When it comes to the world of Russian watches, you don’t have a lot of choice.  Basically, you’re headed into the used aftermarket (and if that interests you, check out Kaz over at TWBS as that is his jam).  But what if a Raketa or Vostok is not quite what you had in mind?  Well, the folks over at Gruman have something they’d like to show you, with the Gruman Sputnik 3.

Obviously from the name, the Gruman Sputnik 3 is paying homage to the Russian space program of the 50s.  Accurate for the era (but I’m not sure how accurate for the space program), the brand has gone with a compressor-style case, with the dual crown layout.  In fact, in many ways, this watch feels much more like a dive watch, from the case profile to the inner, two-tone, 60-minute bezel.  But then you get to that outer bezel (with it’s ceramic inset) with the 12-hour scale, and you’ve got what amounts to tracking a second time zone (the brand does offer a GMT variant as well).  So, how else is the brand tying into Russia with the watch, past the name?

The answer to that question is in the dial.  While I initially thought it looked like a wall, an astute observer on Instagram noted what the PR for the watch tells us – it’s a riveted panel look, ostensibly to call to mind the manner in which those early satellites were put together.  I know I’ve seen one in person, but that was a good 13 or so years ago, so I don’t recall it precisely.  I’ll just take the word from the brand at face value.  Realistically, though, what you have here is a very industrial-inspired look to the dial surface.  I suppose a clever modder could do some things to refinish the dial surface to really make that riveted look pop, which could be an interesting route.

Then again, something like that would then clash with all of the polished surfaces on the Gruman Sputnik 3.  The most prominent one would be the ceramic inset on the outer bezel, but you’ve also got the upper surfaces of the case, the dual crowns, and the handset.  So, I’d say this is vintage dive watch gone upscale.  Given that, I was a bit surprised about the crowns.  The lower one, that was standard stuff – unscrew it to get the stem into the winding or setting positions, and things work as expected for the date and time.  The upper crown is where the surprise is.  Yes, it works the inner bezel, but it is not a screw down crown like the lower one is.  I guess if you like having something to fiddle with, that’s fine.  However, if it were me and I was trying to time something, I’d really prefer having a way to disengage the crown from the bezel so I can’t accidentally move it.  Definitely something the brand should look at addressing.

That leads me to the second surprise on the Gruman Sputnik 3.  When I looked at that inner bezel (or reflector ring, if you prefer), you’ll notice the two-tone effect.  I figured this would be an interesting chance for a big chunk of lume on the watch, but that was not the case.  Instead, you’ve got the lume just on the minutes and indices there, along with the luminous paint on the dial markers and hands.  This isn’t a bad thing, per se, just not quite what I was expecting.  Looking at the handset in the dark, though, I do like how you have the double-line effect that picks up how the compass point indices are on the dial.

There is no disputing that the 44mm Gruman Sputnik 3 is a larger watch.  While bigger than I personally prefer, I did find it to wear pretty comfortably.  This is in large part due to the stubby lugs (well, the brand calls it a lugless design), and the fact that it’s only 12.5mm thick.  You’ve also got the slick ceramic bezel and sapphire crystal (there’s another around back) which means it can slide out from under a cuff pretty simply.  And, as always, the light on dark color pallete keeps things crisp, contrasty, and quickly readable.

So, what’s tucked under the hood of the Gruman Sputnik 3?  Well, the spec sheet lists an ETA 2824, but if you have a look at the caseback photos, you’ll notice something different on the engraving there.  Our loaner calls out an SW200, which would of course be from Selitta.  The SW200 movement is largely comparable to the 2824, and I don’t have any qualms with a watch having either.  It’s Swiss-made, it’s accurate, and it’s serviceable.  It’s just something I wanted to call out, if you’re particular about the movement you’ve got coming in on your new watch.  When I asked the brand about this, they’ve got some built out with the SW200, but the go-forward plan is to use the 2824.

At the end of the day, the $675 Gruman Sputnik 3 was a decent daily driver (you can use the code HAPPY19 for a tidy discount).  It’s not to my particular tastes, but that’s just because I’ve moved away from larger dive watches.  If you’re looking for one with vintage aesthetics and some Russian homage in it’s design DNA, you could certainly do worse than this one from Gruman.  It is a shame that the upper crown doesn’t screw down, and that there was the discrepancy with the movement between the watch we had in and the spec sheet, but those are both things that the brand could certainly rectify.  For now, it was a decent introduction (for us) to the brand, and we’ll be keeping an eye on what may be coming next from the brand in terms of future models.  For now, we’ve got the satellite, in either the three-hander (as we’ve reviewed here) or GMT models (which close to doubles the price).  Be sure to sound off below, or over in Slack to let us know what you think about the Gruman Sputnik 3.  gruman-watches.com

Not an asteroid, just the Rune Refinery Apollo 2X

Review Summary
  • Brand & Model: Gruman Sputnik 3
  • Price: 590 EUR (~$675)
  • Who’s it for? You like Russian watches, but are looking for something with Swiss reliability
  • Would I wear it? If I did, it would be sparingly
  • What I’d change: The upper crown should really be able to lock in, to prevent the inner bezel from being accidentally moved
  • The best thing about it: The dial
Tech Specs from Gruman
  • CASE:  316L Stainless steel case, scratch resistant sapphire front, sapphire case back, screw locked crown, water resistant 200M, ceramic bezel
  • CASE WIDTH:  44 mm
  • CASE THICKNESS:  12.50 mm
  • DIAL:  Multilayered dial with C3 super lumino applied metal indexes, diamond cut Hands with C3 color luminescent.
  • BRACELET:  Calfskin leather strap
  • WATER RESISTANCE:  200 Meters
  • CALIBER:  ETA 2824-2

Categorized in:

Automatic, Diver, Featured, Reviews, Under $1000,

Last Update: January 10, 2019