AFG June 2017.
Tochmekh would eventually be dissolved at the beginning of the 2nd Five Year Plan in 1933, three years after 1 and 2GCHZ were established.
|Left. Paul Buhre's shop pre-1917. Right: Tochmekh Moscow shop in 1926.|
So on the 30th of December 1927 the Labor and Defence Council published a decree that charged the Supreme Council of the Peoples Economy to establish a watch and clock factories from scratch.
Pruss did in fact establish, and for a short period run, the MONO (Moscow Department of Education) training facility, which trained teenagers in the watchmaking arts. A high proportion of the students were desitute street children many of whom were female, this infact set a trend whereby the majority of Soviet watchmaking was undertaken by women right up to the present time. In September 1929 the People's Commissariat transferred the MONO organisation to Tochmekh and Pruss was reduced to the role of "General Consultant". By 1937 he was working at the 4th office of Ministry of Defence Industry.
The Dueber-Hampden Watch Company was located in Canton, Ohio, and sold it's watches under the Hampden brand. With no interest in the Hampden or Dueber trade names, they assigned them back to the liquidator.
By April 1930 a steamboat with the Dueber-Hampden equipment aboard had left for Russia. Twenty-eight freight cars full of machinery and parts were transported from Canton to Moscow. These acquisitions were the embryo that helped to establish an impressive industry that still flourishes to this day.
|Aboard the RMS Aquitaine. Photo from William Goodenberger's scrapbook now at the McKinley Library & Museum.|
Below: 22 of the 23 Dueber-Hampden staff who travelled to Moscow. Sue Killen is missing (see below).
|A collection of their Russian colleagues from William Goodengerers scrapbook now at the McKinley Library & Museum.|
There is not evidence that souvenir watches were brought back, nor that they were they given as presentations. Certainly their leader, John C. Miller, was not rewarded this way.
In a radio broadcast on Canton's WHBC station in 1949, it was reported that Karl Krumm had died in October 1949, but that seven of the watchmakers from the Russian expedition, all residents of Canton, were still living; namely, Burt Beebout, James Davis, Alfred Fravel, Victor Roust, Louis Ryman, Albert Shoutz and William Woessner. There was a strong possibility that William Goodenberger was also still living, but that could not be verified.
Short video of the early factory.
Reference: First State v First Moscow argument. When the factory was evacuated the Zlatoust factory was named First State Watch Factory Zlatoust. Both factories were given separate Factory Numbers to distinguish them. This evidence is contained in a document shown later in the story. But confirms that the designation State was still in use up to 1941 and not changed to Moscow until later.
The actual body ordering production is difficult to pinpoint, but was most likely either the Council of Labor and Defence, or the Supreme Economic Council. From 1932 the following Commissariat's and institutes took over direct responsibility.
- НКТП - 1932 to 1936 People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry.
- НКМ - 1936 to 1938 People's Commissariat of Engineering.*
- НКОМ - 1938 to 1940 People's Commissariat of General Engineering.*
- NIIP, NII-5 & NIIChasprom - 1940+ (see below).
* HKM & HKOM appears on the movements of watches from 1GCHZ & 2GCHZ during the dates shown. ** Marine/Aviation chronometer with a NII-5 signed dial is cataloged in Mark Gordon's former collection.According to niichasprom.ru the Institute was established by the order of People's Commissariat of General Engineering in September 1940 as the Research Institute of Instruments or NIIP and later in December 1943 by order No. 459 of the People's Commissariat Mortar Weapons, the Research Institute of the Main Directorate of the Fifth Commissariat of Mortar Weapons or NII-5**. Entrusted with all matters of technical policy in the field of watchmaking. During the Great Patriotic War, the institute continued to operate and carry out state orders for military purposes. Later transformed into Research Institute of the Watch Industry or NIIChasprom.
|Typical Hampden, Canton made, Size 16 movement with its distinctive Twin-Bridge layout.|
The Type-1 in either pocket watch or wrist watch configuration are often referred to as Kirovskie's. However, strictly speaking this should only be used to describe watches made after 1935 at 1GCHZ Kirov. Many post war models made at the First Moscow Watch Factory Kirov, like the Probeda, are also called Kirovskie's.
Some sources site the Lip (see Guest Contributions) collaboration as the foundation of Soviet manufacture, but it wasn't until 1936, when Lip had financial problems back home in France, that Fred Lipmann signed a deal with the USSR to export technology and parts. This was some six years after the start of Type-1 production by the 1GCHZ in Moscow. Lip's modern designs no doubt highlighted the shortcomings of the aged Hampden pocket watch technology, nevertheless, the Type-1 was the first watch to be manufactured in the USSR and was modelled on a Hampden Size 16 movement with the distinctive Twin-Bridge layout (although in fact the two bridges were one piece with a milled out slot in the middle - later in the blog there is an example of a bridge without the slot). It was robust, repairable, accurate and reliable. Furthermore the Type-1 lasted until the 1980's in one guise or another.
Bodrov's decision to buy old technology with which the country could cope was vindicated in testaments found in reports from the mid 30's. With the introduction of more sophisticated watches (Lip), the Soviets desperately tried to recruit hundreds of Swiss and other western watchmakers, as there were too few skilled workers in the SU. Many of these recruits were suffering deprivation from the depression affecting the west, some were idealistic socialists. But the plan failed generally; for one thing the Swiss authorities made emigration difficult, for another the promised Soviet utopia failed to materialise, making life harsh for those watchmakers and their families that had emigrated. In the period leading unto WWII the vast majority returned having all their possessions and funds confiscated at the border.
Pruss was fundamental in this recruitment as he was one of a few Russians with good contacts in Switzerland. He was still convinced that the pocket watch technology approach had been a mistake. In the end his attempts failed and because of his association with foreigners it possibly contributed to him facing a trumped-up charged of spying, for which he paid with his life.
|Local Newspaper report 1930|
Romanov tells us: Amtorg entered into negotiations with a watch works (possibly New Haven), to train 200 of our engineers and technicians, they consented on the provision that the USSR would buy 200 thousand pieces of cheap "dollar" watches. 20 thousand watches were purchased and sent back to the USSR for feedback on their quality. Reviews were negative. These dollar clock were inaccurate and resisted repair.
The country needed a reliable watch with a long life, so the question of the production of "dollar" pocket watches in the USSR was withdrawn from the agenda.
For an understanding of the different early Soviet movements take a look at the guest article, at the end, written by Paul Wąs. Unlike me, he is able to explain the technical details in some depth.
This situation is further highlighted by the document below. Hand, Mainspring, Hairspring and Jewel manufacture was being introduced gradually and 1GCHZ management are tersely stating that without the import of these components production would cease.
Later in the evening the workers and engineers of 1GCHZ gathered in the social club for a conference, to take stock and to discuss their progress and the forthcoming year of 1932, the last year of the First Five Year Plan.
The chairman of the factory committee Sokova (Salkova) welcomed their guests from the 2GCHZ who were, in addition to electric clocks and other timers, now producing alarm clocks and table clocks using the parts and machines from the American Ansonia company.
On on October 1st 1930, "the day of the hammer" we started up the plant. The first year was a learning year for us. We did not fulfil our financial plan, we have made only forty-two thousand pieces of watches. Machines were breaking down and there was no repair shop. There was a shortage of skilled workers. Elaborate rules were not yet established. What rules there were lacked teeth and there was not enough detail. What about the second year? We have solved our bottlenecks one by one. We now have an excellent repair shop and the machines are repaired. Our teaching schools give us trained and well prepared youths. Three thousand rules of operation are now available. By December our plan was fulfilled by 135 percent. These figures, comrades, must be music to our factory!”
“We got an order from the trust to release in 1932 sixty thousand watches. However, the factory workers have put forward a counter-plan for seventy thousand watches, of good quality!”.
I have greatly reduced and simplified the content, which goes into far more detail about the production of watches and discusses the workers inventiveness. Overall I found the book informative, but it isn't possible not to be a little cynical - such as with the last quotation above.
You can find more technical information, and see examples, in the guest article by PMWAS later in this blog.
Two reason why these watches may have not survived.
1). In Romanov's 1981 book on the history of watchmaking he seems to imply that the fledgling industry has troubles enough producing one type of watch. Much of the material was still either imported or not up to the standard used in the US factory, making production difficult. Some of the Canton workshops had not been sent to Moscow leaving gaps in manufacturing facilities. Taking on 4 types was curtailed and the vast majority of effort went into the Type-1.
2). There is anecdotal evidence that during the Great Patriotic War many of the women who wore Type-3 & 4 watches were communist party activists, probably given them as rewards. Ownership of these watches would be a 'poisoned chalice' marking out a wearer, making them especially vulnerable to capture by Axis forces resulting in almost certain death. Once this was recognised many women would seek to discarded their treasured watches and this may well account for the lack of surviving models. Indeed the very early Type-3 and 4 would have been handed out to very high ranking party members as they were ultra scarce. The Zvevda ladies watches from Penza made after 1936 would have been more numerous.
|Kalinin's decree, the root of the Kirovskie! - Translated courtesy DP & Google.|
It was in April 1935 that a third factory, 3GCHZ, was formed in Penza, a city 625 kilometres southeast of Moscow, from the remnants of the old Frunze Plant, using tooling acquired from Lip. The watches they produced were small, modern wristwatch designs which would later be branded under the name Zvezda (Star). Type-1's were never made at Penza.
On April 21st 1935 a decision was made by the Council of Labor and Defense that instructed 2GCHZ to also assemble pocket watches from parts made at the 1GCHZ.
I wonder if these latter events don't conveniently coincide with the assignment of the Kirov name to 1GCHZ Was this perhaps by way of a placation?
|1940 catalogue 1GCHZ & 2GCHZ|
The two Moscow factories came under threat with the Nazi invasion of the USSR, the threat to the Moscow factories initiated evacuations to satellite works, which would eventually take over Type-1 production.
In the main production of Type-1 devices were confined to these factories...
1GCHZ - 1930 - 1941 (Factory 845 after evacuation)
2GCHZ - 1935 - 1941
Zlatoust - 1941 - 197(inconclusive) (Factory 834)
Chistopol - 1941 - 195(inconclusive)
Factory 53 - 1943 - 1945
2nd State Watch Factory 2GCHZ
Researching the history of the Soviet watch industry is not easy, access to documentation is very limited. As a consequence parts of the Type-1 story has been the most difficult to assemble. In addition to the general lack of written evidence, all this happened during a time of what could only be described as organised chaos. Much of what I write is conjecture on my part, combined with valued observations from other enthusiasts. Indeed discussions regarding the Great Patriotic War period are evolving constantly. It does appear that whilst the need to evacuate expanded the number of satellite and new factories, workers were still able to keep the original Moscow factories active, as the threat to Moscow alleviated. Factory 53 (or 853) is probably one of the most difficult area to research. The majority of this information has been derived from the Slava (Second State Watch Factory) site history and I must thank Dorofey Goremykin for her assistance with the translation.
November 26. People's Commissariat of General Engineering of the USSR transformed into the People's Commissariat Mortar Weapons of the USSR.
First State Watch Factory was designated number 845. The Zlatoust factory was numbered 834. Chistapol was numbered 835.
Typical clockwork activated fuses. Left: VZD-6CH TIMING DEVICE. Right: 1936 (40 second) artillery shell fuse.
To date no documented proof of the name change is readily available, perhaps one day one will surface. What is for sure is that a number of cataloged watches, said to be First Moscow, all have First State logo's and I think that speaks for itself.
The Zlatoust factory was responsible for manufacturing Agat Stopwatches and these had their own movement stamp. This stamp can also be seen on later Type-1 movements. The Agat named lived on and still today markets watches (including a good replica's of the Soviet Navy Divers - Vodolaz).
Directors at Zlatoust.
- 1941 - 1948 Ivan Bocharov.
- 1948 - 1954 Nikolay Gurevich (director of the Chelyabinsk watch plant 1954-1969).
- 1954 - 1961 Alexey V. Kazantsev.
- 1961 - 1967 Boris Potapov
- 1967 - 1968 Boris Prokopevich Klimov
- 1968 - 2000 Anatoly I. Goncharenko
Once again the majority of this information has been derived from the Slava (Second State Watch Factory) site history and I must thank Dorofey Goremykin for her assistance with the translation.
The factory was given the number 835 and indeed did not exclusively become a watch factory until after the end of the war.
In reality there was a whole raft of other work going on behind the Vostok doors. Much of this was electronics research and manufacture for the USSR military. With the break-up of the Soviet Union watch stocks were used as payment to some of the sub-contractors. One such supplier was a Lithuanian research institute which sold the watches on the local streets to pay the wages of their employees. This same institute later became Vostok-Europe which perpetuates the brand today.
In the transition period after the 1st and 2nd State Watch Factories started-up, Artels, that had been the main stay of pre-1930 watch repair and maintenance, were still in existence. The two better recorded Artel's in Moscow were ABB, abbreviation of Артель Верное Время (Artel Right Time) and ТМП, abbreviation of Трест Местной Промышленности (Trust of Local Industry). According to their own history the Artel Right Time, ABB, was situated at "Arbat House 5." and were primarily responsible for repairing foreign watches and were staffed by master watchmakers. Both were responsible for the assembly of early Type-1 modified chronograph stopwatches, like my single button example below. To paraphrase Mark Gordon's description... "Engineers added an additional stage to a standard Type-1 pocket watch movement. With a start/stop/reset button at '11'. Note that the Chronograph sub-dial counts elapsed minutes in an anticlockwise direction. This was probably done to minimise the number of gears that needed to be added; additional gears would have increased the thickness of the watch."
|1939 ABB dialed and cased Single Button Chronograph|
|This charter was awarded to a 'masters of our workshop' Yuri Davidovich - |
Artel Right Time 1933. Taken from ABB's history.
|A collection courtesy of Pmwas (WUS/f10 and NAWCC forum). He has reinstated them whilst retaining their originality.|
|Lower left has a clear 1936 - 1939 1GCHZ mark and is in my collection|
|Type-17 dial fonts, hands & logos|
|My own Type-17|
|TYPE-1 MODIFIED STOPWATCHES|
|A collection courtesy of Alex Ballod. Types 2/3/4 have Hampden movements, the Type-2 being a 'Viking' movement, the Type-3 a No. "400" and an "8.0" movement in the Type-4.|
Please look in the appendix, where you will see a 1957 US article about the state of the watchmaking industry in the Soviet Union. It reports on a visit by a British horological delegation and contains interesting facts and figures.
|Pobeda or Victory watch was probably the most prodigious model ever made, anywhere in the world.|
Right: Ironically, a retro Pobeda is worn and promoted by the actor Armie Hammer (see Amtorg) playing a KGB agent.
- Penza Watch Factory (Пензенский Часовой Завод): for a few years from 1945
- First Moscow Watch Factory (First Moscow Watch Factory), 1946 to 1953
- Petrodvorets Watch Factory (Петродворцовый Часовой Завод): 1946 to current time
- Chistopol Watch Factory (Чистопольский часовой завод): 1949 to the c.1950
- Second Moscow Watch Factory (Second Moscow Watch Factory): 1953 to 1964
- Maslennikov Factory - ZIM (Maslennikov Plant): c.1951 to 2004
There is a nice 'Guest Article' about the Lip company, just scroll down.
The Soviets continued their Dueber-Hampden and LIP experiences by purchasing and adapting technology well into the mid-fifties. The production equipment of the Venus 150/152 movement, with corresponding drawings and know-how, was imported from Switzerland to the Soviet Union. The Poljot/Seconda/Strela 3017 chronographs were made at the 1MWF using this equipment.
Walter Lange reported that the Soviet occupiers expropriated the firm in 1948. "The little that was left after the war was taken away by the Soviets, I myself helped packing machines into boxes to be shipped to Russia. At Lange, we had to make sketches to teach the Russians how to make marine chronometers," he said.
There is a myth that American equipment was used to make the first watch in space, that of Yuri Gagarin. By the time his Sturmanskie watch was produced the 1MCHZ factory had been re-equiped and in any case the Canton machines were not suitable of producing such a modern watch.
|So far 4-59 is the most recent Type-1 domestic watch I've seen (the Vodolaz Type-1's went into the 70's)|
Circa 1970 Volodaz watch with fused bridges. The watch, compass and depth gauge are from my collection.
|Left. Cockpit clock from the I-16 Ishak (Little Donkey). Right. KV-1 heavy tank showing clock in centre.|
|Thanks to Phil at 'Russian Times' for the use of this picture|
|Mantle clock. The milky white translucent glass is not adequately captured by photographs|
Sometimes the more a watch is reconstructed from a myriad of parts combinations just proves the quality and durability of the Type-1 and the production system as a whole. The real problem is when such a watch is falsely accredited and a premium is asked. The definition of a Franken (enthusiasts word for a watch made up from different watches - from frankenstein) is a watch cobbled together for the purposes of deception. This differs from a fake which may well have freshly made components, or could even be the complete watch, as in the "copy watch" version of a Rolex. The 191-ChS is a good example where there are original watches, genuine repaired watches, frankens, replicas and fakes.
Dials are plain, especially true of wartime watches. Dials with pictures of tanks, planes, subs, hammer & sickle, Stalin or Lenin are tourist/fantasy fakes.
Other points about dials...
Some dials have a 12 hour chapter ring some have an extra 24 hour ring.
Reverse designs of black dials with white lettering were made for instances where that arrangement aided visibility or stealth.
There are serial numbers stamped into some dial, most likely for military issue.
Radium was used to highlight numbers, hour spots and hands, in the dark.
Most dials are metal (brass), painted and screen printed, however, there were some early paper covered dials.
In my experience factory logo's only appear on the dials of the first four factories to produce Type-1's (see above) and not on the other satellite factories (movements are different, they do all have distinct stamps). Many Type-1's do not have any dial markings at all. In addition I have not seen an authentic Type-1 with a 1st Moscow Watch Factory logo, or 2nd Moscow Factory logo. My observations only.
- First State Watch Factory - 1ГЧЗ (1ый ГЧЗ).
- First Moscow Watch Factory - 1МЧЗ (1ый МЧЗ).
PMWAS discusses the differences in Type-1 movements from factory to factory in his guest article section towards the end.
One way collectors ensure the watch is not a franken is to cross reference the logo on the dial with the movement stamp or style. However, there are exceptions, for example when the Second State Factory first started Type-1 production, they used movements supplied by the First State Factory.
Differences in Saucepan Case Lugs.
|An extract from the 1940 catalog which illustrates the two distinct 1GCHZ & 2GCHZ 15j watches |
(The 1GCHZ watch is stamped 1937).
- Andrey M. Bodrov
- V. O. Pruss
- Heinrich May
- Early Soviet made watch movements
- Steven Weinberg an American worker in a Moscow factory.
- Kenneth Edwards. An American trapped in a Soviet watch factory
- Timely Topics. Article about the Soviet watch industry - Hamilton Watch Co.
Alamerico: The Hammer family (actor Armie Hammer is the latest generation) held three concessions in the Soviet Union. One covered the Alapievsky asbestos deposits; the second, granted in July 1923, was a general trading concession, 8 and the third was the pencil and stationery concession. The Hammers had been trading with the USSR. under a Soviet trading license, since 1918; the concession gave them the right to establish an office in Moscow and represent a number of large American companies. Previous to the grant of the concession, Hammer had been described as the 'Soviet trade representative in the United States'. The Hammer trading concession represented thirty-eight large American companies. These had an aggregate capitalization in excess of one billion dollars, and included Ingersoll-Rand, American Toot Works, Heald Machine, Ford Motor Company, US. Rubber, US. Machinery, and other companies of similar stature. Hammer also made contracts in the United States for the sale of Soviet raw materials. The right was granted to conduct operations independently of the government trade monopoly: quite a remarkable situation, given the vehemence with which the Soviets normally defended their monopoly on trading rights. The only limitation on Hammer operations was that imports into the Soviet Union could not exceed exports. It appears that the Hammer concession was represented within the USSR. by Soviet organizations. For example, in the Northwestern oblast, the concession was represented by the Northwestern Trade Association, which institution carried out all the transactions of the Company. The concession was financed by the USSR.
Amtorg became the first Soviet trade delegation in the US when in May 1924 it was established to assist the USSR’s import and export companies seeking to conduct legitimate trade. It would continue in this role throughout the Soviet era.
Andrey Mikhailovich Bodrov (1896-1938)
The February revolution was in fact the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. It was centered on Petrograd, then the Russian capital. The revolution was confined to the vicinity of the capital and lasted less than a week. It involved mass demonstrations and armed clashes with police and the last loyal forces of the Tsar. In the last days, mutinous Russian Army forces sided with the revolutionaries. The immediate result of the revolution was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire. The Tsar was replaced by a Russian Provisional Government, an alliance between liberals and socialists who wanted political reform. They set up a democratically-elected executive and constituent assembly. At the same time, socialists also formed the Petrograd Soviet, which ruled alongside the Provisional Government, an arrangement termed Dual Power.
We know that after the Civil War Bodrov was rewarded for his loyalty to the Party by becoming the Director of Tochmekh. We have also learnt about his efforts to establish the watch industry. By late 1930 he was transferred to the new State Bearing Plant in Moscow where he again becomes the Director. This was a prestigious appointment in a key industry and one that would require much political diplomacy as at the time different factions were vying for control of decision making. Bodrov was a member of the local Moscow MK (MGK) committee and so nailed his allegiance to them (which may have been the thin end of a wedge, with the more centralised Politburo becoming more prevalent).
From 1936 he was the Director of the secretive Plant No. 192, where radio control devices for torpedo's etc, were being developed. It was probably factional infighting that led the ever paranoid Stalinist's to associate the lack of progress at the Plant with sabotage. All of Bodrov's appointments were clearly political, he was neither an academic or an engineer. During the purges, loyalty, ideology and conscientiousness were no protection and along with many many other Bolsheviks and non Bolsheviks he paid with his life. He was arrested, tried and executed within a month, during the Fall in 1938, on the pretence of participating in counter-revolutionary organisations.
1914 - 1917. Putilov Factory& Okhta Gunpowder Factory.
1917 - 1924. Revolutionary & Civil War Bolshevik.
1924 - 1930. Director of Tochmekh.
V. O. Pruss
He has left us the legacy of his 1937 "Practical Guide to watchmaking, parts 1-4" ONTI NKTP USSR, Leningrad, Moscow, 1937. These publications have stood the test of time and are still used for reference by watchmakers today. Previously, Kann had written two other reference books "A Brief History of Watchmaking" (1926) and "Watches and their application" (1928).
“Its time to shake things up, and we understand that we can become a serious competitor in international watchmaking. However, we must not close our eyes to the fact that the current standard of watchmaking abroad is at such a height that it will require considerable efforts to catch up. We are late starting in the industry, very late, but it is not hopeless, because on our side we have the advantage of a large domestic market. The current consumption of our watches, and all kinds of movements, is negligible compared to the potential future demand. Our people certainly have the innate abilities and talents needed for planning and developing a great watch industry, running like clockwork. At this time our craftsmen are not good enough watchmakers and we need to support them by providing them with the modern means of production and the necessary materials. The State Trust of Precision Mechanics should, first and foremost, serve the watchmakers and meet their immediate needs, by supplying them with materials for manufacturing and repairing watches from our own resources. Currently, this is their most important task as it will free us from buying from other watchmaking countries. With this I conclude in the hope that my modest work, together with the respective authorities in the Russian Federation, will combine to do everything in our power to uplift and develope some of the finest timepieces in the world.”
|Fred Lipmann, born 2nd Nov 1905; died 9th Nov 1996|
|T-18 movement which became the Zvevda|
Early Soviet Watch Movements
What you see above is a late Hampden 16 size movement, from 1930 on known as the Type 1.
This one has a setting pusher installed outside of the factory, no doubt.
|Detent stem this time.|
|The Type-17 with it’s bizarre design.|
I hope you found this write up – covering most early Soviet calibers – at least a little interesting, thanks for reading.
An American watchmaker trapped in the Soviet Union since 1934.
|Kenneth with his wife to his left.|
Kenneth Edwards, (known locally as Kenneth Vladimirovich) now 100 years old, suffered a stroke over 10 years ago which left him unable to communicate with his Russian family and children. 'I am having to learn Russian all over again', he said in a halting American accent, in Zlatoust an industrial Ural Mountains outpost where he worked, for 60 years, at the Zlatoust (AGAT) Watch Factory.
At home in Zlatoust, his wife Zoya, 84, said 'I say something in Russian to him, and he replies in English,’ 'I only understand what he wants to say by his intonation’.
He rarely used English after his wealthy, idealistic, father Willard moved the family from Alabama to the USSR, believing the future lay with Communism. This was in 1934, the year after Franklin D Roosevelt came to power and Kenneth was just 18 years old.
Kenneth's parents and siblings found a way to escape back to the U.S., but he was stuck because his father had insisted his eldest son should give up his American citizenship and hold only a Soviet passport. Willard himself fled as early as 1935 realising his hopes of teaching in 'progressive' schools under Stalin was fantasy. The commissar who recruited him was later shot as an enemy of the people, during Stalins infamous purges. Detroit-born Marjorie, Kenneth's younger sister, managed to get a job with the U.S. embassy during the Second World War and found a way to flee back to America at the end of hostilities. But she could not secure her beloved brother's release.
Early on he joined as a mechanic at the 1st State Watch Factory-Kirov, whose equipment had ironically been purchased from the United States in 1930. In late 1941 during the siege of Moscow, he along with the complete factory was evacuated to Zlatoust. Kenneth lived through the Great Patriotic War (WWII), as a watch factory worker.
Asked at the time if he had regrets, Kenneth said: 'Those are very hard questions. 'I went to school. I learned a trade. I went to the institute. 'I met my wife here, we had two children. Of course, we had many difficulties.'
His return to speaking English instead of his word perfect Russian had stunned local doctors. In 1992, when he had a reunion in Moscow with his sister Marjorie, he had trouble speaking to her because he had forgotten much of his English. He told her: 'I have a Russian wife and Russian children. I speak only in Russian. I think only in Russian.'
Among his neighbours, he is admired. 'He never drank or smoked and he swam each day until he was 90,' said one. Locals say he has managed to retain a respect for both the U.S. and Russia.
These extracts have been compiled by the author from many sources including a Daily Mail (UK) account of 2011.
November - 1957
At present, Russia's horological industry probably rates as the second largest in the world, its output ranking below only that of Switzerland. And if this rate of development is maintained, it is very possible that in a few years she can have the LARGEST watch and clockmaking industry in the world.
STANDARD OF THE PRODUCT
Unlike other watch and clock producing countries, Russia is interested only in the production of 15/17 jewelled lever watches; therefore she probably turns out a higher average standard of watch than any other nation. Even in the manufacture of miniature alarms (which run for one day on a winding) the movements are all-jewelled. The British delegation observed that no pin pallets are made at all. Some time ago, they reported, a pin-pallet wrist watch was put on the Soviet market but it was not successful and apparently "would not sell" even to a timepiece- hungry population. The number of styles in watches is limited and they are mainly simple and unsophisticated. It must be realised that her industry is in competition with no one, for she allows no importation of any watches or clocks. It is interesting to note that the Russian timepieces sell in the shops for as much as 10 to 14 times their actual factory production cost. The high profits that are made go to the national exchequer.
A CENTRAL CONTROL
The control of the whole industry, from the technical point of view, is carried on by the Horological Research Institute in Moscow. It was set up in 1946 to coordinate the design of watches and clocks, the design and building of machinery and to help solve a ll technical, material and production difficulties of the industry. The Institute, which employs over 300 qualified technicians, receives unlimited funds from the government, and through a representative in each factory any problem the plant may have is handled by this technical group regardless of the cost. Because of this central controlling organisation the industry is always ready to design and develop any horological instrument which might be needed by the Soviet Union.
PROBABLE REASONS FOR HIGH PRODUCTIVITY AND QUALITY
The following reasons for Russia's tremendous progress in the industry were submitted in the British report:
No foreign imports, thus no competition.
Workers were only recently allowed to change jobs: to do so even now means loss of certain benefits.
A very high standard of labor in the industry. This may be partly due to the fact that Russian women do much of the heavy work mining, road-building, pneumatic drill operating, etc., so when there's an opportunity for clean, precision work such as the horological industry offers, they try extra hard to do their best. Thus the industry attracts a very high class of labor.
Rigid discipline is imposed on the workers and they accept it willingly.
Unity of purpose through central direction. plus the encouragement and drive of management and political pressure, exhortation and propaganda.
Complete freedom from labor problems and disputes such as strikes. There is no word in the Russian language for "strike."
Criticism by fellow workers for any form of slackness on the job.
Wages set mainly on an incentive basis.
Watch component quality is high, proving the skill of toolmakers and machine setters.
Production is held to a very few types of movements and complete watch designs.
Unlimited capital is available.
High profits which go into the national treasury.
Right now Russia is still meeting her own unsatisfied horological demands within her own boundaries, and exports do not amount to more than 2 per cent of her total production. However, her technical advance in the field is so evident that it cannot be ignored. She is striving for the highest quality and her industry is backed by a strong research organisation. Undoubtedly the world market will one day be the target for Soviet horological domination.
Alternatively, try these links. On the cccp-forum.it you will find a friendly, knowledgeable group of enthusiasts and probably the best documentation outside the old Soviet block.