Friday, October 25, 2019

Full Steam Ahead

With all due respect, I don’t think any of you have ever heard of the pocket watch brand University. Neither had I, until I acquired one the other day. Disguised behind a western name it was our old friend, a Russian Molnia railway pocket watch, made for the export market.

Watch export was not a huge money earner to the Soviet Union compared with other commodities. However, millions of watches were exported to central and eastern European countries, China, India but also to the United States and Germany. The Russian watches were very affordable, reasonably accurate and some examples like University railway came in a rather attractive full relief case. Clearly, it was intended to impress railway authorities.

There is however a mystery to be solved. What is the make and model of the locomotive on the case back? Many watch enthusiasts have tried but I am yet to be convinced that we have an answer.

Those who attempted began their research with a list of Russian locomotives:

The best candidates were SO18 or FD21, but in my opinion there is very little resemble between the two and the locomotive on the case back. My theory is that the locomotive was a 1930s German locomotive sold to Turkish railways. In order to please the Turkish customers, the Russians put that model on the watch case back and this is where the research should start. Unfortunately not my area of expertise, but as always your input is appreciated. 

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