Friday, May 20, 2016

The Vostok Amphibian SE GMT





I haven't been as active on this site lately as I was in past years.  Part of that is just life getting the way and part of it was simply finances.  After the fall of our economy in 2009 and the non-recovery that has followed for the past few years, I was hurt financially as were many others.  I didn't lose my job thankfully but times were not what I would call great.  Between that and seemingly nonstop demands on my time, I had to step back from this hobby.

While I cannot promise a large number of reviews per year, I do plan to try to be more active now.  And with that thought in mind, I present you with a new Vostok model, the GMT. The official designation for this model according to Meranom, a good online vendor for Russian watches, is the Amphibian SE 150520S.  I'm sticking with just calling it the GMT though. 

This watch is very much a traditional vostok model in most respects.  The typical Vostok heavy stainless steel case, complete with their signature two-part case back is still used.  The thick, domed acrylic crystal is still here as well.  Vostok's traditional "wobbly" (it is supposed to do that) screw-down crown is employed. And the Vostok luminous paint on the hands and face is still inadequate. All pretty well known stuff. 

There are a few departures from the usual Vostok way of doing things though.  The first addresses one of the complaints that many Vostok owners have had over the years.  The bezel on the GMT, while still bi-directional, is now made of stainless steel instead of the old chrome plated brass. That's a big plus that should allow the bezel to look nice and shiny for a long time. Another welcome change is that the watch actually ships with a good quality rubber diver's band. This is, quite possibly, the first Vostok I have encountered whose stock band did not need to be switched out and immediately disposed of. They are definitely learning. 

The big news with this watch, of course, is the movement.  The GMT is fitted with Vostok's 32 jewel 2426 automatic movement.  This is a derivation of the workhorse 2416b automatic movement that Vostok has built and relied upon for decades.  The big difference is that now, in place of a date function, Vostok has added a fourth hand to allow for simultaneous time keeping in two time zones.  

The 24 hour GMT hand on this watch is not independently settable.  That means that in order to use it, the wearer must rely on the 24 hour bezel to set the time in a different time zone.  As such, this is not a "true GMT" as watch collectors would say. However, this is a well known method for GMT watches to be used and it does work just fine here too. For a good explanation as to how to use a GMT btw, see here.  I am personally finding this feature to be really useful of late as my son now lives overseas.  It's great to be able to see what time it is for him with just a glance at my wrist before calling or texting him.

In terms of style, Vostok brought back its old 1970's version paddle hands for the GMT.  I think it looks terrific. Additionally, the watch now has a subdial at the 10 o'clock position for the seconds hand.  The case back has the image of a cosmonaut, possibly Yuri Gagarin, wearing a spacesuit helmet with the letters CCCP (the Russian way of saying USSR) across the top.

As for the detailed specs, the watch is 42mm in width (45mm with the crown), 14mm in thickness, 46mm lug to lug and has a 22mm band lug width.  The 32 jewel automatic movement has an approximate power reserve of 33 hours and is rated as accurate from -20 to +40 seconds daily.  In my experience, Vostok movements usually do better than that out of the box.  Water resistance is rated at 200 meters and the watch can be hand wound, in addition to using the automatic mechanism, but not hacked.  

Visually, the bezel is polished stainless steel while the watch case has a brushed finish. The hands appear chromed and the crystal is domed acrylic. It should be noted that while acrylic crystals can scratch easily, it is also very easy to polish out even big scratches with a cotton ball and some toothpaste. 

All in all, the GMT is a good looking and well made watch that should give many years of service. It works equally well on the stock rubber band or on an aftermarket bracelet as shown in the pictures above. It is also a very good buy.  $140 for an automatic GMT with high water resistance is really hard to argue with.     

2 Comments:

Blogger Harold Bullock said...

If they would have kept the date function I would have bought this. Thanks for sharing.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Pavlo said...

Thanks for sharing; update: the series reappeared (Feb 2017) in a less chunky, octogonal case (#650) homage of the Soviet era "Wostok".
I like it does not have a date. One use of a 24h hand + bezel is quick orientation (solar compass). Easier if the 24h scale's midday is up top, i.e.12 synced on bezel and dial. Point the 4th hand at the sun and voilĂ : 12 shows south. With a date, the 24 mark needs to be on top; works too, but you better remove the watch from the wrist. Without, the choice is yours.

1:39 AM  

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