My Watchbox Russian Watches The Dusty Watchbox

Only for special occasions.

I was a six years old boy in 1992 when my grandpa passed away.  As my dad told me, this watch was grandpa’s daily wearer for years but he stopped using it at some point. My dad didn’t know why and frankly, he forgot about the watch until we found it a few years ago. I don’t remember much of the person my grandpa was and I can’t even say I remember him wearing this watch since… well… as a child I wasn’t really interested in watches.

From what I know, my grandpa used to wear his Kirovski watch quite often but since he isn’t around anymore, it is hard to pinpoint the exact year when the watch was made. And even if he was around, I think he would have a hard time remembering when he bought the watch.

Or maybe he wouldn’t? Maybe it was easy to remember since he got it when one of his two sons was born… or when they finished building the house where I spent my childhood? Maybe he got it to celebrate the end of the WW2, one of his birthdays or when he got his first job as a teacher at a local highschool? There could have been multiple special occasions celebrated with a purchase of a watch and it is hard to pinpoint an exact date and place without him telling us about it. Maybe he got it from his wife to wear it at their wedding? Or maybe he just needed to have a watch and randomly got one at the nearest watch store? We will never know but I can bet that when he was buying it, he didn’t think that once he is gone, sixty years later his granson will be wearing it during his wedding and later on all special occassions in his life. 

After my grandpa passed away (or maybe even a few years before) the watch spent the next 25 years hidden in a dusty drawer in our basement.  When I found it, the crystal was scratch from a heavy wear, the buckle was broken and the crown and the stem were missing. I think the watch broke at some point and my grandpa forgot to take it to repair. The case shows some wear and deaper scratches and the chrome plating weared off in a few spots. The dial, once sharp and full of beautiful details, started to fade from the sun. The watch was in a pretty bad shape when I found it but it didn’t take much to bring it back to life.

So how old is it anyway? I can only speculate based on a few indications that the watch has and a few websites that describe watches from the USSR. First of all, based on the emblems on the movement, the watch was produced sometime between 1945 and 1963 in the First Moscow Watch Factory in Russia. After some research I found a pretty solid website with lots of Kirowsky models and one of them matches my grandpa’s watch. It is a Model number ЧН-668К with a 2408 (16 jewels) movement. This model was produced in late 50′ and early 60′. In order to learn more about my grandpa’s watch I had to dive deeper into the history of Russian watch making and it is definitely a fascinating one worth a separate blog post.

This engraving is only on watch movements produced between 1945 and 1963.

The watch has a movement caliber 2408 with 16 jewels and without a shock protection mechanism. Later on, the movement got an additional jewel and a shock absorbtion mechanism which indicates that my model must be an early one from the Kirovski line. Another indication of the age of  his watch was located on the backplate. It was engraved by a watchsmith working on my grandpa’s piece and dated at 28th of August, 1974. It would make sense to service the watch after roughtly 10-15 years of its use so my educated guess would be sometime around 1955-1960. My dad was born in 1956 and my uncle in 1959. A coincidence? 

This is a fragment of a catalogue of USSR watches from 1960.

I found the watch almost four years ago and it introduced me to the world of mechanical watches. I had a few quartz watches beforehand but never a mechanical one. I was always a bit intimidated by all the gears, springs and jewels so I kept the back case closed and didn’t open it much. The watch case is a bit scratched and I was thinking about restoring it on a few occassions. But that would mean that the watch would lose a big part of his connection with my grandpa. All the scratches and bumps were made while he was wearing it so why not keeping it the way it is 🙂 I will add a few more and maybe the one wearing it after me will add some too.

I feel lucky I was able to find the watch before it got thrown away and forgotten. We have a tendency to clean up old stuff without really thinking about the connection between the original owner and the people who will be using it after them. It is cliche, but every time I wear the watch and experience something important in my life, this watch reminds me of the people who are no longer with us and would enjoy this moment as well.

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