Russian watches are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to more-expensive brands of mechanical watches such Tag, Omega or Rolex. There are several good reasons why. First, most Russian watches use mechanical geared movements, like many Swiss watches. Second, most Russian watches are designed as military, aviator or dive watches — all of which are currently popular in the men’s watch market. The third reason is price and value.
If you are considering a made-in-Russia watch for your next watch purchase, here’s an overview of the five top brands. All of these brands are available at online stores. They range in price from as little as $50 to about $500.
Vostok is a good entry point for anyone buying their first Russian watch. The company has been manufacturing watches for more than 50 years and has built a reputation for making solid, no-frills mechanical watches that don’t cost a lot of money. One of the best values in their collection, the Amfibia, retails for around $60. Because Vostok was historically a supplier to the Soviet Defense Department, many models in their collection have a strong military influence. These are good, practical watches.
A few years ago Vostok teamed up with a Lithuanian company to produce a new brand called Vostok-Europe. These watches are a marriage of east and west. The design is modern and stylish, clearly focused on the European and North American markets. But inside you will find that same reliable Russian movment that powers Vostok watches.
Another top brand is Aviator, which is produced by a company called Volmax. This line of watches is more upscale than Vostok, built to higher quality, and sells at a higher price point — typically between $300 and $500. An Aviator watch would probably be the best Russian alternative to an Omega or Breitling. The styles are modern and the company is very much in-tune with what today’s buyer is looking for in a men’s watch. Many of Aviator’s new automatic chronographs are being built with Swiss movements, which has improved quality but also bumped up price into the $2000 range.
Maktime is another of Russia’s top watchmakers. One popular Maktime watch is the MWG Air Force chronograph, which sells for about $200. This watch uses Maktime’s reliable 3133 movement. In fact, Maktime manufactures and supplies movements to a number of different watch companies.
Rounding out the top 5 is Poljot, the most famous of all the Russian watch brands. In recent years the company’s prestige has diminished with the selling-off of the original watch factory where Poljot watches had been made for decades. Maktime and Volmax have taken over where Poljot left off and Maktime now manufactures the original Poljot movements. The Poljot brand lives on, however, with a number of different styles designed for anyone who desires this famous brand name.