Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review of Poljot ‘Sturmanskie’ Russian Pilot’s Chronograph

At a Glance:

Brand/Model:  Poljot Sturmanskie
Movement:  Russian manual wind
Material:  stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  date display, chronograph timing up to 30 minutes in one second increments
Price:  $250 USD


Plenty of photos follow the review!  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

I’ve been intrigued by the Sturmanskie series of Russian chronographs manufactured by Poljot ever since seeing one in person at my friend Monty’s house about two years ago.  The Sturmanskie is billed as ‘the official Russian pilot’s chronograph’ and carries the logo of the Russian Airforce on the dial.  I enjoy the colorful dials, the nifty chronograph subdials and the overall purposeful look of these watches. 

This Poljot Sturmanskie arrived brand new from Moscow and is available in both black and grey dials.  I like grey dials so I opted for this color.  The Sturmanskie is all satin finish stainless steel with a flat mineral crystal and a screwdown display back, individually numbered in a limited edition of 999 like seemingly every Russian watch made.  All the wording on this watch is in Cyrillic, which gives it even more character. 

Case diameter is 38.7mm without the signed crown, 42.7mm inclusive of the crown.  The crown itself is a nice size and slightly large for the case size.  The crown measures 5.8mm in diameter.  Case thickness is 12.7mm, lugs are 20mm.  The watch is factory rated for 3 ATM of water resistance. 

Fit and finish on both the movement and dial are acceptable and under an 8X loupe exam, no defects or dirt were observed, with the exception of some grime on one of the gears as seen in the photos.  Don’t expect a high level of finish on the movement, but it works just fine.

Inside the Sturmanskie ticks the venerable Poljot 3133 manual wind chronograph movement.  With 23 jewels, a 21,600 bph heart and a stated accuracy of -20/+40 seconds per day performance stat, this movement easily accomplishes the task at hand, that being rugged, reliable timekeeping with the added bonus of a 30-minute stopwatch.

The Sturmanskie has a great looking grey dial with white chapter ring with printed minute markers.  There are applied silver and black markers at each five minute mark (except for the 3, 6 and 9 positions where only a lume dot is present), each with a lume bar at the outer edge.  The main hands are simple black with inset lume and are easy to read.  Lume is bright and of decent quality, it’s nice to see Russian lume improving. 

A non-quickset date resides at 6 o’clock.  The main chronograph seconds hand is red and sports a nifty arrow-style tip.  The subdial @ 3 is the chronograph’s 30-minute totalizer and features a small red hand with arrow-style tip patterned after the chrono seconds hand.   This subdial features alternating white and grey sections every five minutes.

The subdial @ 9 is the main seconds hand for the watch and features a black arrow-style hand and a white minute track around the entire circumference of the subdial.  Both subdials are slightly recessed and feature the circular ‘record’ style patterning found on many watch subdials, a subtle but nice touch.

The black Sturmanskie wording in Cyrillic appears below the 12 o’clock position and the colorful Russian Airforce logo sits above the date window @ 6.

A fixed tachymeter bezel with engraved numbers encircles the entire watch face.

Since its arrival at my testing lab, the Poljot 3133 movement has performed within spec, running on the +40 second per day side.  Suffice to say timekeeping is acceptable, albeit a tad fast.  Chronograph start, stop and reset actions are precise and have a good feel to them, with an audible and slightly grainy ‘click’ to the chrono pushers, which also sport faux screwdowns on them.  Power reserve is an astonishing 66.5 hours on a full wind, outstanding considering the somewhat smaller case size and overall movement size of 31mm.

This watch arrived with a completely out-of character brown faux croc-print strap which did not go at all with the rest of the watch.  I removed this strap and installed the 20mm black leather Di-Modell strap as shown in the pictures.  This color combination looks worlds better.

The watch arrived in perfect condition from the seller in Moscow, transit time was about two weeks via Russia Post.  A simple reddish-brown wood/particle board box with white outer cardboard box was the entire presentation, neither box was signed and no tags or documentation were included with the watch.  Plastic crystal protectors were installed front and rear, though.

Street price is about $250 USD on this watch, budget a bit more for shipping and for a new strap if you don’t like the one that comes from the factory.

Overall, this Poljot Sturmanskie is a unique, fun and rugged little chronograph that will grow on you everyday.  Joie de vivre!  It has the immitigable Russian charm that makes owning Russian watches a pleasure and backs up its sporty looks with yeoman-like performance and timekeeping abilities.

Pros:  Russian through and through, reliable Poljot 3133 movement, two-register chrono good looks, perfect size for those looking for a smaller chronograph, outstanding power reserve

Cons:  A heftier crystal would be nice as would a true quickset date, weird strap color from the factory

Verdict:  This Sturmanskie is a winner, from the great looking dial to the joy of a hand-wound chronograph movement, this watch exudes Russian pride while providing true value in a mechanical chronograph.  Bravo!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!

-Marc

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