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Modstok

We mod what we must, because we can.

The Purpose

The Vostok is one of the best modding watches on the planet. Full Stop. No qualifiers needed.

I discovered Vostok watches 7 years ago when I ‘late night boredom’ bought a 1980’s vintage 060 with a green dial from ebay and have not looked back.  Lost of watches and dozens of mods later, I had amassed a large spreadsheet of information and resources that I felt needed to be shared and gathered in one place for all to use.  This is the reason for this site.

There is nothing more satisfying than to see something you designed and constructed. A watch that suits your style and personality. I hope that using the information and resources listed below makes that journey all the more fun.

 

WATCH & PART SOURCES

Below you will find a list of suppliers that either I have used in the past, or are mentioned as reliable sources in well established forums such as WUS. There are plenty more out there, especially if you include ebay and etsy. These are the ones I would use.

For movement purchases I strongly suggest you use Meranom.com as your primary source as they are the official factory store.

There are scores more bezel insert suppliers; a web search of “SKX Bezel Insert” will return 100’s of results.  The Seiko mod community is vast and active. 

KEY TO LISTINGS

BEZELS
Standard Vostok Bezels (All Metal), Bezels that take SKX sized inserts, Bezels that already have an insert, Custom All Metal Bezels, Bezel Retaining Springs.

BEZEL INSERTS
 SKX Sized Bezel Inserts of all materials and types.

WATCHES
New Vostok Amphibias & Komandirskies.

VINTAGE WATCHES
Pre owned or NOS Vostok watches in various conditions. Many are “franken watches”, which is fine as long as you understand what you are getting.

PRE MODDED WATCHES
 Vostok watches that have had some level of modification done. Generally this mod is a new bezel.

CUSTOM CONFIGURATOR
Allows you to visually build a watch from a list of cases, dials, and bezels. AM DIVER is the only one at this time.

 

CASEBACKS
Solid Casebacks, Clear Casebacks,  and Caseback retaining rings.

CASES
Bare Casebacks with attached crystal, gaskets, and case specific winding stem/crown assembly.

MOVEMENTS/PARTS
 New Movements, Used Movements, Movement Specific Parts and Screws, Movement holders

PARTS
Datewheels, crowns, stems, gaskets, crystals, gilt rings, movement holders, lug adapters. (Kind of a catch all for sites that dont have specific ranges per se)

DIALS
New or NOS vostok dials.

VINTAGE DIALS
Includes Dials that have been removed from doner watches.  May also include salvage for parts non working watches (dial doners)

HANDS
Standard New hands, new custom hands, used hands,

ONE SECOND CLOSER

ONE SECOND CLOSER

POLAND

BEZELS
BEZEL INSERTS
CUSTOM HANDS

 

MERANOM

MERANOM

RUSSIA

BEZELS
DIALS
CASE BACKS
CASES
HANDS
MOVEMENTS/PARTS
WATCHES
SPECIAL EDITIONS

 

ASAP31

ASAP31

RUSSIA

BEZELS
WATCHES
VINTAGE WATCHES
DIALS/VINTAGE DIALS
DATE WHEELS
CASES
HANDS
PARTS

 

AM.DIVER

AM.DIVER

EUROPE

CUSTOM CONFIGURATOR
PRE MODDED WATCHES
BEZELS
BEZEL INSERTS
WATCHES
DIALS

FAVINOV

FAVINOV

RUSSIA

SUPER-LUMENOVA DIALS
SUPER-LUMENOVA HANDS
DATE WHEELS
CASEBACKS
CASE PARTS
CRYSTALS
MOVEMENTS

CHISTOPOL CITY

CHISTOPOL CITY

RUSSIA

BEZELS
WATCHES
MOVEMENTS/PARTS
HANDS
DIALS

VOSTOKMOD

VOSTOKMOD

POLAND

CUSTOM DIALS

 

BORIS_GVB

BORIS_GVB

EUROPE

BEZELS
PRE MODDED WATCHES
WATCHES

 

BESTRUS

BESTRUS

RUSSIA

BEZELS
WATCHES
VINTAGE WATCHES
DIALS/VINTAGE DIALS
CASES
HANDS
MOVEMENTS/PARTS
CASEBACKS

KOMANDIRSKIE

KOMANDIRSKIE

RUSSIA

BEZELS
BEZEL INSERTS
WATCHES
PRE MODDED WATCHES
VARIOUS PARTS
CASE BACKS

ZENITAR STORE

ZENITAR STORE

RUSSIA

BEZELS
HANDS
CASES
CASEBACKS
PARTS

 

VOSTOK AMPHIBIA

VOSTOK AMPHIBIA

RUSSIA

BEZELS
INSERTS
WATCHES
PARTS
HANDS
DIALS

ARKUSTIME

ARKUSTIME

RUSSIA

BEZELS
BEZEL INSERTS
PRE MODDED WATCHES

MURPHY MANUFACTURING

MURPHY MANUFACTURING

UNITED STATES

BEZELS

 

RITMM540

RITMM540

RUSSIA

BEZELS
WATCHES
MOVEMENT PARTS
CASES
HANDS
CASE PARTS

 

VOSTOK-POLJOT

VOSTOK-POLJOT

RUSSIA

BEZELS
WATCHES
PRE MODDED WATCHES

 

RAFFLES TIME

RAFFLES TIME

SINGAPORE

CUSTOM HANDS
CUSTOM DIALS

 

CRYSTAL TIMES

CRYSTAL TIMES

UNITED KINGDOM

BEZELS
BEZEL INSERTS

 

SOVIET MARKET

SOVIET MARKET

RUSSIA

BEZELS
PARTS
CASES
HANDS
MOVEMENTS
WATCHES
DIALS

VOSTOK CO. OFFICIAL STORE

VOSTOK CO. OFFICIAL STORE

RUSSIA

BEZELS
PARTS
CASES
HANDS
MOVEMENTS
WATCHES

 

SOVIET WATCHER

SOVIET WATCHER

RUSSIA

BEZELS
BEZEL INSERTS
WATCHES
VINTAGE WATCHES

VOSTOK-POLJOT

VOSTOK-POLJOT

RUSSIA

BEZELS
PARTS
CASES
HANDS
MOVEMENTS
WATCHES
DIALS

 

MOSCOW TIME 1010

MOSCOW TIME 1010

RUSSIA

WATCHES
 

ROYTONE

ROYTONE

USA

BEZELS
 

SHOP IV

SHOP IV

UKRAINE

HANDS
DIALS

A Case for Modding

If you’re new to Vostok and/or Watch Modding in general, here are a few benefits of Vostok watches when it comes to customizing.

Universal materials mean unlimited possibilities

Vostoks makes dozens of cases, hundreds (If not thousands) of dial designs, a selection of  hands, case backs, crowns, and bezels.  All of them are interchangeable.  Of course, there are a few exceptions, such as some different crown/stem sizes to fit the wider cases, and a alternate hand set size for some specific older movements.  All the internal movement casing tolerances are identical across all Amphibias and Komenderskie product lines because all Vostok’s movements share the same specifications.  Need to buy a new crystal?  There is one crystal size. It costs 7 bucks.  Done. I once trashed a balance wheel with a slipped screwdriver, ordered a replacement, (one universal escapement – $17) got impatient while it was in transit, pilfered the escapement out of a Komenderskie, slapped it in the Amphibia and made things whole when the package arrived.

You Wont Get Divorced

You will spend more on a single used Rolex bracelet link than you will purchasing a new Vostok watch; then promptly swapping out the bezel, the hands, the case back, and whatever else you want to change…and still spring for a nice dinner for four, with dessert.  Seriously.  The watches themselves and parts are so reasonably priced, even if you FUBAR something– you can still live with yourself.  I went ‘all-out-hog-wild’ once and bought a custom Super-LumiNova hand lumed dial for $50 shipped halfway across the planet.  That is what’s considered a  “pricey item” for a Vostok mod part…$50 bucks!  Of course if you want, you can drop some decent cash on that stunning, perfect sapphire bezel insert you will find online; but compared to modding any other watch brand, there is no better value proposition. As a result,  Vostok has never made my wife give me ‘dat stink eye. In this case, your watch hobby is way cheaper than most other activities. Even if you do catch a bit of ire from the better half, bring up the first mutual friend’s name you can think of who owns a boat. Sorted.

Russian engineering is exquisitely…Russian.

This Russian approach to engineering challenges is famous for being effective, efficient, elegant, and pure. They attacked the problem from directions that only seem obvious in hindsight.  This approach is present in spades in the Vostok Amphibia. When challenged by the Kremlin to make a 200m dive watch in the mid 1960’s, Vostok engineers had quite the hill to climb. There was no legal access to patents, material, micrometer capable machines and other tech during the cold war, so they designed things to work their way – high tolerances be damned- all one needs is to solve problems from the ground up. They took an approach that was smarter and worked with the physics in play to create a bulletproof and reliable diver.  The watch, and all it’s parts were also engineered to be serviced and maintained by ‘whoever’.  This makes for easy modding.

Great Communities

Russian watch forums such as WatchUSeek, Reddit & TheWatchForum to name a few, are full of discussions, instruction, and feedback.  Also there is a lot of youtube content made by regular owners, watchmakers, modders, and reviewers that give great insight and how tos.  When you find yourself on your back porch with a striped down watch case, a blowtorch, and bowl containing water and coffee grounds, you’ll have the communities to thank.  (Btw- the burned finish treatment looks dope AF)  There is a bunch of resources out there, in many languages.

Vostok Amphibia History

Below are some great articles on the history of Vostok Watch Company. Kaz Mirza of TBWS has big love for Russian watches in general, and has written a great three part essay on the whole shebang, it’s a good read and gives you a bigger picture of the Russian watch industry as a whole.  The link below to TBWS takes you to part three of his three-part series where he focuses on Vostok specifically. I am a huge fanboy of the TBWS podcast and I encourage you to check them out.

The wobble in your crown is not a flaw- it’s a feature.

The crown is engineered to only engage the winding stem when the crown is pulled out slightly. This engages a hex shaped clutch that will float free inside the crown when screwed in. This way any impact forces to the outside of the case are not transmitted via the crown & winding stem to the heart of the movement. Also when the crown is unscrewed, if you ding it the crown will take the hit vs. the winding stem bending which will compromise the water resistance when screwed back in.   

The Reed is Stronger than the Oak

When trying to counter a force, there are two approaches- brute and finesse. The western approach to water resistance uses the brute force method- thick elements, very fine tolerances, and complicated elements. Because 1950’s USSR manufacturing lacked the machines and patents, they had to plot a different plan of attack.  Enter the two-part case back.  By having a wide based pie pan case back held in place with an inset retaining ring, they were able to create a dynamic system that used the very water pressure itself to fortify the watch against water pressure. As pressure builds up on the free-floating pie pan it is free to compress even tighter against the beefy, wide, flat gasket below it- sealing more and more as the pressure increases. And because the base of the pie pan does not twist as it is tightened, there is not torsion force against the gasket. Note that when you remove and replace the case back on a western style case back, you always have to replace the gasket because the side to side torsion forces will warp and deform the gasket with the final few turns.   The two part case back is elegant engineering at its best. 

History of the Vostok Amphibia 

Via Kaz from Two Broke Watch Snobs , who is an expert on Soviet Era Russian watches.   There are also great articles on Vostok, Raketa, and other russian watches on thier site.  There Podcast is a weeky program that covers all things horology.  

Bezel Modding

First time?

Watch this video.  Here is the full article he refers to. 

There is no other part of your Vostok that is easier to change than your bezel, and doing so changes the entire look of the watch instantly.  The sheer amount of available finishes, grip types, and inserts allows you to create any look, from dressy, to tooly, to that classic diver feel.

  

The Vostok Bezel

Height 3.7 mm.
Outer Diameter 39.7 mm.
Inner Diameter 31.2 mm

Outer Base Size 38,3 mm.
Inner Base Size 33.7mm.

Bezel insert accepted:  Inner diameter of 31.5 and an Outer diameter of 38mm.

The Retaining Spring is made of brass or spring steel and had a diameter of .5mm. 

Aftermarket bezels made for Amphibia will also fit the Komenderskies.

EXCEPTION:  Vostok factory bezels made for the larger cases (# 090 , 100 and 110) are slightly wider, and will not allow enough space for the crown on the smaller cases because these cases are slightly larger and are sold with a slightly wider bezel.  ANY bezel will fit these cases, but the bezels sold with these cases WILL NOT fit the smaller cases (060, 100, 120, 420, 710 / SE cases 150, 960)  Any bezel not from a #90, 100, or 110 case will fit any other Amphibia or Komenderskie. 

 

Bezel Inserts & How to install them onto your blank 

Aftermarket vostok bezels are made to accept a FLAT bezel insert that has an inner diameter of 31.5 and an outer diameter of 38mm. This opens up your choices of insert immensely as that is the size that the Seiko SKXxxx uses, and therefore there are a huge amount of aftermarket inserts from a huge number of outlets.

Bezel inserts can be made from aluminium, ceramic, steel, and sapphire. Some have lume, some don’t. I could take you down the rabbit hole of all the different bezel markings and their functions, but I will spare you.

My favorites are One-Second-Closer.comdlwwatches.com, and namokimods.com but a quick web search for “Skx bezel insert” will return pages of results.  Also Aliexpress have a bunch of inexpensive options, just make sure they’re the right size and that they are flat.

 

Adhering and Removing Bezel Inserts

To adhere the bezel insert to the bezel blank you can use a sticker made for SKX bezels, or any type of adhesive that works with metal.  I prefer the stickers because they are easier to remove later. Using superglue works, but you are making your life harder down the road when you have to remove it.

Be sure to clean the mounting surface of the insert and bezel with acetone (nail polish remover) and wipe dry before installation.  It is best practice to install the bezel onto the watch, then apply the insert. This way there is no chance of damage to the insert while you are forcing the bezel back to the case. The nice thing about unidirectional (non click) bezels is that you will never have to worry about misalignment of the insert so the pip does not exactly line up with the indices when turned. Vostok bezels always line up.

If you need to remove a bezel from an insert, rather than prying at it with a blade, (risking damage to the insert)  simply soak the bezel in a solvent like Goo Gone for about an hour and it will come off easily with a simple fingernail pry. As many bezel inserts such as ceramic and sapphire are fragile when not attached to anything, trying to pry them off with force usually ends badly.  Another reason I like the 3M bezel stickers is even a couple minutes under a hair dryer works well in a pinch.

Tips:

If this is your first time, the very first step you should take is to watch the video and read the article I have posted in this section.

 Here’s some lessons I have learned about bezel modding:

  • When removing the bezel, if you end up using something like a knife to pry it up- wear a glove on the hand that is holding the bezel.
  • A bezel removing tool works best and is super cheap
  •  I tend to use the bezel spring from the bezel I am replacing in the new bezel. Seems to snap into place the on the first try most of the time.
  • When installing the new bezel, twist slightly while pushing down- makes it much easier.
  • If it does not want to go on with a reasonable amount of force- don’t try to force it- there is something that needs to be adjusted or tucked in better.   If this happens click here for a trouble shooting guide from Dave Murphy. 
  • Clean the bezel with nail polish remover (or similar) before installing the bezel insert
  • Clean the watch around the crystal before installing new bezel- make sure the bezel spring channel is nice and clean. I even might put a toothpick dollop of silicone grease in the channel.
  • If the bezel is too loose or tight when you spin it, remove and adjust the angles of the bezel spring.
  • You should be able to give it a healthy tug and have it stay in place. If it pops off too easy- adjust the angles of the bezel spring
  • Buy a few extra bezel springs.
  • You do not have to necessarily have to remove a bezel if you just want to replace the insert. IF YOU KNOW THE WATCH IS WATERTIGHT place it crystal side down in a jar lid full of “Goo-Gone” or similar adhesive solvent for a couple hours or more. The insert will slip out with a slight pry with a toothpick. Use the toothpick to remove any remaining adhesive gunk, wash it in soapy water to get the solvent all cleaned off. (I will usually give the bezel surface a swab with some acetone on a Q-Tip just to be sure it’s clean.) Install the new one. Done.

 

DIALS AND HANDS

Dials

There are many different standard dial designs for Vostok Amphibias and Komanderskies, there are hundreds of non standard Vostok produced dials out there too.  During the Soviet era, many companies and organizations commissioned watches with custom dials for events or special awards. Then you add in the military branches and government agencies who wanted specific dial designs, were looking at maybe even thousands of unique designs.

The standard size is 28.5mm, which also happens to be the same size as many Seiko dials. (Seiko dials anchor feet and date windows DO NOT match, so you can really only use the non-date versions and will  have to remove the dial feet and replace with adhesive dial dots or attach new .75mm  dial feet at the correct position) There are also tons of generic 28.5mm non-date dials on Aliexpress and ebay that will work with proper preperation.

On the 24xx movements, dial feet are positioned roughly at the 4 & 10 positions on the underside of the dial where they are anchored by pinch screws on the side of the case.  I have used also used dials from older 22xx Vostok movement’s dials by removing the dial feet and attaching with dial dots. I have been know to buy lots of old Amps and Komms just to harvest the dials. If you are cleaning an old dial use a soft brush, a bit of water and q-tips. DO NOT use any cleaners that contain any acetone or other thinners as this will remove any paint or varnish on the dial.

NOTE: If you find a really old dial where the the lume is super muddy brown and there is a lot of pain damage around the lume areas, there is a chance that it is Radium. Do not fuck with these dials, throw them away.  The radium dust can be inhaled, which is radioactive and highly toxic.  

 

Vostok “Lume”

The standard lume on a factory Vostok dial is not the brightest or longest lasting. In fact, after the ‘chocolate kiss foil wrap’ grade metal bracelets, Vostok lume is the weakest aspect of the watch. Ebay user FAVINOV offers classic style new dials (and hands) that have been re-lumed with Superluminova in both Green and Blue lume colorways. These are done by hand but are crisp, thick, and glow very bright.  Highly recommend.

You can also relume the dial (and hands) yourself using aftermarket lume, a toothpick and a steady hand. A good idea is to record your proportions of powder to medium mix as you practice on a dummy surface. Having the right viscosity is key, you will see what works best as you experiment.

If you want to repaint a dial, use acetone to remove all paint, give it a quick sand with 1000 grit sand paper, degrease and clean with more acetone untill water sheets on the surface, then use a self etching or metal specific primer coat before any cutom paint is applied.  It is better to do several light passes with the spraypaint than all at once.

 

 Custom Graphics

If you want to add your own applied graphics, there is a great laser printer waterslide decal product by Sunnyscopa that you simply apply, heat with a hair dryer, and then remove the substrate only leaving the ink on the dial.  Once again, practice on a dummy dial before commiting to your final application, there is a bit of a knack to getting the balance of heat, application gel (in the kit) amount, and timing to get a flawless application- which you really only get one chance at if you are applying it to anything painted. (I have painstakingly chipped a bad decal off once, I do not recommend unless you have no other options)  I have tried to do super small text but have not had success getting anything crisp enough to be useful smaller than 1mm.

 

Hands

Replacing hands requires a bit of patience but pays off.  I suggest only buying hands that are specifically designed to fit the specific movement in your particular watch.  The vast majority of newer vostoks out there use a variation of the 24xx movement and therefore almost all aftermarket hands will fit this movement. If you have an older watch with a 22xx movement there is different size needed that is way harder to find.   

For  great instructions- watch the video below by THE VOSTOKAHOLIC on hand replacement. Please go to his channel and watch all his videos, if we bump enough subscribers and likes, maybe he will start making videos again.