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The Three Emperors' Corner - part six - grey as a socialist block of flats...

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What I state in the tilte is not entirely true anymore, as most of these are currently being refurbished and painted in nice, bright colors. Going back a decade and more, we had plenty of grey, ugly socialist blocks of flats. Not willing to start a discussion in topics ranging from economy, through sociology to general politics, laove them or hate them - they surely provided a loot of flats for people to live at reasonable cost.
Actually, I grew up in one of those. And I have mixed feelings - you rarely get to hate places you remember from the day you were born, right? On the other hand, yes they are pretty lousy

That's a distant veiw of such block. It's just a random block of flats my home city of Sosnowiec is pretty much built of. Of course, they are not exactly things of beauty, so I never bothered to take pictures of them - I just found this to be the only one showing a block of flats...
Of cousre, I could find more searching in old family 'analog' photographs.

But that's not the subject. When my interest in mechanical watches has only got started, I had very little money to spend and one particular watch drew my attention. It was Vostok's newest release, the K-34 Komandirskie line model.

There you go. I loved it from first sight and in fact, despite many years went by, I still do, and even more, I guess.
As a watch of Komandirskie line, this watch has military roots, and definitely one can tell. It has a lovely, matte steel case, lume (poor!) on dial and hands and - most importantly - it's beautifully designed.
Still - it actually is grey as the block I remember from my childhood

Notice the signed crown.
The size, the proportions, the finish - it's very thought-of and it is a very, very classy watch.
And pretty cheap, priced between $150-$200. Not a lot for a nice automatic watch.

The caseback...

The watch is still made today, this one comes from the first series.
Inside the watch there is he Russian in-house caliber 2416B. unfortunately well known of it's sub-standard reliability.

It's not due to poor design (as I one thought), though. The design origins somewhere in 1970s and in fact it's among the very BEST automatic movements ever designed. It's about the lousy built quality of modern Russian watches (it's probably getting better now, BTW).

My watch has an issue (in fact every single Vostok of mine had at least one issue, which is bad ).
The issue is, that when the rotor spins in one direction, it's all fine, while in the other direction, at high rotor speed, the movement makes a - sort of squeeking, high pitch friction sound, that definitely should not be there.

Now most of the problems with Vostok's automatic comes fro bad reversers' lubrication, and whenever you have a problem with Vostok's winder - try cleaning and lubricating the reversers. usually works miracles on them.

Here we go

That's the (cyrylic) W signed rotor and two reversers.
The reversrs are of the best and most reliable type ever implied in a winder, the roller freewheels.
That design with a set of - steel or ruby - rollers in the wheel was first used by Girard Perregaux in their Gyromatic desing, and then spread widely, used in their movements by numerous Russian makers (Vostok, Slava, Luch and Raketa), as well as sone other companies, like Elgin to name the biggest.

The difference (and it's a secret unknown to many 'professional' watchmakers) is that when a ratchet type (ETA style) reverser won't lock - it's likely badly worn and needs replacement. A roler freewheel reverser needs lubrication to work, as the rollers need to roll. So a 'dry' or glued reverser will not lock permanently - it will likely unlock permanently. Sometimes two tiny drops of oil placed on just two rollers will make it instantly work again.
It does not cost anything to try.

That's the winder half-apart. You can see two posts for reversers.
No1 shows the third reverser. Circled is another one-dir clutch that detaches the winder when you wind manually. I think it's ratchet-type, but I've not checked. definitely different from the rotor's reversers.
No 2 shows a movable post for the crown wheel, that detaches the stem while auto-winding, so that the auto winder won't turn the stem as it sometimes happen in some automatics.

This reverser is damaged. Maybe it's a flaw, maybe it's a piece of dirt inside, I don't know, because it's riveted for good and cannot be taken apart. When you turn the brass gear it has variable resistance, possibly responsible for the squeeking noise. Other possibility is that the resistance causes elevation of the whole part that - in turn - gets it in touch wit the passing rotor. I can't exactly figure this out, but - unfortunately - re-lubricating it did not help at all.

The reversers are held in place by a smal spring. I don't like it too much and I prefer them placed nicely between two plates, but it works, so why complain?
Notice a bad scratch on the auto winder bridge - it's factory made and pretty much shows Vostok's quality policy at the time...

I'm pretty sure this time I DO need a new reverser. Still, as the watch winds nicely, I'll probably wait till it breaks. Not a wise thing to do in an airplane or even a private car, but in a watch... well, whatever

I still like and wear this watch a lot...
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