Sunday, July 04, 2010

Vostok Combos

One of the more entertaining (and at times, irritating) parts of collecting Russian watches is finding replacement bands for them. As those of us who collect Vostoks know, the factory bands and bracelets are, generally, pretty bad. The old bracelets were terrible hair pullers and the leather bands were of awful quality (if they were even made of leather at all). Lately, the stock bracelets have improved somewhat in quality but they are still nothing to write home about. The trick when looking for replacements though is to find an acceptable solution that doesn't cost more than the watch itself. Given that most Vostoks can be had for less that $70, this can be a bit of a challenge at times.

The three examples shown above illustrate a few of the solutions I have found. In the foreground, the blue Amphibia is shown on a tan nato. This is one of the most popular and affordable replacement solutions for a Vostok. Nato bands will fit virtually any size wrist, are inexpensive, and are pretty durable. The Ministry Amphibia and the Radio Room commemorative edition both sport inexpensive replacement bracelets from ebay. Each cost in the $10-$20 range if I recall correctly. Neither is a solid link design but their overall quality is considerably better than the factory models. I would rate them about equal to the folded link bracelets that Seiko uses on low end "5" models.

There are many possible ways to refit a Vostok with a decent band. Quality solid link designs are available on both ebay and from other sellers albeit at prices that generally exceed the price of the watch itself. That may be an acceptable compromise for some but, so far, I've avoided going that way. I recommend that Vostok collectors keep an open mind when searching for new band solutions. I've been pleasantly surprised more than once.
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