Ex. USSR Raketa company is making me crazy lately. For the last Black Friday I was able to find a beautiful Raketa Leopard 24 watch with some discount, I was just starting to prepare a review for my blog and then BANG, Raketa issued an new watch called "Space Launcher". Which I just had to have..... Since Space Launcher was issued in two versions - with white and with black dial, I had another issue - which one to choose. For a while there was also a third option - Raketa was also offering gift set, where both watches were included, together with a Soyuz rocket model. I was seriously considering buying a gift set, but I waited too long. On Sunday evening it was still in stock, when I tried to order it on Monday, stock was gone. At the end I decided for the white one, and my review will be focused on this version of the watch.
First impression is that Space Launcher is quite similar to Raketa Baikonur watch, so I suggest you read my review about Baikonur watch here https://www.cinciwatches.com/my-reviews-and-articles/637496_raketa-baikonur-review before continuing reading this one.
So, what is so special about this watch? Well, for the space travel fans, the most important feature here is the bezel, which is made from a metal piece of the “Soyuz-2.1а” space launcher, and further on, one of two straps is made from the fabric of the Russian space suit “Sokol” (Russian for Falcon)! Both, space launcher metal piece and fabric from "Sokol" space suit were actually used on a space travel to ISS on October 14, 2020. So you will get the watch from the parts actually being in space. Isn't that cool?? The crew on that flight were Russian cosmonauts Segey Rizhkov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and American astronaut Kathleen Rubins. Together with the watch you receive official certificate of Roscosmos (Russian space agency) confirming, that those materials are actually taken from stated space flight.
This is the second time that Raketa is taking the original part of some interesting ship and use it for the bezel of the watch. First time that was done in already mentioned Raketa Leopard 24, where bezel is made of the material from soviet nuclear submarine "Leopard", which belonged to the "Akula" class of the submarines. As said, "Leopard" was in the preparation for the review from my side, but for now you will have to be satisfied by two pictures of the Leopard.. Beautiful watch, by the way.
So sea and space are covered, I wonder what Raketa will do to cover the land. Some tank T-34 from the Kursk battle would be a good candidate for example.
All three so far mentioned watches have the same Raketa in-house 2624A movement, which was well described in Baikonur review. It is quite intuitive, that "submarine" watch should have 24h complication, but for the space travel watches one might expect more complicated watches are needed. It is interesting that in the booklet which comes together with the Space Launcher, Raketa claims that both cosmonauts were asked to define which features are needed on a space travel watch and that they both suggested robustness, reliability and only one complication which is really important - 24h complication - to help distinguish day and night up there on ISS where sunrise is seen 16 times within 24h. The same complication was used also in Baikanur which was developed under the supervision of another cosmonaut so maybe there is some truth there. But on the other hand, that is the only complication which Raketa can provide so again that is easily a marketing trick.
If we go back to the movements of Leopard, Baikanur and Space Launcher, the only differences are decorations, where the richest one is on Leopard. To be honest when seeing Leopard's decoration I was disappointed by Space launcher. Compare it for yourself.
The front face of the Space Launcher is inspired by Gagarin's first flight. On the sapphire glass the legendary call "Poehali" (meaning "let's go") is printed (remember, on Baikanur, this call can be found on the movement decoration). On the dial one can also find second's scale to follow the countdown to the launch.
Decision to print something on the glass is unusual and for the final customer a bit tricky. If you by any chance break the glass, then you are forced to send the watch to Raketa for the replacement, you can not just go to the first watchmaker to replace it.
Dial is beautiful with applied numbers on it (again as Baikanur). Even though Raketa declares dial and hands have superluminova, night view is poor and disappointing. That is for me the worst part of the watch.
Hands are very interesting, but drawing on the glass does not do a favor to visibility. Second hand is extended from the Earth disc. So Earth rotates together with the second hand and covers more then half of the hour hand and bit less then a half of the minute hand. All together watch is not easy for use and reading the time is difficult.
In the outern ring of the dial you can notice dark blue part from 18.00-6.00 and light blue part from 6.00-18.00, which imitates day/night indicator.
As mentioned in the introduction, the important part of the watch is the bezel. Of course we can see where bezel originates from. The rest of the bezel is (again as in Baikanur) marked with compass sides of the Earth. Namely, since watch has a 24h dial, it can be used as a solar compass. Bezel rotates freely in both directions with no clicks and it also can not be fixed.
Crown is same as in all new Raketa watches, it is quite big, with the red hat. It is screwed into the case.
Let's now see the straps. As said one strap (white one) is made of space suit fabric, one is leather one. Both straps have buckle and a quick release lugs. So if you want to change a general look of the watch that is really simple and fast. White strap is quite interesting, is is stiff but comfortable. Space suit fabric is only on the outern side of the strap, inside it is leather. White color of course attracts attention. At the moment I can't give any information how resistant this strap is to dirt and how washable it is. I can only assume that this should not be a problem (space suits should be resistant to such a things).
The biggest step forward has Raketa done in packaging. If I complained about the box in previous Raketa watches, this has changed. I noticed drastic change already on Leopard's packaging, Space Launcher is no worse. Inner box, outern box all very good and serious, a lot of additional documentation, a patch as a gift. There is also an invitation to visit Raketa company and a picture of the guy, who has been polished the pivots of the axes of the movement. A personal touch. Interesting approach.
Watch has 43mm (same as Baikanur and 1mm less than Leopard).
Space Launcher is a limited edition series watch, 300 of each color dial. What is interesting, each watch does not have a serial number, it is just declared as "one out of 300".
We are already used to the fact, that Raketa is no longer a cheap brand and Space Launcher is no exception. In EU watch costs around 1750 EUR (give or take few Euros depending on the VAT in each country) for the white dial version and 1850 for the black dial. Quite higher than Baikanur, a bit higher than Leopard. But I must admit Raketa is doing some great steps, each watch is getting better and more attractive. Having in mind that every part of the watch is inhouse produced, that majority of the watch parts are hand made, then price is very reasonable. But each has to decide by himself if he is ready to do his own click in his head and that is ready to pay as much for some Raketa as for some middle class swiss watch. Since this is my fifth new Raketa automatic watch, that click has obviously happened in my head long time ago. I will have to discipline myself, sell something, because new attractive models of Raketa are already announced :)