At Baselworld 2017, as in any other years, plenty of watches were released for the joy of the public and happiness of the collectors. Just for refreshing the memory, we invite you to revisit our chief editor’s top 5 timepieces, his favourite independents’ wristwatches or the favourite picks of our colleague Frank. Between the exhibitioners, visitors and the multitude of watches and jewellery, there was one piece putting a smile on our faces – the Joker. The ‘look ma’, no hands” watch is an amusing appearance, but a serious approach to showing the time. Is Konstantin Chaykin’s joyful Joker a horological prank or an example of breaking the traditional rules of watchmaking, that must be seriously taken into account? We discover the Konstantin Chaykin Joker watch with the hope to find an answer to this question.
From Russia with Love
Konstantin Chaykin is not only an excellent watchmaker but also the President of Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, AHCI. Born in 1975 in the Russian city Sankt Petersburg, Konstantin developed a fascination for watch movements. After repairing and restoring several clocks and watches, he started to think further and implement his own ideas in watchmaking. He built his first clock in 2003 and improved to the level where he creates the most complicated clock ever made in Russia. His portfolio contains high complexity watches like the Cinema (review forthcoming)- an intriguing wristwatch housing a nineteenth-century style mechanical cinematic animation or the magnificent Levitas with his magical floating hands. His watches and clocks have a touch of Russian heritage, a bit of “Russian blood and soul”. Those familiar with the Russian culture and literature will find his pieces rich, full of emotion and bursting with passion. His Carpe Diem (Latin: seize the moment) watch seems to be taken directly from the stories of Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Seen just as horological pieces, Konstantin’s watches feature exceptionally beautiful cases and dials, complex and highly decorated movements.
Konstantin Chaykin’s Manufacture can be found in Moscow, where he and some other talented watchmakers are working to fulfil collectors’ dreams. As member and president of the AHCI, he is also supporting new talents in their start in the horological life.
Review: Konstantin Chaykin Joker
Joker is the latest wristwatch of the Russian watchmaker, and it was released in Baselworld this year. As all the other Konstantin Chaykin pieces, the watch is more than a watch, it has a deep symbolistic background. Joker is a reminder that life can change, like in a game of cards, in success or tragedy, just by a twist of a card but we have to take everything with a smile. In the end, a smile will not solve the problem but it will make it easier to approach. Coming back to a concrete world, we will analyse the watch purely by the “physical” characteristics, leaving the symbolistic for the moment.
The case, dial and hands eyes
Konstantin Chaykin Joker is manufactured in stainless steel, in a 42mm diameter case. The round case has beautiful lugs. From the base of the lugs, what begins as a fine chamfer grows larger as it progresses the lug to make a dramatic statement. A very close inspection will reveal the file stroke under the polish. A human touch detail which make the independents’ timepieces more interesting. The brushing finish can be found all over the case, except the case back which only feature a high polish.
While the case body features a dominant clean brushing, the wide and sloped bezel features several unexpected decorations. At twelve o’clock we can see a beautiful “J” engraved, accompanied by the spade (♠), heart (♥), diamond (♦) and club (♣), the playing cards’ symbols. The engravings are delightful executed. For each engraved element there are two surrounding screws used to hold the bezel on the case body. Symmetrically distributed cut-outs balance the bezel. The bezel is just an introduction to the jolly face dial.
Joker has two symmetrical crowns with an elegant appearance to complete the watch face with “ears”. The right crown is used to set the time and the left is a fixed piece featuring a recessed pusher for moon phase adjustments.
Turning the watch, we find a lovely combination of finishes. The case-back, fixed with six screws, has an outer ring polished, a hammered ring featuring the name of the watch, material, “Made in Russia” and “Konstantin Chaykin” embossed. The most attractive element remains the circular polished centre featuring the Joker initial with a lovely font.
The absolute star of the Joker watch is the dial. Unexpected, colourful and joyful. The approach is radical, the time is shown in an original way using the Joker’s eyes in a regulator style. Instead of hands, the dots denoting the eyes mark the passage of the hours and minutes. Getting rid of the traditional way of time showing, Konstantin starts a revolution, perhaps a trend of original ways of showing the time passing by.
On the other hand, the dial uses the most traditional processing. The silver-plated dial’s base is decorated with a radial motif, like a wavy sun-rayed pattern. The forehead, eyebrows and nose are represented by a ruthenium-plated grey plate decorated with a hobnail pattern and the brushed plate with brand’s name and logo.
For time display are two disks with a printed eye to match the printed numeral and markers from the sloped sub-dials windows’ rings. These are also ruthenium-plated, giving the grey looking finish.
The moon phase aperture is decorated with a frame built it to look like a smiling mouth. The red frame, made to resemble the lips is chamfered, being a pleasant presence, contrary to what one might think just by reading about it and not seeing it. The red painted moon resembles with a tongue, completing the face appearance.
The outer dial is decorated with a green circle, increasing, even more, the charm of the watch. The bold colours shine beautiful and raise the inner well-being of the observer. The cutest detail is the stylised goofy teeth.
The proportion of the dial elements are perfect to represent the Joker’s face. The legibility tends to suffer until the user gets used to this type of time display, but with acclimatization, it is not a real issue. The watch face is lovely and has a “love me or hate me” effect. The traditionalist might consider this dial a joke or maybe a waste of good traditional finishes but certainly, the dial is original and bold. Maybe it’s time to get out of the comfort zone on the traditional hands and see the time with” other eyes”.
The movement: K07-0
Konstantin Chaykin Joker is powered by Calibre K07-0. This is a hybrid movement built on the classical ETA2824-2. This work-horse proved to be reliable over the years, being used as base/workhorse on many pieces. A recent example of ETA2824-2’s usage is the Ressence Type 1 Squared, one of the other original “look ma’, no hands” watches. The base movement offers a power reserve of 38 hours with a 4Hz balance wheel. The base calibre is an automatic winding with 25 jewels and removed date function.
The time showing module with moon phase is the creation of Konstantin Chaykin and is designed and manufactured in Russia. 61 parts, from which 8 jewels are used to create the 20,000 combinations of Joker’s face grimaces.
We didn’t have the chance to take a look at the calibre K07-0 itself. We did not have the opportunity to open the case back but we can assume that the base module has the basic ETA machined finishes.
Due to the uniqueness of the time display, the watch cannot be compared easily with other pieces. The market has some examples of watches with an unusual way of telling the time but these are not seen as a competitive landscape: The Gerald Genta’s Mickey Mouse, or perhaps in a less amusing manner and thoroughly more serious, we might consider watches which do not use hands: the Ressence Type 1 Squared or the Lange’s Zeitwerk.
Konstantin Chaykin Joker is a joyful watch, meant to make you smile. Maybe it’s not the most serious looking watch out there it is perhaps a fun one. Breaking the traditional barriers and finding a cheerful way to show you the time is a breakthrough that must be seriously considered. The watch feels great on the wrist, the 13.7mm height makes it a decent watch to wear it at any moment. The Joker draws attention, it’s a conversation starter and a lovely piece of horology manufactured in Russia.
The watch was released in a 99-limited series, with a price of EUR6,990. All the watches are already sold. But there are good news: Joker will be available again, in titanium. Konstantin intends to build a 188-pieces limited series cased in titanium and priced at EUR8,880. And a second generation with a different face, the Clown has been announced.
Konstantin Chaykin Joker Specification and price
Price for the steel version: EUR6,990
Type: Self-winding movement, base ETA2824-2
Dimensions: Ø 31.5mm, height 7.6mm (incl. module)
Power reserve: 38 hours
Frequency: 4Hz / 28’800 vph
Functions: Regulator dial for hours and minutes, moon-phase display
Material: Stainless Steel
Dimensions of the case: Ø 42mm; height 13.7mm
Crystal: sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, diameter 34.5 millimetres
Crown: Two crowns in steel
Caseback: Solid case back
Material: Violet alligator leather, calfskin lining, green stitching.
Buckle: Prong buckle in stainless steel