When it comes to watches that I like and usually get for my own collections, I not only look at the quality, design and movement, but I also look into the story of the watch and the company itself. Just like the Omega Speedmaster with the first watch on the moon or the Rolex Daytona of the Paul Newman or any watch, even the Seiko on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wrist in Comando. I have about 10 watches in my collections that are kept in my collections probably only for the story and coolness of it, haha. And one of them is the Werenbach B.T.O. Soyuz watch that I reviewed a couple of years ago. Space is really something that interests me a lot and I really wanted a Speedmaster, but with Werenbach I had a chance to get a watch with a dial that has been on rockets outside and has been in space unlike the Speedmaster it has been in space, but only a couple of watches on the wrists of astronauts. Anycase, I fell in love with the watch that much that I got it for me those years ago and was posting it a lot on my Instagram (@albertkaminsky). So Werenbach reached out to me and I have a ton of Werenbach material coming next months. But now we will start with the same Leonov collection, but with a different style of the case.
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 four 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 Soyuz an Leonov collections. And MACH33 which is a quartz piece with a small piece on the dial from Soyuz rocket material, it comes in 38mm and 42mm.
They got successfully funded back in 2017 for the Leonov Collection through Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with a huge success with 1,231 backers who pledged CHF 768,039. Now they are a pretty well established brand in my opinion with a wide range of watches from 262€ up to 6068€.
The watch that is in for review is from Leonov collection and I have to remind that the watch faces are cut directly from the rocket by hand. Te precisely cut dials are crafted from the raw rocket material and other than the printing and date window the dial is untouched. Previously I had a chance to choose one of the special B.T.O. editions, but now I wanted to go with the regular versions and so I chose the one with the orange dial which comes from engine cladding on the Soyuz rocket.
The watch from Switzerland to Latvia came pretty fast. It took about 3 days. Which is pretty impressive, especially due to the pandemic going on around the world. 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 it 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 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 light. I was 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. Something that was engineered by engineers, then put together, to make the rocket and launched in space, it fell on the ground and was recycled into the watch that you are wearing, this is just crazy! Anycase I was super impressed by the packaging and the watch itself. It really felt like a proper watch. The CNC work on all of the Werenbachs is crazy!
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 case of the lug back is brushed. The finishing has amazing quality. All the lines of the case are very sharp and straight. Compared to my B.T.O. it has even better CNC machine work and finishing. Looks like they improved even more on the sharpness of the lines and evenness of the finishing than before, and I have to say that before the B.T.O. was already in my top 3 of all watches when it comes to how well it was made. 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 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.
This one is the same as the B.T.O. just with rotating inner bezel and extra screw down at 2 o’clock for the inner rotating bezel. On the right side of the case, we have nice crown guards that hug the crown securely. 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 and even better than on my B.T.O. 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 of a flower and I still think that it is one of the most beautiful case back design ever. 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 an the name of the watch. But also some pretty important ones like the year it was made (2018), and another thing that is important is that it says from which Soyuz rocket the dial was made (MS-09). About the MS-09 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 a 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 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-09 which is a Soyuz spaceflight that launched on 6 June 2018 to the ISS. It transported three members of the Expedition 56/57 crew to the International Space Station. MS-09 is the 138th flight of a Soyuz spacecraft. The crew consists of a Russian commander, an American and German flight engineers. The coolest 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-09 photos and see the exact part of a rocket from which your watch dial was made. It was really interesting searching for the photos. So the dial is cut from rocket engine cladding as you can see the orange part on the photo below. The dial has a very nice orange colour with some patina. It is pretty amazing that this round piece of metal in your watch has been in space and o close to engines and probably the temperature of the cladding was really hot. I really like the look of these dials as each one is unique. I think this very abused dial looks much better than those cleaner dials. Around the dial goes the inner rotating bezel in black colour with timing for the rocket to launch from earth to space. On the dial, you have rectangular hour markers printed on with white outline and with white colour in the middle that is lume. At 3 o’clock we have a round date window cut out in the dial. The date background is white with black numbers. At 9 o’clock we have engraved writing, which says “Soyuz Mat.”. At 12 o’clock we have the printed Werenbach logo in white colour and at 6 o’clock we have coordinates for where the Soyuz engines landed from which the dials were cut. The index shape hour and minute hands are in white colour with white lumed insides. The white 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.
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 back then. 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 a 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. I tested the accuracy for one week straight. The rotor is signed with Werenbach logo and overall it is very nicely decorated!
The strap is a bit update on this one, but only a couple of things, the core stays the same. The strap has is on the same level of quality as the rest of the watch. 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 and 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 a bit bigger and it 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 with polished angles. he finishing is actually a little bit better than on my older variant. The buckle is signed with “Werenbach” name.
Overall 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 a 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 1196€ 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 more affordable watch the MACH33 which isn’t far from this when it comes to quality, but it is quartz. And by the way, I have the MACH33 also in for review so stay tuned. But yes, I’m really impressed by the watch, this I guess is one of my favourite watches I have reviewed this year! So the question is “Should I get it?”, well… YES!
5 thoughts on “Werenbach Leonov Model 5 – Soyuz MS-09 (Review) – Dial from Soyuz space rocket engine cladding?”
Wow!! The watch looks stunning. Thanks for the wonderful post. Keep sharing!
Great Review. Keep up the good work.
Very nice and comprehensive review, thanks. I have however owned one of these watches for a few years and I feel like I should complete this with a different point of view for future potential buyers (as I have on other webpages).
Yes, the watch is very nice and good quality… on the outside.
Unfortunately, my Model 4 stopped working after 3 years. While this may occasionally happen with some products, the experience I had with the customer service seems to indicate otherwise and questions the honesty of this company.
After ignoring my first support request, I finally got a reply from them to my second attempt (several weeks later) simply saying to send the watch to some watchclinic in Germany. Funny for a Swiss watch/company. When asking Werenbach advice if a more local solution is possible, I was left, once again, without any reply.
I therefore sent the watch to a recognized watchmaker in Lausanne (pictures on demand), here is his expertise: the STP movement is completely shot (not even serviceable, after 3 years), some gears are scrubbing against each other, dried out droplets of oil, weight not moving freely, movement not attached properly. According to him, quality is low and definitely subpar with ETA movements (advertised on Werenbach website, which should last at least 5-7 years).
Yet here is the worst of the Werenbach experience: after asking them if this is the life expectancy/quality they expect, what is the price for replacing the movement, and whether a solution can be found together else I’ll have to share this experience if they keep ignoring their customers, here is the shocking reply I got:
“it really happens once a year that some people try to black mail me. Please note that this is the wrongest way to find a solution with me. Good luck with whatever action you want to take.”
Kind of funny to be accused of blackmail and threaten by “his lawyer” (in a following email) through aggressive emails while you are literally trying to find a solution with them to fix the product, and while they keep ignoring all of the questions about the watch.
The watches are nice, but this experience reflects well how Werenbach backup their products, their quality, honesty and the kind of service you can expect from them (absolutely none) in case of problem.
Never happened to me! But some cases are what they are. Nobody is perfect. Rolex, Patek and many more also have customer support problems, but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad watch brand.