Raketa (Russian: Ракета, IPA: [rɐˈkʲɛtə], "Rocket") wristwatches, have been manufactured since 1961 by the Petrodvorets Watch Factory in Saint Petersburg. The Petrodvorets Watch Factory is Russia's oldest factory, founded by Peter the Great in 1721. Raketa watches have been produced for the Red Army, the Soviet Navy, and for North Pole expeditions, as well as for civilians. Today, Raketa is one of a handful of global watch brands that produces its own movements from start to finish.[clarification needed][1][2][3][4][5]

Petrodvorets Classic 1985.jpg
Product type1985 Model "Petrodvorets Classic"
OwnerPetrodvorets Watch Factory


On 13 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin made the first manned flight in outer space on the rocket, Vostok 1. In honour of this achievement, the Petrodvorets Watch Factory named its watches "Rocket"; Raketa in Russian. However, at the height of the Cold War the name "Raketa" was perceived negatively in the West, as the word was associated with the latest generation of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles, the R-16. During Soviet times it became one of the most produced watch brands in the world. In the 1970s, the factory produced about five million mechanical watches per year.[6][7]

In 2014, a high-end Raketa collection based on the new in-house Raketa-Avtomat movement was released including the following models:

  • "Petrodvorets Classic Avtomat";
  • "Amphibia";
  • "Polar";
  • "Zvezda";
  • "Pilot";
  • "Balerina"

With prices similar to Swiss luxury brands, the quality, fit and finish of Raketa timepieces have improved markedly since the 1960s. Since "Raketa" is one of the rare manufacturers capable of fully producing its watches, including movements, hairsprings and escapements in-house, its parent firm, Petrodvorets Watch Factory, is beginning to supply some Swiss watch brands having difficulty acquiring Swiss ETA movements.[8][9]

Raketa Mechanical MovementsEdit

Over the years, the Petrodvorets Watch Factory has produced more than two dozen versions of Raketa movements. Some have been equipped with features such as automatic winding, calendars, 24-hour models for polar explorers, anti-magnetic watches (for use in case of a nuclear attack), as well as watches for the military. Mechanical Raketa watches were exported to many Eastern Bloc and communist countries and are considered one of the most durable and reliable movements in the world. By the 1980s, Raketa was producing five million watches a year.

The Petrodvorets Watchmaking SchoolEdit

Being one of the few watch brands in the world producing its own movements, the factory has created its own watchmaking school, the Petrodvorets Watchmaking School, to ensure the transmission of watchmaking expertise to future generations.[10][11][12] The only one left in the schooling program has been established in collaboration with the Saint Petersburg Technical institute.[13]

Hairsprings and EscapementsEdit

The Petrodvorets Watch Factory Raketa is one of only five watch brands in the world producing their movements in-house from start to finish, including hairsprings and escapements. Most watch brands globally do not produce their own hairsprings, they generally order them from Nivarox, a subsidiary of Swatch Group. This enables the Russian military industry to be independent of western suppliers, especially for producing hairsprings needed in the military aviation industry.[2]

Raketa Monumental ClockEdit

Built in 2014 on Moscow's Lubyanka Square in the main atrium of the Central Children's Store on Lubyanka, the Raketa Monumental Clock is the world's largest clock movement. It weighs 5 tons and measures 13 metres high by 8 metres wide. Built and assembled in a record six months, it has rapidly become a major tourist attraction in Moscow. The Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin inaugurated the clock in January 2015.[14][15]

The Petrodvorets Watch FactoryEdit

Raketa is only one of the brands produced by the Petrodvorets Watch Factory, albeit probably its most famous brand. Other Petrodvorets brands include Pobeda and Talberg among others. Before the Russian Revolution (1917), the factory also produced objects made of precious and semi-precious stones for the Tsar and his family. Later, it began to produce goods for military manufacturers as well as "jewels" for the watch industry. In 1949, the factory released the first wristwatches under the names Zvezda ("Звезда", star) and Pobeda ("Победа", victory). The factory's own watches, sold under the brand name Raketa, first appeared in 1961.


Ambassadors and Swiss specialistsEdit

In 2009, the Petrodvorets Watch Factory employed three highly ranked Swiss watchmakers to help the factory adapt its production to modern standards. These watchmakers had previously worked for Rolex, Breguet and Hautlence. In 2011, the Petrodvorets Watch Factory announced that the super-model Natalia Vodianova offered to design a new watch model. Vodianova's model is based on a vintage Raketa design from 1974. A portion of the sales of this "Raketa by Vodianova" will be contributed to Vodianova's Naked Heart Foundation.[16] In 2012, Jean-Claude Quenet, former director of Rolex's escapement department and of production at Franck Muller, joined the Russian factory.[17] Also, in 2013 Prince Rostislav Rostislavovich Romanov became advisor to the creative department of the factory and a member of its board of directors. He created a special new design of watches commemorating the 400-year jubilee of the Romanov Dynasty.[18] in 2014, a Swiss mechanical engineer, Florian Schlumpf, was appointed head of engineering and construction of monumental clocks.

Further readingEdit

  • Fersman, A.E. and N.I. Vlodavec: State Peterhof Lapidary Works in past, present, future. Published: USSR 1922
  • Sukhorukova, A.E.: Watchmaker: The Story of one Factory. Published: USSR 1983. - 108 p.
  • Tyutenkova, A.G.: Checking Time. Published: Lenizdat, 1986. - 181 p.


  1. ^ "Raketa joue à la Rolex russe - Libération". Liberation.fr. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  2. ^ a b "Узел баланса 28.800 колебаний / час | Русские часы: Ракета / Russian Watches". Raketa.com. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  3. ^ "Raketa, la Russie à l'heure française - Le Point". Montres.lepoint.fr. 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  4. ^ "Raketa Watch Factory Loved by Brezhnev Looks for Revival | News". The Moscow Times. 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  5. ^ "SOLID FOUNDATIONS at the base of the watchmaking (...)". Europastar.com. 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  6. ^ coolbrandspeople.com Meeting Jacques Graf von Polier in Moskow
  7. ^ reuters.com Astrid Wendlandt, Watchmaker to the Tsars on European comeback trail. 4 November 2011.
  8. ^ "Узел баланса — спирали | Русские часы: Ракета / Russian Watches". Raketa.com. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  9. ^ "Жан-Клод Квине, Raketa". Chronoscope.ru. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  10. ^ "Journey to the Raketa watch factory". Forums.watchuseek.com. 2013-08-22. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  11. ^ "Russians Relaunch Soviet-Era Space Watches - Emerging Europe Real Time - WSJ". Blogs.wsj.com. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  12. ^ "The Petrodvorets Watch Factory in Peterhof - Michelin Travel". Travel.michelin.com. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  13. ^ "Петродворцовый часовой завод | Русские часы: Ракета / Russian Watches". Raketa.com. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  14. ^ "HALS - World's Biggest Clock to be Installed in Centralny Detsky Magazin na Lubyanke". En.hals-development.ru. 2014-07-22. Archived from the original on 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  15. ^ [1] Archived July 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "''Raketa-Zvezda'' by Natalia Vodianova". Montre24.com. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  17. ^ "Q&A: Frenchman von Polier Betting on Russian Pride | News". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  18. ^ "Ростислав Романов, Raketa". Chronoscope.ru. Retrieved 2016-01-17.

External linksEdit