I had kept my expectations fairly low, but it would seem unjustifiably so. I was very pleasantly surprised to see a nicely made dive watch when I opened up the Navigator’s black leatherette presentation box. This was (at the time) my first 52mm diver, so of course its size made a BIG impression, and I have to say I liked what I saw.
When I decided to get a Navigator I had two things in mind, I wanted something big and Russian. At 52mm the watch was big, but was far more conventional looking than your average Russian diver.
The Navigator’s dial feels very Russian, there’s a fair amount going on though; plenty of Russian text, a polished Moscow Classic dive watch emblem, a polished sub dial and bold SuperLumiNova applied Arabic numerals, but it all seems to marry up quite nicely and gives the watch an attractive and sporty appearance.
The use of a new old stock mechanical pocket watch movement which I believe in origin dates back to the 50s is a pretty cool innovation. I will cover the movement in more detail later, but this is a very cool and intriguing feature of the Navigator and is without doubt its best attribute.
The Navigator uses a pretty generic looking 52mm / 15mm case, it has not been designed in-house, rather picked out of an Asian case makers catalog at the Hong Kong Watch & Clock fair, not necessarily a bad thing though. To me it is somewhat reminiscent of a Breitling.
The case itself has been made of 316L surgical grade stainless steel that has been PVD coated. The PVD coating is matt black and has a nice even finish. It helps to tone down the watch some.
Although the bezel feels a little light and unsubstantial it does have a lovely smooth action. It glides effortless through its 120click cycle. The elapsed dive scale has polished markers, I hadn’t noticed this when I previously saw this version in the catalog, they’re a little blingy and unnecessary in my opinion, but not a deal breaker.
A rather small and unassuming PVD coated screw down crown sits snugly between two crown protectors. It is unsigned. The crown’s action although a little awkward as it grinds closed, is nonetheless firm and secure. It makes a lovely sound as you wind it.
Its screw down case back sports a pretty cool engraving of the Moscow Classic dive watches logo and is numbered # / 200 pieces. A massive slab of mineral crystal covers the dial. I think at its price point a sapphire crystal of the size needed for such a large diver would not have been possible.
The 26mm black leather strap with contrasting white stitching looks good and is very comfortable, I was very impressed with its quality. The Navigator’s tang type buckle is in serious need of bulking up and for me does not really suit a watch of this size.
A little piece of Russian horological history ticks away inside the Navigator. It is fitted with a new old stock Russian made Molnija (Russian word for lightning) pocket watch movement which went out of production in the 1980s. Molnija went out of business in 2007 and Moscow Classic bought up all their movements. The movement itself is a manual winding 17 jeweled Molnija 3602, similar to a Unitas platform. 40 or so winds when completely uncharged should give around 37 hours of power reserve.
I have to say I am not big on hand cranking as, if forgotten you can suddenly find yourself reaching for your cellphone to find out what time it is, however there is a certain charm that a movement of this type has that more than makes up for this, and of course there is the endearing ticking sound that emanates for the the watch, when held up to your ear, whether or not you’ve ever had a movement like this before and whether or not you were if born in the days of pocket watches you can’t help but feel a little nostalgic and warm.
The Navigator is water resistant to 200m, 20ATM or 660Ft complying with industry standards for a dive watch.
FUNCTIONALITY / WEAR-ABILITY
The Navigator has a 120 click unidirectional rotatable bezel, is depth rated to 200 meters and has a nice clear and legible dial. However I am not sure how functional the Navigator would be as a diver, I think it’s safe to assume that it is not really intended for diving despite its DNA. It is a very comfortable and wearable watch given its size.
316L surgical grade stainless steel that has been PVD coated offers much durability, but mineral crystals need to be looked after as can scratch a lot easier than sapphire. The Navigator works well as an everyday wearer, but a workhorse or beater it is not, treat it carefully.
I would rate the lume at average to good. I like the way it has been applied to the numerals which is what you might expect to find on a dive watch anyway, it makes reading the time at a glance easy.
250euro is really great value for what you get. These watches can be picked up from online vendors such as Russia2all.com for much less, rubles well spent in my opinion.
The Navigator is one of only a few oversized Russian divers that makes use of a unidirectional rotatable bezel. It is rated to 200 meters and as such is a true dive watch; these are important attributes for me. Not everyone can live with protective bars and canteen lid crown protectors either which makes this the perfect choice for anyone wanting a big Russian diver and also wanting something a little more stayed an unobtrusive.
The endearing qualities of its Russian mechanical movement and its shear size and presence make this a piece that I have grown to love and appreciate.