A little while back, whilst watching a video about the life of Yuri Gagarin, I saw an image that literally made me shiver, and which I share with you below. It shows the three watches that Soyuz flight commander Vladimir Komarov used during his failed and tragic space mission. The image is a sobering reminder of his tragic death.
His fatal accident was one of the most obscure and controversial episodes of the Soviet space programme. Even today, I shudder when I see these images and recall the history of those space pioneers, to whom we owe so much.
Returning to the first image showing the remains of the timepieces, they include an AYX0 cabin clock, a Strela 3017, and a Slava Rattrapante (which is the protagonist of today’s post).
The Slava 5498 chronometer has a central 30-minute counter and a 30-second outer counter. It has a third hand, which measures split-seconds, i.e. the rattrapante function; it enables an intermediate timing to be taken whilst the chronometer is still running.
It is a big stopwatch, measuring 65 mm in diameter.
The Slava has a very nice ¨high-beat¨ movement, possibly based on the Lemania 1130. The technical specifications for the caliber can be found in the link.
It was designed with precision in mind, and was evidently good enough, and robust enough, to serve in numerous space missions, after passing an exhaustive series of tests in order to certify both its accuracy and durability. It obtained certificate number GOST (State Standards of the Soviet Union) 5072, as can be seen in its passport below.
The Slava Rattrapante was introduced in the 1950s, and a number of variants were produced. A dear friend, Luis Lopes, has an extraordinary collection of these precious time pieces, which I invite you to take a look at.
The case-back was painted with titanium nitride, in order to make it more resistant to wear during use.
I believe this is an outstanding time piece that belongs in any Soviet watch enthusiast’s collection. It represents the amazing feats of these brave space pioneers, exemplified by Vladimir Komarov’s last words, as recalled in the video below.