Werenbach Leonov collection B.T.O. Blue (Review) Dial made from Soyuz rocket shell

When it comes to watches associated with space, usually people mention the Omega Speedmaster, Fortis Cosmonaut, Bulova Lunar Pilot or some even mention the Seiko “Pogue”. But when you buy these watches, none of them really has this connection to space. You just know that someone 50 years ago took a watch that looks like yours into space and that’s it. But the watch we are taking a look today has a very close connection to space, as it’s dial is made from Soyuz rocket shell which has been in space. Also, Danish astronaut, Andreas Mogensen took one of these watches in space with him to ISS (International Space Station). And he was brought up to space with the Soyuz Rocket. The company we are taking a look at today is called Werenbach. And here you can see Andreas Mogensen wearing his Werenbach watch on the ISS:

Werenbach is based in Switzerland, Zurich. As the website says, founder Patrick Hohmann in 2010 went out jogging in the forest and he stumbled upon the idea of building watches from real-life space rockets. And the long journey from idea to watch started. Several years later they went to Kazakhstan to source the space rocket material for the dials and case. They went to Baikonur where the Soyuz rockets are launched. There are three stages to Soyuz rocket when launched. The first two are jettisoned at heights around 45km and 85km in the air. They fall back to earth in a very strict military zone where no one can go. Only a few people have permissions to salvage the material. And it was very hard to find someone who would sell the material to Patrick, many even thought that he and his team are some kinds of western spies. But after some negotiation, he was able to get the material he wanted and so he imported it back to Switzerland to start making watches.

Werenbach offers two collections: the Soyuz Collection (limited stock with premium-quality components; casing and face made from rocket material) and the Leonov Collection (a face made from rocket material). B.T.O. Editions – whose faces are crafted from especially distinctive materials in accordance with customer wishes –  are available for both collections. The preparation of the raw rocket parts for watch production involves two different treatment processes: a fine mechanical process for the watch faces and a metallurgical process for the casings. The processing of rocket engines for the Soyuz Collection is particularly more complex, which means that the two collections fall into at different price categories.

They successfully funded the Leonov Collection through Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with a huge success with 1,231 backers who pledged CHF 768,039. The dial is original rocket material – from Soyuz MS-02 & MS-04. Powered by a Swiss mechanical movement STP 1-11. 

As I’m very big space enthusiast and have read a lot of books about space, rockets etc. So as you guessed I was very intrigued on reviewing one of their pieces. So I contacted the company and ask them to lend me a piece to review and they were very kind to do that. Thanks to Lanny from Werenbach marketing team for helping me and being kind.

The watch they sent out to me, comes from Leonov collection and is the B.T.O. edition. That means that the watch is “Built To Order”. That means I had the chance to select the dial I wanted. I never had a watch built just for me. It was an interesting experience as Lanny sent me variations of dials from which I can choose from. Usually when you buy the B.T.O. edition watch through the website you have configurator where you can choose the case style, dial, strap and strap length. I have to remind that the watch faces are cut directly from the rocket by hand and precise dials crafted from the raw rocket material and other than the printing and date window the dial is untouched. It was really hard to choose as they all looked amazing and they all had a character with the scratches and burn marks. Finally, I chose the blue dial, as it was really vibrant. From all, it was the most beaten up, but I liked it, it had some character and also had an interesting pattern of scratches.

So the watch from Switzerland to Latvia came pretty fast. It took about 2 days. Which is pretty impressive. The watch comes in a rectangular black cardboard box with Werenbach logo and coordinates from where the rocket material was taken. The same coordinates you can read on the dial too. I like when companies give so much attention to details like these. Inside the box, you have a black leather travel case with zipper. On the travel case, you also have the Werenbach logo and coordinates, just like on the box. The travel case is actually pretty well made and will be handy when you will want to take your watch with you when travelling. You open the case and inside you get the watch, a certificate that the watch is made from real rocket material, warranty and square rocket shell material from which was cut the particular dial on this watch. And wow, that rocket material is really light. I was really surprised by that. I knew it was some light material, but this feels like nothing else. Also when I took the watch in hands, it felt special in a way. You are holding a piece of the rocket in your hands basically. Something that was engineered by engineers, then put together, to make the rocket and launched in space. Anycase I was super impressed by the packaging and the watch itself. It really felt like a proper watch.

The case of this watch is made from 316L stainless steel. The case shape is round and has this field watch styling. The case reminds me of Sinn watches. The case is finished in two finishes. The case sides are bead blasted and the top of the lugs case back is brushed. The finishing has amazing quality. All the lines of the case are very sharp and straight. I was on my monthly watch geek meetups and watchmaker that was there said that the case has exceptional quality and he hasn’t seen any microbrand with such quality. The diameter of the case is 40mm, the thickness is 12,7mm, lug to lug is 47mm and lug width is 20mm. The proportions are just perfect. The watch wears really good and will fit most wrists, my girlfriend has a pretty small hand and even she can wear it with no problems. Also, the 20mm lug width will give you a ton of strap options, as it is one of the most popular strap sizes. On the right side of the case, we have nice crown guards that hug the crown really secure. The screw down crown is machined into this gear shape and also is signed with Werenbach logo which looks like something that took a lot of machine work. The crown is easy to grab and it threads beautifully. Winding action is really smooth and setting date/time has also nice action. On the left side, you have interesting engraving, I have to note out that I don’t know the meaning of the engraving as I couldn’t find any information on it, but if I will find the meaning, I will correct this. Any case the engraving is done really good. The screw in exhibition case back on this watch is something really cool. The shape of it almost reminds me a flower. The crystal that is used for the case back is a flat sapphire crystal. On the case back you have several engravings. There are some specifications, name of the watch. But also some pretty important ones like the year it was made (2017), and another thing that is important is that it says from which Soyuz rocket the dial was made (MS-04). About the MS-04  we will talk a bit later. The watch is rated at only 5ATM (50m), and it is strange because I think the watch can take more as it has screw down crown. I just think that it would be nice to see at least 10ATM (100m). The crystal used on the front of the watch is a double domed sapphire glass. That crystal really makes the dial pop. I’m very impressed with the machine work done on the case, crown and case back. Never seen such nice and sharp lines. I think this beats the Sinn cases easily.

Now we come to the most exciting part of the watch, which is the dial. Let’s start with the rocket itself from which it was made. So the dial is made from the Soyuz MS-04 which is a Soyuz spaceflight that launched on 20 April 2017 to the ISS. It transported two members of the Expedition 52 crew to the International Space Station. MS-04 is the 133rd flight of a Soyuz spacecraft. The crew consists of a Russian commander and an American flight engineer. It is the first of the Soyuz MS series to rendezvous with the Station in approximately 6 hours, instead of the 2-day orbital rendezvous used for the previous launches. And the most amazing thing is that you can see the launch of the exact rocket on youtube and also see a lot of pictures of the rocket too. So here is the launch video and some pictures:

So the dial is made from the rocket booster shell with the rocket logo sticker. Here you can see where it is on the rocket:

It is so cool that you can look up the Soyuz MS-04 photos and see the part of a rocket from which your watch dial was made. It was really interesting searching the photos. So the dial is cut from rocket booster shell. The dial has a very vibrant blue colour. As we know the dial isn’t coloured in blue colour, it is a sticker. On the dial, you can see all the scratches and patina from going into space, from heat and from hitting the ground. I really like the look of the dial. I think this very abused dial looks much better than those cleaner dials. Remember that all the dials are unique, there won’t be any identical dials, each will have its unique patina. Also, another pretty cool thing that I discovered on the first day when I took the watch out in the sun was that the dial in the sun has this purple glow. I think this is because the sticker took very high and low temperatures. But nonetheless, this is really cool to see. Around the dial goes the chapter ring in black colour on which you have the minute track and marking at the 9th minute with a text “Orbit 8:49min 270km”. That text means at what time the rocket reaches the orbit from the launch and at what height the rockets at that time. Another cool detail. On the dial, you have rectangular hour markers printed on with black outline and with white colour in the middle. At 3 o’clock we have a round date window cut out in the dial. The date background is black and the date is in white. At 9 o’clock we have an engraved writing, which we can’t see very good on this particular one, but it says “Soyuz Mat.”. At 12 o’clock we have the printed Werenbach logo in black colour and at 6 o’clock we have coordinates where the Soyuz booster shell from which this dial was cut was found. The index shape hour and minute hands are in black colour with white insides. The black second’s hand has a stick shape and a skeletonized rectangular shape counterweight. The lume on the hour markers, hour and minute hands is Super Luminova. And I got to say that it is a bright one. It shines really nice for the first hour and then slowly after 4-5 hours it fades away. The lume on this watch really competes with the lume on my benchmark watch, the Seiko Orange Monster. This dial with all that patina really speaks to me, most of the people won’t like so much patina, but I think it gives character to the watch.

The movement inside the watch is an automatic STP 1-11, which is a direct copy of the ETA 2824-2. Actually, on the Kickstarter project, they wanted to put in a Japan made automatic movement, but halfway into the Kickstarter project, they replaced it with the STP 1-11 with no extra charge, which was a nice move from them. So the Cal. STP 1-11 is a Swiss Made movement. This movement is made by Swiss Technology Production (Fossil group) in Switzerland. It has 44h of power reserve, 28’000 A/h, 26 jewels. This movement is actually pretty good one. And I have read many reviews on this particular movement and many people prefer this, rather than ETA 2824-2 on which it was based. The finishing, markings are better than on ETA movement. Also, STP 1-11 features jewelled barrel bridge, and it will add to the longevity. The accuracy of this piece has been in around +2 to +3 seconds a day, which is really amazing. This is probably the best accuracy I had on any of the watches I reviewed this far. I tested the accuracy for one week straight. The rotor is signed with Werenbach logo.

The strap that comes with the watch has the same quality levels as the case, movement and dial. The strap is a black textile strap with this rough pattern on the top side. The underline of the strap has this soft, almost rubbery material so the strap sits comfortably on your wrist. On the underlining of the strap, you have these space illustrations which is another great touch. On the top of the strap where the holes are we have the same material that is used for the underline sewn on it, that way the holes are more rugged and the textile won’t thread loose that easily after some hard use. The loops are made also from the same material as the underlining. The strap seems pretty rugged and will easily take some abuse, although it is quite stiff and will need at least one week break in period to sit nicely an comfortably on the wrist. The strap has built-in quick release spring bars. And you already know that I like when companies put them in straps. I actually keep seeing them more often with the watches I receive for reviews. The tang buckle is really nice. It is made from stainless steel and is nicely machined, with sharp lines and cool design. It is finished in brushed finishing. The buckle is signed with “Werenbach” name.

Overal the watch was everything I expected and even more. The excitement it gives when you are wearing it is just something. You are wearing a piece of rocket on your wrist + the material of the dial was used and was in space. And the quality is really there. You get a super nice case with a quality finish and machine work, sapphire glass on both sides, Swiss made automatic movement with nice finishing and signed rotor, dial that is made from Soyuz rocket shell that has been in space and of course the whole watch is Swiss made. The package you get is really nice. So is the 1673€ price for this particular one a fair one? I think yes, it is a good price for the package you get. Some might argue that it is a new company and that they can’t ask so much for the watches, but you get what you pay in this case. The quality is what you expect and even more at this price. Of course, you can get their cheapest version of this watch for 1088€ and their most expensive models with Valjoux 7750 and case made from Rocket material costs up to 7912€. But yes, I’m really impressed by the watch, this I guess is my most favourite watch so far that I reviewed, in the past, it was the Ginault Ocean Rover, but this has beaten it by a lot.

Price: 1673.78€ @ werenbach.ch

  • CASE: Stainless steel
  • DIAL: Rocket logo sticker – original processed
  • CRYSTAL: Sapphire (scratch resistant)
  • MOVEMENT: Cal. STP 1-11
  • LUMINOUS MATERIAL: Super Luminova
  • WATERPROOF: 5 ATM
  • WEIGHT: 117 g
  • DIAMETER: 40 mm

Also, I will mention that the founder Patrick Hoffman wrote a book  “Werenbachs Uhr” (“Werenbach’s Watch”) was written in 2012-2013. Based on the real-life story of the Werenbach watch brand and how it came to a reality. The book right now is only available in German, but I hope it get’s translated in English as I would love to read it.

 

 

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