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Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

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Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

#1

Post by TheJohnP » Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:48 pm

*Full Disclosure* - Patrick from Werenbach was generous enough to allow me to pick whichever standard Leonov I wanted to review and I wasn't required to return the watch.

INTRODUCTION:

Recently Werenbach launched a new Kickstarter for their upcoming Soyuz 01 collection. I reached out to them to see about reviewing one of those models. However, they let me know that prototypes weren't available, but they offered a chance to review a watch from their previous Leonov collection, so jumped on that opportunity. The Leonov collection was also originally launched through Kickstarter on March 2017.

Werenbach watches use recycled materials from Soyuz rockets sent into space and recovered in Kazakhstan. So whereas other watch brands sell a story based on a small number of their watches being used in space missions (cough, cough Omega, cough, cough Bulova), a piece of EVERY Werenbach has actually been in space. That's seems a more compelling story and more space credibility that you can have on your wrist in my opinion. The company is also very transparent on where the dial metal is sourced from each rocket, the mission details, etc.

To get a full sense of the watch, I wore it a week straight and switched out a few straps to test versatility.

PRODUCT OVERVIEW:

For the Leonov collection, the dials are sourced from different stages of the rockets. So depending on the colorway you pick, it will come from a different section of the rocket. They also offer a more customized experience (BTO = Built To Order), which is a little pricier, but you can pick from a variety of unique and distinctive dials showing various condition of use and wear.

Here's a fun video to show how the dials are produced:



The dials of the Leonov Collection are cut directly from the outer shell of the rocket. The dial of this particular Model 5 is cut from the outer cladding of the rocket engine and the surface has been left unchanged. As a result, upon closer inspection, differing traces of use and color nuances mean that no one watch face is the same as any other.

The material was sourced from Soyuz MS-09. MS-09 was the name of a flight mission in which a Soyuz-series Russian spacecraft travelled to the International Space Station (ISS). It was the 56th visit of a Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS and the 138th flight in the Soyuz spacecraft.

MISSION
- Manned

ON BOARD
- Alexander Gerst, Sergey Prokopyev, Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor

ROCKET TYPE
- Soyuz FG

LAUNCH LOCATION
- Kasachstan Kosmodrom Baikonur 45°57′54″N 63°18′18″E

LAUNCH DATE
- 6th June 2018

LAUNCH TIME
- 11:12:41 UTC

SPECIFICS:

Werenbach Leonov Model 5 (Soyuz MS-09)

https://www.werenbach.ch/en/collections ... 18-03-M28/

- Cost as configured is $1,670.28
- Case: Brushed stainless steel
- Dial: Engine cladding, aluminium, original processed
- Diameter: 40mm
- Lug to lug: 47mm
- Height: 13mm
- Lug width: 20mm
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Movement: STP 1-11
- Water Resistance: 5 ATM
- Additional features: Launch Sequencer internal bezel

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Even though this isn't a BTO (Built To Order) model, still needed to wait a couple of weeks for assembly/delivery. I ordered the watch on Sep 30 and it delivered on Oct 12.

The watch came in a nice long box, with a zippered case inside. Included was the rest of the section of the rocket that the dial was cut from. A screwdriver to resize the bracelet, a certificate of authenticity, and a signed letter.

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The extra dial material was unexpected and a neat addition to receiving the watch.

The watch seems well made and finished nicely with a uniform brushing on all the surfaces.
The case has a number of angular surfaces, yet doesn't feel sharp or pinches when wearing on the wrist.
Has a nice weight to it, giving it a solid, tool watch feel, especially on the bracelet.

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The dial does show wear from being launched into space, but not overtly. You have to look closely or catch it in the right light to really see the signs of distress. Of course hard to see some of that wear and tear due to all the text on the dial. I know Werenbach is trying to provide more to the story of the watch, but it does tent to overpower the dial slightly.

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The side of the case features an image taken from the Golden Record sent off with the Voyager spacecrafts. I get the association, but seems an unnecessary detail. Might have made more sense to include some imagery from either Soyuz or ISS, as those missions are more tied to the watch itself.

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The secondary crown at 2, manipulates the "Launch Sequencer" bezel. The Launch Sequencer is an adjustable ring that measures the Soyuz rocket’s “time of lift-off." Set the marking to the time of launch and the minute hand then shows what phase the rocket is in and its respective altitude. The secondary crown also screws down. And I found the action wasn't particularly smooth for the internal bezel. Maybe needed to work it more, not sure.

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The bracelet is solid and not cheap at all. Has a butterfly clasp, a couple of half links for better fit, and uses screwed in links Another great feature is that is uses quick release springbars, so very easy to swap out. But let's talk about the straight end links. This could be a deal breaker for a lot of people, and I understand it. I reached out to Werenbach to ask about the end links specifically and they confirmed it was a purposeful, aesthetic choice to give watch "a unique retro touch."

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Features a screw down crown and screw in caseback, so a little surprised it is only rated for 5 ATM water resistance. Maybe the exhibition caseback might be a factor? Also features more information about the MS-09 mission to ISS, just in case you needed a reminder.

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The movement is the STP 1-11. That also might be a sticking point for some folks. I believe they were originally going to include a Miyota, but went with the STP to keep this watch "Swiss Made." Some may scoff at a watch with this price point "only featuring a STP," but we know it's not easy these days to get an ETA and demand for Sellita is high for smaller brands.

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Super Luminova on the hands and indices.

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After roughly 20-25 minutes:

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VERSATILITY TEST

With an orange dial, you'd think it would be tough to match with different straps. I didn't find that to be the case.
I wore it a lot on the bracelet, but tried it out on a few different leather and elastic straps.

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SUMMARY:

- I did quite enjoy my week with the Werenbach.
- The orange dial, didn't feel out of place with anything I was wearing at the time. Didn't try as many straps as I should've, but seemed to pair well with the ones I did. A mesh bracelet might be a nice addition, even though that also has straight end links too.
- The STP ran fine for me. Gaining roughly +5 seconds per day, or roughly +37 seconds over the full week.
- Lume lasts a good while. I used my "dog walk test," which means I charged the lume for a minute and took my dog on a 20 minute walk. It was still glowing fairly well once I got back inside the house. I'd give it a sold B rating in that regard.
- Size and weight felt balanced on the wrist. Watch head felt a little heavy depending on the leather strap, but never an issue of it sliding around.

PRO:
- Amazing story if you get an opportunity to share it. If you are into space at all, this is a watch brand you should be looking at for a future purchase.
- Cool factor is high with a watch that features parts that went into space. Again, not every Speedmaster can make that claim.
- The uniqueness of the dial is a strong plus. Although I do wish it was a little more messed up.
- The Launch Sequencer bezel is a neat feature and really solidifies the space aspects
- The amount of transparency that Werenbach provides on where the material was salvaged, where the metal was located on the rocket, the mission itself, etc. Again, this watch is really about the story. And they give you what you need for that story.
- Lume is really good
- Accuracy was OK. Not great, but not bad either. No movement issues from my week on the wrist.

CON:
- The bracelet isn't really worth the extra cost, and certainly not with straight end links.
- An STP movement isn't the preference for most. Especially at the price point.
- Way too much writing on the dial, where you want to see the distress and not text.
- The Launch Sequencer bezel is neat, but also not really practical. Unless you needed to time something taking around 9 minutes.
- Not a lot of water resistance for what should be a tool watch.
- The price itself is a hurdle for a relatively new brand.

WOULD I BUY THIS?

Not this model. HOWEVER...

If I am going to spend the entry price (on a canvas stap) of $1,439.77 for a Leonov, I would spend the extra $288 to get the ability to pick a specific dial for a BTO model. To have an option of a truly unique watch showing real distress from space flight, I think their BTO Leonov is worth the entry price of $1,727.92.

https://www.werenbach.ch/en/collections ... 18-03-M28/

All in all, I would recommend a Werenbach Leonov. Just Built To Order.
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Re: Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

#2

Post by ManOnTime » Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:01 pm

Excellent review of a very interesting watch.

Thank you for sharing this!
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Re: Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

#3

Post by Sussa » Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:10 pm

Great review! They have some really neat options in the distressed/BTO dials. This may be my favorite, and bonus - it obscures a lot of the busy text.
Screen Shot 2020-10-26 at 8.09.02 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-10-26 at 8.09.02 PM.png (567.19 KiB) Viewed 2593 times
It's a small thing, but I really like the treatment around the date window on your model. The silver inset frames it nicely.
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Re: Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

#4

Post by Split-Time » Mon Oct 26, 2020 8:46 pm

Fantastic review of a very interesting watch. Thank you John!!!
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Re: Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

#5

Post by Stretch44 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:02 pm

Great write up, [mention]The JohnP[/mention]. Really interesting watch, just wish it was a little less expensive. That said, the actually went to space aspect is freaking cool. Like [mention]Sussa[/mention], I noticed the date window insert, really nice touch and adds depth.
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Re: Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

#6

Post by TheJohnP » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:01 pm

I know I wish all watches were cheaper, but did my best to try and keep perspective on their value proposition [mention]Stretch44[/mention] .

Granted, most of the materials used probably wouldn't necessarily add up to a $1,500ish watch.
But then I think about factoring the costs to get out to the steppes of Kazakhstan to get government access/clearance/permission to find, salvage, and transport the rocket materials back to Switzerland to machine each of the dials or other elements that are incorporated into each of their watches. Just that alone is going to be a big factor into their pricing.

On the other hand, these are priced fairly low on the current and previous Kickstarters, so there is some margin to play with.
I think I saw a post on their IG about Black Friday sales last year, so something to keep an eye on if they repeat that this year.
Fingers crossed!
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Re: Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

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Post by watchpalooza » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:26 am

Thank you for the excellent review of a very unique watch!
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Re: Review: Werenbach Leonov Model 5 Automatic Watch

#8

Post by DogOnTime » Fri Oct 30, 2020 5:57 pm

For some reason, I really don't mind the text on the dial, unlike watches such as the Tudor Pelagos.
Overall a good looker, the only criticism I have is that the case looks a little undermachined and a few edges being beveled off would produce a significant difference.

I hope their future watches are equally interesting.
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