Ever since the discovery of Antarctica by a team of Russian explorers in 1820, Russia has been a proud leader in the exploration of this remote and inhospitable environment. One of the most excursions to Antarctica was the 16th Soviet expedition in 1970, where explorers were subjected to temperatures as low as -89° C along with up to six months of continuous daylight or darkness in the changing Antarctic seasons. These conditions provided a unique challenge to the scientists timing the expedition, who turned to Raketa to create a timepiece that could handle these hostile conditions, while also allowing explorers to tell day from night at a glance in a land of perpetual sunlight or darkness. The result was the 24-hour Raketa Polar, one of the rarest and most unique timepieces ever produced during the Soviet era. Now, 50 years after this historic expedition, Raketa has revived the legendary Polar with a commemorative limited edition that captures the spirit of exploration.
The 35mm gold tone stainless steel case of the Raketa Polar is both faithful to the historic original and deceptively simple at first glance. With a dressy, slim profile and distinctive triangular lugs, the elegance of the Polar’s case belies its incredible capability. Like the original, the new Polar features a complex four-piece case construction system with a unique retention system for its organic crystal, creating a package that is both durable and incredibly resistant to the brutal Antarctic cold.
Like the case, the dial is a faithful recreation of the original, but updated with modern production quality. The applied indices and bold hands are generously filled with Super-LumiNova for easy reading in any light conditions, while the brilliant silver sunburst of the dial surface is playfully paired with a clean, period correct graphic treatment symbolizing Raketa’s conquest of the poles. Every detail is faithfully reproduced, down to the sweeping Cyrillic script of Raketa’s classic logo at 9 o’clock. The 24-hour scale around the dial is boldly legible as well, highlighting the unique once a day circuit of the Polar’s hour hand.
The in-house Caliber 2623 movement inside the Raketa Polar is a mechanical marvel in its own right. Specially revived for this limited edition model, the Caliber 2623 is the same movement specification as the original Raketa Polar from 1970. This is the first time Raketa has produced a hand-wound mechanical movement since 2014, and every component down to the escapement and hairspring is produced and assembled in Raketa’s own factory in St. Petersburg. Although the movement design is 50-years-old, performance is thoroughly modern with a 42-hour power reserve and an accuracy of within 10 seconds per day.
The Raketa Polar is delivered with a pair of straps. The first, a black genuine leather piece with a striking red lining, emphasizes the dressier aspects of the Polar’s design while remaining durable and comfortable. In addition, the Polar also comes with a khaki NATO-style nylon strap for a more rugged utilitarian look.
Russia’s history in Antarctica is a long and proud one, as is the history of Russian watchmaking. This faithful reissue of the iconic Raketa Polar captures an iconic moment in time for both, preserving this proud history for a new generation of collectors. The Raketa Polar is limited to only 200 examples and is currently available for preorder on Raketa’s website for a discounted preorder price of $1,210. Once pre-orders end and the watch begins to ship in March, this price will go up to $1,510, so act fast!
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