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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Slava Transistor/Слава Транзитор 2397 - Reference/Research

As mentioned, the purpose of this thread will be to share knowledge and experience about the Slava Transistor Watch produced in the former Soviet Union in the mid 1960s. I’ll start with what I have collected through surfing the Web. There isn’t a lot of verified information about this watch and you will find what is out there repeated word for word in many places. The first and second post in this thread will be dedicated to what is known or supposed about the Slava Transistor. As others contribute, I’ll add or correct what is found here.

The story begins when a Bulova Accutron 214 was gifted to Soviet Premier Nikita Krusehchev on a visit to the U.S. Some sources place this visit and gift in September 1959 with then President Ike. Others place that visit and gift in 1963 with President LBJ. Both stories are repeated throughout the NET. When Krusehchev returned home he commissioned The Second Moscow Watch Factory/Slava to design a watch like the Accutron. This factory was the second non-military watch manufacturer established in the Soviet Union - 1924. Slava means “Glory” and they produced what was described as “civil” watches - inexpensive watches for civilians. The easiest and fastest way for Slava to comply with Krusehchev’s request was to reverse engineer the Accutron 214. One source said that took about 4 years but, if the Accutron was gifted in 1963 that wouldn’t fit because the Slava Transistor was on the market by the mid ‘60s. The Slava Transistor gained recognition in 1964 at the Leipzig International Fair, winning a gold medal. Some sources indicate that most were purchased by those of means or presented to dignitaries and that only 1,000 to 2,000 pieces were ever produced. It is known that a “date” model was designed by Slava and at least 2 are known to exist. Supposedly, 1,100 were commissioned but it is doubtful, because of their scarcity, that many were ever made. It is believed that Slava Transistor watches were only produced for a couple years. For a long time this watch was mostly unknown by collectors but within the last 20 years or so examples started appearing on the market and interest among collectors was generated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
This next post will cover details about the Slava Transistor Watch.

-The first Slava Transistor movement is caliber 2397. I don’t know the caliber of the date model.
-A rather attractive, IMHO, clock was also produced with the 2397 movement .
-The NET lists anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 of caliber 2397 as being produced.
-I believe only one case style and dial design was found on the original caliber.
-Cases are stamped “AU” between the lower set of lugs. Most describe the case as gold plated but I found one reference to having a solid gold case. Other Soviet watches I have seen that were described as gold plated were stamped either “AU 10” or “AU 20”. The Soviet “yellow gold” actually has a slight copper hue on this watch and a couple other GP vintage Soviet mechanical watches I have.
-It is said that Slava had difficulty with quality control and quality of materials used in their tuningfork movement that resulted in many of the watches failing early and being relegated to the back of a drawer only to be forgotten.
-The factory where the Slava Transistor movement was manufactured is said to have been close to the subway and vibrations made it difficult to produce quality index wheels.
-The 2397 movement is slightly larger that the Bulova 214 so it will not fit in a 214 case.
-While the 2397 was reverse engineered from the Accutron 214 it is not truly identical and most 214 parts are not directly interchangeable. For example, the pivots on the 2397 index wheel are smaller than those on the 214 so the 214 index wheel is not directly interchangeable without modification.
-Most, if not all, jewels are smaller on the 2397.
-One reference indicated the metal used for the pawl fingers is stiffer and requires more bending force to properly phase than those on the 214.
-A 214 case gasket is said to fit the Slava but I haven’t verified that. Don’t know about the battery hatch gasket.
-The usual 214 Bulova case back tool perfectly fits the locking ring on the Slava case.
-Some describe the insulating coating on the coil wires as more delicate and as easily flaking off resulting in a short.
-The 2397 movement has 17 jewels.
-The 2397 tuningfork magnets are described as being more finely machined than those on the 214.
-The quality of metal in the 2397 index wheel is described as poor, resulting in improperly or non-running condition.
-The current silver oxide 214 Battery can be used in the Slava but some say it runs better with the reduced voltage of an Accucell 1.
-When I installed the battery in my Slava it required the often needed “tap tap” with the 9:00 edge of the case to start the tuningfork humming - just like an Accutron.
-Only two examples of the Slava date caliber are known to exist. Both Mark Gordon and Dimitri on WUS have one.

Please post pics of your Slava Transistor and contribute to what is known about this watch. I’d particularly like to see contributions by our watchmaker members! I’ll correct and/or add to the first 2 posts as you add to the knowledge base of the Slava Transistor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
My “new” Slava Transistor. The watch was described as “NOS” but is obviously not although it is in excellent to near mint condition and could not have been worn much. The greatest amount of “wear” appears to the battery hatch from opening it for battery access. The band pictured is Buffalo Tail leather. I have seen pics of a GP mesh bracelet on this watch and it looked great. That’s another option. As I mentioned in the other thread my Slava is running fast. An Accucell 1 Battery should be delivered tomorrow. I don’t have high hopes of it slowing the movement to proper timekeeping but who knows. I suspect phasing and/or index wheel issues. The box in the pic is one I bought on eBay for $20. I think it nicely displays this special watch.

IMG_0062.jpg
IMG_0061.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Extremely rare Slava Transistor date, model 166570 - thanks to Rob B and Spaceview M2

5B2E3E92-54E0-4913-ACD8-6B2D50EA26A7.jpg

This was quite an achievement for Slava. Either Bulova never bothered to engineer one or decided to keep the original design of the 214 and add date or day/date to the newer calibers, resulting in a more traditional watch design.
 

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This one is the unicorn of Slava transistors. Never seen in the wild to my knowledge. It is the spaceview clone Slava. The image below comes from a handbook in a Slava museum. The 2937 movement is shown in the corner and following the diagram shows the spaceview clone. Pulled from forum.watch.ru thread.

_MG_7151.jpg
 

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Here are some photos of variants that I have found so far. It is difficult to tell without high-resolution pictures but I believe the standard dials in the first row have differences in the thickness of the indices. The more obvious difference is the size of the transistor emblem.

tr5.jpg

The black dial variant is very interesting. Unclear whether this was a painted/custom dial or an option as there are no other references.

0 ????? ?????????? ????? 1280 0.jpg

Shown below is a dial with lightning bolts. There are two dial examples that I found. One was fitted into the standard case with a proper 2937 movement. What is interesting is that there are other Russian watch manufactures with the same lightning dial design and there are other Slava models that have the same dial/indices as the standard slava transistor.
lightning-bolt-comparison.jpg


Here is another variant of the dial with different gold indices Only at 3, 6, 9, and 12.
unusual-dial-combined.jpg


This dial was attached to a standard gold case Slava. The hands were painted. Looks like a hack-job for a destroyed dial and not a variant.
black-dial.jpg
 

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This one is the unicorn of Slava transistors. Never seen in the wild to my knowledge. It is the spaceview clone Slava. The image below comes from a handbook in a Slava museum. The 2937 movement is shown in the corner and following the diagram shows the spaceview clone. Pulled from forum.watch.ru thread.

View attachment 166602
Ad for Slava watches including the 2937 (#4)
 

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This is a list of pictures of the non-standard case Slava Transistor watches. I find these using google searches under "Cлава транзистор". These came from the russian forums.

Model 1302: Link to Original Author. Here is the description from Mark Gordon who has much more detailed photos:
- This is a never before published Soviet transistor movement with a date window complication.
- Extremely rare. Only 1 other example of this caliber is known to exist.
- The original Soviet movement, without the date complication, from which this movement was derived was a copy of the Accutron 214 electric 'tuning fork' watch introduced in 1960 by Bulova (precedes quartz watches).
- Soviet production records indicate that a maximum of 1100 pieces of this 'date window' caliber were authorized to be produced (see scan); it is unknown how many were actually manufactured.
- Case with integral bracelet.
- Movement not working.
- Date established by central planning committee order records (see scan).
- My good friend Lars in Sweden has written about this piece: "Your Slava Transistor with the date complication must actually be a Russian developed movement, originating from the Bulova 214 design. Bulova also continued the development and later introduced the caliber 218 with a day-date complication, but it's quite different from the one you present here. So the movement in your watch must be uniquely Russian."
- A photo of a Bulova 218 movement is included with the images for this watch.
- According to a 1st Moscow Watch Factory employee I recently interviewed in Moscow, the original Accutron caliber was pirated by the 2nd Moscow Watch Factory from the Bulova movement using reverse engineering in an act of patent infringement.
- Supposedly, Nikita Khrushchev, Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1953-1964, returned from a trip to the USA with a Bulova Accutron 214, the world’s first electronic watch, & asked Soviet engineers to produce a similar watch. Production began at the 2MWF a few years later. It is estimated that about 1000 watches containing the basic caliber were made, mostly distributed in the government and military.
- The collection also contains several examples of the ‘basic’ Slava Transistor, including one timepiece that is still functioning, (Nos. 0622, 1285, 1406).

Model 1302 Variant Photos:

1. Mark Gordon Collection. Bracelet is not original. Very thick watch head with integrated first link for bracelet.
2. Picture of same dial as #1 except the bracelet might be the original due to its design similarities to the case. Posted on russian forum.
3. No transistor emblem. Blurry picture so it isn't clear if the CCCP is on the dial either.
Below these three are some extra photos of the movement.

green-slava-variant.jpg


Model #???? - Green Fluted Gold Bezel Variant Photos:


Description: These variants have a beautiful gold fluted bezel on a stainless steel case. This one only has a date complication.
fluted-green-variant.jpg




Model #???? - Brown Fluted Gold Bezel Variant Photos:

Description: The same dial as the green variant but in brown. These pictures show just how thick these cases are in comparison to the standard transistor case.
brown-fluted-variant.jpg
 

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Most of this is on the russian forum I keep citing. The link looks crazy if I add the "http" in front of it. Plug this in a chrome browser and translate it: forum.watch.ru/showthread.php?t=10088
 

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Another cool scan from the russian forum is the original paperwork that came with the Slava Transistor:

paperwork-1.jpg
paperwork-2.jpg

I hope to see a high-quality scan from AccutronRedux, especially if you have OCR software. :wink: A translation would be interesting for those who can read/write Russian. The old google translate will have to do in the mean time. If I could only find that backwards N on my keyboard...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Most of this is on the russian forum I keep citing. The link looks crazy if I add the "http" in front of it. Plug this in a chrome browser and translate it: forum.watch.ru/showthread.php?t=10088
After checking out your link I realized I did visit that forum but did not view all 20+ pages where those pics are located.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Update on battery change in my Slava Transistor:
I received an Accucell 1 from Battery Bob - $19.99 inc shipping. The watch has now been running for about 14 hours with the Accucell installed and has only gained about 2 seconds. That gain should be well within normal regulation capability. A remarkable change from the 387s which resulted in a few hours fast in less than 24 hours! I experimented with a few Accucells several years ago when there was concern regarding the higher voltage of the Silver Oxide 344. I wasn’t impressed with the Accucell at that time and never saw positive results regarding timekeeping. Skypilot felt the same about his trials with the Accucell and, as information built that the higher voltage of the 387s was not a concern, we both felt the higher price for the Accucell didn’t make sense. To me, this much of a difference between batteries in my Slava is quite dramatic and unexpected. Before ordering the Accucell I asked if the batteries were exchangeable in the Accucell “kit” and received an email insuring me they were. That was not the case with those I bought several years ago. I didn’t try to remove the battery from the new Accucell yet so can’t confirm that they are, indeed, removable. The battery is a 395/399. The kit comes with a pair of plastic tweezers and 3 little “finger condoms” but no instructions as to what to do with them. Some folks have successfully disassembled the earlier Accucell unit and replaced the battery. I started that experiment but never carried through with it.
 

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The picture below gives a much clearer example of the differences in the indices. Picture 1 and 2 shows the thicker rectangular indices. Picture 3 is the pointed thin indices. I have not found a variant that shows a large tuning fork emblem (seen in picture 1) with the pointed thin indices.



indice-thickness.jpg
 
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