Vostok Komandirskie 3AKA3 Review
On a Nilsen bund strap
This review is, in many respects, similar to the Vostok Komandirskie review that I did a few years back. However, there have been so many new old stock (NOS) examples of this model turning up on the global tag sale that I thought it would be a good idea to not only acquire an example but to see just what you get with one of these older models.
The main feature about this particular Vostok that interested me is the lettering on the dial to the left of the 6 o'clock position. There the notation 3AKA3 appears. What this means is that this example was specifically ordered by the Soviet ministry of defense to be issued to a soldier. (It never was issued, however, and I acquired it new in the box with the tag still on and the paperwork included.) Models with the 3AKA3 designation are rarer than ordinary Vostoks which are simply labeled as being made in CCCP or, these days, Russia.
This example's case measures 40mm in width (43 mm with the crown), 45 mm lug to lug, 11 mm in thickness and has an 18 mm band lug width. Unlike the previously reviewed model, this one has a gold-tone case (actually plated with titanium nitride). The movement is a Vostok workhorse, the 17 jewel 2414A that has a reputation for being very rugged. The watch uses a typical thick Vostok acrylic crystal and has the company's signature two-piece back. So far, it has been running quite well, gaining about 20 seconds a day. (That could probably be improved on with regulation, to say nothing about a cleaning and oiling given this model's age, but I can live with it.)
In comparison to the newer Komandirskie I reviewed earlier, this older model is very similar. They both use the same movement and share the same overall design. The only significant differences are that the older Vostok has a larger crown (that resembles the crown used by the Amphibia series of Vostoks), and the shape of the bezel is somewhat different. The lume on the 3AKA3 seems pretty much inactive, glowing for only a few minutes after exposure to light, but even new Vostoks have lousy lume too. One detail about the old Vostok does merit mention though. The overall quality of the watchcase and it’s plating in particular, seems superior to that of the newer models. It just looks better finished to my eye. Other than that though, these watches clearly emerged from the same factory.
In summary, I'm glad I finally got my hands on one of these. It is both a nice field watch and a historically interesting piece. If you are thinking about picking up one, and you have dabbled in Russian watches before, be forewarned-the time when these 3AKA3s could be had for $20 is over. Expect to see nice examples in the $60-$120 range these days, possibly even more. The market is finally catching up to even Russian watches I'm afraid, although there are still buys to be had.