HISTORY OF POLJOT
Poljot is a brand of Soviet/Russian wristwatches. Poljot watches has been produced since 1964 by the First Moscow Watch Factory. Poljot is the most famous brand of the USSR watch industry.
Founded in 1930 under orders from Joseph Stalin, the First State Watch Factory was the first large scale Soviet watch and mechanical movement manufacturer. Via its USA-based trading company Amtorg, the Soviet government bought the defunct Ansonia Clock Company of Brooklyn, New York in 1929, and the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company of Canton, Ohio. It moved twenty-eight freight cars full of machinery and parts from the USA to Moscow in order to establish the factory. Twenty-one former Dueber-Hampden watchmakers, engravers and various other technicians helped to train the Russian workers in the art of watchmaking as part of the Soviet’s first five-year plan. The movements of very-early products were still stamped “Dueber-Hampden, Canton, Ohio, USA” (examples of these watches are very collectible today). In 1935 the factory was named after the murdered Soviet official Sergei Kirov.
As the Germans closed in on Moscow in 1941, the factory was hurriedly evacuated to Zlatoust. 1943 the Germans were in retreat, and the factory moved back to Moscow, adopting the “First Moscow Watch Factory” name (Russian: Первый Московский Часовой Завод – 1МЧЗ).
In 1947 the first wrist watches under the brand name “Pobeda” and the first Marine Chronometers and Deck watches were produced. By 1951 the production of wrist watches had increased to 1.1 million. In 1975 new machinery and equipment for manufacturing complex watches was imported from Switzerland. The first chronograph “Okean” (caliber 3133) was produced for the space station “Sojuz-23.”
In 1990 production of watches and clocks reached 5 million pieces, and in 1991 the international award “Golden Trophy for Quality” was awarded in Madrid.
Poljot has produced numerous historical watches used in many important space missions, including the world’s first space watch worn by Yuri Gagarin. Poljot literally means “Flight”. (Russian: Полёт) First Moscow Watch Factory has produced several different types of calibers such as 2409, 2415, 2609, but the most famous is reliable workhorse chronograph 3133 movement.
The Poljot 3133 is a manual winding chronograph movement produced since the 1980’s.
Introduced in the 1970’s but not generally available until 1983, Calibre 3133 includes elements of earlier Venus movements, notably the Venus 150, Venus 188, and Valjoux 7734. It is not a copy or clone of these movements, but Poljot did purchase machinery and tooling and adapt elements of these calibres into the evolving 3133 design.
The Venus company produced the cal. 188 from 1949 up until they withdrew from the marketplace in 1966. Another Swiss company, Valjoux, bought the tools and rights to produce the Venus 188 and continued to produce a slightly modified version of the chronograph, rebranded cal. 7730, through 1968. At this point, Valjoux further refined the movement as 7733, and 7734 with date function. The early production Valjoux 7734 most resembles what we know the initial production of the Poljot 3133 to be.
The Poljot 3133 is a cam controlled chronograph operating at 21,600 A/h. It has a 30 minute counter at 3:00, a small seconds dial at 9:00, and a central sweep seconds counter along with the hour and minute hands. A date window is located at 6:00. Two buttons control the chronograph functions: The 2:00 pusher for starting and stopping the chronograph, and the 4:00 pusher to reset the seconds and minute counters. Poljot 3133 is nominally a 23 jewel movement, but several jewels are used on both sides..
Some of the initial modifications made by Poljot to the 7734 included a taller main plate, third wheel plate with jewel bearing, jewelled chronograph gears, smaller and faster running balance with shock protection, and quickset date mechanism. Curiously, the initial version of the Poljot 3133 utilized the older version of the 7733/34 reset function (hammer, fly-back lever) that was produced between 1968-1971.
This is quite different from the Venus and Valjoux calibres with which it shares components and design elements. Those are slow 18,000 A/h movements with fewer 17 jewels. The Swiss movements use an entirely different assortment (balance and escapement) and has many differences in the bridges and levers. But many others are identical between the movements. The movements are not interchangeable either, since the dial feet are located differently, and the movement is 1 mm thicker. Interestingly, the date wheel on the Poljot advances clockwise like modern ETA movements, while older Venus calbres used counter-clockwise date wheels.
There are a few variants on the basic Poljot design. Calibres 31679 (with moon phase hand) and 31682 (with day/night display) include extra complications. The 17 jewel calibre 3105 lacks the chronograph functions and simply has sub seconds at 9:00 and date window at 3:00.
In 1974, a year after production began on the new cal. 7750 automatic chronograph, Valjoux discontinued production of the 7734 and sold the tools, and presumably the rights to produce the chronograph to Poljot. The ETA 7750 is still in production to this day , while the production of the MakTime 3133 ended in 2011.
Mechanically not too many modifications have been made to the Poljot 3133 over the last thirty plus years. Notable changes where an improved mainspring in 1987, an improved metal alloy balance wheel in 1992 and seemingly lower-quality levers and eccentrics from the late 1990s on.
Poljot continued to produce the 3133 chronograph up until the end of 2004, when the MakTime company purchased the Poljot 3133 machinery, relocated the equipment to their factory in south-east Moscow, and continued production starting in June 2005. After only a few short years, low-sales/profits and out-dated equipment forced an end to production in 2011. The MakTime company produced the cal. 3133 for a handful of companies including Moscow Classic, Volmax (Aviator, Sturmanskie, Buran), Juri Levenberg (Pilot, Strela), Poljot-International, PoinTec (Junkers, Zepplin), Poljot-Chonos (The President), as well as their own in house brands (MakTime, MWG).
As of July 2013, new movements continue to be available in remaining retail stocks, however, some of the more popular cal. 3133 chronographs, such as the Zeppelin models, are now nearing extinction.