Anybody who visits the Raketa watch manufacturing facility in Saint Petersburg can be shocked by the looks of the machines in the principle manufacturing corridor. They appear to come back from a distinct age. Today most watch factories use fashionable equipment with computerised numerical controls, however most of Raketa’s machines nonetheless date again to Soviet instances. As we’ve already seen when I wrote about my visit to the factory, they give the impression of being distinctly old school and misplaced within the 21st century! And if the truth that Raketa’s manufacture has its personal in-house choir may shock you, there’s something else that’s simply as stunning, and it has to do with toothbrushes… Why? Preserve studying!
Olga, Raketa’s Manufacturing Supervisor, explains: “Our machines are moderately easy to make use of, however they permit us to attain very excessive precision. They’re straightforward to take care of as they don’t have any advanced hydraulic methods, digital circuits or laptop software program. So long as they’re correctly maintained, they’ll nonetheless be working in 100 years’ time.”
However what shocked me much more once I visited the Raketa Manufacturing facility final 12 months is that lots of these machines have toothbrushes screwed into their frames, changing them into an integral a part of the machine.
In different instances, these toothbrushes are used manually by Raketa’s watchmakers or employees. Lightyears behind the laboratory-like premises of Omega…
What’s the function of those toothbrushes? The biggest elements of a mechanical motion are the plates, bridges and rotors. Producing these elements is all about remodeling a flat piece of brass into a particularly exact and sophisticated element. That is executed by reducing steel away with high-speed rotating cutters. Shavings are produced in the course of the milling course of, and the function of the toothbrush is to clean the workpiece (and the holder on which the workpiece is fastened) and take away the shavings. That is an exceptionally essential step: any filth that continues to be on these surfaces can have an effect on the precision of the following milling operations and at a later stage, the precision of the watch itself.
As Olga defined: “I’ve by no means visited Swiss watch factories, however their fashionable milling machines should essentially have an equal operate – besides that it should be executed with some type of extra advanced know-how. We simply use a toothbrush!” Pragmatism and resourcefulness at their finest!
Nathalia, Raketa’s Provide Supervisor, went additional: “Toothbrushes are definitely one of the essential consumable devices of our manufacturing facility: I purchase them in boxfuls!”
This use of toothbrushes says loads about Russian mentality. Russians are well-known for easy and durable constructions. Why make one thing sophisticated when you can also make it easy? This jogs my memory of the story concerning the Individuals at NASA spending over 1,000,000 dollars to develop a pen that may work in house with out gravity – as an alternative, the Russians relied on a pencil!
This Russian mentality isn’t solely mirrored in Raketa’s machines and manufacturing course of however can be mirrored in Raketa’s mechanical motion. This mechanism has a easy, strong engineering development that dates again to the creation of the Raketa model in 1961 and has undergone few modifications since then. Precisely just like the Russian “Soyuz” rocket launcher additionally developed within the 1960s, which, due to its simplicity, has grow to be probably the most used house rocket on the earth to this present day.
As Ludmilla, Raketa’s Chief Engineer, defined: “Many individuals ask if sooner or later we are going to develop a tourbillon for the Raketa mechanical motion. The reply is unquestionably ‘No!’ Not as a result of it’s too tough for us, however just because it doesn’t correspond in any respect to Russia’s mentality: tourbillons are an extremely lovely complication, however they’re very fragile and don’t serve any helpful operate in a wristwatch. We want to do easy, helpful issues, equivalent to Raketa’s 24-hour movement, which allows submariners to distinguish day from night on the depths of the oceans and cosmonauts to tell apart day from evening in house.”
Ludmilla additionally instructed me why Raketa doesn’t wish to change this old-school method of working: “To begin with, why change one thing that works? Secondly, many European watch specialists and journalists who go to our manufacturing facility advocate us to not change this manner of working as a result of it carries a really sturdy human contact: they inform me that we work just like the Swiss labored 50 years in the past!” And I’m positively one among these journalists!
It’s heartening to see how each machine is manually adjusted and operated by a person or a girl who transmits a little bit of their soul to each single element they produce. That is actually what watchmaking is all about: human feelings! You’ll definitely discover loads of that on the Raketa watch manufacturing facility.
“I’ve labored on the Raketa manufacturing facility since 1984. I noticed first-hand how our manufacturing facility survived the painful years of the Perestroika and the 1990s when failing communism collapsed and was changed by brutal capitalism,” explains Yuri whereas scrubbing away the shavings produced whereas milling the rotors of Raketa’s automated motion with a toothbrush. “Our method of working, examined over the previous 60 years, is easy and environment friendly. This simplicity enabled us to proceed working in these very tough instances. I’d not change my toothbrush for the rest!“
Effectively, Yuri, don’t change it! These are the type of anecdotes and enjoyable details that convey such authenticity and humanity to the watches produced by Raketa.
For extra particulars concerning the model, go to www.raketa.com.