Werenbach Leonov B.T.O Edition
Werenbach watches decided to think outside the box when starting their watch brand, or more specifically, outside this world! The Werenbach Leonov B.T.O and many of their other models have dials made from salvaged space rockets, rockets that legit have gone into space and are no longer useable. Making watch dials from salvaged items is nothing new, we have seen it with cars, airplanes, motorcycles, and many other products. In a world where things can get a little monotonous when it comes to watch dials and themes, making dials from used rockets really is not a bad idea. The problem though, unfortunately, is it seems this is a timely and costly process and the watch ends up being on the expensive side. This Leonov B.T.O model costs around $1,800, which for some is going to be a hard pill to swallow. That said, many watch collectors are always looking for something different, something that will stand out, and the Werenbach watches definitely fall under those categories.
Werenbach Leonov B.T.O. Specifications:
- 40mm Stainless Steel Case
- 48mm Lug to Lug
- 14mm Thick
- 87 Grams in Weight
- 20mm Lug Width
- 50m WR
- Engine Cladding Aluminum Dial
- Sapphire Crystal
- STP 1-11 Automatic Movement
- Textile and Canvas Strap
Price, as shown, $1,727
Werenbach started in 2017 with a successful Kickstarter campaign to get the ground running with their unique line of watches. Since then they have added a few other models, but how did it all start? I think instead of me taking their long story and trying to sum it up in this review, let me just link their CONCEPT here and you can get the full scope of how and why the brand was built. If you don’t want to navigate aways, know that these dials used on these B.T.O and standard editions of the Leonov and other models are sourced from various space used rockets in Kazakstan, and assembled in Switzerland by Werenbach.
Now, something to keep in mind for those that have not looked at their website yet and feeling that these dials are very degraded looking-this is just one example of a dial you can choose. There are countless colors and dial options available, dials made from different rockets, different parts of the engine, and rocket cladding and ones that are much cleaner in appearance. I posted an example below. I chose this specific dial because of how chipped and degraded it was, as not only do I like the aesthetic, but I wanted to show off the extreme of what can be had from Werenbach.
Another thing to keep in mind, orange is far from your only option. Again, I chose this because I am a sucker for that burnt orange color, but you can get everything from black to blue and all in between. Now, even though you can buy watches that have much cleaner looking dials, keep in mind that all the Werenbach Leonov watches will have some kind of texture to them, as the dials are being repurposed from the actual rockets. This is what makes Werenbach so interesting from a watch enthusiast perspective, as well as if you are someone that loves space, are a former astronaut, or just like things that are a little bit different.
When it comes to the actual Werenbach Leonov case design, it is a fairly simple but industrial style watch case-blocky and angular and it feels perfect in size at 40mm. This just seems like a watch that would be a little too in your face if it was larger, though I am sure many would prefer a 42mm or even a 44mm version. Maybe they will be able to produce those in the future, but for myself, who does not regularly wear a 40mm watch, it not only looks well proportioned but fits lovely on my 7 1/2 inch wrist as you can see below. It does not feel small or dainty and has what I consider to be a good presence.
While the dial does have a lot of text, it is really blended in with the texture of the dial, and still gives the appearance of a “clean” dial, at least until you look closer. I am normally not a fan of dials that are overloaded in text, but at least on this example, it seems to make sense and keeps the theme of the Leonov. What I do take issue with is the chapter ring, which is operated by the cases 2 o’clock crown. There are two versions of this watch case available, with the second crown or without. If you go without, you get a normal chapter ring with a standard minute track, but the LS model which I have here is a little quirky. It shows things such as orbit time and rocket altitude – which I consider to be useless. It keeps with the theme for sure, as do the markings on the back of the strap and on the non-crown side of the case, but it starts to feel like more of a gimmick. Speaking of the crowns-both screw down to the case, but the Leonov only has 50m of water resistance, something to keep in mind if you like a watch that is a little more capable out in the elements.
Have you ever wondered how your dials were cut, or what happened to the leftovers from your dial? Well, I can’t really say that I ever have, but Werenbach wanted to answer that question, and give their customers a little something extra. In the zippered box, you will find the piece of metal that your dial was cut from. This is a unique feature for sure, but one that would be better served for something that you would put on display instead of wearing on your wrist, but still, it is unique and I commend them for that. Maybe when you wear the watch, you can keep this piece in your wallet to show off to fellow watch or space exploration enthusiasts.
Powering the Leonov is the STP 1-11 automatic movement; the movement produced by Fossil. For the most part, these movements compare pretty well to a top-grade ETA 2824. I have reviewed quite a few watches with this movement and have not personally seen an issue arise, but I have heard there is a decent rate of failure with the STP, but that was last year as well, and hopefully, Werenbach is testing the movements as much as possible when assembling. When the movement is good, it is very good, so keep that in mind. If you are someone that likes to see the movement on your watch, you are in luck as the Leonov has an exhibition case-back for your viewing pleasure.
My biggest gripe with the Werenbach Leonov has to be the textile strap that it arrived with. There are quite a few strap options to choose from when perusing their website, but as it is with many review watches, I just have them send whatever they want unless they ask me otherwise. As far as looks go, the strap is decent and feels well made. The back is some type of rubber and is relatively smooth and well stiched. The problem is it is very uncomfortable. I am not sure what exactly the textile material is, or if there is cardboard on the inside of the strap, but it is one of the worst feeling straps I have ever encountered on the wrist. Could it wear in overtime? Possibly, but I would not choose this strap myself if I were ordering a Werenbach today. The example sent to me was very short as well, but I did not know at the time they had different sizes available. Whatever strap you choose, should you decide to purchase one of these watches, confirm your wrist size, and choose the appropriate length. On my wrist, it barely fit, but I am not sure what size was sent.
Werenbach Leonov Lume
To sum it all up, I like how Werenbach has approached watchmaking and appreciate that they wanted to enter the market with something that to the best of my knowledge has not been done before, at least not to this scale. The case design is pleasing and comfortable, and while I do not agree with some of the design choices or how they were implemented, I can definitely see the appeal. The current pricing for the B.T.O Editions is on the expensive side in my opinion, but you are getting a watch dial that is not only more rare, but also more intriguing than some of the standard Leonov lineup. That said if you would rather dip your toe in the water instead of diving in, check out the other options from Werenback, where prices start around $1100, or some of their quartz Mach33 editions that start at $309.
One thing is for sure. No two watches will be alike, and you will have something on your wrist that most have never seen before.
Thanks for your insightful review. I have owned one of these watches for a few years and I feel like I should complete your review with a different point of view for future potential buyers.
The watch is indeed very nice and good quality… on the outside.
Unfortunately, my Model 4 stopped working after 3 years. While this may occasionally happen with some products, the experience I had with the customer service seems to indicate otherwise and questions the honesty of this company.
After ignoring my first support request, I finally got a reply from them to my second attempt (several weeks later) simply saying to send the watch to some watchclinic in Germany. Funny for a Swiss watch/company. When asking Werenbach advice if a more local solution is possible, I was left, once again, without any reply.
I therefore sent the watch to a recognized watchmaker in Lausanne (pictures on demand), here is his expertise: the STP movement is completely shot (not even serviceable, after 3 years), some gears are scrubbing against each other, dried out droplets of oil, weight not moving freely, movement not attached properly. According to him, quality is low and definitely subpar with ETA movements (advertised on Werenbach website, which should last at least 5-7 years).
Yet here is the worst of the Werenbach experience: after asking them if this is the life expectancy/quality they expect, what is the price for replacing the movement, and whether a solution can be found together else I’ll have to share this experience if they keep ignoring their customers, here is the shocking reply I got:
“it really happens once a year that some people try to black mail me. Please note that this is the wrongest way to find a solution with me. Good luck with whatever action you want to take.”
Kind of funny to be accused of blackmail and threaten by “his lawyer” (in a following email) through aggressive emails while you are literally trying to find a solution with them to fix the product, and while they keep ignoring all of the questions about the watch.
The watches are nice, but this experience reflects well how Werenbach backup their products, their quality, honesty and the kind of service you can expect from them (absolutely none) in case of problem.