This is David Henderson-Stewart from the "Raketa Watch Factory". I’ve wanted to join your Community for a long time, but for many reasons have only now finally managed to take the Big Step.
For those who don’t know, "Raketa" is a Russian brand created in 1961 in honour of the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin ("Raketa" means "space rocket" in Russian). Raketa quickly developed into a very large watch factory producing up to 5 million mechanical watches/year.
When I discovered Raketa, I was literally stunned by its uniqueness: it was very different from most of what I had seen in the Western world, in terms of strong history, full manufacture and unusual designs of watch models. Some of these models have become quite famous, such as the 24 hour Polar watch with its unique case construction, the Copernicus watch with its round hands or the Big Zero model with its zero on the dial (instead of the conventional "12"):
When in 1991, Communism and the Russian economy collapsed, the Raketa Watch Factory gradually shrank over the next 2 decades from a gigantic factory with 7.000 specialists to a tiny factory with 20 watchmakers working in terrible conditions. This was when I first visited the Factory, in 2011. Despite Raketa’s huge difficulties struggling in the new global market economy, I discovered that the production technology, watchmaking know-how and spirit had survived. Based on these elements, the Factory gradually re-built and modernised itself. My life & work have since then been tied to Raketa.
There are today approximately 100 specialists working at the Factory. They are particularly proud of continuing the legacy by still producing 100% of Raketa's own robust mechanical movement and making watches with very strong values.
Today, the Raketa Watch Factory produces automatic watches organized in 3 different collections along the lines of its historic models:
- tool watches for professionals such as cosmonauts, polar explorers, submariners,
- curiosity watches that, for example, go counter-clockwise, and
- classic watches based on the famous Raketa Big Zero model.
I would love to share with you the passion of Raketa’s designers and watchmakers for respectively designing mechanical watches with a very original identity and producing them using "old school" production methods.
PS: By the way, the Factory is open to visitors. So if any of you ever comes to Saint Petersburg (Russia) - one of the most beautiful cities in the world - you’re welcome to contact me for a visit. The watchmakers will be happy to show you all of their know-how including the most complicated & secret operations relating to the production of the hair-spring of Raketa’s mechanism.