Slava

Slava was originally a brand name used by the Second Moscow Watch Factory. Today, although the Slava name is still being used, some of these watches are produced by Chinese / Hong Kong factories; you can read more in Wikipedia here.

As far as electric watches are concerned, Slava were very good at copying Western designs; they produced a copy of the Accutron 214 known as the “Slava Transistorized” but this page is about a much less well known Slava Electric….

A Watch Forum friend of mine sent me this short YouTube video clip of watch production in 1961 at the Second Moscow Watch Factory. At about 0:41 into the video, it shows a worker dropping a battery into an electric watch which then immediately starts running. The interesting thing about this sequence is that the movement has contact and trip wires very similar to the world’s first electric watch, the Hamilton 500.

Prior to seeing this video, I thought the only other movement to use such wires was the Epperlein 100 Prototype — another rare watch. In the late 1950’s, Hamilton and Epperlein were in partnership and Hamilton made the trip and contact wires for Epperlein. So to see a Russian movement with similar wires was surprising and clearly needed further research.

Firstly, I managed to contact the person who mixed the video above and gain his permission for using this on my site: many thanks Sergei Frolov! Secondly, I emailed “Chascomm” (well known on many watch forums) who is a fountain of knowledge with regard to Chinese and Russian watches and he suggested it might be the Slava 114ChN model.

Having got a model number, Google came to the rescue and I ended up on the Russian Forum on Watchesuseek.com (WUS) where I met Sergiy Zorin. He was asking questions in 2008 about his Slava 114ChN, but more importantly, he had posted photos. Even better, he answered my emails and has given me permission to use these photos on this site — many thanks Sergiy!

Slava 114ChN (version #1)

The first set of photos are of Sergiy Zorin’s Slava 114ChN watch:

 

The second set of photos are of an Italian collector’s Slava 114ChN that I serviced in April 2015.  Clearly these two examples have the same case, dials and movement:

Looking at the two 114ChN movements above, although they have the characteristic Hamilton 500 trip and contact wires, it is clear that they are not an exact copy of this Hamilton movement….but neither are they a copy of the Epperlein 100 Prototype but rather a mixture of both. The following montage shows the four related movements; I’ve tried to summarise the differences below the montage.

  • Top Left: Slava 114ChN (version #1)
  • Top Right: Hamilton 500
  • Bottom Left: Epperlein 100 Prototype*
  • Bottom Right Epperlein 100 Production

* I’m indebted to Guenther Ramm for the photograph of the Epperlein 100 Prototype.

Comparison of Hamilton 500, Epperlein 100 Proto, Epperlein 100 and Slava 114ChN

Comparison of Hamilton 500, Epperlein 100 Proto, Epperlein 100 and Slava 114ChN

  1. Hamilton 500 has a completely different battery clamp compared to the other three. 114ChN shares a similar battery clamp to both Epperleins.
  2. Hamilton balance cock is very different to the other three. 114ChN shares similar shaped balance cock to both Epperleins.
  3. 114ChN, Hamilton 500 and Epperlein 500 Prototype all have the characteristic trip and contact wires. Epperlein 100 Production does not.
  4. 114ChN has a shunt bridge shaped very similar to the Hamilton 500 one. The Epperlein 100 Prototype has a very unusual (unique) shaped shunt bridge.
  5. 114ChN looks to have an identical balance to the Hamilton 500…which is not the same as the Epperleins.

Also found on WUS was a PDF copy of the 1960 Second Moscow Watch Factory Sales Brochure and it has a small section on the Slava 114ChN. The following scan shows part of this brochure and although the black-and-white photo of the movement is not great, it is clear that this movement is not the same as in the two Slava 114ChN movements shown above. In fact, this movement, which I’m calling Version #2, appears to be an very similar to the Hamilton 500 movement:

Slava 114ChN in Brochure

Slava 114ChN in Brochure

Having found a brochure with a different 114ChN movement, the question was if this movement ever reached market or was it only the Epperlein-type movement that reached production. The question was soon answered when an example of this brochure-type 114ChN movement appeared in a watch for sale on a Russian auction site. The price was high, auction in Russian and the seller would only sell within Russia…but with the aid of Alexey Kobtsev who acted as a proxy buyer (thanks Alexey!), I managed to obtain this non-working example, and as you can see below, the movement at first sight is identical to a Hamilton 500 movement. In addition, I now think the movement in the video at the top of this page is this Hamilton type rather than the Epperlein type; you can just make out the differences.

Slava 114ChN (version #2)

The above movement was not running when I bought this watch: the balance staff was broken and the coil was open circuit. So in addition to addressing these issues, I carried out a detail comparison between each part of this 114ChN movement and the equivalent Hamilton 500 part. This photo essay is described in the Hamilton section.

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