Vostok is a Russian watch brand with a long history. Their two most famous models are the Amphibia dive watch and the one we own – the Vostok Komandirskie. What’s it like to live with a Vostok Komandirskie?
Long Term Review – Vostok Komandirskie
I’ve had a lot of Vostok watches over the years: both automatic and hand-wound variants of the Komandirskie and Amphibia. They are all based on the same fundamental design – a workhorse low-beat movement (sometimes hand-wound and sometimes self-winding) with a date function. The date function does not have a quick-change so to change the date on a Vostok watch you need to wind the hands round past midnight, then back a quarter of the dial to about 9pm, then past midnight again… it’s slow – but not as slow as an old Rolex where you have to wind round a full 24 hours to change the date!
Vostok watches come in a huge range of designs – but generally, the case is either round or “star-shaped” with a bi-directional friction bezel. Steel or “gold” (possibly brass?) cases are available. The Vostok Komandirskie is a functional, military-style watch so do not expect many (any) frills but you soon realise why their stark, Soviet styling attracts so many fans after wearing one for a while.
One common question is “are Vostok watches reliable?” In my experience, new ones are as reliable as any other watch so long as you take care of them. Older ones from eBay can vary massively, and some watchmakers in the UK may struggle to get parts for the movements. On the other hand, they are so relatively cheap that you can afford to simply buy another one either to replace your broken one or in order to donate a movement.
What’s good about the Vostok Komandirskie?
- The designs and dials are cool if you enjoy stark, Soviet-style design cues
- It is a really slim watch, which makes it a great daily wearer for work
- They offer something different from anything you will see on the high-street
What’s bad about the Vostok Komandirskie?
- The thin, 18mm lug width limits the choice of straps
- The lack of a quick-change date can be frustrating if you only wear your Vostok Komandirskie occasionally
- The crown feels wobbly when winding and setting the time – this is normal, but you have to use finesse when unscrewing, winding and setting the watch.
Where can I buy a Vostok watch in the UK?
You are extremely unlikely to see a Vostok Komandirskie on the high street. For newer models and spares we recommend Vostok-Poljot.com – you can order direct from Russia and pay in Euros. Alternatively, you can try your luck and buy a Vostok Komandirskie on eBay – be warned, though, that there are a lot of poor quality watches that seem to have been rescued from the bin. The best seller we have found for new Vostok watches is the store “Heritage of Russia” – the prices are low and this review watch was bought from there.
You can read more about Vostok watches in our “about the brand” feature.