Having been reenergised with some Swiss marketing savvy, Russian watchmaker Raketa has revived some of its Soviet-era classics and now debuts the striking Big Zero Malevich.
The Big Zero Malevich reproduces one of the artist’s most famous works with tiny pieces of mineral stone, creating a stark, geometric mosaic on the dial. Created in partnership with the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Big Zero Malevich is a limited edition of 300 watches, with a portion of the proceeds from its sale going to the museum.
Art rarely translates well onto a watch dial, especially for an affordable price, but the Big Zero Malevich manages to pull it off. It appeals visually, but also in terms of materials – the dial is not just printed but instead a mineral stone mosaic.
As an aside, shorter hands would have maximised the impact of the black square on the dial – the hands would blend into the square entirely – but that would have made legibility impossible.
The only downside is the simple case and no-frills movement, but with a price tag of a little over US$1,400, the Big Zero Malevich is priced well.
A watch brand owned by the Petrodvorets Watch Factory, which has its origins in 18th century Tsarist Russia, Raketa is now owned by English and French investors who recruited former Jaquet Droz chief executive Manuel Emch as a consultant. An industry veteran who’s an art collector himself, Mr Emch is no doubt responsible for the tie up with Tretyakov Gallery.
Located in Moscow, the Tretyakov Gallery is the country’s most important museum for Russian art. And amongst Russian artists, Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) is one of the most influential widely influential. His abstract work has enjoyed both critical and commercial acclaim; his Suprematist Composition sold for US$85.8 million including fees in 2018.
Perhaps his most iconic work is Black Square, a painting of a, well, black square that is hanging in the Tretyakov Gallery. The dial of the Big Zero Malevich reproduces Black Square as a mosaic made of three mineral stones – black jade, white jade, and violane – creating a striking, geometric face.
Dial aside, the Big Zero Malevich is a straightforward watch. The case is steel and 38.8 mm in diameter, while the movement is the Raketa cal. 2615. Although it’s been dressed up, it is a Soviet-era automatic movement at heart and looks the part. And it runs at 18,000 beats per hour, below the industry norm of 28,800 beats per hour.
That said, it is an acceptable movement for what this watch costs, although the package would be more appealing hidden behind a solid case back.
Key Facts and Price
Raketa Big Zero Malevich
Diameter: 38.8 mm
Crystal: Mineral glass
Water resistance: 100 m
Dial: Black jade, white jade, and violane
Movement: Cal. 2615
Functions: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours
Strap: Leather with pin buckle
Limited edition: 300 pieces
Availability: Direct from Raketa or the gift shop of the State Tretyakov Gallery
Price: €1,208 excluding taxes
For more information, visit Raketa.com.
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