Tuesday, March 08, 2005

If there was ever a watch that deserved the label, utilitarian the Vostok Amphibia is it. With the exception of the artwork on the face, everything else about the Amphibia is a study in form following function. The first thing I noticed about this watch is how thick it is. From its domed acrylic crystal to its screw-down case back, the Amphibia exhibits a tough tool-like profile that fits well with its military heritage. The Amphibia’s overall dimensions are 14 mm in thickness, 42 mm in width (including the crown) 46mm lug to lug and 18 mm band lug width. The case of the Amphibia is made of stainless steel with Vostok's two part screw-down stainless steel back (as an aside, if you see a Vostok with a one piece back, it is probably a fake), a large and easily gripped screw-down crown and a chome plated brass bi-directional bezel. It is rated as being water resistant to 200 meters, which should be enough for anyone. Like the Komandirskie, and apparently most other Vostoks except the Vostok Europe line, the lume is inadequate, lasting only about an hour. I wondered at first if I had a broken watch when I noticed that crown wobbled when unscrewed. I have since learned that it supposed to do that and that I should not be concerned about it. This particular model ships with either a leather strap or a stainless steel band. My Amphibia arrived with the leather band, which unlike the soft band that shipped with my Komandirskie, was made of hard shiny leather that was neither comfortable nor well made. I quickly replaced it with a similar looking strap from Nilsen's ebay store. A minor nuisance, to be sure, but one that Vostok could and really should remedy at the factory for the sake of wider consumer acceptance.

Vostok’s model 2416 B, 31 jewel automatic movement (see here and at Vostok itself) powers the Amphibia. This movement can be hand wound but not hacked and has overwind protection. Accuracy is officially rated at -10 to +20 seconds per day. My example runs at +15 seconds a day, not bad at all (Note-these figures are from the Vostok site itself. Most other sites quote regular accuracy at -20 to +40 seconds per day. Your mileage may vary, so to speak.). The 2416B has something of a mixed reputation. While it is undoubtedly a robust movement for the most part, it is generally agreed that it is not as tough Vostok's mechanical hand-wound movements. I don't doubt that a rotor wound movement would be more delicate than a plain hand-wound movement as there are many more moving parts to break. I have also noticed on my model that the crown needs to be firmly tapped back into the case after setting or the watch will stop running. Others have reported this issue as well. Its not a big deal and doesn't really affect the use of the watch but you need to be aware of it. (Update-For whatever reason, this quirk has now stopped appearing when I set the watch. I guess that the movement just needed a little time to work itself in over a few weeks. It is now as easy to set and wind as any other mechanical watch I have encountered. Accuracy has also improved, it is now running at +10 seconds per day. Go figure but I am very pleased.) Additionally it should be mentioned that the 2416 B is widely used in both the regular Vostok and premium Vostok Europe lines and is apparently well regarded.

I'm not going to go into a discussion of the company here, but for a little background information on Vostok, take a look at the review of the Vostok Komandirskie below this one.

Overall, the Amphibia is a nice watch that if used properly should last for years. It does have a bit of a personality with its automatic movement and really needs a better stock strap. That being said, however, the Amphibia is, to the best of my knowledge, the least expensive automatic diver available anywhere. This model can be had for as little as $35 on a number of ebay sites and for less than $60 from a number of online stores specializing in Russian watches and goods (see: here and this one as well as this ) . While nowhere near as accurate and sophisticated as a modern quartz watch it does get the job done quite well. Additionally, the Amphibia possesses a certain charm of its own and its unique appearance sets it apart from all other watches. (I am personally starting to get tired of every dive watch looking like a Rolex Submariner) I have been wearing it lately as a daily wear watch and it has performed without issue in this role. Whether you are interested in the novelty of owning a Russian military watch or just would like a solid automatic watch with good water resistance, the Amphibia is a good choice. Just be prepared to replace the watchband.

Update-I recently acquired an original bracelet for this model from a reseller who happens to be a member on the Poor Man's Watch Forum. I have added some pictures of this combination. The Bracelet isn't of the greatest quality but it is reasonably comfortable and seems quite strong. The end links do fit the watch perfectly.


Anonymous Fabrizio said...

Very good review... and you have amazing photograph skills! I'd like to buy one, where did you get yours? Thanks.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Got mine on an ebay store run by a seller named Zenitar. No trouble at all with the transaction.


2:54 PM  
Anonymous fabrizio said...

just received a black amphibia from zenitar... the guy is fast! I really like the watch, you were very right, it has a strong personality, the price is ridiculous and yes, I'm tired too of rolex wanna be divers. thanks again for your review.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Good to hear, enjoy it :)

8:09 AM  
Blogger JOSHUA said...

I can tell you that the Vostok automatics have definitely improved in quality over the past several years. The newer version of the 2415 and 2416B are much better finished and have better quality control than the older version. A hand-finished version, the 2426, is used in all current-model Vostok Europe automatics.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I've seen the new Vostok Europe models. The finish is indeed improved on them. Good to see they are working to make things better.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you had yours regulated at all??

6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you had yours regulated at all??

6:25 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Hasn't needed it thankfully. I did regulate the Komandirskie though. Not the most regular of movements but I got it down to about +15 seconds. Not bad for a very inexpensive piece.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Zac said...


Thanks for the review. Am thoroughly intrigued by the Amphibia and plan on buying one soon. Was looking into the Nato James Bond style strap... although I can't seem to find the appropriate size. I've read 22mm but have seen 18. What would you prefer? Again, thanks!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Depends on which Amphibia. The round cased models you see in this review use 18mm. The Ministry Amphibia (Search my blog. I dod a review of it too) uses 22mm. The Ministry looks very different from the one you see here. It has a squared off case design.

7:27 PM  
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