Around the Web: “How the Soviets Revolutionized Wristwatches”

The Soviet watchmaking tradition is a rich one. Born largely out of the emerging needs following the communist revolution, Soviet horology was very much a state-driven affair and a necessity for the burgeoning state. To expedite the industry, the Soviet government focused on acquiring foreign equipment and know-how, including from the United States. By the ’50s, Soviet factories were churning out wristwatches at scale, and though many of them were much cheaper than what was being produced by the Swiss, some were right up there in quality.

Ohioans training Soviet watchmakers in Moscow, 1930. Image Source: Canton Repository.

As you might have guessed, there are many dedicated collectors of vintage Soviet watches. One of them is Dashiell Oatman-Stanford. He runs Watches of the USSR, which is at its core an extensive back catalog of some of the most fascinating Soviet-era wristwatches and clocks. He explains his love for Soviet watches:


“At their heart, Soviet watches are functional and utilitarian, but dig further and you uncover a world of mystery and intrigue, color and pizazz. I am not collector of watches as much as I am a collector of history and culture–fragments of a life that once was. And indeed, these timepieces have an incredible tale to tell. They tell the stories of an industry in its infancy; of war and triumph and loss; of burgeoning technology; of the mother who bestowed upon her son a token of her love. These glimpses into a bygone era bring inanimate objects to life.”

Collectors Weekly recently ran an interview with Oatman-Stanford and it’s a fascinating read, covering everything from the history of Soviet watches to his personal interest in these niche devices. It’s something that many a watch enthusiast can enjoy.

For the full article, click here.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.