Mitka 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!A 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!
The bottom plate. I guess the scratchy surface counts as decoration 😉 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 😉
A lovely movement! 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.
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 😉
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…