Sturmanskie Gagarin Automatic Watches

Posted by Craig Hester on Nov 23rd 2020

Sturmanskie Gagarin Automatic Watches

Greetings everyone. Craig Hester here with And thank you for joining us today. As we continue on our journey through all the watches and accessories that are available at If you are watching us on YouTube, be sure and ring that bell. So you'll get those early notifications. When we first post up a new video, if you're watching this on Facebook, you want to join the group Vostok Europe Time Pieces. There will be a link in the description below. It is the best place to find out about what's going on with all the watches at It is a great group with a lot of comradery, and we are now doing a weekly show. We call ChronoSpin, where you can win prizes for answering questions about our watches or general watch knowledge. So you definitely want to join us there each Friday at 4:00 PM at Vostok Europe Time Pieces.

So today we are talking about the one of the newest Gagarin models from Sturmanskie. Now, if you are not familiar with Sturmanskie, Sturmanskie is a Russian watch brand. It is still one of the few true Russian watch brands that we still import watches to North America. Sturmanskie, which means navigator in Russian is based in Moscow. It is one of the early brands that were a part of the Poljot group, Poljot being at one time, the largest Russian watch manufacturer by far. Well actually I guess I'm not really sure. Maybe they was competition in terms of volume between Vostok and Poljot, and maybe one of the guys who was much more knowledgeable about those kinds of things can share in the comments. But nevertheless, Poljot was one of the absolute leaders in the Russian watch industry after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the state funding went away, Poljot folded in the early two thousands.

And out of that grew another company, Volmax, which was actually their distributor at the time and was already building watches for Poljot. And they took over the names, Sturmanskie, Aviator, and Buran. Aviator is now a Swiss brand. So is Buran. They're actually not producing watches under that name right now. Sturmanskie remained truly Russian-based in Moscow at the former First Moscow Watch Factory. And the watches are all still hand assembled there. Now, what we are talking about today is the new Sturmanskies that are the automatics. Now the Gagarin model, I've done many, many videos on the Gagarin models. And I will go into some of the history and the backstory in this video. Cause I do like to do that every time. We shoot a video about the Sturmanskie Gagarin model that said, I'm going to start at the beginning, simply talking about this particular new model and giving some key specs on it.

And what makes this one different than previous ones that Sturmanskie has produced with putting in the more historical stuff and everything towards the end, although I'll pepper some of that in as I go, Sturmanskie the first watch in space on the wrist of Yuri Gagarin. Yes. You've heard me say that probably a hundred times or more if you've been following me over the years. So yes, we are talking about the first watch in space on the wrist of Yuri Gagarin and that's the kind of stuff I'll get into more detail later. But right now, the thing that makes this one special is this is the first time that Sturmanskie has produced an automatic Gagarin. Now that is a very big departure from the way that Sturmanskie has approached the Gagarin commemorative models in the past and currently, they have always used the 2609 Poljot movement, which they still have some new old stock of, which was effectively with some minor modifications, the movement that was in the original Sturmanskie Gagarin watch that Yuri Gagarin wore, which of course wasn't called Gagarin

And at the time it was simply called the Navigator. And it was the watch that was awarded at the end of aviation flight school. When you were joining the Air Force, it was a mechanical manual line movement, the 2609. This is the 2416. And there you can see it. This is the 2416/3805145. In fact, I'll quickly show you the three styles. There's this deep, wonderful military khaki green, which is the 5145. Then we've got the black with that really cool beige on the super luminova. And that is the 5147. And then the one, the light beige, which is the most similar to the original watch that that Yuri Gagarin wore, which is the 5146. So that was a mechanical manual wind time piece. This has the 2416 and is an automatic.

Now it is important to note that it is, even though it's an automatic, it is still a Russian movement. And this one is actually made by the Vostok company in Chistopol, Russia. I want to be clear. Vostok is not the same as Vostok Europe. This movement is not made by Vostok Europe. This movement is made by the Vostok company of Chistopol, Russia, which is the oldest and largest continuously operating Russian watch manufacturer. They still make movements. They still make watches. They built the movements that went in these watches. So these are new movements. They're not new old stock, like the 2609. Now Sturmanskie had been asked many times over the years by collectors. Could you please produce an automatic in the Gagarin? We love the styling. We want to have the originals for sure, with the 2609

That's an automatic. So Sturmanskie finally caved because this is definitely not canon to use our literary term of what the watch was originally with Yuri Gagarin wore. This is something very different because of the fact that it's an automatic. Now that may seem trivial to some of you, you know, who cares? It's an interesting looking watch. Who, what, why does it matter whether it's an automatic or mechanical? Well, some of that comes down to how you view watches, what your relationship is to watch is what are the important aspects for you to watch is how important is it that an historical watch is completely accurate to the history? So I would say we've got another watch that I'm going to be doing a video very soon about, Sturmanskie has also a 33 millimeter, which was the original size of the Gagarin watch has produced a 33 millimeter with the 2609 movement.

That's about as true to the original as you can possibly get. So if you really care about the historical accuracy, you should look for that one coming up very soon. It is available already at, but we will be doing a video about it. But if you are someone, either who just likes automatic watches, now let me be clear. What we're talking about- a mechanical watch means you have to wind it. You're going to wind the mainspring of the mechanical mainspring. You're going to wind it all up until it gets tight. You're going to feel some pressure. You're going to stop whining and the watch is going to be wound. And it's going to run for a couple of days, maybe a little less, an automatic, which is a bit of a misnomer term because it doesn't do this by itself. It does it with the movement of your wrist. But inside here, this is not an exhibition case back. So I can't show you, but there is a rotor. You know what? I can pull it out.

I know what I'll do real quick. I will pull out. Hello, everyone is I go over here, by the way, we still have two of these crazy winders left. If you haven't picked one up, you are missing out because these Vostok Europe Windboxes

are just amazing. So the Energia here from Vostok Europe has nothing to do with the Sturmanskie, I'm only pulling this out to show you the case, the back of the watch. So you can see there's the rotor and that rotor moves with the movement of your wrist and it winds the watch. And that's what makes it an automatic. And that is something that you're then adding on top of a regular mechanical movement done April 12th, 1961 when Yuri Gagarin went into space. So of course it was a mechanical manual wind watch, like pretty much everything else on the planet at that time.

So let's get this back in there and I'm not having a whole lot of luck. There we go, turn it back on. And there we go. So that makes

Automatic as opposed to a manual wind timepiece, the 2416, this is a 31 jule Russian movement in here. It is still truly made in Chistopol Russia. Again, this watch is about as Russian as you can get, that I like to say, you're talking hand assembled, hand assembly in Moscow. Every aspect of this watch ties back to the original story of the Gagarin watch again, save for the fact that it is a different movement. I usually tend to, I try to pick a favorite a lot of times, but I'm really not sure on this one that I tend to default towards the ones that look the most like the watch that Gagarin wore, but in this particular case, I really, really like all three executions sometimes, you know, with every brand we have, you know, they'll put together three, four, five, six, sometimes eight executions, and there's always one or two that just don't do anything for me personally.

And I don't ever say that of course, but I don't want to disparage somebody else's tastes, but in this particular case, there is just, I really like all three. I really like this khaki green a lot. I am burned out on a lot of ways on black dial watches. There are so many out there and I have several in my collection. If you're a collector, you probably have a lot of black dial watches. Nevertheless, with this beige on the key indicator I'm, you know, on the indicators on the one through 12 on the ring, giving a different pop of color, you know, I really like it. And then of course there is for the purist or the one who wants to be the closest to the original Gagarin watch. Here it is in the beige. Now the original watches were actually started being built in 1949.

And they were originally built only for the USSR, or, the Soviet air force. In fact, it was 1957 when Yuri Gagarin was awarded his watch when he graduated aviation flight school and joined the Russian air force. So actually his watch was four years old when he wore it into space. And one of the things I don't talk about a lot is they really, well, first of all, let me back up a little bit. One of the things I love about the Gagarin story is that his watch was not planned. Okay. If you think about the Omega and Bulova stories that are tied to the American space race, and, and what we did to put those watches in space and on the moon, those were preplanned. That was,


That was a marketing strategy by both of the watch companies and NASA, there was no marketing have this kind of thing in the Soviet union at this time. So this just happened to be Yuri Gagarin's watch, which I just love that. I just loved that the happenstance, because it was the watch he was awarded when he graduated flight school, it was the watch he wore into space. And that just makes me smile because it's such happenstance and I've loved that part of this story. They did actually, after his flight, they did take the watch and they tested it and it actually performed flawlessly in space, which now they didn't have any clue what would happen. I mean, you know, there hadn't been watches in space before, so they had no clue whether it would affect the mechanical timekeeping or not, would it cause problems,

I mean, you're talking radiation, you're talking, G-forces, you're talking all of the things that go into, you're talking a parachute landing, which I'll get to that in just a minute. You're talking about all the things that go into space, travel and space flight that had never been done before. And when the watch came back, it was working perfectly. So, we proved then that watches could do well in zero gravity. In fact, watches are a huge part of the worldwide space program, but certainly within the U S you've got, you know, the Omega connection, you've got the Bulova connection in Russia, you have the Sturmanskie connection, you have the forest connection, the Sturmanskie Ocean, which we're going to be talking about in greater detail too, because they, those are coming back with the 3133 movement.

Those went up in many, many, many times in Russian space exploration history on the wrist of cosmic knots and astronauts, the 31 33 oceans. Um, so this was the first time that they really were able to test a watch in, um, in zero gravity. And again, they were able to demonstrate that it would perform quite well. Now, some other aspects, these are all a limited edition of 2000. They do have the etching of Yuri Gagarin on the back, which of course the original didn't actually I happen to have the 33, I happen to have the 33 millimeter here. Don't you love my high quality box that I got everything packed away. And I'm going to show you the original Gagarin. This obviously not his watch. I'd love to have that. That'd be worth a pretty penny. This is one of the originals, just someone picked up.

actually I'll give a shout out to Jason blood who allowed me to borrow this. He picked this up from the Ukraine. This is an actually one from the early era. So you can see what one of the original Gagarins would have looked like. And there is absolutely nothing on the case back. It was a completely empty case back come back either if it's not listed yet at R2Awatches on YouTube or on the website, it will be within the next few days, a video about the new 33 millimeter. Yes, his watch was 33 millimeter Gagarin from that period. Now this is not the one that's for sale coming from Sturmansky. This is actually one of the original ones from that era, because of course they produced a lot of them. As I mentioned, they started producing them in 1949. They were produced only for the military, and then they later released them to the public.

So there's a lot of these out there. You know, that you can still pick them up on eBay. Now. They may not be perfect. A lot of people have redialed, maybe hands have been changed. Things have happened over the years. It's hard to get your hands on a truly perfect one, or a totally original one, but they are still out there. So the main thing I mentioned, the parachute, I love talking about the little details and it's actually interesting to the things I've gotten wrong over the years. I had it stuck in my head for the longest time that the original Gagarin was 36 millimeter. And I would argue with people who said it was 33, and I don't know where I found that data. And I got it stuck in my head that it was 36, I guess I found it hard to believe that a man would wear a 33.

Although I have to say it looks and feels bigger than I expected when I saw that they were going to be producing a 33 millimeter, but that's a story for another time. But one of the things that I learned, I had the 36 millimeter thing wrong, but one of the things I learned in my research about Gagarin was the way the Russians brought, you know, we did a splashdown, but the Russians, they actually objected in the air and they parachute landed and they were worried that it wasn't going to be able to be correctly recorded as the first space flight, because the international aeronautical, whatever. I don't know that I can't, I don't remember the exact name, but it was the organization of smart people who think they're better than other people who make these decisions had made a decision along at it previously that for a flight to count, the pilot actually had to land with the vehicle since Gagarin actually parachuted out of the space vehicle and landed on land, which by the way, they always made sure they had a, they had a shotgun when they landed in Siberia for bears.

That's just a whole other story, only in Russia, that they wouldn't be able to count it, but they made an exception and they were able to count Gagarin's flight as the first space flight, even though he landed separate from the vehicle, this is a 40 millimeter time piece. I didn't mention that earlier. All of the Gagarin commemoratives except for the new 33 millimeters are 40. They don't go any bigger than 40. I don't here. You can see 38.9. And some of it was just a matter of how you put the caliper on there. And then this is actually going to be a little bit thicker at 13.5. They're usually 12 millimeters thick, like the original 13.5 here because of the rotor makes the movement have a taller level. What's the word I'm looking for? It's raised higher on the back of the watch.

There's I'm sure I could make that much more articulately accurate. Another thing too, Sturmanskie has really stepped up their strap game lately. I really, really, really liked these straps on the new Gagarin's, the new automatic Gagarins and on the new 33, it's a soft supple leather. It's a very simple, nice look. I kind of actually liked it. They didn't do the full contrast, stitching down the lines on this one. This is a really cool and different straps than the previous ones. So there you have it. This is the Sturmanskie Gagarin, automatic mechanical. And again, if it's automatic, it's a mechanical, mechanical can be manual, wind or automatic. They're both mechanical. Some people that's one of the things people tend to get confused. I think if you say mechanical, you mean automatic, excuse me. You mean manual wind? That's not necessarily the case. Anyway, here it is. The 2416 from Sturmanskie, the original Gagarin styling, but with an automatic movement, for those of you been asking about that in three styles, let me quickly show you quickly before we run out of time here, I'm gonna to quickly show you how it looks on the wrist. I'll take off the one I'm wearing. I said I would get better about wrist shots. There's your 40 millimeter on the wrist, Sturmanskie Gagarin, till next time. I'm Craig Hester. Keep watching.