Russian Molnija Pocket Watch – Part 1: Teardown

I purchased this used Molnija pocket watch on eBay from Hungary. It arrived in working condition, but as usual, I have to take the poor thing apart. And as it turns out, this was not a bad idea after all.

The watch diameter is 44mm, and the movement is stamped “SU” which I guess stands for Soviet Union, but I might be wrong there. The dial says “CCCP”, which is “SSSR” in latin writing, so we know this watch pre-dates Gorbatchow.

From the design, I would place this watch in the 80s, but I might of course be totally wrong.

The watch has 18 jewels – an odd number… but the escape wheel has 4 jewels, and the centre wheel only has a top jewel, but not a bottom jewel. I’d rather have 17 ;-)

The back of the watch is nicely engraved – all stainless steel.

Time to take the poor thing apart and see how it is made….

First look at the movement - note the little extra bridge for the escapement wheel

Both back and front snap off easily

Before I take the movement out, I remove the hands. The small second hand will pull off with the dial later

The dial is held by two small screws. I loosen those and pull the dial off with the second hand still in place. Our first view of the bottom plate

I let the main spring down by holding the crown and releasing the click with a bit of pegwood

I take off the transmission wheel and barrel wheel screws. As usual, the transmission wheel screw opens clockwise. I very nice touch: the three slits on the screw remind me that it opens the other way

I take out the balance cock screw and loosen the balance cock with my tweezers

Close-up of the impulse pin

The balance wheel with temperature correction screws

The wheel bridge removed

Escapement wheel bridge removed

The pallet lever bridge with jewel

The pallets - the obligatory hair which is glued in is not too unusual - I've seen that before

The escapement wheel - nicely executed, but dirty

The separate escapement wheel bridge - I like the nicely finished and polished screws

Time to move over to the bottom plate - I take the cannon pinion off

No oil was spared - looks like pretty heavy stuff, too - more SAE30 than watch oil

The mechanism that lets you adjust the time on the watch by pulling the crown out

All this needs cleaning and careful oiling, so I'm taking it all apart

This is the screw that you open 1 - 1 1/2 turns to remove the winding shaft. It has to be put back in before the barrel bridge is put on

Some wear around the castle wheel in the barrel bridge

All the parts that can take cleaning fluid (so not the pallet arm) in a glass bowl ready for cleaning

That was easy to take apart, and I was very lucky, no “pingers”, so no parts that flew across the room that required me to crouch on the floor with a magnet.

Overall, a nice quality movement.

Once everything is clean, I will put the watch together in part 2.

16 thoughts on “Russian Molnija Pocket Watch – Part 1: Teardown

    • I’m afraid I can’t as the watch is no longer in my possession. I suggest you measure the old crystal or the opening and order a new one? Same for the hands – measure the hour wheel and cannon pinion, and just order some generic hands. All that available at http://cousinsuk.com/

  1. Hello, I need some assistance due to the fact the glass casing and the metal rim have fallen off do you have any idea how i can re-attach?

  2. I have a molnija watch that I cant remove the crown and stem. I turn the little screw but it is loose, it just turns forever in both directions but the winding and time setting work fine. I just cannot remove it.
    Please help!!!!!!!

  3. When tearing my watch, a piece of wire/spring shaped like a “C” with the two ends going in opposite directions came out, and I did not see from where. Any idea where it goes?

  4. Fantastic post. Thanks. Have learned a lot.

    I have acquired a Sekonda P/W with this 3602 movement in it. It runs well and is keeping good time but I bought it (for a very modest sum) with the small second hand detached inside the crystal and with the naive hope that it just needed placing back on its ‘post’. It looks like that ‘post’ is actually broken off the wheel it should be attached to. I’d like to take a go at a repair, both for interest and because I like the style of the watch, not one I’ve seen elsewhere (case/face/bow etc.)

    How would you suggest I go about this please? Are spares available anywhere in the UK or should I be looking for spares and repairs watches or movements on E-bay? Is that particular wheel likely to be relatively standard and interchangeable between movements in your opinion?

    Thanks ever so. Any pointers you can give me are hugely appreciated.

    • Hi Nick,

      Your best bet is to google for your part – you need the second hand pinion. I’ve checked Cousins, and they don’t have the part.

      Best regards,

      Christian

  5. hi,
    just purchased a hunter molinja with capercali on case its running but as yet do not know how accurate it is ,its marked with a reg number number,3602 and su.
    my question is the dial is worn as if some one has washed it and some of the paint from the numerals has come off can a replacement dial be found and also although the cover opens and closes it does not spring open you have to lift it can this be fixed too.looking forward to your reply
    regards
    colin.

  6. Thank you so much for this great lesson. The photos and explanations are excellent. I have two Molinja pocket watches with this movement and this will be perfect to aid me in cleaning and re-assembling them.

  7. This was one of the first movements I serviced in my life. It was in 1998, when I was just starting to really learn about the joys of mechanical watch movements. I even learnt how to service and “phase” Accutron movements.

  8. What a great website!!

    Very happy to bump into this one. A very clean looking website too.

    I’m about to bid on a couple of these pocket watches on Ebay as i want to build myself a homage to the Panerai 3646, so this strip and build will prove very useful (although I expect the movement will probably find its way to you for a service prior to casing up).

    Thanks,
    Will P.

  9. very nice! I have a Molnija based wrist watch, this will be very very useful for me to service it, will be awesome if you could explain the right way to clean the parts and how to oil this moment in specific… ;) , thanks a lot.

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