Thursday, December 08, 2005

Raketa Braille Watch Review

The Raketa Braille watch is, as its name implies, a watch that is primarily meant for the visually impaired. That being said, however, it can be used like any other watch as well. The watch was manufactured at the Petrodvoretz factory outside of St. Petersburg. Raketa itself has supposedly gone out of business but numerous examples of their watches, including this one, remain available via eBay. Now for the weird part. For a company that supposedly went under in 1995, they seem pretty lively, see: . The products page seems to have a whole lineup of watches available, including this Braille watch. (The pages loads exceedingly slowly, be patient). There is even a floating clock animation with 2005 in it and a picture of one of Raketa's calendar watches with a date scale running up to 2012. Another page on the site has a watch face with the year 2003 clearly visible on it. I have encountered some speculation that that Raketa never went bankrupt but instead has been trying to create the illusion that their products are scarce to boost prices (see The Raketa Conspiracy Theory). Irrespective, there seems to be a plentiful supply of Raketas available, which, given how nicely this Braille watch is made, is a good thing.


The Braille watch appears to use a chrome plated case with a snap-on stainless steel back. The case measures 38mm wide at its widest point (diagonally) and is 34mm directly across the face (37mm with the crown). Additionally, the lug width is 18mm. The movement is Raketa's 17 jewel hand wound 2601. The watch is not at all water resistant, a fairly common issue with Raketas. To use the Braille function, a button on the crown releases a spring loaded hinge holding the crystal. The watch hands are made of thick steel and can be handled without fear of bending them. For this reason, there is no second hand. Lastly, the watch face has raised markers to allow reading by touch. It takes a bit of getting used to but the whole thing works quite well. The watch has no lume however.


I personally find the Raketa to be an attractive and well built mechanical watch. I cannot comment on its precise accuracy as the watch lacks a second hand, but it seems to be good to about a minute or so per week which is really just fine. I particularly appreciate how this watch does not loudly advertise its specialized function. It really looks no different from most other watches and if you didn't already know that this was a watch for the blind, you probably would not guess it. That sort of elegance in design is something that seems sorely lacking to my eye when it comes to products meant for people with disabilities. The fact that the intended user of this watch might never be able to see it is no excuse for making it ugly. Fortunately, Raketa made no such mistake.


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