Name: Raketa Seaman - Ракета Моряк
Movement: 2623 H, manual wind, sweep second, 16 jewels, shockproof, 18000 bph, power reserve 42h
Time display: 24 hour, minute, seconds, 24 on top
Case: all stainless steel with snap back
Size: 43 mm without, 47 mm with crown, 52 mm lug to lug
Height: 11 mm
Face: The 24 hour dial is divided into parts according to 3 watch systems: Russian, British and Scandinavian. The dial is also decorated by marine cardinal buoys and International Marine signal flags.
Text on dial: [Raketa logo] Сделано в России
Text on back: RAKETA WATCHES – MANUFACTURED BY PETRODVORETS WATCH FACTORY SINCE 1962 - 5ATM ПЕТРОДВОРЦОВЫЙ ЧАСОВОЧ ЗАВОД MMM0132
Water-resistance: 5 ATM (50 m)
Crowns: main crown at 3 to set time, smaller crown at 4 to turn inner bezel
Crystal: flat sapphire crystal
Lugs: 22 mm
After some months hiatus I can now continue with my AWW (Afka’s weekly watch) series. Of course I’m improving my collection every week, but last months I had other priorities than writing reviews.
This week I got one really important watch. A NEW RAKETA! I think that many visitors of this 24h forums have old Raketas, probably even more than one piece. After the total reorganization of Raketa factory in the last years and introducing new models since 2011 the price level grew exponentially about 10 times. New Raketas are very rare. You can’t find a single real user review on new Raketas.
My watch is Raketa Seaman N036, the most expensive watch in whole Raketa catalog (until new automatic models are coming). List price for this watch is € 690. I have to say, that Raketa watches have different price lists for Russia and for the outside world. Russian prices are much lower. (By the way, this is true for many Russian watches like Sturmanskie, Aviator etc. You can get these as new watches much cheaper in Russian shops). Now when after Crimea annexion the Rouble fell a lot, the price difference is even bigger. Inside Russia Seaman N036 list price is RUB 24100. (= EUR 490 !).
I can say right now before we are talking about the features, that outside Russia this watch is overpriced, no doubt. The Russian prices are much more adequate.
I was lucky enough to get this watch for RUB 17000 (EUR 345). One of my friends was visiting Moscow and in the same time I saw a rare advertisement – somebody in Moscow was selling Raketa Seaman in Russian classified ads website avito.ru. The watch was (almost) new, with box and papers, owner got it as a present and was probably not thrilled about this watch.
With a little help from my friends I got several watches into my collection.
Raketa Seaman series has 3 watches (see descriptions at Raketa shop Seaman Watches - RAKETA SHOP - Official Internet-Shop ):
· N026 with red leather strap (official reference number W-50-11-10-N026)
· N035 with black rubber strap (W-50-11-20-N035)
· N036 with stainless steel bracelet (W-50-11-30-N036)
The Raketa reference number system is (I suppose):
· W – watch
· 50 – case type
· 11 – movement (11 = 2623H)
· 30 – strap/bracelet type (30 = stainless steel)
· N036 – model number
Good detailed description of this watch you can see on Raketa website, including video clip describing the dial features.
The watch came in a nice wooden box with a manual and warranty card and additional black leather strap with Raketa-signed buckle. All in a typical nowadays Raketa design. See the pictures.
My friend’s first comment was – “I will never buy a watch like this for myself. The dial has too many microscopical details I can’t even see.”
That’s right. This is probably the most complex dial I have. All the features are interesting, but for sure reducing the practical value number one – reading the time.
I try to explain what is on the dial. The video I mentioned helps a lot, but not every detail is featured in video.
The watch has according to good Raketa tradition an inner bezel what you can turn with second crown at 4.
This bezel has a second time zone marks, compass marks, high/low tide symbols, two watchstanding systems (plus a third on the dial) … eh, a lot.
Following the second time zone is easy and everybody knows how to do it. But the numbers are small and variegated watch shifts on the same ring makes it a difficult task with a Seaman watch.
Compass marks are in Russian characters and degrees
· С (Север – North)
· В (Восток – East)
· Ю (Юг – South)
· З (Запад – West)
There are several traditional watchstanding systems in different countries (See Watch system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). This watch has three of them! Two rings on the turntable bezel and third one (with Russian system) on the edge of fixed dial.
Outer ring – Traditional British
· 20-04 (first watch)
· 00-04 (middle watch)
· 04-08 (morning watch)
· 08-12 (forenoon watch)
· 12-16 (afternoon watch)
· 16-18 (first dog watch)
· 18-20 (last dog watch)
Middle ring – Wiking (or Scandinavian)
Inner ring – Russian
· 20-24 Прощай молодость (farewell youth)
· 00-04 Собачья вахта (dog watch)
· 04-08 Диана (Diana)
· 08-12 Пионерская вахта (pioneer watch)
· 12-16 Стоячее лежание (standing lying)
· 16-20 Английская собака (English dog)
That is not a watchmaker’s knowledge at all, but for me it was interesting to know that traditionally shift chain begins at 20:00. And “dog” watch originally was not a nastiest time for a shift, more suitable for dogs than humans (as I thought), but:Additionall you can find in the outer ring tide symbols at 6:30, 12:30 and 18:30. How to use them is explained in the video.Many watch systems incorporate the concept of dogging, whereby one watch is split into two shorter watches so that there is an odd number each day. Doing so allows crew members to have a different watch schedule each day.
Now to the main dial.
On the dial are displayed four cardinal buoys marking north, east, south, west.
Then is RAKETA written with international marine signal flags:
Hours 0 – 9 are also displayed with marine flags.
This all can be nice, but again – between 0 and 20 (area covered by marine flags) you have no minute marks at all! Today it was 18:06 and I tried to set up the correct time. Not possible! Only after half an hour I did it exactly.
Other technical features.
I made several pictures of new and old Raketa next to each other. I have to say that I was most interested to open the watch and look what is inside. As you see - the same 2623H, no decorations and only a few smaller visible changes. One change you can see – the bevelled edge around the movement is back. In the 70s Raketa used to have it with 2623 and later in the 80s, when automated assembly lines for mass production came, it vanished. Today I believe Raketas are assembled manually again.
One difference more I discovered only after posting this review - 2623 H was always described as a 19 jewel movement. Now in the papers and in Raketa website everywhere is written - 2623 H has 16 jewels. Most probably there are some modifications made.
The stainless steel case is very comfortable to wear, I like its shape. Together with a very nice and solid stainless steel bracelet the watch is heavy. Sapphire crystal is flat giving thus the best visibility to the saturated dial.
Two crowns on the usual Raketa place are big enough and very comfortable to operate.
The case has a snap back. That’s why the water protection is only 5 ATM. I hate snap case backs but this one was for some reason very easy to open and (important) easy to close too. Not because it fits loosely. No, it is very tight, but is probably very exactly made.
On the case back is the serial number: MMM0132. According to warranty card the watch was produced in July 2013. Seaman watches were introduced by Raketa in October 2012. This gives us some clue about the run of expensive Raketas.
I was very critical about Seaman’s dial. Because of the questionable practical value of too many features and missing purity of design. But to discover what it all means and works and to read articles about marine watch systems was actually interesting. Time-to-time you can see wrist- and pocket watches with marine shifts on the dial and now I’m much better prepared.
After I shortened the bracelet (easy task, good quality solid and heavy bracelet) I found out that the watch is very comfortable to wear. Moreover, it looks nice on the wrist, much better than expected. My wrists are very small, but Seaman looks good, I think.
I have to say that the quality is very OK. Of course, the watch of this level needs a screw case back, but all the rest is on the level. (And then make it transparent and put inside a nicely Geneva waves decorated 2623 H J )
I never ever thought to buy this watch for a list price. The list price is too high, no doubt. But for a € 345, as I got it, it is a real value. Only now I realized, that I got 50% discount from the list price.