One of my first articles about watches was the short introduction of the Raketa Russian Code watch. At that time I still did not have my own web page, I also was not so interested in writing such impressions about my watches at all. But an idea to make a watch where all hands run in opposite direction to what we are used to was so interesting to me that at that time I decided to publish an introduction to that watch on our local forum. An article was later revised and published on my pages as well. If you are not familiar with the watch I strongly recommend first reading the revised article before continuing with reading this one.
As you can see, despite the intriguing idea of counter clockwise movement, which made that model quite unique, the stated model had some serious design flaws. The biggest failure were the hands, which looked plastic and awful. The globe in the middle of the dial had very intensive colors and in addition to the already very full dial, the Zodiac map was printed around the globe. So all in all the first impression about the total design of the watch was not good and the only reason that watch was worth mentioning was the already stated "wrong" direction. I also mentioned that such a movement deserves to be revealed fully with a glass backplate, showing just a balance wheel was simply not good enough.
What has happened since then?
a) Well, I realized that watch is so ugly to me that I simply can not put it on my hand despite a lot of fun the watch offers when friends tries to read the time from it. So I decided to sold it one year ago to a local collector of the Russian watches.
b) Raketa changed hands on their next reissue somewhere in 2021 or 2022 (I am not quite sure about the exact date). Compare my original watch (left one) with the reissued one (picture is taken from the Raketa's web page since I did not purchase this version), the minute and hour hands are very different. But still - just replacing the hands was not enough for me to purchase the reissued version instead of my already sold one. (A remark is needed here - this hands discussion is only relevant for the black dial version. The white dial version had different - better - hands from the very first version).
c) Three weeks ago I received an email from Raketa announcing the all new version of Russian Code model. I of course clicked on the link and - I was shocked! Have they been reading my article or was I just a visionary?? The new version in front of me simply has all the changes that I suggested! And even more.
So, let's check all the changes in every detail.
1) The hands are the same as those used in Sputnik watch. An interesting choice, having in mind that better hands than original ones were already introduced in the intermediate model. And just judging from the commercial picture, my first reaction was that those intermediate hands might even be better (or at least more readable) than these ones, taken from Sputnik. Soon I realized I was wrong. I will elaborate on that later.
The side effect of the stated change is that now the watch offers some night visibility - new hands have luminova, while original hands were without it. The luminova is not the best one and fades out soon, but still - better than nothing. I have no idea how good the luminova was on the second generation of the hands so I can't comment on that.
2) Sputnik and the new Russian Code (and some other models as well) now also share a the same case, glass and the crown. The same platform was used already in the first edition of the Russian Code, the main change is that originally the case was black PVD plated, now it is not anymore. So, from the side view watches look identical.
Therefore I can't add anything to the case, glass,... what was not already said in the original Code introduction or Sputnik review. Same for the movement as well.
3) The crucial difference is the total redesign of the dial. The new dial is much cleaner, subtle, non aggressive.
a) The aggressive colored globe is now replaced by relief where the sea part (light blue in the first version) has the same base color as the rest of the dial, while continental parts (yellow in the first version) has a slightly lighter tone of the same color.
b) The Zodiac is completely removed.
c) The sharp edged hour digits are now replaced by very elegant and soft digits. I was not complaining about the original digits in my article but nevertheless I strongly support this change as well. The new digits are much better than previous ones.
d) Red pointer indicator showing the rotation of the hands (and Earth) is now removed. Instead of that a hardly noticeable pointer is placed between 0 and 1 at the tiny inner minute circle. Again, good cleaning step, which I did not point out as an issue in my article but I fully agree with the change. In between, the red pointer and the red Raketa sign were changed to white, but that did not improve the general look of the watch much... And I am glad that now the Raketa sign is again red and not white.
e) The "Sdelano v Rossii" sign is moved from the globe far below and the sign "limitirovannaja serija" is removed from the dial. Again - cleaning...
f) Inner minute circle is now on a separate layer (light 3D touch) using a lighter color than the rest of the dial (same as the continental part of the globe).
All stated improvements completely changed the character of the watch. What used to be a kitcy, childish, exaggerating watch (in a way a typical design of ex. USSR watch production) has now become a very elegant dress watch. And as such, the hands from Sputnik are a better pick than the hands from the intermediate model. The entire composition of the watch is too elegant for those intermediate model's hands.
And.... there is another change.
4) The back plate which revealed just the balance wheel is replaced by an open - glass backplate. Unfortunately, the glass is just mineral and not sapphire. But we can finally see the movement! I have again made photos with the comparison of the Sputnik 2624 movement and this 2615R movement (the left one is the Code). Sadly the main bridge is so big that it covers all the interesting details which would show the technical approach to the reverse running movement.
Compared to some other Raketa's movements in this one Raketa did not put much effort on decoration (same is true for Sputnik). So, at the end of the day this open backplate is a kind of a disappointment.
Speaking of disappointments..
The first one is that there is just one leather strap included. This is not really a serious flaw, I am just spoiled since for all Raketa models that I purchased recently it was common to get at least two different straps. Plus this time strap is placed on standard lugs compared to other models which have quick release lugs.
The biggest disappointment however is the packaging, which is just Raketa's basic standard packaging. Such a special watch deserves a special package. Some reverse thing at least,... There are only two additions compared to the package of the old model. One is - what is now a standard issue for all Raketa watches as well - an introduction of one of Raketa's workers. This time we have Svetlana who "attached the hairspring to the balance wheel". The second improvement is that you now do not receive any paper documents such as user's guide and warranty rules, but the warranty card has a code for the Raketa's web page, when those documents can be found. I appreciate this change.
The EU price for this watch is 1800 EUR, now it is limited to 500 pieces. But the previous version showed that Raketa has a very "USSR approach" to the meaning of "limited", so I don't quite believe in this "limitation". The price is within the expected price level, all Raketa watches are placed somewhere in the 1500 EUR - 2000 EUR range. It is just slightly more expensive than the previous version was. It well deserves the price increase because it is SO MUCH better. This watch can actually be worn regularly!
At the end, just for a better understanding of what reverse running looks like, here is a very short video. Take a close look at a second hand! Oh, and don't forget, in the video the time is 06:18 and not 05:42:)