Полет - Луч - вымпел
The history section will concentrate on the ‘ultra-thin’ 2209 movement, first introduced by Vympel and further branded by Poljot and Luch starting in 1961 through to the 70s.
So why is this movement so popular with collectors and even someone like me that wears them daily ?
Well, the thickness of the movement is less than 3mm, which allowed producing very flat mechanical watches that look very elegant either on the wrist or in a cabinet. Additionally, they are affordable at least for the moment.
Now, let’s start at the beginning with an overview of the ‘ultra-thin’ 2209 movement history.
In 1961 the Soviet Ministry of Industry demanded a very flat watch with a thickness of the movement less than 3mm. The 1st Moscow Watch Factory came up with the 2209 movement, which was 22mm wide, 2.9mm high and utilises 23 jewels and was celebrated accordingly.
Mid of 1961 (July) the Vympel (‘pennant’) brand was born with this very thin movement. For almost a year (April 1963) a small quantities (the rumour is up to 1000) of Vympel watches were produced with the diamond 1st MWF logo.
1 = First
From April 1963 Vympel watches were produced in Moscow until 1970 with pentagonal logo.
1 = First
Also in 1963 the 1st Moscow Watch Factory underwent a major rebranding in which all subsequent watches were to be marketed under the Poljot ("flight") brand. Thus the ‘ultra-thin’ 2209 movement was also branded by Poljot (De Luxe - 23 jewels) using the same 1st Moscow Watch Factory. The Poljot De Luxe production seized around 1975. The 2209 movements for the Poljot De Luxe watches were also stamped with the pentagon logo using the 1st MWF logo (see above).
In 1962 the ‘ultra-thin’ 2209 movement was sold to the Minsk Watch Factory, which used it for the Luch watches. The 2209 Luch watches were stamped with three different logos during its production.
The Minsk Watch Factory, the Luch "beam” and the generic "SU" one
| 1962 - 1975
М Ч З = Minsk Watch Factory
| 1975 - 1980
Luch = Beam
| Late Sixties- 1990
SU' = Suviet Union
The ‘ultra-thin’ movement was awarded the Gold medal and a Diploma at an international Fair in Leipzig in 1963 and is even today considered a very thin mechanical movement.
So how does the SeKonda De Luxe, which also has an 'ultra-thin' 2209 movement fit into this ? Both Poljot and Luch 2209 versions were exported to the UK as SeKonda.So SeKonda was not a watch producer only a watch exporter at this stage.
All the other Soviet 2209 movements are also 22mm movements but not related to the 'ultra-thin' one introduced by the 1st Moscow Watch. Some are certainly very thin as well e.g Raketa one is even thinner but is a completely different movement. In general the 2209 code indicates the diameter of the movement (in our case 22mm) and the second two digits describe the complications of the movement. 09 stands for central second hand with shock protection. Most of the case codes can be found here.
The confusing part for me was that many sellers & enthusiasts refer to all 2209 movements watches as Vympel although they are not Vympel branded ones. It seems that the label Vympel became a synonym for all 2209 movement watches such as Poljot and Luch although they even don’t have the Vympel brand in their dial. The original Vympels (1961-1963) are much rarer and hence more collectable. Please make sure you don't pay a high price for a wrongly labelled Vympel watch. I certainly made the mistake when I started and I paid too much.
For more specific details for each branded 2209 movement please refer to the corresponding pages. Those pages will point out the little differences which makes it easier to recognise an authentic / original watch.