The economic dimension of the world’s political division during the Cold War was paramount. Producing precise and reliable watches was essential, and just like other strategic industrial activities, the Soviet government supported Russian watch manufacturers such as Raketa, Poljot, Slava or Vostok. Naturally, Soviets also needed to produce their own tool watches. Among these were Raketa watches for submariners (Raketa is located on the shores of the Baltic). Fast-forward 50 years and Raketa releases the Leopard 24, a submariner watch using original metal from a Leopard Akula class nuclear submarine!
To create this modern watch, Raketa liaised with Captain Valery Dyakonov, the man who supervised the pre-launch stages of the Leopard submarine, conducted its sea trials and was its first commander until 1996. Submarines operate beneath the sea for months… The claustrophobic life onboard a submarine is not for everyone. Night and day are indistinguishable. Soviet submarine crews needed a purpose-built watch, with a 24-hour movement allowing them to easily distinguish day from night. The Raketa Leopard 24 limited edition continues this tradition.
The face of the watch looks a bit puzzling at first but is pretty cool. Raketa mentions that the hands are inspired by the control panels of the submarine. As you would expect for a submarine-inspired watch, the hands and dial markings feature luminescent material for optimal legibility in all conditions. At the periphery of the dial, six alternate red/grey lines divide the day into periods corresponding to crew member shifts. In addition, the colours of the top of the watch (dial & top leather strap) and of the bottom of the watch (screws fixing the bridges of the movement, rotor and lining of the strap) are identical to the colours of the submarine’s hull: black for the top and red for the bottom.
The Raketa Leopard 24 is presented in a 44mm steel case. The star of the show is the inner bezel, which is fashioned out of original metal from a Leopard Akula class nuclear submarine. It is engraved with a miniature submarine and Cyrillic writing that bring that exotic touch, at least for non-Russian speakers. The large crown and the caseback screw down ensuring water-resistant to 20 ATM or 200m.
Inside this robust case is the in-house Raketa calibre 2624A, an automatic movement running at 2.5Hz, boasting 40 hours of power reserve when fully wound. Since the 1970s, when it produced its first Polar watch, the Raketa Watch Factory started to craft movements driving the hour hand around the dial in 24 hours (instead of the usual 12 hours). Its use was later extended to Soviet submariners and cosmonauts, professions also working in extreme conditions where a 24-hour watch makes it easier to distinguish day from night. Turning the watch over, it is visible via the exhibition caseback with a red rotor and a wave motif that Raketa calls “Onega Waves.”
The Raketa Leopard 24 is presented on a black leather strap with a pin buckle. Inside the presentation box, there is a spare silicone rubber strap and a branded watch strap-changing tool. It also comes with a certificate authenticating the origin of the Leopard metal and the official insignia of the Leopard submarine.
A limited edition of 300 pieces, the Raketa Leopard 24 retails for EUR 1,550. For more information and orders, visit www.raketa.com.