Zlatoust Watch Factory

About us

History
History

What date shall we consider the beginning of the Zlatoust Watch Factory history? It can be the winter of 1941, when the ZWF manufactured and shipped its first batch of products to the front. Or it can be the spring of 1930, when the first Soviet watch factory came into operation, after all – it was the First State Watch Factory that was evacuated from Moscow to Ural. It turned out so well that the People’s Commissariat of Mortar Armament decided not to return the First State Watch Factory to the capital and to continue producing timepieces in Ural instead under the new name of the Zlatoust Watch Factory. However, it is known that the first Soviet timepieces in Moscow were made after purchasing the turn-key ready American Duber Hampton watch factory, whose equipment had already been operating for 40 years. It means that the ZWF history started in the 19th century…

It is important to note that the ZWF has been working in precision mechanics since the early days, producing not only timepieces but also special-purpose items such as grenade fuse tubes (part #24). After the war the experience in electromechanics was particularly useful, the Zlatoust Watch Factory entered mass production of timer relays. Since the 1950s the ZWF has also been famous around the world for its most precise mechanical stopwatches. The experience in precision mechanics and electromechanics facilitated the joint project of the ZWF and the Zlatoust Machine-Building Plant: the latter produced electric stoves Mechta (Dream), and the ZWF made power selector switches for them. Thanks to its focus on precision mechanics, the ZWF was able to pull through the hard times of Perestroika, as opposed to other Soviet watch factories.

Today the Zlatoust Watch Factory produces not only timepieces. A timepiece is a wheel reduction gear that just has a lot of precise positions, but the operating principle is the same – spring energy is transferred to various moving parts: second, minute and hour hands. It is based on precision mechanics. It is these traditions, knowledge and experience in the area that let the ZWF master new types of products today, including the ones for the Russian military-industrial complex. For example, the movement that keeps time, but it is not a timepiece – it does not even have an hour hand.

The ZWF produces control system elements, reduction gears and reduction gear motors for mechanism drives used in ultra-deepwater bathyscaphes and aircrafts. Local specialists make these products in their smallest possible sizes retaining their absolutely peculiar capabilities. The gear ratio of a signature Zlatoust reduction gear is 1:300 while its size is 18x20 mm. Extremely powerful, technically sophisticated and yet small – this is possible in precision mechanics only.

The Zlatoust Watch Factory has succeeded in space industry as well – it is the ZWF where spacesuit pressure sensors have been created. Needless to say how small, extremely precise and absolutely reliable they are. In space even a micron-sized gap affects technical performance, therefore, Zlatoust craftsmen will not let it happen. The ZWF provides cosmonauts with a 15-year guarantee for its reduction gears – this is an extraordinary operational life.

Zlatoust is a town of craftsmen! Manufacturing traditions here go back centuries. It is a historical fact, not just beautiful words. In addition to its vast experience and high quality performance, it is also important that the Zlatoust Watch Factory is an operation of genuinely precise mechanics.

Pobeda (Victory) Watch
Pobeda (Victory) Watch

As strange as it may sound, the very first men’s wrist watches were pocket ones: lugs were welded on to the watch case and straps were pulled through them so that the watch could be worn on the wrist.

During World War II the Red Army soldiers and officers were awarded with name engraved watches made by the Zlatoust Watch Factory for special services in the battlefield. Originally, the watches came in a traditional pocket version.

However, those traditional pocket watches proved inconvenient in the battlefield and were first upgraded by their owners, who welded lugs on to dials which enabled them to wear watches on the wrists, and then the ZWF itself started manufacturing wrist watches, which were more convenient to use in the field.

Years later, in order to commemorate another anniversary of the Great Victory, the Zlatoust Watch Factory resumed the production of collectible wrist watches styled and designed after those of war years. They are an absolute copy of those famous wartime watches that adorned the wrists of Soviet soldiers-liberators and together with their owners headed towards the Victory.

The watches have chrome plated brass cases and are hand-assembled, every part, including the smallest screw, is made in Russia. They rightly received the proud name of Pobeda (Victory) watches and will become respectable companions for those who remember and honour history.

Dive Watch
Dive Watch

For centuries (since the late 17th century), people had been trying to protect timepieces from moisture penetration that is damaging to them. The most inquisitive minds tried to understand how to keep the movement safe from water, how to seal the smallest gaps between the bezel and the case, how to make the crown shaft completely impermeable. Finally, craftsmen of the 20th century managed to find the answers to these questions and develop timepieces capable of withstanding salt water and submersion. They were used by swimmers, divers and for equipping water vessels.

One type of water resistant timepieces particularly stood out from all the variety of different models and brands – dive watches that were produced at the Zlatoust Watch Factory by the order of the Soviet Navy. In the 1950-60s, these legendary watches were constant companions of almost every Soviet Navy diver.

Being water- and shock-proof (their stainless steel cases stood the most severe tests and over 100-meter submersion) and having luminous dials, these watches were unique. They are now still among the biggest watches in the world, having the diameter of 60 mm (not including a crown and lugs).

In the early 1970s, the production of dive watches was discontinued, but their ever-lasting popularity gave the Zlatoust legend the second chance – the dive watch production has been resumed. They can now be purchased again, and they are as reliable, precise and water-proof as before. Even the luminous dial is reproduced. However, it is now made with luminophor – a completely safe material – instead of a radioactive one used in the past.