07/06/2020

Vostok Amphibia Type 119 – Second Generation

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In our earlier article about the Vostok Amphibia we introduced the first model developed, the Type 350, of this magnificent and iconic dive watch, which has gone through a number of iterations since without losing an ounce of its character.

Today I would like to introduce the Amphibia Type 119, the second generation and possibly the one that saw most units manufactured given its market success and the large number of versions that exist. However, before going into details, let us take a trip down memory lane.

At the end of the 1960s, a couple of Soviet engineers, Mikhail Fedorovich Novikov and Vera Feodorovna, were entrusted with the development of a dive watch for the Soviet Navy, which would also be suitable for wearing out of the water. This might appear like a somewhat superfluous requirement, but those in the know about Soviet horology, or those who read us regularly, will understand that the main objective was to replace, or at the very least modernise, the equipment of the time, as exemplified by the impressive ChS 191 Vodolaz.

Mikhail Fedorovich Novikov and Vera Feodorovna, working at the Chistopol factory, renamed “Vostok” (Boctok, in Cyrillic), created a submersible watch, with a greater depth rating than the ChS 191, and which was additionally for use out of the water. Hence its name Amphibia, due to its versatility, robustness and, I believe we should add, its “modernity”. We must not forget, and this is important, that the Amphibia is a genuine Soviet product, and one of the clearest examples of the development of its watchmaking industry, because, as we explored in the previous post, there was no recourse to any foreign patents to come up with its simple, yet highly effective, design.

Following this brief introduction, let us examine the Type 119.

First of all, I have to inform you that I have been unable to unearth any documentation whatsoever that explains what technical considerations might have justified the development of this second-generation Amphibia, with such a different case from the first model. I have thought much about this. Maybe it merely reflected aesthetic considerations, given that these “tonneau” cases dominated the dive watch scene of the 1970s. In the following images we can see some examples of this.

Whatever the reason might have been, the first documentation that we know of showing the Type 119 is from 1979, although it is perfectly possible that it was released a few years earlier.

It is pretty obvious that the principal distinguishing characteristic of the Type 119 is its “tonneau” case, which leads to a more imposing appearance than the round one used for the Type 350. Measuring 39 mm x 47 mm, it is a rotund watch. Below we can look in further detail at the specifics of this case type.

The following catalogue, where we find significant evidence of the watch in question, is from 1980.

In this document we can see up to three different models. And sure enough, during the decade or so when they were manufactured, different models were launched with this case type, the oldest (or so we understand) being the one shown in the top left corner of the image.

If we look closely, we can establish that the Type 119 shared certain features with its predecessor, the Type 350. We would certainly include the rounded crown among them and, although it is hard to appreciate from the images, the fact that it uses the same crystal. This type of crystal was, in fact, abandoned later and replaced by a more common type, which had a more pronounced dome, and which is still used in the current Amphibia line up. It has always struck me that some models were signed with the quality seal of the USSR, whereas others were not, as shown in the catalogue image shown above. Thanks to surviving catalogues, and their dates, we can ascertain that these two versions coexisted for a period.

If there is something that has always impressed me about the Amphibia, it is that however much the case type might have changed, the original principles of efficiency and engineering established by the watch creators were never abandoned.

If we observe the interior of the watch, we can see that this second-generation Amphibia was very much like its predecessor, with the same water-resistant elements, following the original principle of “dynamic impermeability” that we have already cited on a few occasions. The caliber is the same as that used in the first generation, the proven and efficient manual-wind Vostok 2209 caliber. You can see the full specifications here.

In this case, there is an additional soft iron cover that provides certain anti-magnetic protection. It is of note that only those models that advertised this novelty on the dial had this protective cover.

As indicated above, we can establish (thanks to catalogue evidence) that there was a large variety of models with this type of case.

Just as occurred with the Type 350, the Type 119 had a military variant, with a slightly different case and an increased water resistance of 300 m. For the same reasons outlined in the Type 350 article, I am not aware of which one was developed first. Here you will be able to find more information about this military version. In the image below we can see the differences between the two models.

I would like to highlight that the 200 m models were used as issue watches by the Polish Navy and likely also by the Soviet one, although I only have proof of the former. In Mr. Mateusz Piechnik’s book we can find plenty of graphical material about this.

Below, we can see some old Soviet footage that shows the Type 119.

I would not wish to end this post without mentioning Dmitry Buyalov, who took inspiration from the Type 119 to design the special editions commemorating the anniversary of the birth of the Amphibia.

Unfortunately, these beautiful versions (of the Amphibia 1967) are sold out. However, if you are interested in purchasing a contemporary Amphibia, be sure to use the discount code (sgc5) which meranom.com has kindly offered our readers. Moreover, if you access the site via the included affiliate link, you will be helping the safonagastrocrono project.

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