Once upon a time, a watch aficionado sat eagerly awaiting the arrival of a shipment of watches that had been sent to a foreign land for repair. He had plenty of watches, but he liked to make sure the most important ones were in perfect condition, without even the tiniest of defects. And so it was that his watches had been sent to be fixed.
The anticipated parcel contained five repaired watches, plus one more that had been bought there, a 17-jewel Sturmanskie Gagarin, on their way back to the welcoming arms of our collector.
The parcel left the country of repair, but never arrived at its destination. It was summer and the vacation season. The few employees still at work were likely busy, or maybe the temporary seasonal workforce had limited experience. Whatever the reason, weeks went by, then months, and there was no sign of the parcel. Several letters of complaint later, there was still no news of it. That parcel contained Russian watch grails: a Vostok NVCH, a Raketa Amphibian, a Poljot Aeroflot, a Sportivnie, a Poljot Signal and the 17-jewel Sturmanskie Gagarin.
The contents of the parcel are shown in the image below.
When this happened, it was not a particularly good time for our collector. This loss did not help. It was not only the financial loss but the emotional distress he suffered when he thought of the efforts he had taken to obtain the watches, how he had treasured the times he had worn them and the wonderful pictures he had taken of them. He shared his sadness with a handful of close friends.
Time went on and, little by little, he began to recover. He decided to try to replace the lost pieces; he did not know how long it would take or if it was even possible. Unicorns are hard to find.
He saw a Raketa Amphibian for sale, but the seller did not deliver abroad. He wrote to the seller to beg him to make an exception and luckily the seller agreed. The deal was struck. It was his practice to let sellers know that their parcels had arrived and how pleased he was with the contents. This time he also told the seller about his lost watches. The seller was very sympathetic and they continued to correspond on and off.
Time passed and he saw a first-generation Vostok NVCH on an auction website. The initial price was reasonable for a watch in good condition, but he saw that the dial had a small defect. He was unsure and in the end did not bid, but that night he could not sleep and was kept awake questioning why he had stopped himself from bidding.
The following day he spoke to one of the friends who knew of his original loss, lamenting how he had not dared to bid for the watch and was now regretting it. His friend lived in another part of the world and, to his surprise, he told our collector that he had successfully bid for that very watch. Can you imagine such a coincidence? After some discussion, his friend convinced him to take the watch for the same price that he had paid the night before at auction.
And now your narrator has to go for a drink of water… Is everybody still here? Let us continue then.
More time went by and he came across a 17-jewel Sturmanskie Gagarin in pristine condition, being advertised for sale by yet another of the friends he had told about the loss, on behalf of an elderly collector. The asking price was excessive; he made an offer well below this, which he considered reasonable, but gave him little hope of success. His friend advised him to negotiate with the seller directly so he wrote a heartfelt letter explaining what he could afford to pay and the reason for his interest. He also told the seller that he would understand if it was sold to someone meeting the asking price.
Shortly afterwards, the Sturmanskie owner wrote to him, making him a counter offer that included the Sturmanskie Gagarin as well as a Poljot Aeroflot, and he accepted what he considered to be a fair deal. The following day he thanked his friend for facilitating the sale; he in turn congratulated our collector because he had never seen a Sturmanskie in such good condition. His friend also told him what a good person the seller was because, although he had received higher offers, he had preferred to help rebuild the lost collection.
Yet more time passed. It took some time to find a Poljot Signal and a Sportivnie that were not over-priced or in poor condition, but after much searching, he finally succeeded.
And so our fairy tale comes to an end. It was written for the good people who helped our collector either directly or indirectly, and also for collectors who appreciate the beauty of these watches, the quest to replace them and the story and experiences that each watch has to tell.
May they all live happily ever after.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!