I know that Russian stereotypes are no longer applicable, and people understand we don’t dance with bears and balalaikas, but when I say ‘Russia’ many of you immediately think of bad production facilities and simplicity of our people. Konstantin Chaykin, known today as one of the biggest names in the independent watchmaking is here to prove you the opposite.
Konstantin Chaykin, born and raised in Saint Petersburg has started exploring horology and experimenting with watches a little over 10 years ago, and since then has self-taught himself to produce some of the world’s finest and complicated clocks, as well as wristwatches. Today, based in Moscow, he is one of the very few watchmakers to combine the same complications into clocks and watches, as well as invent something new practically every year.
In this article I will be focusing on 3 milestones of watches in Chaykin’s career and today’s collection as in my opinion they represent what real innovative horology should be like. First of the pieces will be the one that started it all; the one that got attention of the masses (and myself) to a Russian timepiece brand.
Konstantin Chaykin: Lunokhod Watch
The name ‘Lunokhod’ – that this beast is called, translated from Russian means ‘The Moonwalker’, and when the watch was first introduced it really resembled a machine that came from outer space, made of a rare for timepieces material -Damask Steel. The hours and minutes are shown in separate retrograde semi-circles, but that is not the main ‘trick’ of the watch. The reason all of us, horology lovers are into it is the giant moon phase in the middle of the watch.
Konstantin is also one of the watchmakers who knows and understands what his fans and buyers want, so it didn’t take too long for him to create a new version of the Lunokhod, made of rose gold, and what’s most important – with an open skeletonized dial and case back. This model is still a prototype, but it is soon to be released under the name of ‘Lunokhod Prime’ (yes, like the Transformer), and it will be a limited edition of only 10 pieces with an approximate price of $120’000.
Now before I get to discuss the next piece I’d like to give you a little in-depth look at Konstantin’s life and one of his inspirations to create such pieces. Chaykin is not just the only Russian in the Academy of Horology of Independent Watchmakers (ACHI) but also a big bike enthusiast, or simply but – a badass biker-watchmaker with a red Ducati! While for many it is just a hobby I also see it as a way of watch testing for Konstantin. Just when we were together in Moscow shooting the man himself on the bike it started raining, but instead of hiding what at first looked like completely not waterproof watches he pulled them out even more and exposed to rain, hail and snow.
Konstantin Chaykin: Levitas Watch
So transitioning back from this little back story I will now take a look at the piece you just saw on Chaykin’s biker wrist – Levitas. The watch that made everybody wonder ‘where the movement at?!’ is one of Konstantin’s biggest achievements in horology. It has a transparent (and I mean transparent) dial, and it looks like the hour and minute hands are just floating in the air magically as if they have a brain and know the time without any movements.
Well, sorry to disappoint, but the mechanism is there, and it is located in the right part of the watch, though very small; and it is really hard to believe that it’s powering up the entire watch. The hands move because even though the sapphire glass is see-through it is actually the catalyst that uses invisible gears to set the timepiece in motion.
As this model and the concept of mystery watches became very popular Konstantin also created new versions of it for men as well as for ladies, decorating them with various ‘girly’ ornaments.
Konstantin Chaykin: Cinema Watch
Finally the watch that many of you have seen in magazines and blogs this year presented at Baselworld 2013 it’s KC’s new ‘Cinema’, which actually deserves a whole article written just for it. The full name and inspiration of the watch dates back to 1879, when a British man Eadward Muybridge invented the concept of cinema by quickly sequencing his photos of a running horse.
You can now see this same horse in a wristwatch, all thanks to Chaykin’s invention of a moving image in the dial. If we take a look at the movement we can immediately see that it’s not as simple as it seems from the front, and there are not one but two different power reserves, each with its own function: time and the horse running. To wind it you can rotate the crown at 3 o’clock in different directions.
I’ve tried the watch, and tuned on the animation; so believe me when I tell you – this little horse is definitely a good bet, especially for the estimate $65’000 it will be sold at. And if you’re interested in understanding how the horse actually works the secret lies in the same concept as Muybridge’s sequencing – there is a small circle disk that has 12 pictures of a galloping horsey and when you wind it the movement activates with a simple press-and-hold (at 9 o’clock) and with a supporting sound of frame switching the horse starts running and the watch becomes alive!
As I said already I’ve been to the manufacture, which is located in Russia (Moscow) and I’ve seen how the in-house movements are made. I’ve also seen a lot of controversy and discussions on various blogs about the value of this watch, and the fact that it carries ‘Made in Russia’ mark. Personally I think ‘Finally! Something from outside Switzerland that is if not better at least same quality as many high-end brands’, and I’m not saying this because I’m Russian (for one I am completely against our car production for example), it is not a matter of ‘Where’ the watch is made, but ‘How’, and Chaykin’s collection is on top when it comes to quality, durability and design. You might disagree or agree with me, saying that the resell value would not be as high as of a Patek, but Chaykin’s watches are not collectibles (at least to me), they are great watches to wear, show off and wonder at!
More resource about Konstantin Chaykin on his Official Website.