The Vostok Amphibia is an affordable dive watch that is available for under $100. This classic automatic dive watch has a colorful history. In this Vostok Amphibia review, we look at the features, performance and history of the watch.
Let’s get started.
The Amphibia is a popular watch that is highly sought by many watch enthusiasts. Whenever people are searching for diver watches for beginners, they are likely to be advised to start with the Amphibia, Orient Mako II or Seiko SKX007.
Surely, the people who are recommending the Vostok Amphibia for beginners must know something. When you are out kayaking, you need a watch that can survive the harsh conditions.
History of the Vostok Amphibia Dive Watch
The history of the Amphibia dates back to 1967 in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Defense Department commissions Mikhail Novikov and Vera Belov of the Chistopol Watch Factory to design a watch for their servicemen that would be cheap, reliable to up to 200m and rugged enough to withstand various harsh conditions.
The lack of equipment in the Soviet Union at the time meant that Novikov and Belov could not simply copy any of the Swiss watch designs. The equipment available at the Chistopol watch factory was not accurate at machining small parts.
The only way the designers could machine a watch that could be reliable at great depths was by relying on strong materials, using brute strength and accurately matching the parts so that they fit together.
To get past these problem, the Novikov and Belov designed the Amphibia to flex. The watch’s caseback is made to push more and more onto a rubber gasket as the pressure increased. As you go deeper with the watch, its water resistance increases. The watch was built with much looser tolerances thanks to its flexibility.
If you want in-depth information on the history of the Vostok Amphibia, check this article at Hodinkee.
Variations of the Vostok Amphibia[table “” not found /]
Vostok Amphibia Review – ‘Zissou’ Model
On the face, the watch has an anchor at the 6 o’clock position and an old-ship style wheel at noon. The face edges features a stylized 3-strang braided rope. If you are always on the boat or outdoors near the water, you will love this watch.
The Vostok Amphibia designs are available from many sellers on Amazon.
One of the complaints many people have about the Amphibia is its cheap bracelet. You might want to replace the brace and replace it with something more solid such as this from the NATO Strap Company. The strap colors complement the watch dial colors well, it’s as if it was made for the watch.
Vostok Amphibia Looks & Design
The Amphibia dive watch is slightly small than you might expect and looks good. The coloring on the dial and bezel really. The acrylic crystal on the watch has a curve to it and domineers the bezel by a huge margin.
The watch looks even better with the NATO strap on it.
The Amphibia is not a high-end watch. However, it is decently looking and a great beginner’s dive watch.
The bidirectional bezel of the Amphibia is difficult to rotate. It’s likely that temperature various makes it to expand and contract, which makes turning it difficult. Fixing the bezel problem is easy; just pop the bezel off and give the inside and the spring clip a clean and put back together with some silicon grease, sweet!
The bezel’s edge is also thin and this can make gripping it difficult.
Like is the case with all acrylic crystals, the Amphibia crystal to scuffs and scratches. If you will be wearing your watch during all waking hours when doing all sorts of activities, from working on a diesel engine to scuba diving, it will not be looking pristine for long. However, the scuffs won’t be easily noticeable unless someone looks really closely.
While the acrylic scratches easily, you can polish the marks out easily with a polishing wheel set for jewelry/watches etc. and make it look new. Polishing the wheels should take you about 10 minutes and they will look brand new.
The best part of this watch is the dial. If you are always in the water, the nautical theme of the “Zissou” Amphibia will be perfect. The dial has an anchor at the 6 o’clock position and a stylized ship wheel at the 12 o’clock position. A 3-strand braided rope, which is common to find on ships, is around the edge of the bezel.
However, when you look closely at the dial, you will notice that it is cheaply made. For example, the date window on the right side looks out of place with the design. Moreover, the luminescent dots that mark the house are a little bit out of alignment with the silver markers.
You’ll be disappointed with the luminous markets on the hands of the dial. While they are bright at first, they quickly fade to almost another in less than 10 minutes when you enter somewhere dark.
The poor luminosity makes this watch useless for diving in areas with poor visibility or at night. It is just OK for entering into a dark space from outside, while your eyes are adjusting.
Winding & Setting
The Amphibian and can be automatically self-wind. However, there is nothing that should prevent you from winding it manually. To wind the watch, unscrew the crown until it is free, apply light pressure outside, and turn the crown clockwise.
The Amphibians power reserve (how long it will keep ticking before needing to be wound) is close to 2 days.
It is easy to set the time on the Amphibian. After you have unscrewed the crown, simply pull it out further than the winding position. When you hear a slight click, the hands will be free to move. While you cannot technically hack the Amphibia, if you turn the crown clockwise, the seconds and will freeze and you can set it more precisely. This technique will not harm your watch.
Setting the date is also easy. You simply need to move the hour and back and forth between the 8 o’clock and 12 o’clock will advance the date window.
Check the Amphibia watch manual here in case you need more guidance on how to operate the watch.
If you don’t set the Amphibian watch, it will be gaining about 40 seconds a day. To prevent this, you can let the watch wind itself down and let it sit for about 24 hours before wearing it again. Doing this will ensure the watch is in line with the expected accuracy.
If you need to have a quick time on your wrist to keep track of things, the poor rotation of the Vostok Amphibia will disappoint you. However, if you are buying the Amphibia to use of diving, the bezel issue won’t be a problem.
Generally, the Amphibia is a good mechanical watch for beginners or anyone looking for something cheap. The beginner’s dive watch is quickly and can endure many rugged situations.
Below are some sections of Vostok Amphibia models available on Amazon.