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Constructing A Vostok-Europe Watch

Posted by Craig Hester on

This video goes into detail of how every Vostok-Europe watch is hand assembled in Vilnius, Lithuania. Click on bottom pic to watch video. Every Vostok-Europe watch is hand assembled by a team of 7 watchmakers at their facility in Vilnius. The process takes days to complete and each watch goes through a 32 point inspection process before leaving the plant, including a multi-day trip in the world's largest watch winder -- if they are automatic.

vostok-europe watch construction process

Vostok-Europe, based in Vilnius, Lithuania, builds watches designed for going to extremes. Professional grade dive, pilot and racing watches alongside other rugged, sports timepieces ready for all conditions.

To achieve the level of quality required for this, Vostok-Europe conducts strict construction and quality control procedures at every step of the manufacturing process. This all starts with insisting that every watch bearing the VE name is hand-assembled in their factory in Vilnius. VE employs seven full-time watchmakers, with combined experience of more than 150 years, to construct each watch by hand.

The quality control process begins before the units actually enter assembly, with each component being inspected individually and all watch movements – the engines of the timepiece – being tested for accuracy and durability before they are mounted into the case, which refers to the outer metal housing.

Each watchmaker can complete 15 to 20 timepieces per day, depending on the complexity of the movement, the case and materials of the watch. Simple math demonstrates that Vostok-Europe is a boutique brand focused on quality over quantity, with a maximum of 25 to 30 thousand watches per year passing through the hands of their skilled watch technicians – a fraction of larger watch companies.

Over the years, both to save money and ensure only the best possible results of construction, Vostok-Europe has employed several unorthodox methods and tools. One simple example is having custom case back wrenches built – used for screwing the case back of the watch on the case to protect the movement. The case back is a separate, usually flat metal part that allows for access to the unit's mechanisms in the future. This is one of the final steps in the fabrication process.

Rather than acquiring Swiss made adjustable wrenches, which may be prone to slippage and scratching the case material, VE uses tools that are a perfect fit for each case back from the different model lines that are constructed by a local tooling company. A simple, less expensive and effective way of dealing with the arduous task to tightening a case back effectively on a watch without scratching it in the process.

Once assembly is complete, each watchmaker then tests the timepiece again for accuracy before is goes to another group of technicians for additional scrutiny. In the case of automatic watches, this includes a multi-day trip in the world's largest watch winder – an 8 drum rotating behemoth that is capable of holding 1,200 watch heads (watches without straps) at a time. This is another unexpected and specialty apparatus Vostok-Europe employs.

Originally housed and the First Moscow Watch Factory in Russia, the original home of Poljot, the massive, custom-built winding machine was built in 1973. When Poljot shut down in the mid- 2000s, the winder was gifted to VE but the cost of transportation across two borders without official paperwork was substantial. Rewired and rebuilt, the workhorse is a critical component to Vostok-Europe's construction process.

Once the units have been fully wound, they are then again each individually tested in a 6-position timegrapher, which is a device with a microphone which “listens” to the heart beat of the watch to ensure it is keeping proper time. Each automatic watch mainspring, the drive train which propels the time keeping, has a particular number of vibrations per hour.

The timegrapher tests that the “beats” are marking the time correctly and gives a readout of the results. The multiple positions for testing simulate the movement of the wrist as mechanical watches – those with jeweled movements and a winding spring – will keep different time depending on their angle. If a watch fails this test, it then goes back the watch maker for adjustment. No timepiece will leave Vostok-Europe that does not pass the 6 position timegrapher test.

The final hurdle for the timepieces of VE before they can pass inspection is the water resistance test. This is particularly vital as almost all Vostok-Europe watches are professional grade dive watches, meaning they are 200 meters water resistant or more. VE owns 4 pressure testing devices that cost roughly 12,000 dollars each. These machines use compressed air to test the strength of all the seals on the watches to ensure they will pass the threshold set for testing. If they fail, there is a backup device that uses actual water to find the source of the leak – which really just means looking for bubbles – and then they correct it.

For the top-line dive watches, VE includes a copy of the testing results with each unit so the owner will know their watch met their strenuous testing requirements. This readout also carries the limited edition number that corresponds to each watch hand written on it.

From start to completion, each Vostok-Europe hand-assembled timepiece and undergoes a 28-point inspection process before they are shipped to the companies 32 worldwide distributors. This ensures that each Vostok-Europe watch will live up to the promise of going to extremes!

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