Vostok Amphibia Bezel Mod

by Guillermo Power 10

vostok_amphibia_bezel_mod

Vostok Amphibia Bezel Mod

Unlike collectors of fine Swiss watches who often scuff at non-original watches Vostok fans rebel in modifying their timepieces. A Rolex or Omega with a non-original dial or bezel is more often than not worth considerably less than a watch in original form, conversely a Vostok Amphibia or Komandirski with a custom dial or bezel is generally worth more than the stock watch as attested by the many modified Vostoks sold on eBay! But of course there are exceptions, you shouldn’t modify a rare Vostok!

One of the most common modifications done to Vostoks is a custom bezel, there are three common approaches here:

  1. Purchase a fully custom made bezel: these often use Seiko inserts and vary in quality and price.  Not an approach that I like due to the variable nature of these custom bezels.
  2. Use a stock bezel from a different model.
  3. Or modify a stock bezel.

This article is about the very last option; modifying a stock bezel. It is a little known fact that the bezels for classic Amphibias are generally made of brass and they are chrome plated to achieve that classic shinny look that Vostok is known for. You can easily go from a stock bezel to a beautiful aged brass bezel with just a little elbow grease!

vostok_amphibia_bezel

I find that the brass bezel look perfectly suits the rugged looks of the Amphibia, it goes from being a quirky and rugged looking watch to looking like something you’d find Captain Nemo wearing.

Step 1: Remove the bezel from the watch

You have to pry it out, there’s less danger of scratching the watch by doing this with your fingers that with a jeweller’s knife. I usually take the more manual finger approach.

remove_vostok_bezel

Step 2: Remove the chrome

You don’t need to do the whole surface of the bezel, just the top part. Don’t worry about achieving a perfectly smooth finish right now, this will be done later. In fact, a perfectly smooth finish is not needed as the look we want to achieve is rugged, rough and ready. So you choose, perfect polished finished or rough and ready. Both will suit the watch just fine.

This is the dremel bit I prefer to use for this mod:

dremel

There’s no complicated science to using the dremel, this is how I do it:

vostok_amphibia_bezel_tutorial

I use mid revs and try to stay as flat against the bezel as I can in order not to damage it.

I do as many passes as I need, here you can see just half the bezel done with one pass. As you can see there’s still plenty of chrome on it:

vostok_amphibia_bezel_modification

After a few passes it will look like this, rough and ready but largely chrome free:

vostok_bezel_polish

Step 3: Polish

My tool of choice is a nail polisher, these are available in most drug stores. The one I used is this:

nail_polish

The rest is elbow grease! The polisher is graded all the way from 1 to 6, just polish it all the way around starting with the surface labelled 1 and work your way up to 6. Part of the way through the polishing process it will look like this:

vostok_bezel

After polishing for a bit longer it will look like this:

vostok_modded_bezel

When you are  happy with it give it a wash and see what it looks like. This is what I ended up with, it could do with a little more polish but for the purpose of the guide this finish will do:

modded_vostok

Step 4: Aging and patina

You can either wait for it to patina naturally or give it a head start. Since I am after the patina look I am going to give it a little bit of a head start. For this I use vinegar and salt:

vostok_mod

That is a vinegar and salt solution, leave the bezel there suspended above with the hot solution, the idea being to expose to the bezel to the fumes as much as possible. Cover it up, it helps expose it to more fumes. At the end the bezel will be slightly darker, don’t wash it off. Just leave it covered in the crust salt and vinegar coating and over the next few days it will age nicely:

vostok_amphibia_bezel_brass

This is the end result!

Wrapping up

We hope you enjoyed this Vostok Amphibia Bezel Mod Tutorial!

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Comments (10)

  1. Very interesting article, Guillermo, and easy to understand. Great job!

    1. Thanks very much :)

    1. Looks amazing! :)

  2. Sorry, I’m not a fan. Now it looks old and worn out and the majority of everyday people (who don’t know what a Vostok is, or the history behind them) will wonder why you’re wearing something that looks like it came from a thrift shop. The stainless case is polished and nice, and it doesn’t really match the worn out looking brass.
    The chrome bezel looks clean and fresh and dressy. So I would probably just leave it chrome. The brass will discolor and need periodic work as well.

    1. No problem, Matt! It is not for everyone for sure. In my opinion, it looks good like this and I see it more as a vintage looking tool watch rather than a thrift watch purchase, but that’s me. Thanks for the comment!

    1. Thank you, I enjoyed it too!

    2. Thank you so much!

  3. Guillermo, that’s a really great idea! bezel that way looks much more individual and watches itself way more cool! I got recently the problem with bezel on my new komandirskie scratched them, didn’t know what to do but to replace them with a new one but now I think like try your method to see how it gonna look like, I really like it! but for polish I only have cape cop metal polish cloth do you think it will do fine to polish the chrome off? and how much salt and vinegar did you put in and how long does it take to suspend the bezel for fumes? once again very creative solution!

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