We're in love with vintage Raketa watches, but where do they originate from? Let's try to find out more...
Peter the Great
The Petrodvorets Watch Factory (Russian: Петродворцовый часовой завод) is one of the oldest factories in Russia. Founded by Emperor Peter the Great in 1721 as the Peterhof Lapidary Works, to make hardstone carvings.
Peter Alekseyevich Romanov (Peter I / Peter the Great of Russia) in 1721. Portrait painted by Jean-Marc Nattier.
Stalin / 'Victory'
During the Siege of Leningrad the factory was destroyed by German troops. Since the factory was rebuilt in 1944 Stalin ordered to manufacture the famous Pobeda watches here (Pobeda translates to 'Victory').
Photograph of the St. Isaac Cathedral, St. Petersburg. As the Peterhof Lapidary Works produced marble works for this famous building in 1871. (Image by Vlad Korolev, Unsplash).
In its glory years after the war, the plant employed 8,000 people and produced 4.5 million watches per year for Soviet citizens and the needs of the Red Army. The plant was equipped with two atomic bunkers that could accommodate 8,000 people in case of a western nuclear attack.
The first watch in space
Pobeda (the first watch ever to go to space), ordered to be manufactured by Stalin himself are affordable and perhaps esthetically a bit 'simple' so to say. The website of Pobeda isn't online anymore, as all focus seems to be at the Raketa brand nowadays.
Image of Yuri Gagarin (Image by Victor Malyushev, Unsplash).
And another name change came for the Petrodvorets Watch Factory... since 1961 it has manufactured the Soviet Raketa watches. Raketa translates to 'Rocket'. These watches and the name changes were to honor Yuri Gagarin's flight to space. Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space. Travelling in the Vostok 1 capsule, Gagarin completed one orbit of Earth on 12 April 1961. By achieving this major milestone in the Space Race he became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, his nation's highest honour.
From the Soviet time, Raketa has always been the more luxurious brand. These watches were fully manufactured in-house (rare nowadays as most brands / manufacturers source materials from different suppliers). Raketa is famous for their watches made for cosmonauts, polar expeditions, pilots, military personnel and the Soviet Olympic Games in 1980. As they are still made, Raketa watches are successfully sold as premium watches all over the world. Please check out the website at raketa.com (opens in a new window).
Excerpt from the Raketa website: "If you wear a Raketa mechanical watch you're carrying on your wrist no less then 242 separate components. The manufacturing of one of these watches involves the work of 103 specialists, and 8,201 separate manual operations."
Image of a Soviet Union Raketa Polar 24 hour watch from the 1980s.
We love Raketa watches
At Oblomov Art we have a little crush on vintage Raketa watches. As some Raketa models have achieved an iconic status by collectors all over the world we have a little collection in our inventory too. From the Balkans to the Baltics, we've searched and bought Raketa watches everywhere. We've acquired the Big Zero, the Polar, some 24 hour watches, and some more traditional vintage Raketa models. Always in a nice vintage condition, checked and serviced by professional watchmakers.
Please view our watch collection here.
As we love to search and browse online, here are some of the sources used for this article: Petrodvorets Watch Factory, Raketa, Emperor Peter the Great, Yuri Gagarin, the official Raketa website of course.