Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vostok Generalskie Desert Shield edition

The Desert Shield Generalskie represents a fascinating piece of history between the United States and the Soviet Union. Here is a Russian made Vostok watch, the standard supplier to the Red Army, building a watch for the U. S. Army during Operation Desert Shield. As I understand it, some 200,000 pieces were ordered for sale. The watches were advertised in Stars & Stripes, the U.S. military's newspaper, at $99 for service personnel or $149 for everyone else. The distributor reportedly presented one of these watches to then President Bush and another to Senator Kerry. Several different cases and movements were employed by this series of watch. To the best of my knowledge, there was the Generalskie model you see above, an Amphibia, a Komandirskie and a mini Komandirskie. Movements apparently varied from the old 21 jewel 2416b to the 2409 and the 2414a, I believe. For more information, see this excellent post at the Military Watch Forum.

The Generalskie model above uses a case style that has unfortunately been discontinued by Vostok. It outwardly appears similar to Komandirskie models of the period except that the case is significantly larger than the bezel. Like the Komandirskie, the case is made of chrome plated brass and features Vostok's signature acrylic crystal and wobbly screw-down crown. This particular example came to me by way of eBay. It was advertised as being new old stock (NOS) but in fact had a scratched bezel and lug. I fortunately had another bezel of the same design to replace the damaged one and a little of my wife's clear nail polish should protect the exposed base metal on the lug hopefully. Such is life when shopping on the bay. Caveat emptor.

Aside from these issues, the watch appears to be running fine. Accuracy seems to be in the typical Vostok range of 20 seconds or so deviation per day. Not bad for a 20 yr old mechanical watch in my opinion. The old style Generalskie case goes well with today's large watch trend. It measures 45mm in width (including the crown), 48mm lug to lug and uses Vostok's standard 18mm band lug width. The stock leather band had dried out and become quite brittle so I replaced it with a padded leather Hirsch band that suits it quite nicely.

I am quite happy to own this historically interesting watch. It represents a brief moment in time when two old enemies found some common ground between them. It would have been most interesting indeed if the cooperation that this watch represents could have continued and strengthened over time. Who knows what sort of world we would be living in now?


Anonymous pharmacy said...

Great post! Keep it up the good work and also keep posting.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Ed said...


9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you may find this interesting. My son worked in the Ukraine in the late 90's. He came on a visit and brought two watches, a Generalskie and an Admiralskie and gave me my choice. I took the Generalskie, I liked the 2 o'clock stem & crown. About a year ago the stem threw craps. Couldn't wind it. Looked high and low for a jeweler that would work on it. None would. Said no parts available. So I went looking for parts and same old story, no parts available. My son now is working in the Republic of Georgia in the city of Tliblisi, the capital. I mailed him the watch asking him to get it fixed. He took it down in the city market, found a booth where a watchmaker had set up shop. The watchmaker said, "There are no parts available for this watch, but I can make you one. Come back in an hour. An hour later the watch was fixed except it no longer has a screw down crown and isn't water resistant. It runs great and keeps perfect time. I'm happy. Cost was $15

7:57 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

They are amazingly rugged watches. Great save there :)

3:15 PM  

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