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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This watch recently joined my collection. It is a Raketa 24h SAE (Soviet Antarctic Expedition) watch. Raketa 24h watches are one of the world’s most popular watches with 24h dials and the number of different dial and case combinations is huge. But some of them are very rare, especially the first series of 24h Raketas which were limited series productions made especially for the members of Soviet Antarctic expeditions.

It features caliber 2623, a 21 jewels movement of type «Baltika». All of the 24h Raketa watches are based on the 2623 movement, but there are two types of them. The early versions have the so called «Baltika» movement, which is very different from the 2623 versions that are in use today. It is easily recognizable by its triangular bridge. It is shockproof and ticks at 18,000bph.

The dial commemorates the 16th expedition to Antarctica in 1970-72 with the text: "16 САЭ".There are two knowns type of this dial: One states SAE 16 like on this example, the other version says just SAE without reference to a specific expedition. The dial has an illustration of the Antarctic continent where the six Soviet polar bases are marked with red rubies (!).

The case is gold plated brass with a steel case back. Unusual for Raketa watches, the case is actually water resistant. Even more unusual is that inside the case, the movement is encapsulated in an antimagnetic steel barrel. The crystal attaches to the rim of the inner barrel which results in a very slim bezel. From the front, it looks almost like it has no frame.

It is not known how many of these watches were actually produced, presumable some hundereds. It is rarely seen on the market beacuse most of them are still in possession of families of the polar explorers. Which brings us to the original owner of this particular watch. The case is engraved «To Bykov — Participant 19 SAE». Robert Ignatievich Bykov was born in 1938 in Moscow and is a rather high profile in explorations and space science. He was involved in the management of a number of satellites and missiles, among them Proton, Zenith and Luna. He supervised new stations being built in the Artarctica and travelled the world onboard various expeditions.



Robert Ignatievich Bykov


Here is the box I teased you with earlier. I believe it is the original.


Inside we find this Raketa SAE. The passport is not original unfortunately.


Deep blue 24h dial.


Close up.


The stations are marked with real ruby jewels!


The case back says "Water resistant - Shock proof".


The name of the original owner: БЫКОВ.


"Participant 19 SAE".


The famous movement 2623 (sellers picture).


The antimagntic steel encapsulation (grabbed from the web).

So there, a piece of Soviet history. I hoped you enjoyed it. Thank you for looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The watch itself was originally made for expedition 16, but was given to Bukov in expedition 19. All dials of these watches says "SAE 16", so I imagine that they made a big batch that were gradually distributed over the years. There is a later version that says just "SAE" without reference to any particular expedition.
 

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That is an absolutely fantastic and rare addition to any collection. Congratulations comrade
 

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Comrade Lucidor,

Amazing watch and post; some questions from the past are now cleared. See this thread on another expedition-16 watch, though much less impressive.

Poor Man's Antarktida RAKETA: Did anybody get it?


I was wondering in that post whether these were issued to expedition members for the expedition or given afterwards as commemorative.
 

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Inscribed to a polar explorer! That is way more special than I imagined.

When I saw the Baltika 2623 I guessed about the Soviet Antarctic Expedition because I was reminded of a recently discussed modern 'Strelka' homage piece (which is actually a homage to the general release souvenir version, not the expedition issued version). I did not recall that earlier thread explaining the difference.

That double case is pretty special, too; a genuine piece of Antarctic kit, and yet so compact and 'dressy'. :-!

It is interesting to see an 'SAE 16' watch given to an SAE 19 participant. The Soviet habit of overproduction confuses us again!
 

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The Soviet habit of overproduction confuses us again!
So does the Soviet habit of understaffing Antarctic Expeditions!
"Come on guys! Fresh air! Gorgeous landscapes! Free watch for each participant! No wife around? Who's joining?"
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Amazing watch and post; some questions from the past are now cleared. See this thread on another expedition-16 watch, though much less impressive.

Poor Man's Antarktida RAKETA: Did anybody get it?

I was wondering in that post whether these were issued to expedition members for the expedition or given afterwards as commemorative.
Comrade OKEAH,

I did read your thread when I was researching this watch. It was there I learned about the dial variation with absent expedition number. I still do not know if the watch was issued before or after the actual expeditions. I can only conclude that the serious design with double casing and water proofing indicate that it was intended for field use.
 

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An outstanding piece of history to add to your collection Comrade Lucidor,A wonderful, magnificent watch. Many congratulations! Wear it in good health and much happiness!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Congratulations!!! Wonderful piece, another superb pick-up and addition to your collection. |>
I have three of them in different versions, one is on my page.
Thank you Phil, and a wonderful example you have there! You mentioned three different versions; what are the differences? I noticed that the one on your webpage has different hands than mine.
 
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