Raketa Polar ( reissue )
A rainy Saturday turned in to a pretty nice evening. The only disturbance is the screaming seagulls far away in the distance. Everything else is silent. The days are very long in Stockholm around midsummer so there is no dark evenings.
I’m going to try to write about one of the best watches in my collection. The beautiful Raketa Polar. Be patient. Stay tuned. I’m looking for background material to the text. I want this to be good.
This is a watercolor print from 1969, signed by one of the managers of the polarexpeditions. V.M. Rogachev.
I would say that from this print comes two watches. The Raketa Polar and the Raketa Antarktida. Two similar watches with different dials. They are technically the same. The same case. The same “Baltica” ( Raketa 2623 ) movement. The only difference is the dial.
The editions of the watches were limited and given to the members of the polarexpeditions and some other people related to the expeditions in the beginning of the 1970’s. I don’t know if they were given the watch before, during or after the expedition. I take it that the Raketa Polar was given to members of the expeditions to the North pole and the Antarktida was given to the members of the expedition to the South Pole.
The Raketa Polar is considered to be more rare than the Raketa Antarktida. Both of the editions are very rare today since relatives like to keep the watches within the family. Nobody knows how many of these watches were made. Probably a few hundred?
This is a photo of the Raketa Antarktida:
This is the Raketa Polar:
This case was used for only two watches. The Raketa Polar and the Raketa Antarktida.
The case is unusual for Raketa watches. The case is actually water resistant. Even more unusual is that inside the case, the movement is encapsulated in an antimagnetic steel barrel. The crystal attaches to the rim of the inner barrel which results in a very slim bezel. From the front, it looks almost like it has no frame.
The Raketa Polar and the Raketa Antarktida is powered by an early, hand wound, 21 jewel movement 2623. Beats with a frequency of 18,000 bph. The movement is designed for the polar 24 hour watches. Sometimes you can see older 2609 movements modified to a 24 hour watch and it’s still ok but 2623 was designed for the original polar watches. The 24 hour watches were practical for the explorers because the light is very different in the polar environment. During the summer the sun never goes down which gives daylight the whole day and the winter is the opposite. The sun never rises which makes it difficult to know if it’s morning or night.
Here comes the good part
The Raketa watch factory in St Petersburg is still making fine watches today, using “old school” methods. It’s got all of the old machines working. Some of the old staff is still working in the factory today. Ludmilla Y. Voynik was part of the Soviet team of engineers that developed the 24 hour movement in 1968-69 for the Raketa Polar watch. 50 years later, she is still working at the Raketa Watch Factory, heading the construction bureau. As such she spearheaded the limited re-edition of the manual Soviet Polar model.
Ludmilla Y. Voynik
Raketa decided to make a small reissue of their legendary Raketa Polar last year. Thanks to their long tradition they have all blue prints saved. ( I think they have saved a lot of blue prints from their old watches. ) Some of the old staff ( Ludmilla is one of them ) is there to keep an eye on the process. The old machines is there – in working order – so the watch components is made “in house” just like the original. Small improvements has been made to this reissue but maybe one could say that this reissue is an extended batch of the original edition? The improvements that comes to my mind is the more modern 2623 movement and the stainless steel case.
If I bought a Raketa Polar?
Of course I did! I’ve been looking for this watch for several years. I’ve got a small fragment of Soviet history now. Even if I have a reissue of this watch the search for an original continues.
My watch arrived a few weeks ago.