PART FOUR: Brands We Love To Hate

This section wraps up my recent series on quirky brands (of many types) encountered in my search for a new wristwatch.


My purchase finally arrived …having traversed thousands of miles, six weeks of time and the barrier of cultural differences and language differences to land safely at the Pineapple Hill driveway. From there it  crawled on its hands and knees to our door seeking asylum under the duress of bad things happening back in the Mother Land.

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I ended up going with a Russian dive watch originally designed before the Cold War –the Vostok “Amphibian”. Developed for military (and other governmental) purposes, it was created to be durable …and cheap as dirt.


The Vostok (also “Boctok”) supposedly offers water resistance down to 660 feet. I’ll never go that deep to verify the claim …but if I lose it in the lake or ocean perhaps someone will find it still cranks up. I might drop an FBomb or two but, given what little I paid, I consider it “disposable” (Another plus.)  In fact, as I trek further into “Going Native”, I see much greater value in things easily let go of.

This photo of a disassembled Vostok watch appears in Canadian photographer Todd McLellan’s book “Things That Come Apart”.


Of course the Vostok brand’s background story (Russian military) is interesting, and I like its  oddball following. Vostok owners definitely don’t mind stepping outside the box in their thinking. But what makes Vostoks especially fun is the broad choice of design styles available.  In addition to different face colors (white, blue and black) and different bracelet styles (metal, leather, rubber or fabric), Vostok stands out for its choice of icons related to military

Scuba Dude makes a "night dive"
Scuba Dude makes a “night dive”

and other themes. For example, you can get one with a submarine, ship or tank logo. You can get one with a radio signal icon (presumably worn by guys nicknamed “Sparky”). And, of course there’s the famous Vostok “scuba dude”.


For a more upscale (less cheesey) look, check out their European line (I like the Gaz-Limo Dual Time version)

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In addition to passing the test of my Six-Point Gauntlet for purchase decisions, The Bill Murray Factor came into play…


Earlier in the day I had posted a blog about him living “just down the road” from Pineapple Hill (in Charleston). He shows up unexpectedly at parties, weddings, marathons, etc. I think he’s a genius. Or, at the very least, a one man walking riot.  (A guy I used to sail with could nail everyone of Murray’s lines from

Bill Murray wearing his Vostok wristwatch in A Life Aquatic.
Bill Murray wearing his Vostok wristwatch in A Life Aquatic.

CaddyShack.) When I heard he lived so close, I invited him up to The Hill for New Year’s Eve. (He must not have gotten my invitation in time …why else would he not show up?)


Anyway, a few hours later, by sheer coincidence, I read that Murray wore a Vostok in the movie A Life Aquatic (playing a character similar to Jacques Cousteau). The tie in with Murray and that particular Murray movie elevated Vostok into “serious contender” status.


Then, that afternoon, when Crystal was home, who shows up on Ellen but none other than Bill Murray!!!

That was the last little push I needed.

I went straight to Ebay (no stopping at The Chive this time).  and straight to the “complete purchase” button, and mashed it flat with the same apocalyptic finality as Putin would.

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Unfortunately “buyer’s high” goes into a harsh tail spin at “compete purchase” starting at the . In the same nano-second that the button is rising back up from deployment, the purchase process jolts into a steep nose dive. Why? Well because after all that hard work what happens next is totally out of your hands.

It arrived from Russia ...looking genuinely Russian.
It arrived from Russia …looking genuinely Russian.

takes a sudden plunge at that point because delivery time from Russia takes so long. It becomes painful feeling the minutes tick tick tick without being able to see them on your new Vostok. You become haunted wondering if all that work choosing it was worth running The Gauntlet.

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It arrived on a Saturday while

My purchase from Vostok was carefully packaged. (Did I mention I bought TWO?)
My purchase from Vostok was carefully packaged. (Did I mention I bought TWO?)

I was away …leaving all day Sunday to wait until Monday.


The lady that runs our little post office out here was clearly curious when she handed it over. Probably it had been x-rayed (perhaps even opened) on its way. But the look in her eye implied I was now on some sort of list. Probably not many packages from the Land of Putin show up in Jonesville –especially as the Ukraine crisis was breaking wide open.

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It should be understood that Vostok watches require patience and an open mind.


For instance, when “auto” is used to describe the Vostok “automatic” mechanism, be sure to translate that as:

The plastic box --with operating instructions (in Russian, of course)
The plastic box –with operating instructions (in Russian, of course)

“You auto plan on rearranging your life to rewind and reset the time and date a lot.”


Still, so far so good.


I’ve had a fun adventure purchasing it…

…and expect the time ahead to be an adventure too.

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And yes, seeing the Vostok described

Vostok's European line has a more upscale look.
Vostok’s European line has a more upscale look.

as the AK47 of wristwatches is what led me down that wacky path toward the AK47 of Everything.


I’ll go back and add Vostok to that list (link provided below).

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What about you?


Made any quirky purchases lately?


What are your “love to hate” brand experiences?

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— Tim Bryant, Surf Director


Vostok Russian Military AMPHIBIAN  wrist watch 

VOSTOK is a famous russian trade mark. (In Russian  “Vostok” means East )

Vostok Watch Makers, Inc. produces mainly rugged military-style and diver’s watches at its factory in Tatarstan, Chistopol city, Russia. 

The history of the factory is that it started in 1942 during WWII. The  First Moscow Watch Factory ( most known as Polojt factory )  was evacuated  to the East to small town of Chistopol on the Kama river. During  WWWII the factory produced wrist watches and military equipment. After the war part of First Moscow Watch Factory was relocated back to Moscow and  the factory continued   to produce the wrist watches with its own trade mark Vostok.

Vostok now is a leader of the Russian watch industry. Vostok factory had been an official supplier for the Ministry of Defense of the USSR (now Russia ), and produced watches for the Soviet ( Russian) Army. Vostok is the official supplier of Russian Army now as well.


–  Automatic Vostok self-winding movement 2416B  with 31 ruby jewels  (no hands  winding required, but You can wind up it with winding stem if You have not worn  the watch in some time) 
Water resistant up to 200 meters  660 feet
– Central second hand
– Anti-shock balance
– Screw-down crown, as well as case back
– Case diameter (without  the crown): 40 mm
– Case thickness: 12 mm
– Stainless steel bracelet
– Width of bracelet  18 mm
– Date-of-the month calendar
– Graduated rotated bezel
– Totally wound watches run not less than 31 hrs.
– Stainless steel  case
– Luminous hands and markings
– Average term of service 10 years
– 1 year manufacture`s  warranty

The AK47 of Everything

Brands We Love to Hate (Part One)

Brands We Love To Hate (Part Two)

Brands We Love To Hate (Part Three)

My Six Point Gauntlet for Purchase Decisions

Guitar made from an AK47

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Bill Murray (the coolest Where’s Waldo ever!)

I’m not sure where I’ll end up New Year’s Eve but I hope Bill Murray will be there.

It’s fun hearing about him. He seems to show up everywhere. Photo bombing, party crashing, bar tending, doling out fatherly advice and brotherly shots.

He’s like a best bud from the good old days still going strong. Everybody’s legendary favorite uncle –through the history of time—rolled into one guy.

It’s bird watching, Where’s Waldo, and a reverse surprise party combined.

And the cool part: He’s in Charleston, just down the road. As much a part of its character now as The Battery and Market Street.

What I want most is to turn toward the door of a crowded room just in time to see Murray making a grand entrance like he did in that cavalier scene getting off the plane in Stripes.

So far, the closest I’ve come to a Bill Murray Sighting is second hand. Crystal and her friend ended up jogging beside him during the Cooper River Bridge Run one year.

I was in a bar. Plenty of people were waving martinis. But none of them were Murray.

Nope. He was out on the bridge. Jogging next to my wife.


Sidebar Story—

I once crashed a private Scientology party in Clearwater. It was Christmas or New Year’s Eve. I had just moved there and didn’t know anybody. I saw the crowd (at a restaurant next to Clearwater Harbor) and decided to join the fun.

I’ve always been a “the more the merrier” type.

Things were going well at first. I met a girl in the drink line and she seemed to like me.

But it turned out she liked Scientology better. Because she ratted me out to the Party Nazis. And they promptly showed me the door.

I wish Bill had been there with me. What a night that might have been!


At any rate, wherever you wander and wherever you roam this New Year’s Eve, keep an eye out for Murray.

Give him a hug or pat on the back and tell him “Hello and Happy New Year from Pineapple Hill.”

(Check out these Bill Murray sightings at


— Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill