Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pobeda Review

If a watch can be said to be the Timex of Russia, I think the Pobeda is it. In the years immediately following the Second World War, the Soviet government found itself in need of a more modern timepiece than the old Type One (reviewed below). With this in mind, some sort of deal was struck with the French watchmaker Lip for the production of a men's wristwatch based on the Lip r26 movement. (For more on Lip see) The result was named Pobeda, meaning victory in Russian (named for obvious reasons). In a curious bit of historical trivia, the name Pobeda was supposedly chosen by Stalin himself (see this page at


Initially, production of the Pobeda was only done at the First Moscow Watch Factory, but after a few years, the Second Moscow Watch Factory, the Petrodvoretz factory, the Maslennikov (ZIM) factory and the Vostok factory were producing the movement as well. The various factories made a number of modifications to the movement over the years including adding jewels, replacing the sub dial with a central second hand, and adding a hacking feature. The Pobeda has a reputation for being a very durable watch and the movement was still in production until recently by the ZIM factory. It should be noted that in terms of both quality and desirability, Pobedas made by the First Moscow Watch Factory are considered the best, while the ZIM examples are considered the least collectable. Indeed, the latter examples of ZIM movements have a crude, unfinished look about them, unlike the earlier models that had such touches as Geneva stripes and engine turned finishes.


Of the three examples shown here, the one with the engraved back was made by the First Moscow Watch Factory in 1955 and the other white-faced model was made in the mid-fifties by the Petrodvoretz factory outside St. Petersburg (later to be renamed the Raketa factory after the Sputnik launch). The black model is an early ZIM, also from the fifties I believe. All three are examples of the original style Pobedas with sub dial second hands. They use acrylic crystals and have no lume. The Pobeda movement is a 15 or 16-jewel hand wound type whose accuracy seems to be in the +/- 40-second range although that can be improved on with regulation. Most Pobedas are smaller, traditionally sized, watches of 33mm and 35mm sizes but prior to the bankruptcy of the ZIM factory in the early 2000's, some 38mm Pobedas were made with mineral crystals. Update-The second from the top picture is a newly acquired Pobeda made in 2004, shortly before the ZIM factory went into bankruptcy. The watch has 18mm lugs and a mineral glass crystal but is otherwise ver similar to the other Pobedas. The case measures 36mm including the crown and the movement is completely undecorated. Above that is another NOS model. It too has 18mm lugs but uses an acrylic crystal like the older Pobedas. Cost me all of $13.


I mentioned that I considered the Pobeda a Russian Timex. The reason I feel this way is entirely a matter of price. Whether the model you are looking at is new old stock or a vintage model from fifty or so years ago, you would be hard pressed to spend more than thirty dollars on a Pobeda. They are about the least expensive mechanical watches I have encountered. I can easily spend more cash on lunch then a Pobeda would run me. The black model pictured here cost me all of nine dollars while its white counterpart set me back a whopping twenty-two dollars. (Pobedas are widely available on ebay. One seller, Zenitar, has a good assortment of inexpensive new old stock models to choose from. Look under the catagory-Other watches. Older models are available from a variety of different sellers.) Now low price is all well and good of course, provided the watch is not a piece of junk. Fortunately, that is not the case with the Pobeda. While no one is about to confuse one with an Omega, a Pobeda does get the job done well without any fuss. The ZIM model here needed regulating when I got it (it clearly had led a pretty hard life) but now is accurate to about 20 seconds a day. The white-faced Petrodvoretz Pobeda needed nothing when I got it, running at about +15 seconds daily. For a pair of inexpensive 50+-year-old watches with little pretension between them, that's not a bad deal at all.

Note-No discussion of the Pobeda would be complete without mentioning Andrew Babanin's fine review over at Timezone.



Blogger John F. Opie said...

Hi -

One tiny error: I think you mean the Lip 25 and not the Lip 26, since I don't think anyone has been able to definitely find the Lip 26...

Outside of that: great blog. :-)


4:54 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

I've seen the movement alternatively referred to as the 26 and 25. Its true, I'm not sure either. Amazing the no one seems to have a catalog of Lip movements anymore. Shame.

8:33 AM  

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