When I first put on the 2019 manufacture Raketa Amphibian I had a weird sensation of deja vu. Had I done this before? It wasn’t until two weeks later that I would realize the clever ways Raketa has kept their language both consistent and modern in aesthetic and industrial design. My brother had expressed a desire to purchase one and I agreed that he should as very few pieces are out there and being talked about, plus it was a limited edition from the factory. After wearing it for three weeks I can both attest to its quality, as well as point out some small flaws.
Movement: Raketa 2615 Automatic
Case: PVD Black Stainless Steel
Caseback: Display (Mineral Crystal)
Water Resistance: 40 ATM (Approx. 1,320 feet or 400 meters)
Strap: Black calf-hide with red accent on reverse, 22mm width at the lugs
Warranty: 2 Years International
Price: 1,350 Euro (Approx. $1,517.17 at time of purchase)
Limited Edition Size of 300
One of the things that took me the shortest amount of time to appreciate was the shape of the case. The case is actually very similar if not the exact same case shape as Raketa has been using since at least their 2012 production.cases. If you look at the case-flank especially you can see very little has been changed. This results in a vaguely cushion-shaped round case with integrated lugs. The case and lugs have a slight downward trend on the flanks. The effect on the wrist is that the case is supremely comfortable and doesn’t wear nearly as big as one might think. In fact this case wore closer to 38mm in feel than any other case this size ever has. It sits comfortably on the wrist in pretty much every situation.
The 43mm stainless steel case is coated in a PVD black with a matching PVD pin buckle on a calfskin strap. There’s no PVD black bracelet as an option on these, which is a real shame considering that it would look very handsome and be highly versatile from the pool to the office. Since that’s the case I really feel Raketa missed an opportunity to partner with a strap maker that can do a hybrid leather/rubber strap. That said, the PVD is executed very well with no eggshell texturing and all the pieces of the case are precisely the same color and depth of color. With 3 weeks of use under its proverbial belt, the Amphibia looks brand new with no signs of wear anywhere on the case or on the buckle, which usually suffers first against desks and other surfaces where the wrist rests in day to day life.
Speaking of day to day life: one of the things you may be required to do from time to time on a wristwatch is operate the crown. Whether the watch has run down from disuse or has accumulated too much timing deviation the crown is operated. One of the most common points of failures on my older Raketa models is the crown and stem assembly failing under seemingly normal use. Raketa’s current production solves this by precisely machining the crown tube and stem for much tighter tolerances, none of it wobbles even slightly. The Amphibia has a screw-in crown that is kind of a pain in the ass to unscrew. It’s equally difficult to screw in and I found I was always worried about cross-threading it. It was never an issue but it always seemed like it could be cross-threading based on just feel because the threads felt quite rough. The movement has a manual winding feature to get it going as well as a single crown position to set the time. Raketa’s 2615 doesn’t hack but is still vulnerable to the old “poor man’s hack” trick to set the exact time.
The dial sports a batman-style crest with a dive helmet that many might not recognize as the Russain Tactical Divers’ coat-of-arms. A distinct and fun addition to the dial on this limited edition removes the 6 o’clock marker, which I’m not normally a fan of but I think the added interest on the dial for a limited series makes sense. The numerals at 12, 3, and 9 are all fully filled with white Super-Luminova that glows green, with circular orange plots in all the other positions aside from 6 o’clock which is devoid of any lume marker at all. Interestingly and somewhat unusual for a diver, is that the arrow-shaped seconds hand is also filled with orange lume, which makes it easy to identify if the watch is still operating while diving. Smart! Even smarter and incredibly rare in this price category is that the decompression-stop, the first 15 minute increments on a diving bezel, is fully lumed in orange Super-Luminova inside a ceramic bezel. Downsides? None of it glows brightly at all. Bummer.
Turning the bezel on this diving instrument is pure tactile pleasure. The ceramic edges are sharp enough to cut you by accident (it happened!) but is highly usable with gloves in the winter (or underwater for that matter). The bezel’s voice is this deep, throaty, tank-like ratcheting that oozes quality. In fact the 120-click uni-directional bezel action is so affirmative that it makes a $2,200 Oris 65 feel like a toy in comparison and I’ve sung Oris’ praises on their excellent dive watches in both the past and present. Not only does it sound good, but with bright orange Superluminova-filled cavities for the first 15 minutes, it looks good and is imminently readable. During my review period I was looking for excuses to time everything. It was ridiculously fun to turn that monster of a bezel any chance I could get and the deep chunky clicking turns heads from feet away.
Beating away inside the Amphibia is the manufacture movement 2615, which has been revived and modernized movement Raketa had previously come to market with in Soviet times. Raketa claims that the movement is regulated in 4 positions and guaranteed to achieve -10/+20 from the factory. Most impressively the watch we purchased and wore over the past few weeks had an average deviation of only +1.4 seconds per day. This is a Rolex-level performance and I continue to be astonished by its performance. The watch consistently performs on that level and I hope that after additional wear it settles in near where it is currently. For comparison from my collection, Raketa’s 2012-2015 production Big Zero and Pilot powered by their 2609.HA movement only ever achieved +7 and +9 spd respectively after service and an independent watchmaker further regulating the watch.
Flipping the watch over allows the wearer to see the nicely decorated movement inside. The movement on this model is machine-finished with a wave motif that Raketa calls “Onega Waves.” This laser engraved wave pattern is applied to the plates of the movement and are executed before plating occurs to prevent oxidation or corrosion of the laser-etched decorations for the life of the movement. The name “Onega” comes from Lake Onega in the northwestern territories of Russia. It’s the second-largest European lake after Lake Ladoga and is fed by a whopping 50 rivers. At the bottom of the lake is a Russian mermaid perhaps, as the other notable feature of the 0257 is a hand painted depiction of a mermaid. The mermaid is a lovely accent to remind the user that even though this watch is rated for extreme diving, to have fun in the water also!
Unfortunately, on Raketa’s website the rotor is supposed to carry the edition number for each watch, which is a weird place to put such a number as most manufacturers engrave this number on the caseback. This number is missing from the watch and doesn’t appear to be engraved anywhere on the watch or movement. It took over a week of research and reaching out to my Raketa PR contact to discover this was actually a factory error. Speaking of which, the watch doesn’t come with a cloth/textile strap despite still being listed on the brand’s sales page for this model. It’s these kinds of details that keep me from wholeheartedly recommending people rush out and buy a Raketa as their next watch. Even with the serial number sorted I never did figure out why I never got the second strap. These things are not something customers should be doing after they get their watch, they should be enjoying their watch! It just feels like all the attention is being focused at fabricating the watch, with sales and after-sales service being totally sidelined or given last priority.
With all things considered the Raketa Amphibia 0257 is perhaps the best value diver out on the market full stop. A dive watch with a manufacture movement, lumed ceramic bezel, and high quality rubber or calfskin strap is practically impossible to find at $1,500 much less even towards $2,000. Even though small details like the crown, edition number and strap confusion brought the experience down, it didn’t make enough of a negative impact into the ownership experience to ding the final verdict. That verdict is: the watch is damn good and worthy of membership into your collection, but make sure the watch comes with everything it’s supposed to.