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Vostok Amfibia Reef

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  • Vostok Amfibia Reef

    I haven't seen many Russian watches in this forum. I briefly considered that this may be because no-one’s particularly interested in them , but then thought what the hell I'll share this as something that's perhaps a little bit different.

    It's a newly purchased Vostok Amfibia Reef. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with Vostok watches, their best known model, or family of models, is probably the Amphibian (which, despite the name, is a different watch from the Amfibia Reef). The Amphibian has a reputation for being good value for money and very Russian – Cyrillic script and small pictures (for example KGB logos, soviet era tanks and submarines) often adorn their dials. The Amphibian watch family have an interesting history. For example, from what I’ve read American troops that served in Operation Desert Storm received special edition ‘Desert Shield’ Vostok Amphibian military watches in some kind of post Cold War Soviet-American partnership deal. Although they have different designs and names, the Amphibian and the Amfibia Reef (my watch) share the same movement: the Vostok automatic Calibre 2416B, but more on this later.

    Compared to the Amphibian, the Amfibia Reef is a bit more Western looking in its design and I must confess that the main reason I got the watch is because I thought it looked cool (who hasn’t done this before? ). To my eye it has a reasonably ‘classic’ look – I can see a healthy amount of Submariner in there, along with a slight dash of Seamaster 300m. It’s not strikingly original (and beauty is in the eye of the beholder) but when I first saw the watch, it jumped out at me in a way that not many do – considering the hundreds of watches I habitually look at online! I particularly like the purple/deep blue contrasting with the orange, I also like the lines/contours and thickness of the case – it looks like there’s enough room to drop a chronograph movement in there. At first I thought that perhaps the hands and indices were too small compared to the large numbers on the bezel insert, but that has passed. The lesser reasons for buying the watch were that it didn’t cost much (always an important factor given my budget :? ) and that I had been looking at Russian watches in general for some time and had begun to appreciate the unique history and sometimes ‘quirky’ character that differentiates them from for example Swiss, German or Japanese watches.

    As I said, the movement is an automatic Vostok Calibre 2416B (19800 beats per hour) which hand winds but doesn’t hack. This Russian made movement is infamous for the way the crown wobbles on the stem once it has been fully unscrewed, although this is the way it was designed. Vostok describe the average length of service as being 10 years. Internet sources vary in their descriptions of the movement; from simple, functional, indestructible, tried and tested (at best) to cheap, suffering from poor quality control and a short life-span (at worst). How the movement will fare is anyone’s guess. When I bought the watch I felt I was being realistic about what I would be getting and wasn’t expecting to receive a highly accurate movement that would last for a generation or two. You get what you pay for right? However, it would seem that there's a fair chance it will run well in the longer term. I haven’t begun testing accuracy yet but so far I’m very happy with the way it’s running.

    Basic specs:
    • Diameter 42 mm (excluding crown)
    • Height 14.5 mm
    • Lug width 20mm
    • Water resistant up to 20 atm
    • Mineral glass crystal
    • 31 hour reserve
    • Date complication (but no date quick set)
    • Shock resistance balance
    • Stainless steel screw-down back & screwed-in crown
    • Solid stainless steel case
    • Solid end links

    Overall the fit and finish is pleasing for a watch at this very reasonable price point. I’m even impressed by the quality of the bracelet. I usually prefer the comfort and practicality of a Nato on a diver style watch, but have kept this on the stock bracelet it came with.

    My only reservations at this point are that the lume is extremely weak compared to my Seiko, and that when the crown is fully screwed in the crown guards seem to prevent it from being completely flush with the case (see photo). Because of this, I’m a bit loath to wear the watch in water despite the 200m water resistance rating. I’ll have to investigate this crown issue further.

    However, when considering the watch as a whole these are relatively small quibbles. I don’t see it as being a tool watch and won’t wear it as one so water resistance and illumination aren’t hugely important. I like the design aesthetic and the watch does seem to me to have personality, largely due to the Russian heritage and unique design features of Vostok watches, which to me as a Westerner seem slightly quirky (in a good way!). This feeling of the watch having some personality helps the ‘bonding’ process I think.

    Incidentally, for a very brief account of Vostok’s history and a look inside a Vostok watch factory see (made for Russian television, so make sure to click on the subtitles!), and for those who are technically minded there’s an interesting and somewhat patriotic explanation of the design principles behind the water resistance of the Vostok Amphibia at

    Thanks for reading, I hadn’t expected to write so much for my first watch ‘review’!

    Attached files

  • #2
    Great review ! Cheers! 8-)
    Haven't ventured into Ruskie territory yet but i fear its just a matter of time (groan) some of those Poljots look tasty and the old Vostok Amphibian seems such an iconic, quirky no-frills Russian take on things I'd like to try one....
    My karma ran over your dogma


    • #3
      Wow!........ Great Review Tipene :thumbup: But don't know if they're for me just yet
      Probably because at the moment I'm sort of stuck on "name" watches, i.e. Seiko etc.
      You obviously spent a lot of time on that Review and you did it well....... Will 8-)
      The best watch is the one that makes you happiest... and tells the time.


      • #4
        Great review Tipene, very impressed,Look out Don he"s just about as good as you for review"s and this is his 1ST :D :D :D Also i have one Slavia in my collection 17 jewel manual,and it keeps great time,i dont think their junk,but one"s enough.
        'Man Invented time, Cyma Perfected it.'


        • #5
          :P :P
          Think Stephen "keatles" will have found a new "Comrade" here in "Tipene"
          :P :P
          Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son


          • #6
            Thanks for the kind words But comparing me to the incomparable Don, however flattering, is just not true! Like some have posted before I think we're lucky to have Don contributing to the forum with such a wealth of knowledge.

            As an addendum to the review, the AD told me that the crown not screwing in flush with the case doesn't effect the water resistance. All Amfibia Reefs have this same construction feature, the crown and the watch case are sealed with two gaskets and what I was concerned about on my watch is not a technical fault. She added that no watches have been reclaimed due to water resistance issues. Seems like a good result!