Since the dawn of humankind, we have been gazing up into the skies and wondering what’s out there. The limitless void of space has always drawn us, and since the 1960s, we have been dipping our toes in it from time to time. First with unmanned space flight, then experimental flights with animals (touchy subject), and following Yuri Gagarin’s successful first mission in 1961, we have been sending people into space regularly. Raketa pays homage to the Russian-led missions and the iconic Soyuz space rocket with two Raketa Space Launcher Limited Editions.
Did you know that – depending on which definition of “space” you follow – more than 600 people have been in space so far? This might sound like quite a lot, but considering the fact we’ve been sending people up there for over 60 years, it’s not all that many. Regardless, these people are the only ones to have been able to look back at our planet. Just imagine being able to see our entire planet with your own eyes instead of through a picture. I imagine this is a genuinely life-changing experience.
One of the brands most deeply involved with space is the Russian watch manufacture Raketa. The company is even named “Rocket”, so the connection is evident from the get-go. Ever since the 1960s, Raketa has been engineering watches to be worn in space. The latest model is an ode to Russian space missions and uses materials sourced from the famous Soyuz space launcher and the Sokol spacesuit worn by cosmonauts. What is remarkable to learn is that the Soyuz rocket system has been in use since the 1960s and is the most frequently used mode of “transport” to get people and equipment into space. It has made over 1,700 flights so far and shows no signs of being retired any time soon.
The Raketa Space Launcher comes in two models, references 0281 and 0282. The difference between the two is quite simple: ref. 0281 uses a white dial and 0282 a dark blue aventurine dial. Aside from some other minor differences, the two are identical. The barrel-shaped steel case measures a sizeable 43mm in diameter, 13.15mm in height and 47mm from lug to lug. The continually bidirectional rotating bezel is made of metal from the Soyuz-2.1a rocket. It is engraved with the rocket’s full name and cardinal markings. This specific Soyuz-2.1a took off on a mission to the International Space Station on 14 October 2020, with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
Both men were actively involved in the design of the Raketa Space Launcher and were adamant about the necessity of a 24-hour scale of the watch. When onboard the ISS, you experience 16 sunrises and sunsets over a 24-hour period, so it makes complete sense to use such a scale to try and keep a grip on the actual time. The hours and minutes are indicated by hands made to look like the ones on the control panel of Yuri Gagarin’s original spacecraft. The 24-hour scale has large, applied numerals with Super-LumiNova.
The dial also shows a graphic display of Earth in the middle, set against a white background or the sparkly deep blue aventurine background. This disc rotates clockwise, and a red finger indicates the seconds. The scale for the seconds is printed on the inside of the sapphire crystal. A two-tone day/night scale encircles the dial and completes the indications.
Powering the Raketa Space Launcher limited editions is the calibre 2624A, which is made in Raketa’s manufacture in Saint Petersburg and also used in the Baikonur. Raketa is one of the few brands that develops, produces, assembles, and regulates almost everything in-house, even down to the hairspring. This automatic wound movement has a distinct feature to its construction designed to bypass the lack of gravity needed to spin the rotor when in space. This system disengages the winding rotor from the rest of the movement when the watch is wound manually, via the crown. The benefit of this system is also to reduce wear on the bearings and wheels in the winding module. The movement runs at a frequency of 18,000vph (2.5Hz) and provides 40 hours of running time when fully wound. It is regulated to run within -10/+20 seconds of deviation per day. The movement has matte-finished bridges featuring printed constellations for decoration and a blue-coated rotor.
The Raketa Space Launcher limited editions come on a strap made from a Sokol spacesuit, as worn by all Cosmonauts during space missions. A secondary leather strap is supplied with the watch, both featuring quick-release pushpins to easily exchange the two. Both models are limited to 300 pieces each and will set you back EUR 1,750 (white dial) or EUR 1,850 (aventurine dial), including taxes. The watches come with certifications issued by the Roscosmos space agency on the authenticity of sourced materials for the bezel and strap.
For more information, please visit Raketa.com.