For watch collectors had much to offer always Russia-brands such as Poljot, Vostok, Raketa were to have affordable prices and offered sophisticated mechanical works with good quality. Also in the present-day Russia watches are manufactured, designed and distributed. In the year 2000, Volmax was founded by former employees of the first Moscow watch factory. The company owns the trademark rights to three Russian watch brands: Aviator, Buran and Sturmanskie.
The Sturmanskie brand is dedicated to mainly the Russian space history – finally, Juri Gagarin wore a Sturmanskie from the production of the first Moscow watch factory on the wrist became the first man in space on April 12, 1961. The watches are assembled in Moscow, the components supplied.
Katerina A. Helwig is the designer, who is behind the designs from brands like Sturmanskie and Denissov. In an interview, describes the creative mind behind the Russian watch design, which serves as an inspiration and as the space history takes influence.
Katerina, you’re the designer for the models of the Russian brand Sturmanskie and some other manufacturers. How did your passion for the design of wrist watches come about?
This step was inevitable in my professional orientation. At the beginning of my career as a product designer, Denissov has invited me to collaborate. While I realize that a watch is an object with special properties. It is associated with mechanical art, but also an expression of the personality of the wearer of the watch. So, a watch is also a fashion article. For designers, a watch is a very complex product, and close to a challenge as, for example, an automobile. However everything miniaturised! A clock can be but also a piece of jewelry, or even applied arts. I think a watch has more interpretations than other objects.
What inspires you for a new design?
It’s always different, depending on the brand, the collection — range from Art Deco to the conquest of the universe as in the Sturmanskie watches. I love working with different styles that fulfill different tasks. A briefing at the beginning is important, constraints, however, interfere with the creativity. The proportions that aesthetics of form – all makes my approach to design.
Your designs are rich. The Denissov Enigma, or the Sturmanskie Gagarin with GMT, and especially Mars Lady showing an enormous amount. How much influence Russia’s history and design your watches?
The Russian design history and the Russian tradition of watchmaking have strong influence on the design of brands like Sturmanskie or Denissov.So, the Mars is Lady, for example, a clock, see elements of a contemporary constructivism. This great style has only briefly been in Russia, but had a massive influence on the global design of the 20th century.
The Russian and earlier the Soviet watch industry were plentiful. Poljot, Vostok, Raketa: These factories have no stock today with a few exceptions. What is the State of the Russian watch industry end of 2016?
Many achievements of the Soviet watch industry are today lost. There were huge factories, the annual production was immense. The biggest advantages were high reliability and easy maintenance at low cost.
Meanwhile, there are other activities in the Russian watch industry, which were not possible in the Soviet Union: A new generation of very enthusiastic watchmakers such as the team developed by Sikorsky, and watchmakers such as Konstantin Chaykin and Valentin Erofeev, who develop their own caliber. As regards the movements, we now have the choice: there’s caliber Russian-made, but we have also the possibility to use works from Japan and of Switzerland. We choose the best suitable movement for each watch model for Sturmanskie.
Sikorsky is more on the domestic market to find, or serviced international markets?
Sturmanskie is to buy not only in Russia but all over the World – Europe, United States, South East Asia and Japan, and many more!
What about Russian watch buyers best-own history, movements, design or the origin of the clock?
I think the Russian buyer is not very different in taste as the European Watch buyer. A country of origin is important, if it can be regarded as a guarantee of a certain quality. The brand itself plays an essential role for the watch purchase. Today’s buyer is however also much better informed than ever before, and therefore very complex decisions.
What are today used for movements in Sturmanskie?
We use some options that fit our feeling for the respective collection. For limited editions we use works of Poljot and Vostok – all mechanically, with automatic and manual winding. For models with larger series we use works from Miyota and Seiko of Japan.
We use works from the Switzerland for more limited series, both mechanically and with battery. We try to accommodate as best as possible hence the demands of our customers.
We all know a Swiss brand that is proud of the first clock, which was worn on the Moon today: Omega Speedmaster. JURI Gagarin, the first man in space, then wore a hand-wound watch Sturmanskie…
The election, which at that time met Yury Gagarin, is one of the cornerstones of the geutigen brand Sturmanskie. This historic event, the Sikorsky was the first watch that was ever in the universe! And while such dangerous and exceptional use. So, the Sikorsky was a witness of a truly historic moment.
Yury Gagarin had some watches Sturmanskie. It is until today not sure of exactly he was wearing which in its operation. There are some watches of the time period which immediately inspired us in the design of the vintage collections of Sturmanskie.
See all the designs you’ve ever designed: What do you love most?
Like many creative people, can I set me hard and like most often my last designs. The Gagarin Vintage collection for Sturmanskie I like particularly, that perpetuates them the heritage of the Russian watch and is still modern. The Mars for Sturmanskie was also an exciting experiment in design and has a remarkably fresh design.