Service: Wolna calibre 2809 / Zenith 135 copy

IMG_1271Mitka and I like to surprise each other with the odd watch here and there, and Mitka had something special in stock for me – a Russian Wolna calibre 2809. Probably one of the finest watches made in the USSR.

It’s a copy of the Zenith 135 movement, but with a couple of differences. A communist watches doesn’t need decorations, so those were left out, but it has the added feature of a central second hand instead of a sub-second hand. I’ll trade that any day!IMG_1273A tidy little movement, with a capped escape, fourth and third wheeel! 22 jewels and none less, and 5 stars on the click wheel. A serial number to top the list of features, and a regulator that is pretty funky!IMG_1275

A nice dial with a waffle structure on the outside dial, and stripes inside. The “4” is almost Bauhaus, and right up my street.IMG_1276

The bottom plate. I guess the scratchy surface counts as decoration πŸ˜‰ Note that only the escape wheel has a cap jewel on the bottom plate, but the fourth and third wheel don’t, even though they are capped on the top plate. I never knew that there was communist showmanship πŸ˜‰IMG_1277

A lovely movement!IMG_1284Β Ouch – the barrel bridge is worn, and somebody has just punched marks into it on one side. This is where we scratch our heads in the workshop, and feel a bit ashamed for our colleagues. This isn’t a repair, but a monumental bodge.IMG_1286

When punching those marks, they didn’t even bother to support the bridge – they just bent the whole thing downwards.IMG_1287

The barrel escaped undamaged.IMG_1292

The little intermediate setting wheel was put in the wrong way.IMG_1294

To repair the damage on the barrel bridge, I first have to reshape it and get the bend out of it.IMG_1296

Then I can fit a new bush and broach it to size.IMG_1297

That’s better.IMG_1298

The movement is put back together after cleaning, starting with the balance jewels.IMG_1299

Now I put in the gear train. Note the caps on the escape, fourth and third wheel.IMG_1301

Those stars on the click wheel need a bit of glory added! In the true spirit of the watch, only one colour can do the trick, and that has to be red!IMG_1337

Humbrol is my friend, and a nice communist red gives the wheel the extra touch.IMG_1344

The movement is coming back together.IMG_1345

Performance isn’t bad at all, but positional variation doesn’t make me jump with joy – a good 25s between positions…. This isn’t because the watch was badly made, but because various generations of repairers have added balance screw washers, filed off bits here and there, and generally made a huge mess of the poising of the balance. When I reach my retirement, I’ll get the watch out again, and spend 4 hours getting the poising right πŸ˜‰IMG_1346

The bottom plate is back together.IMG_1347

A new winding stem rounds up my work.IMG_1349


Yes, I absolutely love those red stars!IMG_1350

With a new crystal, the watch is looking pretty good indeed. My guess is that this is one to collect, as Russian collectors will wake up to the fact that this is one of the best communist era movements, and a good looking watch on top! At 1/20 of the price of the Zenith original, that only has a sub-second hand…


16 thoughts on “Service: Wolna calibre 2809 / Zenith 135 copy

  1. I have a 2809 I am getting back together. I need a new winding stem. I see that you got a new one. Could you tell me where you got it?

    I am in the USA and have not found anybody on this side of the pond that has one. Yeah, I know I am kinda late to the show here.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful post! I also have found one 2809, literally from my inherited stuff box and was really excited, when I found out what it is. Sadly it needs some work. Besides not going, it is also missing seconds hand and crystal. What type of crystal did you use? Was it a normal dome or a high dome acrylic? Where do you find hands (or winding stem in your case) for those movements? Thank you in advance.

  3. Good article, as always.
    However, I really can’t understand why you start talking about relative prices and
    “original” Zenith.
    You never had a 135 in your hands did you?
    The Zenith simply belongs to a different level.

    As with other russian machines, Vostok chose for more loose movement on wheels, and “corrected” that with convex jewels.
    Far, far away in precision from the Zenith, sorry.

    As with Rolex 1530/70, etc, I prefer steel bushing for the barrel.

  4. Pingback: Opinions for first "real" vintage watch? - Page 3

  5. Wow, very cool! I imagine the added time to photograph and document the repairs you guys post is substantial!

    Thank you for the time and effort,
    Dan B.

  6. this movement with the dial reading wostok precision was chronometer grade back then.movement was gold colour and better finished

  7. Love the red stars.

    What would be the thinking (not reasoning) for punching the marks into the barrel bridge?

    • The bridge was worn out, resulting in the barrel touching the plate and bridge, which in the end prevents the movement from working. These punch marks are all to often the “solution”, as it’s cheap and fast to do, and the customer never finds out (unless he gets a complete photo record of the repair as you get here). You save yourself the half an hour that re-bushing takes, and sleep less well at night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.