The Vostok Amphibia is one of the Russian watches with a large number of enthusiasts in the watchmaking world, and this can be easily explained when considering its features and the interesting history behind it.
There are few automatic diving watches that can withstand depths of 200 meters and cost as little as the Amphibia. Moreover, it is an iconic timepiece that is deeply intertwined with the history of watchmaking.
When combined with a curious design that breaks away from the norms set by the Swiss industry, it becomes a watch that any collector would want to add to their collection.
In this article, we will recount its history and share the specifications and characteristics that make the Vostok Amphibia a truly robust watch for deep-sea adventures.
Índice de contenidos
- 1 ✚ Vostok Amphibia: A History of Challenge
- 2 ✚ Technical Specifications – Vostok Amphibia
- 3 ✚ Design and Characteristics
- 4 ✚ Caliber and Operation
- 5 ✚ Current Versions
✚ Vostok Amphibia: A History of Challenge
In 1967, Vostok received a challenging commission from the Soviet Department of Defense: to produce a diving watch that could match the performance of its Swiss counterparts.
This is how Vera Belov and Mikhail Novikov, both designers at the Vostok factory in Chistopol, were tasked with creating an affordable and robust watch that could reliably function at 200 meters underwater.
However, the Russian designers faced a significant problem—the available Russian machinery at that time was incapable of providing the necessary precision to manufacture such small components.
While the Swiss relied on sheer force, using robust materials and highly precise machining to join the parts, the Russians had to rely on their creativity to devise a system that could withstand the harsh conditions of the depths.
The elegant solution devised by Belov and Novikov involved creating a case back with a threaded locking ring, designed in a way that the back of the watch would push more forcefully against the gasket as external pressure increased.
The acrylic crystal of the Vostok Amphibia functions in a similar manner, flexing with increasing pressure to remain securely attached to the watch without fracturing. This was a meticulously calculated feature by the designers.
And so, they created an economical and reliable watch that perfectly embodies the philosophy of Russian industrial design, where simple and functional designs take precedence over aesthetics. It cannot be denied that the Amphibia fulfills its purpose perfectly: diving.
- Vostok = “East” in Spanish
- Amphibia = Amphibian, an animal that can survive both on land and in water, like a frog
✚ Technical Specifications – Vostok Amphibia
|Crystal Type||Acrylic crystal|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Strap Material||Stainless Steel|
|Diameter||38 – 41 mm (depending on the version)|
|Thickness||12 – 14 mm|
|Strap Width||18 – 22 mm|
|Caliber Features||31 jewels with 19,800 bph, power reserve of 31 hours|
|Precision||+25/-30 seconds per day|
|Water Resistance||200 m / 20 ATM|
✚ Design and Characteristics
Over the 50 years of the Vostok Amphibia’s history, numerous different case designs have been created, and even more variations of dials can be found for each of them.
The Amphibia is not only available with dials in various colors, but each dial can also feature different drawings or graphics with military or diving motifs, which excites collectors of rare watches.
Considering the shape of the case, for the sake of simplicity, they can be divided into two main groups: those with classic styles based on the 1967 model (also known as “Ministry”), which bears some resemblance to the Seiko Turtle, and those with rounded cases.
➤ The Case
The case of the Vostok Amphibia is possibly the most unique part of the watch, as it differs from other legendary diving watches such as the Omega Seamaster or the Rolex Submariner, which rely on brute force to hold the components together.
Instead, the Vostok Amphibia utilizes a two-piece screw-down case back and a thick, flat O-ring gasket. This way, the water pressure itself pushes the fixed part of the case back against the gasket, sealing the watch.
Not only is this better in terms of wear and tear, as there is no need to screw the case back onto the gasket, but it also increases the strength of the seal as the pressure increases.
The gasket is made of sintered rubber, a material that Belov and Novikov obtained from Russian space programs. Its special property is that it can quickly recover its original shape much faster than regular rubber.
➤ The Crystal
Instead of using seals and forcefully gluing it in place as the Swiss brands did, the Russians opted for a more ingenious solution by choosing a flexible acrylic crystal in a domed shape.
As the pressure increases, the shape of the crystal, along with its slight flexibility, causes it to expand and seal the watch dial, thereby increasing the strength of the seal as we dive deeper.
Moreover, due to its shape, the convex exterior of the dial also offers significantly higher resistance under high-pressure conditions.
➤ The Crown
Another part of the watch where the Russians took their own path is the crown. In most diving watches, the crown is always in contact with the movement, which means that a blow could cause the stem to bend and damage the mechanism.
In the Vostok Amphibia, however, there is a clutch system that only engages the stem with the movement when the crown is unscrewed and pulled out to adjust the time.
The rest of the time, the stem remains loose in the case, without any contact with the mechanism, which increases the watch’s resistance to shocks.
As an additional note, this causes a slight wobble in the crown that might puzzle beginners, but it is not a defect; rather, it is a design feature.
➤ The Bezel
The bezel is possibly the only weak point of the design, not because it is loose, but because it is bidirectional and rotates in both directions without offering much resistance.
This makes it less functional underwater, as an accidental bump could turn it and give an inaccurate reading of the dive time.
In some designs, there are no actual numbers or marks on the bezel to calculate the time, although as a decorative element, it is an exclusive design of Vostok that you will not find on any other diving watch.
➤ The Strap
In general, classic Vostok Amphibia watches typically come with robust stainless steel straps, similar to oyster bracelets.
However, being a true diving watch, it is also possible to find it with rubber or even fabric straps, like zulu straps.
✚ Caliber and Operation
Most Vostok Amphibia watches are powered by the Russian-designed and manufactured caliber 2416B. It is a simple and robust automatic movement with 31 jewels and a power reserve of 31 hours.
The remaining Amphibia watches use the caliber 2415 (a dateless 2416) or the 2414A in women’s versions, but all of them are based on the 2416B and have the same specifications.
Its accuracy is around +25/-30 seconds per day, a figure similar to what the 7s26, an entry-level Seiko caliber, can offer.
The 2416 also allows for manual winding by rotating the crown to provide energy to the mechanism.
Another notable feature of this caliber is its 19,800 vibrations per hour, a low frequency compared to other modern calibers, but it does not hinder its ability to maintain high precision with proper adjustments.
Finally, concerning maintenance, Vostok claims that the average service interval for the 2416 is 10 years, meaning it requires minimal maintenance.
✚ Current Versions
As mentioned earlier, the Amphibia is one of the watches with the most design variations. In fact, there are seven main case styles (060, 090, 100, 110, 120, 420, and 710), each with numerous special editions (150 and 960).
Within each case style, there are also numerous dials available with different colors and graphics, although the most well-known designs are the “Scuba Dude” and the “Amphibia Zissou”.
➤ Vostok Amphibia 1967 or 090
The case version that most closely resembles the historical model from 1967 is the 710 style. It is characterized mainly by its shell-like shape, similar to that of a turtle.
- Calibre 2415.01 movimiento automático con 31 piedras y protección contra golpes
- Acero inoxidable satinado con bisel pulido, cristal acrílico, corona atornillada, base atornillada, diámetro 42 mm x 49 mm, bisel giratorio,...
- Correa de eslabones original Vostok con cierre desplegable, 22 mm
- Resistente al agua hasta 20 ATM
- Fabricado en Rusia
➤ Amphibia Zissou
The nickname emerged when Bill Murray appeared in the movie “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” wearing an Amphibia on his wrist. Since then, this design became popular and came to be known as the “Amphibia Zissou.”
The specific model is the 420 case with a blue dial that features a ship’s helm at 12 o’clock and an anchor at 3 o’clock, as shown in the image.
- Reloj del proveedor oficial del Departamento de Defensa de la Unión Soviética
- Sumergible hasta 200 m. Manecillas e indicaciones luminosas
- Movimiento mecánico Vostok de cuerda manual 2416/2416B con 31 rubíes. El movimiento de cuerda completa funcionará durante no menos de 36 horas
- Resistente a los golpes, segunda manecilla central, bisel graduado
- Dimensiones: 46 x 39 x 15 mm, tamaño de lengüeta: 18 mm
➤ Amphibia Scuba Dude
Named for having the image of a diver on the upper part of the dial, precisely at 12 o’clock. In this case, it is a 410, a case style that gained popularity after the release of Murray’s movie.
- Reloj del proveedor oficial del Departamento de Defensa de la Unión Soviética.
- Sumergible a 200 m. Manecillas e índices luminosos.
- Movimiento de cuerda automático Vostok 2416B con 31 rubís (no es necesario darle cuerda a mano, pero sí es posible darle cuerda con el eje de...
- Equilibrio antigolpes (resistente a los golpes), segundero central, bisel giratorio graduado.
- Dimensiones aproximadas: 46 x 39 x 15 mm, tamaño de la agarradera 18 mm.
➤ Amphibia Neptune Coke
The Amphibia Neptune Coke is one of the newest versions in the Neptune collection. It was actually launched in 2018 and represents an aesthetic revolution compared to previous models.
The case is of the 960 type but includes numerous new details, such as the Coca-Cola-style bezel or different, thicker, and luminescent hands. The date window is also placed at 6 o’clock.
It is worth noting that the Neptune collection is named as such because its dials often depict images of the god Neptune, although this is not the case with this specific model.
- Modelo clásico Vostok fabricado por el proveedor oficial del Departamento de Defensa de la Unión Soviética y el Ejército Ruso moderno.
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Last update of links and images on 2023-11-30.