Raketa's stylish 1980s “Big Zero” mechanical watch - like this 1980's example here - has an intriguing past, and was known to have been worn by Mikhail Gorbachev during the 1980’s.
The iconic 80's chic hasn't escaped notice, as noted by Worn&Wound in “Affordable Vintage: Raketa Big Zero” - “Dating likely from the early to mid-1980’s, the Raketa Big Zero is a bold watch that does a lot with very little…Clearly what sets this watch apart is the dramatic index design. Massive numerals for 3, 6, 9, and 0 dominate the dial. Between each numeral are two long narrow triangles, giving the watch a toothed appearance. The strange thing about it is that it works. The huge numbers, though clearly oversized, are in harmony with the dial and the case. The end result is bold, almost brutal, but fun.”
Raketa, also known as Paketa, started making watches in its St. Petersburg, Russia, Petrodvorets Watch Factory in1961. Petrodvorets is Russia’s oldest factory, and was founded by Peter the Great in 1721, and its watches were produced for the Red Army, the Soviet Navy, as well as for civilians.
Raketa acquired its namesake from Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin inaugural flight into outer space, the first for mankind. In honor of the flight, Petrodvorets named its watches “rocket,” or Raketa in Russian. Mechanical Raketa watches produced in Petrodvorets were exported to many Eastern Bloc and communist countries and were considered one of the most durable and reliable movements there – the Ak-47 of watches at the time, if you will.
The Big Zero was allegedly intended for visually impaired people but quickly gained mainstream popularity thanks to its remarkable design. According to legend (mentioned in a 2003 Raketa promotional video about the Petrodvorets Watch Factory), in 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was seen in Italy wearing this watch. Italian press took notice, and the next day’s front pages featured a Big Zero with the headline “Russians are starting from zero!” attributing the remarks to Gorbachev.
This Big Zero comes with a generic stainless-steel bracelet, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1980's Raketa "Big Zero" Mechanical Watch
DIAL: Raketa-signed white dial with second, minute, and hour hands. Iconic and retro “Made in the USSR” in Cyrillic on the dial; this particular dial variant, along with the longer serial number on the caseback, indicates this was one of the later iterations of the Big Zero.
CASE: Barrel-shaped stainless-steel case measures 39mm (41mm with crown) x 40.5mm; matching caseback.
CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal - no cracks.
STRAP: This Raketa comes with a handsome generic staineless-steel bracelet, with tight links that will fit up to an approx. 7.75 inch wrist. This Big Zero also comes with a black nylon NATO strap.
MOVEMENT: Raketa 2609.HA manual mechanical movement, which beats at a frequency of 18,000bph.
CROWN: Stainless-steel crown, with no wear.