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An Inexpensive Classic: The Raketa Copernic

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I am currently undertaking a major research project which I hope and pray will result in a useful and substantial Forum article. I am therefore limited in time and energy to write other topics for the moment. However, I have been meaning to post something about the Raketa Copernic wristwatch for a while and this represents my second attempt.  I tried to write an article on this watch a while back but found myself defeated by a problem that no doubt faces all writers on wristwatches - the problem of "versions." The dream situation when writing about a watch is to find a model that has a clear single-period history and was not produced in different versions. A few different colourways and strap options is fine but when the model changes over and above that, or comes out in various varieties over a long period of time, perhaps with different complications/movements, the situation can become nightmarish for the writer. In the case of the Raketa Copernic, this problem of versions soon becomes apparent, and it is impossible to list and date exactly all the different varieties and colourways of the watch produced since its launch in the early 1980s. The Raketa Copernic was manufactured by the Petrodvortsovsky Watch Factory PChZ and in its many "faces" through the 1980s and into the 1990s represents an inexpensive way of buying a classic watch. There are still plenty about, and many colourways/versions of the model are available for well under £100.

According to Raketa, the design of the Copernic (and recent Copernicus) watch was "entirely inspired by Copernicus' theory of the universe, which led to a fundamental revolution in the science of the 16th century: the sun lies at the centre of the system, and the earth and moon revolve around it (and not the other way round as had been thought up to then."




Classic Raketa Copernic hand-wind wristwatch in black colourway, probably from the earlier years of the model (pics from assets.catawiki.com):







With the Copernic watch we are at least fortunate to have certain consistent features that define the watch and these are two-fold. Firstly, we have the main raison d'etre for the watch and its name in its clever hour and minute hands that manage to give the impression of an astronomical horological feature without requiring any modification to the movement. And secondly, we have the movement itself, which for most of the life of the Copernic wristwatch has almost always been the in-house 19J hand-wind caliber 2609HA. I say for "most" of its life because in recent years the Copernic wristwatch has been revived by the company with the salient hands but now with an in-house automatic caliber. The Copernic hands represent the golden sun and the black-framed moon, and as they revolve around the central spindle they align exactly once in every hour. This gives an "eclipse" effect with the sun hour hand being bordered by the black moon minutes hand.

The first illustration here below represents the first iteration of the Raketa Copernic wristwatch as it appeared at the beginning of the 1980s. I have fortunately been able to examine one of these watches recently and although I can fault it slightly, the astronomical eclipse effect, and the hands and dial generally, are really rather nice. Not quite so good are the rather cheap-feeling snap-on caseback and the over-bright chrome plating of the case. Once the back is open, the revealed movement certainly looks to be substantial, indeed "industrial," and it has a 42 hour power reserve. Apart from probably the strap, the watch I examined was identical in every way to that shown here below, and I certainly liked it and would love to have added it to my collection:




A Raketa Copernic wristwatch (first version) dating to the 1980s with 35mm wide X 10mm thick plated alloy case (other details in text above) (pics from assets.catawiki.nl):









The basic configuration and construction of the original Raketa Copernic as shown here above was produced in a multitude of different colourways and in many different dial/marker versions through the 1980s and into the 1990s. The model evidently had a long initial run and as time went on, the model also spawned a number of examples in different case styles. One seemingly rare version is this one, with a tonneau shaped case and plain Arabic numerals (Pic from i.ebayimg.com):








In connection with cases for the Copernic, it does seem that a later addition to standard round case form was a form with a thin bezel and bevelled upper part of the case; these examples had a caseback that completely covered the back of the watch. It is very difficult to accurately date the Raketa Copernic watches accurately, and for the most part they are generally classified as being 1980s watches. My own feeling, already indicated, is that the model went on being produced well into the 1990s, still using the hand-wind in-house movement. Although I have stated that the main run of Copernic watches used the hand-wind 2069HA caliber, there are extant some rare examples where an automatic movement was used. Here is just such an example, produced by in the late 1980s:



A gold plated Raketa Copernic wristwatch powered by an in-house 2627 automatic movement (this custom solar system dial is seen on a number of Copernic watches) - case measures 37mmX36mm without crown (pics from i.ebayimg.com:








With the end of the long running saga that was the Raketa Copernic, there was a gap of years before the model was recently revived again by the company and is available to purchase new online. The new watch is now called the "Copernicus" and it features a Raketa St. Petersburg-designed automatic movement. As part of a design "revamp" for the watch, Raketa apparently, "turned to the famous Russian cosmonaut Alexandr Ivantchenkov who shared his experience of open space travel with them and helped them perfect its design." The other specs are in line with decent modern mechanical watches, with sapphire crystal, 5 Atm. water resistance, 40.5mmX12mm case, and steel back which has a circular window through which the movement balance can be observed. There are two versions of the Copernicus watch available, 0230 with a leather strap and priced at 1,100 Euros, and 0231 with a stainless steel bracelet and priced at 1,250 euros. According to Raketa. 



The Raketa Copernicus 0230 wristwatch (details given in text above) and the rather nice packaging it comes in (pics from raketa-shop.com):









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