Russian Mechanical

Alarm & Perpetual Calendar


Posted by Paul
on June 01, 1998 at 10:19:30


The Sekonda Mechanical Alarm is produced
by the Poljot (“Flight”), First Moscow Watch Factory.
“Sekonda” is the name used on Poljot’s export
watches, and thus the words “Made In Russia” do not
adorn the dial on these timepieces.

The Poljot watch factory first produced
watches in 1930, and by 1935 was turning out 450,000 timepieces
per year. By 1955 production had increased to 1.1 million watches
annually. In the early 1990’s the production total was approximately
6 million timepieces per year, and the factory employed around
6000 people. The ratio of mechanical to quartz watches produced
is around 1:4.

The Watch

The Sekonda Mechanical Alarm is a mid-size
watch. It has been produced since 1992. The case dimensions are
as follows:

Diameter :
35mm (excluding lugs)

Thickness : 11mm

The case itself is gold plated over base
metal. I do not know the thickness of the plating, but have read
that it is quite substantial. It is a pleasing yellow gold colour,
and the plating is smooth and free of blemishes. The case back
is stainless steel held in place by a screw down retaining ring.
There is a rubber gasket seal between the casing and the back,
which would provide some resistance to moisture, but the watch
carries no water resistance markings. I doubt that the watch
would survive a dunking, but you never know! The watch takes
an 18mm band, and came supplied with an extremely long black
leather example. I have never seen a band this long – do Russians
have particularly thick wrists? I have replaced it with a colourful
reddish leather band, which I feel enhances the ‘fun’
aspect of the watch, and goes well with the gold.

The dial is matt black with raised gold
applied stick markers, and gold printed details. There are numerals
5 to 60 printed around the extremity of the dial which could
be used as either minute or second registers. On the inside of
each stick marker are printed 24 hour numerals 13 through to
24. There are round green phosphorescent markers outside each
stick marker, and both the minute and hour hands have inserts
of this same material. The luminosity of these markings is moderate,
but not very long lived. The crystal is a slightly domed acrylic
with a bevelled edge set 1mm above the top of the case.


As can be seen the watch is styled somewhat
similarly to the JLC Memovox Alarm, in that there are two crowns,
at the 2 and 4 o’clock positions. The crown at 4 o’clock
(see white arrow at left) is for winding the watch in the normal
position, and for setting the hands when in the extended position.
NATURALSIZEFLAG=”3″>The watch winds very smoothly with only moderate
pressure & a pleasing sound. The crown at 2 o’clock
(see yellow arrow at left) is used for winding up the alarm mechanism
when in the normal position, and when extended it sets the alarm
hand (see inset at right). The alarm setting hand is positioned
to the required time, and when the hour hand reaches that position
the alarm mechanism is activated. 20 turns of the alarm winding
crown produces around 10 seconds of quite loud buzzing alarm,
which tapers off like a dying rattlesnake. If you would like
to hear the alarm then click below, but be warned, the wav sound
file will take a while to download (61K).

Click HERE
to hear the sound of the alarm.

(Please, no rude comments on what
the sound resembles!)


The movement is the 18 jewel manual winding
Caliber 2612. The power reserve at full wind is 42 hours. It
is reported that the deviation of the alarm is within +/- 3 minutes
of the set time. It certainly seems to work at the set time on
my watch. I was intrigued to find out just what made the alarm
work, and so set to the screw back with my trusty caseback wrench.
3 days later I had successfully removed the back and all was
revealed. Indeed it is crude and simplistic, but nonetheless
effective. The yellow arrow in the scan of the movement at left
points to a hammer, which is activated by the alarm spring mechanism.
It strikes repeatedly against the pin protruding form the caseback
(see yellow arrow in scan below), thereby producing the ‘buzzing’
sound. Just how long that pin would stand up to such treatment,
I don’t know.

I have had this watch for 3 months, and
in that time have worn it only occasionally, but have kept it
wound. Accuracy is -6 seconds per day, which is quite remarkable.
It must be the most inexpensive mechanical alarm available. The
price? I paid US$27. Yes, that’s right! All in all,
an interesting little conversation piece, a peek into another
world where mechanical watches are still fairly commonplace,
a useful inexpensive alarm watch – or, all of the above.