Monday, November 28, 2011

Poljot Kirova Chronograph Reissue Review

It is with a bittersweet feeling that I find myself writing this review. Word is now trickling out that Maktime, the successor entity to Poljot that manufactured the 3133chronograph movement, has gone bankrupt. Unless some white knight arrives to either bail them out or buy the tooling for the movement, the 3133 is no more. While there is an apparently ample supply of 3133 chronographs on the world wide tag sale, once that supply is gone, that's it.

Ah well (sniff...), on to the watch. The Kirova chronograph in this review is one of several different reissue models of the original First Moscow Watch Factory Kirova chronograph. This particular example is one of the largest cased models of the Kirova reissues. It measures 42 mm in width (45 mm including the crown), 14 mm in height, 50 mm lug to lug and has a 20 mm band lug width. Most of the other Kirova reissues I've seen are typically 40mm in width.

Visually, this watch seems to combine the face design of the 1940's vintage one button chronograph with the two button control layout of the 1950's vintage Urofa powered chronographs. Despite appearances, only the hands on this model are lumed. The numbers, while colored as if painted with radium, do not glow in the dark. The case is matt finished stainless steel and the crystal is mineral glass. The case back and crown screw down and the watch is rated at 5 atm water resistance (which I would take with a grain of salt frankly). The original leather band was of indifferent quality so I replaced it with a padded Hirsch model.

Internally, this Kirova is powered by the venerable 3133 23 jewel hand-wound chronograph movement. The 3133 is a Russian made version of the earlier Swiss Valjoux 7734. The Russians bought the rights to the movement from the Swiss, raised the jewel count from 17 to 23 and increased the beat rate. It has served as the standard Russian chronograph movement for roughly the last 35 years. The 3133 is generally regarded as a fairly rugged movement (as mechanical chronos go) and it is known for it long 50+ hour power reserve.

I personally find this watch to be very attractive. The face and hands exhibit an old style charm that I don't encounter often these days. I think I would have preferred it if the designers had left off the date window but I can certainly live with it. I picked this example up a few years ago (when Russian chronographs were absurdly affordable) but I still see this model new on eBay from time to time. I think it's a keeper.
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