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Thread: Long term review of the Vostok Amphibian

  1. #1

    Long term review of the Vostok Amphibian

    I thought I'd give a long term review of my longest owned mechanical watch, a Vostok Amphibian 420 SE Radio Room.

    First a bit of background and info on the Vostok company and the Amphibian line.

    ISMY posted an excellent thread with a timeline of the history of Watch Factory NK MV 835 now know as Vostok.
    http://www.intlwatchleague.com/showt...-Timeline-****

    The Amphibian came out in 1967-68. For the Amphibian, the designers, Mikhail Novikov and Vera Belova, made a number of interesting design choices which make the Amphibian a bit different from the normal dive watches especially of that time period.

    First the crystal. While most dive watches just try to make to the crystal as strong as possible to hold to the pressure of water, Novikov and Belova carefully designed the thickness and curves of the crystal to make full use of the mechanical properties of acrylic. These design means that under pressure the crystal slightly flattens pushing the edge of crystal tighter to the case.

    Second the caseback. Most dive watches have a one piece caseback that screws down with a small O-ring. This means the sealing surface must be replaced every time the caseback is removed as removing the caseback will distort the O-ring. However on the Amphibian, the designer used a two piece caseback with a wide flat gasket.


    (photo grabbed from the internet)

    This means that the gasket does not need to be replaced if the caseback is removed. While the watch is under pressure, the middle of the caseback is pushed into rubber gasket which actually increases the water pressure at the depth. The designer also found out that normal rubber could not rebound from being compressed quick enough so there was a risk while surface of the watch losing water resistance and leaking. In order to overcome this, new rubber processing capabilities were developed to allow the rubber to recover from compression quickly.

    Finally the crown. The crown is one of the first thing people notice about the Amphibian. It wobbles when it is unscrewed. A watch with a standard keyless works must offer two positions, one for winding and one for setting the time. If you have a screwdown crown, the watch must have three positions as the crown needs to be screwed down with continuing to wind the watch. To accomplish this a clutch is used so that crown can be turned once the movement is fully wound. The standard approach is have the crown spring loaded to so that is pulls away from the stem to keep the clutch engaged.


    (photo from the internet)

    When the crown is fully screwed down, the clutch is disengaged and the stem can not go into the keyworks any further. This means that when the crown is screw all the way down there is constant pressure on keyless work from the spring pushing on the stem.

    In the Amphibian, the clutch is in the crown. When the crown is pulled out slightly, the clutch is no longer engaged and the crown can wobble. However this design has two advantages. Firstly the crownless work is not under constant pressure. Secondly the stem can not be put under lateral pressure which could damage it.


    The Amphibian has come in a variety of case shapes over the years. Currently the cases are made in the following case shapes, 060, 110, 710, 090, 120, 960, 100 and 420. I have owned a 960SE Neptune, a soviet era tonneau case and a 100 series.



    960 SE Neptune (sold cause I don't really like bracelets and this one is integrated. The bracelet however is really nice)



    Soviet era tonneau (sold because the 18mm strap felt to small to me on the case)



    100 series (I sold it cause I never fell in love with the case)

    In 2013, Vostok distributor meranom started offered an upgrade version called the SE. Standard Vostoks have chrome plated brass bezel and very weak lume. The SE offers a stainless bezel and better lume (still not brilliant honestly).

    In November of 2013, I bought a 420 Series SE. The 420 series case is probably my favorite other then the early 150 and 350 cases. It was my first purchase after I joined a watch forum and I wore it everyday for a number of months. Prepare for photo assault.














    Now the Amphibian is never going to be mistaken for a Rolex. The finishing isn't the best but I think it is fairly nice for a $80 watch (what I payed for my SE). I did have problem where it would stop running after a shock (not a large shock) so it had to go back to Russia. I sometimes worry about the QC of Vostok as I have had two have problems (one was Komandiriskie) but I suppose that could happen to any brand. It also seems to me the vintage Soviet built ones are slightly better built. I know Vostok gets a lot of critism for their straps and bracelets (which for the standard bracelet and leather straps is justified) but the stock rubber strap on this is amazingly comfortable. The handwinding on the watch feels fanastic. The watch is just a great size. I bought a dateless one as the Amphibians do not have a quickset. The watch has a number of bumps and bruises now. I still love this watch and I don't see it ever leaving my collection.

    So my basic pros and cons of the Amphibian.
    Pros: Neat designs, great water resistance, fanstatic handwinding, interesting engineering decisions

    Cons: sometimes spotty QC, crappy bracelets if you buy one with a bracelet, lack of quickset date, not brillant lume

    Things that can be a pro or con depending: acrylic crystal (which to me is a pro over mineral glass that are available on other dive watches at this price), wobbly crown, bidirection bezel.
    Last edited by 93EXCivic; Aug 8, 2015 at 05:15 PM.
    Olma, Oris, Vostok, Casio, Smiths, Luch, Elgin, Fossil, Orient

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  2. #2
    Member pepperami's Avatar
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    Fantastic post mate!

    Is really quite ingenious when you look at how they engineered 200m WR into such reasonably priced watches.

    I continually browse Amphibians and all the great case designs could easily leave me with serious funds issues

  3. #3
    Grr! Argh! meijlinder's Avatar
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    Thanks for this excellent write up. Lots of great info, especially the technical information about the very distinctive wobbly crown.

  4. #4
    Renaissance Man SpaceAgeSoul's Avatar
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    An interesting read, thank you for sharing!

    Quote Originally Posted by meijlinder View Post
    especially the technical information about the very distinctive wobbly crown.
    When they know all the facts, I'm not certain why some people still dismiss the wobbly crown as a 'flaw'.

    Not saying you do, just a general observation.

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  6. #5
    MWC is that my watch's Avatar
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    what a great looking review
    one night I dreamed I was locked in my fathers watch, with Ptolemy and twenty one ruby stars mounted on spheres and the primum mobile coiled and gleaming to the end of space and the notched spheres eating each other's rinds to the last tooth of time and the case closed - John Ciardi ...

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  7. #6
    MWC is that my watch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpaceAgeSoul View Post
    An interesting read, thank you for sharing!


    When they know all the facts, I'm not certain why some people still dismiss the wobbly crown as a 'flaw'.

    Not saying you do, just a general observation.
    well has give me some great cheap finds so I hope they continue to think that it is a flaw
    one night I dreamed I was locked in my fathers watch, with Ptolemy and twenty one ruby stars mounted on spheres and the primum mobile coiled and gleaming to the end of space and the notched spheres eating each other's rinds to the last tooth of time and the case closed - John Ciardi ...

    https://emgwatches.com/
    http://www.instagram.com/iyonk_strap/
    http://wristwatchreview.co.uk/

    ЖИЗНЬ НЕ ОСТАНАВЛИВАЕТСЯ, ПРОХОДИТ ТОЛЬКО ВРЕМЯ.
    Russian Watches



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  9. #7
    Renaissance Man SpaceAgeSoul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by is that my watch View Post
    well has give me some great cheap finds so I hope they continue to think that it is a flaw
    You have a point... I won't propagate the rumour that a Vostok with a wobbly crown ain't broke...


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  11. #8
    MWC is that my watch's Avatar
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    I remember I got this for under a tenner as it stated broken crown so will need replacing that was almost two years ago and I have still to replace it
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    one night I dreamed I was locked in my fathers watch, with Ptolemy and twenty one ruby stars mounted on spheres and the primum mobile coiled and gleaming to the end of space and the notched spheres eating each other's rinds to the last tooth of time and the case closed - John Ciardi ...

    https://emgwatches.com/
    http://www.instagram.com/iyonk_strap/
    http://wristwatchreview.co.uk/

    ЖИЗНЬ НЕ ОСТАНАВЛИВАЕТСЯ, ПРОХОДИТ ТОЛЬКО ВРЕМЯ.
    Russian Watches



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  13. #9
    The tonneau case I bought I got for about $20.

    Right now I only have one Amphibian and one Diriskie. But I am planning on adding two new Amphibians before the end of this year. And I have three vintage ones on my wanted list.


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  14. #10
    MWC is that my watch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    The tonneau case I bought I got for about $20.

    Right now I only have one Amphibian and one Diriskie. But I am planning on adding two new Amphibians before the end of this year. And I have three vintage ones on my wanted list.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I would not dare to count how many diriskies are knocking around my place but do need some more fibbis to even the number out
    one night I dreamed I was locked in my fathers watch, with Ptolemy and twenty one ruby stars mounted on spheres and the primum mobile coiled and gleaming to the end of space and the notched spheres eating each other's rinds to the last tooth of time and the case closed - John Ciardi ...

    https://emgwatches.com/
    http://www.instagram.com/iyonk_strap/
    http://wristwatchreview.co.uk/

    ЖИЗНЬ НЕ ОСТАНАВЛИВАЕТСЯ, ПРОХОДИТ ТОЛЬКО ВРЕМЯ.
    Russian Watches



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