3 Incredibly Fake Raketa Big Zeros:
Soviet Watch eBay Listings Round Up #4
By: Kaz Mirza
Few Russian watches have become as iconic as the Raketa Big Zero. Unfortunately this icon status has increased demand for the watch – a demand which (in my opinion) far exceeds the supply that’s out there. This recipe is a fertile breeding ground for fake Raketa Big Zeros to run rampant – and run rampant they do!
The issue of Raketa Big Zeroes being faked is so serious that these days it’s really rare to actually find an authentic version on any of the popular auction sites. I was fortunate enough to catch the Big Zero bug back in 2015 when the watch was still popular, but not as popular as it is now. So I was able to pick up a clean and authentic version that only had a replaced crystal (which is normal with USSR Watches).
For this week’s installment of Soviet Watch eBay Listings Round Up I wanted to focus solely on fake Raketa Big Zeros. Please consider this a companion piece to my original write up: “So You Want To Buy A Raketa Big Zero…” where I used my personal Big Zero as a reference guide for what to look for in a good listing. In this write up I’ll be reviewing pieces that highlight key indicators of a fake Raketa Big Zero.
Green Dial Raketa Big Zero 2609 (eBay ID: 263805935894)
My God – I don’t even know where to begin. I think the first thing that should be setting off your “fake Raketa Big Zero” Alarm is that fact that Raketa never made green dial version of the Big Zero. There is a black dial version with chrome hands and a really interesting handful of propaganda graphics on the white dial. But nowhere have I ever seen any any USSR-period Raketa catalogs with a green dial Big Zero. Nor have I ever seen one that wasn’t painfully and cringe-worthily fake like this one.
Looking at the dial, please note the actual dial text/markers. Notice how the text appears a bit fuzzy on the sides (especially on the Raketa logo)? This is an indication that the dial elements have been printed on (I believe technically the fuzz around the side is indicative of ink bleed or possibly poor pigment application). The difference this fake Raketa Big Zero has in relation to one that is authentic is that the authentic one has dial elements applied.
That is to say that the numerals, triangle markers, and Raketa logo are very thin cut and applied pieces of what seems to be resin (or some other type of plastic). The effect is that the edges of the dial elements are crisp and have a slight raised effect. This fake Big Zero doesn’t have that. Please take note of this because the amount of printed fake Raketa Big Zero dials that are out there is staggering.
From the dial to the case – few things irk me more than seeing a Big Zero with protruding lugs. Real Big Zeros have a very soft and ergonomic case profile with very short, almost nonexistent lugs. Any Big Zero you see that has protruding lugs like this one is fake/franken (“franken” meaning cannibalized from another watch). The other indication that this Raketa Big Zero is fake is that the inaccurate case covers up some of the dial elements. On the outer most perimeter of the dial you’re supposed to clearly see minute ticks. But here they’re slightly obscured from certain angles.
Ok, so hands… those are not Raketa Big Zero hands. Inexplicably the hour and minute hands look like they came from the Raketa World Time, a very cool vintage USSR piece that doesn’t really get too much attention. What’s weird is that I’ve noticed a lot of fake Raketa Big Zeros use these World Time hands. I’m not sure if a truck full of these hands exploded and dispersed its cargo like horological pollen across the land or what – but please be conscious of the differences. Authentic Big Zero hands are traditionally solid, meaning they aren’t skeletonized and see-through. The other quirky factor about authentic Big Zero hands is that they’re undersized. I know that may sound counter-intuitive, but that’s just how the authentic watch was designed and it’s part of the charm.
The hands here in this fake Raketa Big Zero are too long and obviously are skeletonized. Plus, Big Zero hands are traditionally flat black in pigmentation with the exception of the black dial version which features the same exact hands as the white dial version, but they’re chromed out. The seconds hand is also inaccurate, but more on that later in the next listing.
The last point to focus on with this fake Raketa Big Zero is the movement. If you’ve checked out the Two Broke Watch Snobs Podcast or if you’ve read my previous write up on the Big Zero, you’ve heard me say that the watch has the Raketa 2609 caliber. The thing is that there were actually a few versions of the 2609 caliber and people making fake Raketa Big Zero pieces count on the fact that you won’t know the differences.
Check out the movement on my authentic piece in the write up I linked above. It has that long, distinctive bridge plate that spans the whole width of the movement. This is the Raketa 2609 HA caliber and it’s what is supposed to be in this model. The weird green dial fake Big Zero also has the 2609 movement, but it’s from the wrong time period. This is the Raketa 2609 base caliber movement and I believe it’s one of the older/earlier iterations of the caliber. The tell-tale sign is that in place of the distinct bridge plate of the 2609 HA, this earlier 2609 has a triangle. Also the early 2609 has 16 Jewels while the 2609 HA (which is supposed to be in the Big Zero) has 19 jewels.
- Highlights: none
- Problem Areas: everything – inaccurate hands, case, movement and modern, low-quality printed dial – it hurts my brain
- Seller: primelensmaster (Photo Credits)
- Buy It Now price: $49.90 USD
White Dial Raketa Big Zero Claiming NOS (eBay ID: 192609133570)
Listen, guys I just need to dispel this right now. It’s incredibly rare (I’m talking astronomically rare) for there to be ever be an authentic listing for a NOS Big Zero. More often than not, any listing claiming to be NOS will be featuring a fake Raketa Big Zero. But let’s dive into the details so you can see what I mean.
So based off the previous listing, we know these hands are fake. Looks like the Raketa World Time hands are back, but it looks like this listing may have taken it an extra step by at least painting the hands black to more closely resemble the authentic ones. Also pay attention to the seconds hand here. Much like the first listing, the seconds here is evidence that we’re dealing with a franken/fake Raketa Big Zero. In the first listing, the seconds hand was a plain bar. In this listing the tail end appears to be an elongated spade type of shape. In reality, the tail end of a real Big Zero’s second hand is a slight triangular wedge shape that’s reminiscent of the dial’s markers. In my previous write up I believe I reckoned the shape of the second hand’s tail to that of a paper folding fan that’s been partially opened.
What’s interesting here is that the case is actually a proper Big Zero case. And at first glance I thought maybe the dial was as well. But upon closer inspection it’s a printed dial just like the first listing. The ink/pigment bleeding effect I mentioned before can be see in the logo. But it also looks like the application was sloppy – note the crook section of the “6” where the top curve and bottom circular shape meet; also note the back, flat-end of the wedge at 2 o’clock. Both these items feature some type of ink smudge or ink trail. As mentioned before the authentic version of this watch has its dial elements cut from thin resin/plastic and applied directly to the dial – there is no ink. This is a printed dial and it’s evidence of a fake Raketa Big Zero.
This is an accurate movement for the watch – it’s the 2609 HA. The only really weird thing that reinforces my annoyance (as if being a fake Raketa Big Zero wasn’t enough) is that the case screw at the watch’s 2 o’clock position looks like a Phillips head screw. More than that, it looks like it’s been awkwardly just jammed in there. I’ve never seen a watch movement with a Philips head screw before, so if someone has then please let me know.
Oh, and the crown’s been replaced. Authentic Big Zero crowns are more squat in appearance and don’t protrude out very far. Also if you look closely at the juncture where the crown and case meet there’s a slight uncharacteristic gap. This is an indication that crown isn’t correct and that the case has been polished to the point that it’s profile has been slightly altered, creating a gap between the case and crown where there wasn’t one before.
- Highlights: Movement is authentic but possibly mistreated – same goes for the case
- Problem Areas: hands, dial, and crown are fake – plus the watch just seems like it wasn’t handled with the best care when you focus in on the small details
- Seller: olg_se3 (Photo Credits)
- Buy It Now price: $49.90 USD
Raketa Big Zero Claiming To Be New Without Tags (eBay ID: 253784208683)
I chose this fake Raketa Big Zero to talk about last because it combines most of the items I’ve talked about in one clean package. By now it’s apparent that those hands aren’t authentic – those are the Raketa World Time Hands. Also inspecting the dial should reveal to you that it’s printed. I mean, if you needed proof, look at the CCCP Star printing – incredibly sloppy and lots of pigment/ink bleed.
Also please note the case. Protruding lugs = fake Raketa Big Zero. This listing also features the incorrect Raketa 16 Jewel 2609 when it’s supposed to feature the 17 Jewel. Again, you can tell by the triangle shaped bridge plate. Also, for the love of God, the chances are astronomically rare for a NOS or “New Condition” Big Zero to exist.
The other important thing to takeaway from this listing is that even though this is a bonkers fake Raketa Big Zero, the seller has a really strong eBay rating. It’s just proof that even though a seller has a positive rating, it’s incumbent on you to be an educated consumer and to trust your knowledge and eye for detail.
- Highlights: You can possibly buy it and staple it to your wall as visual reference example of a fake Big Zero
- Problem Areas: Everything – case, dial, hands, movement are indicative of a fake Big Zero
- Seller: ruscamera (Photo Credits)
- Buy It Now price: $50.00 USD
If anyone has any questions of the above pieces or if you have any additional information to add, please let me know in the comments below!
Kaz has been collecting watches since 2015, but he’s been fascinated by product design, the Collector’s psychology, and brand marketing his whole life. While sharing the same strong fondness for all things horologically-affordable as Mike (his TBWS partner in crime), Kaz’s collection niche is also focused on vintage Soviet watches as well as watches that feature a unique, but well-designed quirk or visual hook.