In my post about Sturmanskie I noted that the Russian watch industry doesn’t have the same history as that of the Swiss and American companies. Raketa is another example. They are produced in Saint Petersburg at the Petrodvorets Watch Factory.
Founded by Peter the Great in the early 1700s, this factory began by manufacturing luxury objects for Europe’s elites, with pieces now held in Versailles, the Louvre and other palaces. It continued in this vein into the 20th century, creating iconic works like Lenin’s mausoleum and the red stars installed on the Kremlin.
Following the factories destruction during the Second World War, it was rebuilt on the orders of Joesph Stalin to manufacture watches. The first replica luxury watches were soon produced under the Pobeda moniker.
So much of Russian watchmaking is influenced by the military in general, and the Space Race specifically. Raketa or ‘Rocket’ is no exception. When the Russian’s beat the American’s into space, with Yuri Gagarin’s Vostok 1, the brand was created in tribute.
To give some sense of scale, the plant had its own schools, university and hospital. The 8000 staff could fit into its two atomic bunkers, and at its height, the factory was producing millions of watches a year.
Are Raketa Watches Good Quality?
Pobeda was the Petrodvorets Watch Factory’s affordable brand and Raketa the higher end, luxury label. As mentioned earlier, Raketa is one of the few watch brands to produce every part of the watch in-house. This was due mainly to Stalin’s order that the plant in no way be dependent on the West.
Raketa is at the top end of what I would consider affordable. They’re not like the bullet-proof, budget watches that Vostok produce, and they tend to be priced above Sturmanskie too. But you do get a lot of watch for the money.
At the brands core is the in-house production.
Most other brands buy in their movements from a third party. That could be movements from Chinese giants Sea-Gull, Japan’s massive Seiko Corporation or the dominant Swiss brand ETA.
Other brands may customise or modify movements, and even companies that create their own movements may buy in a few components, usually hairsprings and escapements.
Raketa makes everything for their replica rolex watch. Including the springs. The quality is there.
Raketa Watches Now
The mechanical watch industry suffered in the 1970s due to the introduction of battery-powered quartz watches. In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed, causing even more havoc for Russian watchmaking.
It wasn’t until 2022 that we really saw the rebirth of Raketa when they launched the high-end watches that we see now. What I’d like to do is highlight the best seven watches that the factory currently produces, demonstrating the scope and quality of the brand.
I’m going to jump straight in with a unique piece. A watch that demonstrates why watch fans find this brand so interesting.
The Copernicus model was originally launched in the 1980s and was inspired by Nicolaus Copernicus’ proposition that the Sun was at the centre of our universe. Raketa’s aim was to create a watch design that celebrated this scientific achievement.
The result is this quirky piece that replaces the minute hand with a ring that symbolises the Earth and the hour hand with a circle representing Jupiter. It takes the Earth a year to rotate around the sun and Jupiter twelve years, so they do this over a 12 hour period on the watch.
The dial construction has a beautiful blue background for the sky and the contrasting circles for the planets. It takes a little getting used to but makes for an eye-catching model. In terms of build and quality, it has an in-house Raketa movement and a sapphire crystal.