Created back in the early 1960s during Soviet times, Raketa was once one of the top watch manufacturers around the world. From the earliest days, space and kosmos have played an important role for the brand, down to the name of the company that was referring to the first manned space flight by the Russian cosmonaut Gagarin. There’s another important watch in the brand’s historical collection that is linked to space and kosmos, and that’s the Raketa Copernicus. Today, the Russian (and proud to be…) manufacture presents a new limited edition based on this concept, with some stories to tell.
Yet another typically Russian story
When you look at our coverage of Raketa, besides the fact that is one of the most fascinating manufacture visits I’ve done in my career, and also the only watchmaker that is, to my knowledge, using actual toothbrushes as part of its equipment (yes, it’s not a joke, see why here), you’ll see that space and kosmos, but also quirky and unusual designs, are great sources of inspiration for the ex-Soviet brand, now proud to be crafting Russian-made watches. From a counterclockwise display to a watch that indicates the start of a new era with a Big Zero, or finally a timepiece made with Baikonur cosmonauts, most of the brand’s creations have a great story to tell. The latest watch to surface from Russia is based on an emblematic Soviet creation, and once again pays tribute to this kosmos connection, in a very personal and (pleasantly) quirky way.
This watch is the Raketa Copernicus, named after Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at its centre – a controversial (back then) theory named heliocentrism published his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) in 1543, just before his death. Now known as a major event in the history of science, this conception of the Sun being the centre of our system changed our entire conception of astronomy, time and philosophy.
Based on this now universally accepted conception, and with the brand’s usual inspiration for anything related to space, stars and kosmos, Soviet Raketa designers created the Copernicus model, a watch that will become one of the most emblematic pieces of the brand, together with the Big Zero watch. And as such, you’d certainly imagine that the display, which consists of hands shaped like planets and revolving around the dial, and are representing the Earth and the Moon, with the background being the Sun… Well, in fact, the story is different and was never made public during Soviet times. But for the launch of this limited edition, Raketa reveals the “official” concept:
“When Soviet Raketa designers created the Copernicus model, they had the following idea in mind: the big circle (minute hand) symbolises the Earth, and the intermediary circle (hour hand) symbolises Jupiter. Why? Because the Earth orbits the sun in 1 year and Jupiter in 12 years: exactly the same ratio as between the minute hand (big circle) that “orbits” the dial in 1 hour and the hour hand (intermediary circle) that “orbits” the dial in 12 hours.”
The new Raketa Copernicus Limited Edition
In 2019, Raketa re-released the emblematic Copernicus watch, with a design that was mixing elements of the earliest models, with the background consisting of an off-centred star with its rays radiating from its centre, and a display that evokes the position of the planets relative to the sun, with (back then) two circles – one opened, one full – and a central seconds hand.
For 2021, the brand is bringing a new limited edition that, without changing entirely the basic concept of the Copernicus watch, adds several unique features to make it even more celestial. First, it is housed in a stainless steel case of 40.5mm with a black PVD coating. On top is still an ultra-domed sapphire crystal that adds to the thickness of the watch but also makes it very special on the wrist, with a bubble-like effect that goes well within this kosmos-like inspiration. The Raketa Copernicus Limited Edition is worn on a black leather strap with blue stitchings and a red leather lining.
The real deal in this limited edition is the dial, which has been updated with semi-precious stones to create this highly celestial look. The background is made of dark blue aventurine, which (you’ve guessed) depicts a night sky sparkling with stars. Slightly off-centred to the right side of the dial is a round yellow agate element, which uneven surface mimics both the colour and surface of the Sun.
Then comes the display, but even if it might look complex at first, these discs are actually rather traditional, as just hands shaped in a quirky way. Time is read classically, with 12-hour, 60-minute and 60-second motions of the hands. The largest of the hands, with its opened structure, indicates the minutes and symbolizes planet Earth. The golden globe, as explained above, represents Jupiter and indicates the hours. Finally, new to this Copernicus Limited Edition, the seconds hand has been changed from a standard baton hand to now a smaller opened disk.
Revealed under the new see-through caseback is an automatic movement entirely manufactured (including critical elements such as the hairspring) in Raketa’s manufacture, near Saint Petersburg. For this edition, the solid and no-nonsense self-winding movement has been specifically decorated with stars and planets engraved on the automatic bridge, a rotor that features hand-made Neva waves and the movement is gold plated to remind the colour of the sun. Beating at 18,000 vibrations/hour, this tried-and-tested movement (developed during the Soviet era) has a 40h power reserve.
Availability & Price
The 2021 Raketa Copernicus Limited Edition will be made in 300 pieces. It is now available for orders on the brand’s website and it is priced, depending on your location, at EUR 1,290 (excl. taxes) and EUR 1,500 (incl. taxes). More details and orders at raketa.com.