First impressions on another "Space" watch from Raketa - Sputnik 1

Published on 30 March 2023 at 21:35

At the end of year 2022 Raketa announced the release of the new watch dedicated to the USSR space travel history. This time the focus was on the first satellite "Sputnik 1" which was launched in 1957. So the new watch celebrates the 65th anniversary of this achievement. 

In the preorder process three different options were offered - one with leather/textile strap, one with bracelet and one exclusive edition with both strap and bracelet and with the additional bonus box where also the model of the Sputnik 1 itself was included.

Even though I must admit that the general overlook of the watch has not particularly impressed me I decided to preorder the cheapest version of the watch - the one with leather strap. There are two reasons to do that. The first is that within my collection I have several watches from different soviet or Russian watch companies which are dedicated to Sputnik 1 and this watch fits nicely to it. But this collection is not among the important ones within my overall collection. So, just that reason would not be good enough. The second, more important reason is, that I have all previous "new" Raketa watches, which are connected on one or another way to the space program. First was the "Baikonur", which was "developed for the kosmonauts" (check my opinion about this in my linked review), the second was the "Space Launcher", where parts of the watch were made of Space Launcher Soyuz, and the third was the "Mars 3", dedicated to the USSR Space probe which has landed on Mars. Last one watch was just partially Raketa's watch since it was developed in cooperation with a "Scottish watches" and "The Limited Edition" companies.

All stated watches are 24h hours watches, using the Raketa 2624 movement, the Sputnik is no exemption here. To be precise, other three watches use 2624A (and those three watches are the only 24h watches that use 2624A) and Sputnik uses - as all the rest of Raketa 24h watches - standard 2624 movement. I was not able to find what is the difference between those two sub version (the same A / non A declaration exists also in the basic standard 12h 2615 movement). So, nothing much to say here what was not already said. And more or less with the movement the similarities between Sputnik and other three watches stop. So let me focus now to the Sputnik watch.

The main difference between Sputnik and other three watches is in the case used. For the Sputnik Raketa decided to use the 40,5mm diameter case, to which a Raketa followers are already familiar with. For example, I had Raketa Code watch with the same case, and some other watches also uses this case. Yet the Sputnik is the first 24h watch in this case. And by choosing this case the Sputnik is the smallest 24H watch within the new collection.

The case comes together with a very unusual doomed sapphire crystal. Case together with the glass gives the quite impressive height to the watch. It can not be compared to Spinnaker Piccard, for example, but still, for a basically dress watch with classic 40,5 mm diameter, the total height of almost 17mm is quite big. 

Another strange thing in this case is the cone shaped backplate, which also adds to total height. And it seems that this backplate is a snap on type, I can't imagine how backplate can be screwed in this design.

Backplate has a mineral glass, which offers us to take a peek into the movement. This time the movement decoration is poor compared to some other watches. Raketa has spoiled us, a lot of watches from the new Raketa are famous for it's decoration. This time, even though movement is declared as decorated (Neva waves on the rotor), decoration of the movement is far from expected. I was quite sure that at least on the rotor the Sputnik silhouette would be placed, but no. The very small drawing of the Sputnik can be found only on the outer ring of the backplate. On the other hand "Made in Russia" or "Sdelano v Rossii" is written twice on the movement (bridge and rotor), on the outer ring of the backplate and, as you will see latter, also on the dial.  

On the outer ring you can find also the name of the watch (Sputnik-1), declaration "One of 500", the serial number (which has four digits, I wonder why if there are just 500 pieces). And water resistance of 5ATM is revealed. To be honest, I don't quite believe this case construction can survive 5 ATM, I would not go into the water with this watch.

As you can see the crown is standard Raketa crown. Quite big, just pull/push, no screwing. Top of the crown is red colored, so really nothing new here.

I also have to mention the very big lug size of 22mm, what is huge for 40,5mm watch. I pointed out that already when presenting the Code watch, but I just have to point out that again. The very un-proportional lug size is one of the main reasons why I did not take the bracelet version. I simply had the feeling that 22mm bracelet is too wide for 40mm case.

Now, let me move to the most interesting part of the watch - the dial. When I first saw the dial, my comment was that this dial is just another copy of the many similar Sputnik watches made by some other companies. So, no invention here, boring design with light/dark part of the dial indicating day and night. 

Well, I was very wrong here. The truth is that the design of the dial was inspired by Raketa Sputnik watch, which was developed in 1974 by Raketa. This design was approved also by construction bureau of Sputnik 1. So all later editions of different Sputnik watches following this design were in fact copying Raketa and not vice versa.

Even though I have collected USSR watches for a long time, I have had never seen this Raketa Sputnik watch from 1974. So to be honest, I don't know anything more about this predecessor of Sputnik 1 watch and that was also the reason for my mistake about the origin of the dial design. 

I have to point out two very interesting things here. First one is the fact that the "old" Sputnik has the midnight marked with 24, while the new Sputnik-1 has the midnight marked with 0, so by this the new Sputnik follows the new Raketa principle explained already in Baikonur review.

The second interesting thing is the position of the noon and the midnight. As the old Sputnik also the new Sputnik has the 12.00 at the top of the dial and midnight at the bottom. This is different to all other Raketa 24h watches! 

If you are a regular user of Raketa's 24H watches this might confuse you a bit. But in practice I realized that this switch is much more convenient for a daily use for a standard 12h watch users. In the main part of the day, between 10AM to 4PM position of the hands is more similar to 12H watches. During the night, when the difference between the 12H and 24H dial is the biggest, nobody cares..

The main feature of the dial is hidden in the small print at the lower part of the dial where we can find "Sdelano v Rosii iz AMg6". Translated - Made in Russia from AMg6 - what is an aluminium-magnesium alloy, which is exactly the same special alloy that was used for the metal shield that covered the sphere of the Sputnik-1 satellite. So, watch is not just dedication to Sputnik, it really has some direct link to the satellite itself. 

Investigating the dial further on, one has to stop on the markings. Every two hours (on even numbers) there are distinctive bullet markings plus digits above. The noon is marked with the red bullet. Long lines mark the odd hours. All fine so far. And then the confusion starts. Between two even hours there are five minutes counting the minute intervals. Those four in between minutes are marked with semi lines. And, take care, there are additional small markers in between minute markers! So half minute intervals!! The only possible reason for this solution can be that by this three markings between two consecutive hours markings are used as a quarter of an hour mark. So, bullet full hour, first semi long line first quarter, then small line half an hour, next semi long line tree quarters, and full line next hour. So basically dial can be be used as if the watch is a regulator. But for this purpose hour hand is way too short, there is too much space between the end of the hand and the markings to read with enough precision.

I like one small detail - how the number 6 and the bullet at number six (and 18.00 as well) are cut in half in the reverse color to the base dial color. Even under the high magnification this is done very precise.

Now, let's move to the hands. First and very important, the color of the hands is the biggest mistake of this watch. The silver base of the hands and the white luminova filling above the light and dark silver dial just does not give enough contrast for a good visibility. For a 24h this is even more important. The relatively slim and elegant design of the hands does even worsen the situation regarding the overall visibility. 

As already said, if the designers intended half minute markers to make some purpose, then hour hand should be longer (consequently minute hand as well). Luminova is present, but that's it. Not very good at all.

What about the second hand? Since there is a red disk at the end of the hand (which covers the hours bullets on the dial perfectly btw.), my guess is that this disk represents the Sputnik-1 satellite. If that was the designers intention, then I am just sorry that they were not a bit more brave and that they did not add also at least two antennas out of that disk or - even better, to make the true small replica of the satellite, as is it drawn on the booklet. Maybe they even tried that but the result was poor, I am just speculating....

Red disc is seen perfectly so all in all the seconds are the easiest to read in this watch. Pity that colors are not reversed. 

Despite doomed crystal, watch is worn surprisingly nice. No problems with the height at all. And even though diameter of the watch is 40,5mm, with L2L of 45mm, watch looks and feels bigger. 22 lugs and strap makes that. Leather strap (with the textile outlay at the top) is also very comfortable. No remarks here at all. 

SInce last few watches from Raketa were packed in a very interesting boxes, I was hoping that Raketa does not use anymore the very colorful boxes in which my first Raketa watches were received. But I was disappointed. Even though it is a limited edition watch dedicated to Sputnik, this version was again packed in the ugly standard box. So obviously only the 50 special edition packages also have special box. 

What is taken over from the new packages is the "personal touch" - again the picture of one of the Raketa's workers is attached. This time Ilya, who made the cutting tools needed for the movement production, is presented. And again the nice booklet which describes the short history of the satellite Sputnik and the development of the watch. Plus the invitation to visit the factory.

Price? Within the expected interval of the new Raketa watches. Official price on the Raketa EU web site is 1700 EUR for the strap version, 1800 EUR for the bracelet version, 2300 for the special edition. Stated prices are valid for European Union. The strap version can be bought cheaper at French web shop, where the price is 1570 EUR and you can at the moment use an additional welcome discount of 10% so the final price is around 1400 EUR. The only negative thing is that you have to wait for 3-6 months to get the watch. Still I decided to order through Ocarat... Other versions are not available there at the time being, I am afraid. 

So, if you are just looking for an interesting 24H watch from Raketa, the better and cheaper watches exists (such as Polar, Submariner,..). If you want space 24H watch, go for Baikanur. If all those watches are too big for you, go for Sputnik, which is decent watch but without any true mind blowing surplus. 

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