Russian Mechanical

Alarm & Perpetual Calendar


By Paul Delury


The Sekonda Mechanical Alarm is produced
by the Poljot (“Flight”), First Moscow Watch Factory.
“Sekonda” is the name used on Poljot’s export
watches, and thus the words “Made In Russia” do not
adorn the dial on these timepieces.

The Poljot watch factory first produced
watches in 1930, and by 1935 was turning out 450,000 timepieces
per year. By 1955 production had increased to 1.1 million watches
annually. In the early 1990’s the production total was approximately
6 million timepieces per year, and the factory employed around
6000 people. The ratio of mechanical to quartz watches produced
is around 1:4.

The Watch

The Sekonda Mechanical Alarm is a mid-size
watch. It has been produced since 1992. The case dimensions are
as follows:

Diameter :
35mm (excluding lugs)

Thickness : 11mm

The case itself is gold plated over base
metal. I do not know the thickness of the plating, but have read
that it is quite substantial. It is a pleasing yellow gold colour,
and the plating is smooth and free of blemishes. The case back
is stainless steel held in place by a screw down retaining ring.
There is a rubber gasket seal between the casing and the back,
which would provide some resistance to moisture, but the watch
carries no water resistance markings. I doubt that the watch
would survive a dunking, but you never know! The watch takes
an 18mm band, and came supplied with an extremely long black
leather example. I have never seen a band this long – do Russians
have particularly thick wrists? I have replaced it with a colourful
reddish leather band, which I feel enhances the ‘fun’
aspect of the watch, and goes well with the gold.

The dial is matt black with raised gold
applied stick markers, and gold printed details. There are numerals
5 to 60 printed around the extremity of the dial which could
be used as either minute or second registers. On the inside of
each stick marker are printed 24 hour numerals 13 through to
24. There are round green phosphorescent markers outside each
stick marker, and both the minute and hour hands have inserts
of this same material. The luminosity of these markings is moderate,
but not very long lived. The crystal is a slightly domed acrylic
with a beveled edge set 1mm above the top of the case.

The Crowns

As can be seen the watch is styled somewhat
similarly to the JLC Memovox Alarm, in that there are two crowns,
at the 2 and 4 o’clock positions. The crown at 4 o’clock
(see white arrow at left) is for winding the watch in the normal
position, and for setting the hands when in the extended position.
The watch winds very smoothly with only moderate
pressure & a pleasing sound. The crown at 2 o’clock
(see yellow arrow at left) is used for winding up the alarm mechanism
when in the normal position, and when extended it sets the alarm
hand (see inset at right). The alarm setting hand is positioned
to the required time, and when the hour hand reaches that position
the alarm mechanism is activated. 20 turns of the alarm winding
crown produces around 10 seconds of quite loud buzzing alarm,
which tapers off like a dying rattlesnake. If you would like
to hear the alarm then click below, but be warned, the wav sound
file will take a while to download (61K).

Click HERE
to hear the sound of the alarm.

(Please, no rude comments on what the sound resembles!)


The movement is the 18 jewel manual winding
Caliber 2612. The power reserve at full wind is 42 hours. It
is reported that the deviation of the alarm is within +/- 3 minutes
of the set time. It certainly seems to work at the set time on
my watch. I was intrigued to find out just what made the alarm
work, and so set to the screw back with my trusty caseback wrench.
3 days later I had successfully removed the back and all was
revealed. Indeed it is crude and simplistic, but nonetheless
effective. The yellow arrow in the scan of the movement at left
points to a hammer, which is activated by the alarm spring mechanism.
It strikes repeatedly against the pin protruding form the caseback
(see yellow arrow in scan below), thereby producing the ‘buzzing’
sound. Just how long that pin would stand up to such treatment,
I don’t know.

I have had this watch for 3 months, and
in that time have worn it only occasionally, but have kept it
wound. Accuracy is -6 seconds per day, which is quite remarkable.
It must be the most inexpensive mechanical alarm available. The
price? I paid US$27. Yes, that’s right! All in all,
an interesting little conversation piece, a peek into another
world where mechanical watches are still fairly commonplace,
a useful inexpensive alarm watch – or, all of the above.


The Raketa Perpetual Calendar watch is
produced in the Patrodworzowy Watch factory, approximately 30km
from St. Petersburg. The factory manufactures only men’s
watches, and this particular model has been in production since
1985. As this watch carries the “Made in Russia” inscription
it would have been manufactured after 1991. Watches produced
before this date carried the inscription “Made in USSR”.

The Watch

This is a large watch, in fact a very large
watch, considering it is not a chronograph. The dimensions of
the case are as follows:

Diameter : 40mm
(excluding hooded lugs)

Thickness : 11mm (to top of crystal)

The case is chrome plated over base metal,
with a stainless steel snap back. It is hard to see how it could
have any water resistance, and certainly the watch carries no
detail on this. There is no seal between case & back. The
chrome plating is smoothly applied, giving the appearance of
polished stainless steel. The snap back is easily removed to
inspect the movement. The watch accepts 18mm bands, and once
again it was supplied with one of those extremely long black
leather bands. I have since replaced this with a bright blue
band coordinated to the dial colour.

The dial is quite impressive, or ugly,
depending on your tastes. It is a metallic iridescent blue colour,
with gold applied markers, and white printed markings. There
is a day & date display at the 3 o’clock position. The
hands are extremely long, and painted a very light blue. This
is not a good watch in the dark, as there are no luminous markings
whatsoever. The crystal is acrylic and very highly domed, extending
3mm above the case rim.


The watch has two crowns, located at the
3 and 4 o’clock positions. The crown at 3 o’clock (see
yellow arrow at right) handles the winding of the watch in the
normal position, and a rather unique way of quick setting the
Date display. By pulling this crown out against spring pressure,
the date will advance one number for each activation. I have
not yet figured out how to quick set the Day display (perhaps
it is not quick set). The crown at the 4 o’clock position
(see white arrow at right) sets the perpetual calendar display.

The Perpetual Calendar function is purely
manual, and is not connected to the main movement mechanism in
any way. Below is a close up of both the month and day displays.



Setting the Perpetual Calendar

The calendar is set by revolving the bottom
display with the setting crown. The years, from 1992 through
to 2012 are set to align below the corresponding month in the
printed table above the year window.

In the bottom close-up (above), you will
see that the year is aligned with the “JUN” (June)
marking. In the upper day display (above), the calendar can be
read by finding the day of the week, for example “MON”
(Monday), and then reading the dates in the printed table below
the day display. As you can see, there is a choice of dates of
1, 8, 15, 22 & 29. So, we know it is currently one of those
days in June 1998. It’s up to you to know what date you
want. A useful feature? Maybe, maybe not – but it is interesting

The Movement

The movement is the 19 jewel manual winding Caliber 2628. My
example displays an accuracy of -18 seconds per day. The gear
connecting the lower crown to the perpetual calendar display
is indicated by the yellow arrow in the scan of the movement
at right.

This watch is quite eye catching, and has
probably attracted more comments, both complimentary and otherwise,
than any other watch I have worn. It is also available in a gold
plated case with an iridescent red dial. That model must be something
to see. Again the price was extremely low – US$25.

In Conclusion

I purchased both the Sekonda Alarm &
Raketa Perpetual Calendar watches out of curiosity. I was intrigued
to see just what sort of watch the Russians built, and the price
was extremely affordable. Given the low prices I have to say
that the quality of the watches is remarkable. Whilst I
obtained the watches mainly as interesting conversation pieces,
they are definitely suitable for daily wear. How long the Russians
will be pumping out these little mechanical marvels is anyone’s
guess. As a sideline to a more refined collection of fine watches,
these Russian mechanicals make a delightful diversion.


Technical & Historic information : “Russian Wristwatches” by Juri Levenburg

Copyright 1998 P. Delury