posted a brief rundown of Russian watch brands. Today, we’re back to highlight the Vostok Retro 2415, an homage to a classic vintage WWII field watch, available for well less than $200.

The Retro 2415 is available in two styles, each featuring unique case and dial details that refer back to the two vintage Vostok K-43 models originally issued to the Soviet military in 1943.  I’ve pulled an image of each vintage style side-by-side originally posted to the watchuseek Russian watches forum*.  As you can see, the two styles differ primarily in their dial design, with one featuring more ornate, script numeral hour markers.  Each share several basic design elements, including a small second hand subdial at the 9 o’clock position and internal 24-hour scale, consistent with the military field watch tradition.

Looking at the two Vostok Retro 2415 models available (ref. 540 and 550), the distinctions in dial design have carried over.  Meanwhile, Vostok has further differentiated the two references through additional modifications to both case and dial.  The ref. 540 model features the more sterile, utilitarian 12 and 24 hour numeral markers, as well the addition of “K-43” printed at the 3 o’clock position, and the words “automatic, 31 jewels” in Russian at the 6 o’clock position.  There is also the inclusion of the Vostok B logo at 12 o’clock (Boctok).  Along the outer rim of the dial, you will also find lumed dots at each hour position, and small hash markers at each minute.  Taken together, these design elements provide the ref. 540 with a far more purposeful, military aesthetic.  Here is a nice shot of the 540 with its original K-43 counterpart.

Meanwhile, the ref. 550 Retro is more delicate in appearance, with traditional script numeral hour markings, original hash markings along the outer dial, consistent with the original K-43, and little additional text aside from “Bostok 31 jewels” at 6 o’clock.  In fact, the traditional 24-hour scale has been removed from the ref. 550 completely.  The ref. 550 also features a smoothed external bezel, in contrast the the ref. 540’s layered bezel, as well as a display case back.

There are of course several design similarities shared by the 540 and 550, tieing them to the Retro 2415 name, mainly the small second subdial at 9 o’clock, consistent with the original K-43.  Each also features the same classically styled hands with luminescent dots, onion crown and coined case siding.  Each reference also features the same case size, 44mm by 12mm, silicate glass crystal and, of course, the 31 jewel, 2415B automatic movement, which beats at 19,800 beats per hour.

Vostok has done a great job of not only paying homage to a classic timepiece, but playing on the themes of that timepiece to develop two, distinct watch designs.  There is something to like with each Retro 2415 reference, whether you’re looking for a traditional military field or something a bit more refined or dressy.  With each, you’ll be getting an attractive automatic mechanical watch with serious historical roots.  At just $175 – $185 from meranom.com, you can’t really go wrong.   Best of all, the Retro 2415 is just one of the many, many affordable Russian watches from Vostok and other manufacturers that are available today.  So if the Retro 2415 isn’t quite your style (either of them), make sure to check out what else the Russian watch world has to offer.

By Blake Malin  

Images via watchuseek forum and rugift.com

*As an aside, if we haven’t made this clear in the past, as watch bloggers and watch geeks, worn&wound is forever grateful to the various watch forums and their respective members. Any worn&wound readers who haven’t spent some time reading/interacting with the forums should do so right away!  You won’t regret it!

Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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