BACKGROUND The ANCHAR is named after the Soviet K-222 attack-sub, which was the fastest submarine ever built. The ANCHAR is Vostok Europe's second foray into the divers watch genre; they released the 20atm EKRANOPLAN in 2009. The ANCHAR not only has an increased stature and 30atm depth rating, but has broken new ground in terms of what a ‘Russian Diver’ is or is perceived to be; it is actually made in Lithuania and uses a Japanese movement; so Russian only in terms of its inspiration.
The ANCHAR was no more than a few weeks on the market before it was adopted by a two diving professionals; an underwater demolition team and a team of underwater archaeologists, who have both had limited editions of the ANCHAR watch built for their team members.
The ANCHAR came in a black Pelican-type case. Inside was the watch, two specialized strap changing tools, an additional custom black leather strap with contrasting yellow stitching and the usual paperwork, which included a pressure testing certificate for the watch. I felt this was an appropriate presentation for the ANCHAR. Thumbs up!
Big bold, sporty, rugged; it has all the aesthetic qualities that I appreciate in a dive watch. The first thing that spoke to me about this particular version of the ANCHAR were its yellow highlights, they are somewhat reminiscent of the first generation of IWC Aquatimers, however on closer inspection the yellow is actually a golden metallic.
Its 48mm case diameter, unusually high (for a dive watch) dial to crystal ratio and narrow bezel design (face on it almost looks like an internal bezel diver) give the ANCHAR a diving instrument type-quality. OK, a dive watch is in fact a diving instrument of sorts, but these days the majority are worn just as wristwatches. In some ways I feel the ANCHOR leans aesthetically more towards diving instrument than wristwatch, which for me makes it even more interesting.
DIAL The ANCHAR’s matte black dial has been marked out with two sets of markers, the inner markers are un-lumed, but the markers on outer ring, have been marked out with tritium gas tubes. There’s a white date window at 6 o’clock. I’m not sure if this is the Eastern European styling or not, but the dial feels almost vintage.
HANDSET The ANCHAR has a really cool handset; the oversized hour hand with its double tritium tubes has an imposing look. Because of this, both hands are easily distinguishable from each other. The second hand is pretty cool, too. This bright yellow hand has luminous material on its pointer and an anchor (not Anchar) at its base.
The ANCHAR uses 15 tritium gas tubes, which means there’s no need to charge up the dial markers with an external light source, but instead they are permanently lit. I like how a separate color (yellow) was used for the 12 o’clock marker and the markers at 3 and 9. This makes telling the time in the dark easier and further helps to distinguish between 6 and 12 o’clock. Tritium tubes aren’t ever particularly bright, so don’t expect your retinas to be damaged, but they are more than sufficient for telling the time in the dark. There’s also a luminous bezel pip.
The Anchar has one of the loveliest side profiles I have seen; not only is it chunky, but the scalloped areas make the watch look quite voluptuous, dare I say sexy. The case has been constructed from 316-L stainless steel and has been bead blasted / satin finished for that added touch of utility. The case measures a substantial 48mm.
CASEBACK Another attractive feature of the ANCHAR is its sturdy case back design with ANCHAR submarine etching and circular holes for the case back tool. You get a very strong nautical feeling from the watch, submarine aside. The etching has been highlighted with a high polish.
BEZEL This is a really great bezel design; from an ergonomic point of view; it’s an absolute pleasure to grip, the spacing between the grip / teeth is perfect. The movement, as it cycles through its 60 clicks is nice and fluid. There’ a lovely clicking sound to it, too. A glossy black and metallic yellow bezel insert has been marked out with an elapsed divers countdown.
CROWN The cogged shaped crown, which has been positioned at 2 o’clock has a design that echoes that of the bezel grip. Using the crown is problem free thanks to this and its generous proportions. The crown stem is rock-solid! The crown is not signed, but instead has the same star-shaped hex screw head as the lugs. It looks cool, too!
CRYSTAL The ANCHAR uses a hardened mineral crystal, which has been coated with anti-reflective material. The ANCHAR has a very large dial to crystal ratio, so I think a sapphire crystal, which would have been preferable might have pushed the cost up considerably.
Instead of using one of Vostok Europe’s own movements; the ANCHAR has instead been fitted with a NH25 SII (Japan); a 21 jewel automatic movement that is non-crown-winding, non-hacking and is thus wound by the movement of its wearer. It’s an interesting choice and one that presents a dilemma for fans of Russian watches. Why put a Japanese movement in a Russian diver? Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure, but I would imagine cost and availability aside the Seiko movements are incredibly robust and stable. They are also as reliable as you’ll get for the money. Vostok Europe no doubt felt that this would be a good choice for their latest diver.
This movement is made by SEIKO, who aren’t really known for supplying movements to third parties, but do also supply the same NH25A movement to Invicta for use in one of their dive watches. The use of a Japanese movement will no doubt confuse some and might even make the Anchar less attractive to Russian watch fans, whilst perhaps gaining new supporters by appealing to those who appreciate the finer qualities of a SEIKO caliber. I think a better choice could have been made though. My main issue with NH25A is that I have to wear it to wind it.
The ANCHAR is water-resistant to 30atm or 300 meters. Each watch comes with its own individual water tightness test certificate; mine was successfully tested to 30.594 Bar.
For its price the build quality is excellent. Everything is nice and tight. The watch feels solid, has some nice weight to it despite the lack of sapphire crystal. It feels strong enough to stand up to some abuse. Everywhere has been finished really nicely. It’s a 700 dollar watch, but in no way does it feel cheap. Thumbs up!
STRAP / BUCKLE
The ANCHAR comes fitted with 24mm black custom silicone divers strap. The strap has two contours that run down its length with a ‘Vostok Europe embossing. The bead blasted stainless steel buckle was not as tight as I would have liked it, a little wobbly to be honest. It also lacked the needed weight to have kept it on par with the rest of the watch. In other words a heftier and more solid buckle would have just made this watch perfect, as it is the buckle was a bit of letdown.
Hours, minutes, seconds, date, a 60 click unidirectional divers bezel with elapsed dive time, 15 Tritium gas tubes, hex-key lug system, a water-resistance of 300m and comfortable rubber divers strap.
MSRP: 519USD. A fair list price, when you consider the excellent build quality of the ANCHAR.
CONSIDER Apart from the many wonderful boutique divers that are on offer these days, not much really compares. You could go possibly consider the Vostok Europe EKRANOLOPLAN, which has an exhibition case back. This 47mm / 20atm diver retails for 449USD.
OVERALL I think the ANCHAR, which still has a strong connection with Russia not least from its Soviet Military inspiration sets a turning point for Vostok Europe. The inclusion of a Japanese movement speaks volumes to me. Vostok Europe are a company, who are not only broadening their product range by the inclusion of noteworthy divers watches, but have shown that they are watch company, who potentially have a few more tricks up their sleeves. Might we even see something with a Swiss movement in the future?!
This is my second Vostok Europe diver; I have been impressed with both of them, but the ANCHAR feels more like a serious divers watch than their first attempt. The styling of the dial might not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no taking away from the case, bezel and caseback design of the ANCAHR; they say dive watch through and through! I’m very keen to see how Vostok Europe develop their line of dive watches in the future and will be meeting with them in Basel this year to preview their latest offerings. Water-resistance-wise let’s hope it’s onwards and upwards for Vostok Europe; a 500m or 1’000m diver would be well received. Many thanks to Igor and Gleb.