Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Murphy Vostok Bezel Review

I don't believe I've ever done a review for a watch part before (bracelets aside) but it had to happen sooner or later I suppose so here goes.

If you are a fan of Russian watches and Vostok Amphibias in particular, you are probably already aware of one of the more irritating characteristics of the watch. That would be the stock bezel. In almost all respects, Vostok did a splendid job on the Amphibia. It has a stainless steel case, a rugged automatic movement that can hand wind, an acrylic crystal that can be polished free of scratches very easily and, best of all, a very low price. One of the few details that is sub-par on the Amphibia is the stock bezel (the other being the lume which is awful). The standard Vostok bezel is a piece of chrome plated brass with painted accents. It looks pretty good and functions acceptably but, like anything made of brass, it scratches very easily. Until recently, the only option for us Vostok fans with damaged bezels was to procure a factory replacement part. That's not the case anymore.

Murphy Manufacturing, run by Dave Murphy, has come up with a terrific replacement bezel for the Amphibia. Unlike the original, Murphy's bezel is a beautifully solid piece of stainless steel that fits the Amphibia's case flawlessly. The machine work on this part is really very well done. Its so good, in fact, that I wish Vostok would just subcontract the bezel part of their business to Murphy. He really does a significantly better job.

The Murphy bezel does not ship with a bezel insert (the black part in the images above). That can be obtained from a variety of sources that sell Seiko 007 diver bezel inserts (I got mine here) The bezel fits on the Amphibia (or Komandirskie I suppose) using the same bezel wire that the stock unit is secured with. In terms of dimensions, the Murphy bezel sits a little higher than the stock unit. In the side by side shot above (the original bezel equipped model is on the right), you can see the difference between the stock bezel and the Murphy replacement. The increased height is needed to accommodate a bezel insert.

Overall, the Murphy bezel is a real home run. It addresses one of the big weaknesses in Vostok's design in a very elegant way. The whole character of the Amphibia is remarkably enhanced by this seemingly small change. The Murphy bezel can be obtained by contacting Dave Murphy at Murphy Manufacturing Co. . If you collect Vostoks, treat yourself to one of these.
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