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The first watch in outer space
The Pilot Watch Magazine
03 March 2024

Precise timepieces for heroes in weightlessness

Sturmanskie is a brand of the Russian wristwatch manufacturer Volmax with branches in Moscow and in Porrentruy, Switzerland, the heart of Swiss horology. The Moscow watchmaker unites under its roof a whole series of well-known labels, in addition to Sturmanskie, for example, the Aviator brand, which is popular in aviation circles. Originally, Sturmanskie is a product of the state-owned First Moscow Watch Factory, the oldest watch factory in the Soviet Union. It was founded in 1930 to provide the Red Army with reliable timepieces, independent of foreign imports.

Volmax is founded at the turn of the millennium by former employees of the First Moscow Watch Factory. In 2002, the company acquires the trademark rights to Sturmanskie, which means “navigator’s” in Russian. The handmade timepieces of the post-Soviet label are robust, of high quality and definitely meet Western standards. Depending on the model of the wide product range, they have calibers with manual winding, automatic movement or quartz movement. Sturmanskie watches are developed and assembled in Russia’s capital Moscow, yesterday as today.

Sturmanskie is the first watch brand in history to make it into space.


Sturmanskie in space

Sturmanskie achieved worldwide fame on April 12, 1961, when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin took off in his spacecraft Vostok 1 to become the first man in history to orbit the earth in an adventurous flight – with a timepiece from the Soviet watchmaker Sturmanskie on his arm. To the surprise of many experts, not only does Gagarin – now a hero of the Soviet Union – survive the flight unscathed, but so does his watch. After returning from his excursion into weightlessness, the watch ticked just as reliably and precisely as before the launch – a minor sensation.

Originally, Sturmanskie chronometers were intended exclusively for officers of the Soviet Army. Later, astronauts from Germany, France, India, Japan, Poland and other countries also wear the Sturmanskie brand on their wrists during joint space missions with their Russian colleagues. It was not until 1983 that the timepieces, so popular because of their heroic history, were made available to a wider public. Since the launch of the brand in 1949, Sturmanskie has repeatedly proven its outstanding qualities: Reliability, precision and durability – even in space.

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