„When you see the Earth from space, it changes the way you think.“Frank White, Overview-Effekt
Werenbach watches are made from the material of real-life space rockets, recovered post-launch in Kazakhstan and subjected to an elaborate treatment process in preparation for watch production. All the material used to make the watches has been to the edge of space and back.
Any astronaut who views the Earth from space can recognise the beauty of our planet and the insignificance of themselves on a universal scale. They recognise the absence of borders, on Earth as in space.
This experience can change the way we think. It is “spaceborn”, because it originates from space, and it is our ideology. It lives in the bodies of the watches and the minds of those who wear them.
On the search for a watch with its own unique story
It is Werenbach’s vision to produce watches that are more evocative, colourful and inspiring than the rest - which is why each of our pieces incorporates genuine rocket material. The engine is the part of the rocket that supplies the propulsive force - 4.5 megatons, to be exact! - while the outer shell gives the rocket its colour and form. We devised different processes to prepare the two rocket elements for watch production.
From the boundary with space to a watch on your wrist, via the Kazakh Steppe
On the rocket’s journey into space, the first and second rocket stages are jettisoned at a height of 45 km (the booster) and 85 km (the fairing) respectively.
Since the materials are recovered directly after the launch, we are able to determine which mission and which part of the rocket the material for each watch comes from. As such, each piece not only has an extraordinary story, but also represents a genuine piece of space travel history.
Something close to alchemy - Casing made from 96% original rocket steel
The casings for the Soyuz Collection are produced from the rocket engine. Production begins with a complex metallurgical melting process in which the rocket’s steam turbine is melted down, with the challenge here being that the steel is altered as little as possible. The aim is to convert the heat-resistant material into a stainless steel. The result is a unique Werenbach alloy consisting of 96% original rocket steel: SRE stainless steel (Soyuz Rocket Engine)
The melting process takes place in a vacuum induction furnace,, where the carbon component is reduced in small quantities by means of combustion. Only by using this method is it possible to reduce the amount of carbon without diluting the starting material. It’s a highly sophisticated metallurgical procedure -but no challenge was big enough to prevent us realising the dream of a genuine rocket watch.
The real deal: The surfaces of the faces are left unaltered, meaning that no one watch face is the same as any other
The watch faces are cut directly from the rocket by hand and precise dials crafted from the raw rocket material as part of a multi-step fine mechanical process. On account of their differing traces of use, the faces then undergo multiple rounds of selection before being personally approved by the company founder himself.
The surfaces of the faces are what give the watches their character – they retain the original colour and structure of the rocket from which they were sourced, thereby determining the watch’s appearance. Every face displays differing traces of use, making each one distinct from any other.
Soyuz and Leonov – Made to measure
Werenbach offers two collections: the Soyuz Collection (limited stock with premium-quality components; casing and face made from rocket material) and the Leonov Collection (face made from rocket material). B.T.O. Editions – whose faces are crafted from especially distinctive materials in accordance with customer wishes – are available for both collections.
The preparation of the raw rocket parts for watch production involves two different treatment processes: a fine mechanical process for the watch faces and a metallurgical process for the casings. The processing of rocket engines for the Soyuz Collection is particularly complex, which means that the two collections fall into in different price
Manufactured in Zurich – in our very own workshop
All of our watches are assembled by experienced watchmakers in Werenbach’s very own workshop. To date, the only exception to this has been the watches sold as part of the Kickstarter campaign, when many watches had to be produced within a short time and production was thus outsourced on a one-off basis. The preparation of materials and the production of components is undertaken in collaboration with specialist partners drawing on many years of experience.
Case Processing – Soyuz Collection
Melting in the vacuum induction furnace. Reduction of 0.17% carbon (decarburization).
Addition of 2.8% nickel and 2% molybdenum.
Forming of the slug. Forging and heat treatment.
Completion of watch case. Drillings and final touch.
To the frontiers of space and back
Soyuz rockets are launched in the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and complete their journey into space in three stages. At a height of 45 km, the booster of the first stage is jettisoned. This is followed by the fairing at a height of around 85 km.
There are no fixed boundaries in space; rather, the transition between the Earth’s atmosphere and space is fluid. The Fédération Aéronautique International (FAI), the International Air Sports Federation, has adopted Karaman’s definition, setting the boundary at 100 km. For the US Air Force (USAF), space begins at 80 km. According to this definition, the Soyuz fairing components have crossed the boundary into space. These models can be idenitified by their white or white-red faces and the marking “Soyuz Fairing”.
As the saying goes – the idea came from nowhere
It all began with a spontaneous idea (spring 2010). Out jogging in the forest, Patrick Hohmann stumbled upon the far-fetched notion of building watches from real-life space rockets - and it was an idea the eventual founder just couldn’t shake. In it, he saw the opportunity to create a truly fascinating timepiece: a watch with a true and one-of-a-kind story. It would tell the tale of the rocket and its journey into space.
An adventure-filled journey to the Kazakh Steppe
It was three and a half years (autumn 2013) before the idea of building a watch from a space rocket had materialised into the first tick of the first second hand. The procurement of the material in Kazakhstan, the importing of the materials to Switzerland and the development of the two metal treatment processes required a great deal of time and resources. On many occasions, the project seemed as though it was doomed to fail.
The start-up phase was characterised by a number of setbacks. In a rare moment of calm, Patrick Hohmann began to commit his own story to paper in the form of a novel.
In 2017, Werenbach successfully funded the Leonov Collection via an international crowdfunding campaign.
The book inspired by the watch
The German-language novel “Werenbachs Uhr” (“Werenbach’s Watch”) was written by Patrick Hohmann in 2012-2013. Based on the real-life story of the Werenbach watch brand, it is the first adventure novel to have been written about a watch. It brings its readers along on a thrilling fictional retelling of the turbulent start-up phase.
“It’s exactly as a book should be. Books should whisk us away from the banality of everyday life: on gravel trails, across deserts and over the edge of the horizon. Werenbachs Uhr is a story that restores our belief in dreams being realised – an enthralling pageturner.” Ricco Bilger, Publisher
The book was published by Swiss publishing house Bilgerverlag in 2015.