The Moscow Olympics of 1980 are etched in my memory. I was ten years old when they took place and obviously didn’t understand anything about politics (much the same as now) and I didn’t know until several years later that these Games had been boycotted by nearly 60 countries, led by the US. The boycott was a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
But for me, the important thing was seeing our athletes competing in that far-off land, so exotic in my imagination, and undoubtedly what I liked more than anything was the Games’ mascot. Who from my generation doesn’t remember the adorable Misha? It was the first “official” mascot from the modern Olympic Games and in my mind it was linked to a Japanese “anime” series even though in reality it had nothing to do with it…
Clearly any global events provide a good opportunity to collect commemorative merchandise and for me (who would have believed it) that meant watches. And so, I’m going to show you two watches that I acquired (that doesn’t mean there won’t be more) that will satisfy, for now, my little trip down memory lane.
The first one is a Slava 2428, which as we can see in the image below, has the symbol of the Games printed on the dial.
Most of the watch manufacturers brought out “special editions” to commemorate the Games. These models had significant differences in terms of the dial and case back, but they did resemble the watches that were part of existing catalogues, as we can see in the following image.
I need to mention briefly its caliber, perhaps one of the most interesting calibers developed in the USSR. If I’m not mistaken, this caliber was first seen in 1973, designed in its entirety by Slava and noteworthy for its double mainspring barrel. Its technical characteristics are shown in this link. Opinions about this caliber amongst Russian/Soviet watch aficionados are divided. I can say, without a doubt, that we are talking about a superb, beautifully made movement, albeit one that lost much of the build and materials quality when the Soviet Union collapsed; Slava was forced to reduce its manufacturing costs and began to market, and possibly make, its watches in China.
It seemed impossible to imagine then, when the whole family was glued to the television watching our basketball players in action, that I would be writing this article today. Etched in my memory is the nail-biting basketball game when we lost the chance to win a bronze medal, defeated 117-94 by the host nation. I remember, as if it were yesterday, Epi, Sibilio, Wayne Brabender, Fernando Romay… Tkachenko, Belov…
But let’s get back to the watches. The next one is a Vostok 2409A. What I like about it is the case with its characteristic lugs, which hide the fixing for the strap. In this case, the Olympic symbol is displayed very differently to that seen on the Slava.
The engraving on the case back also shows its Olympic connection. Its caliber, as suggested by the watch name, is the 2409A. We can see in the catalogue the previous model on which this special edition was based.
As I have previously mentioned, all the manufacturers produced these commemorative models, which would be a good enough reason in itself to collect these pieces. Here are a few examples:
I can’t sign off and finish this short article without adding the following video. Seeing it makes me emotional all over again…