Konstantin Chaykin Joker

Meehna Goldsmith discusses the appeal of Konstantin Chaykin Joker.

This detailed review of the Konstantin Chaykin Joker includes live images and specification details.

The Joker by Konstantin Chaykin

Leave it to Konstantin Chaykin to come up with Joker, a timepiece sure to make you smile. Inspired by the pop art of comic books, the dial is, well, a joker. Two rotating dials represent the time and eyes, while the wandering moonphase doubles as the wily joker’s tongue. As the “eyes” move round the disc, the joker expresses glee or sadness, but mostly lighthearted laughter.

Originating during the United States Civil War, a joker is part of a playing card deck. It causes unpredictability in a hand, which can either work in your favor or not. Therefore, it is considered wild. You never know when a joker will pop up and what its effect will be on the situation. It’s a good reminder that life can as easily swing into triumph as well as tragedy.

To Chaykin, the joker is not just a curiosity with a history, it’s a story. Since most of the time the Konstantin Chaykin Joker expresses a silly face and you can’t resist saying, “Gimme Five”, according to Chaykin, he engraved “Five of a Kind” on the bezel to remind of this incredibly lucky, unbeatable hand. The addition of the joker makes this hand possible. Never a detail to be missed, the bezel is also engraved with the four suits and a “J” in the middle of the case back.

The Joker by Konstantin Chaykin

Chaykin is like a joker himself, constantly throwing an unexpected ingredient into the mix. The birth of a stereotype has its roots in the truth, and it’s true as a rule the Swiss are quite a serious and reserved bunch. Most watches cleave to a traditional layout established hundreds of years ago. Chaykin refuses to be constrained by the status quo. In fact, you can tell he has a blast upending it.

Wildly creative, Chaykin comes up with the most surprising and complex timepieces. Moreover, he gets them to function. Dreaming up a watch is the simple part. Executing them into a working model often stumps the most talented of watchmakers. Think of the collector favorite Harry Winston Opus 3 by Vianney Halter, a complicated date model with jumping analogue indicators. After years of trying, Halter couldn’t get it to work, so it was passed on to the masterminds at complications specialists Renaud & Papi, part of Audemars Piguet (Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi). It took 7-years in total to deliver that watch.

The Joker by Konstantin Chaykin

To give you an idea of Chaykin’s range and unconventional ideas, let’s look at some of his watches. The Lunokhod, which debuted in 2011, contained the largest 3D moonphase display used in wristwatches. As “lunokhod” means moon walker in Russian, Chaykin dedicated it to the Soviet space program and its remote driving rovers used for moon exploration.

Always playing with our relationship to time, Chaykin invented the Quartime, which divides a day into four 6-hour periods called morning, day, evening and night. A revolving disc reminds us of the period of day so we can savor time without it passing us by in our frantic and fast-moving world.

Chaykin is drawn to other cultures’ experience of time too. Based on the weekly Jewish holiday of rest, called Shabbat, he designed a clock of the same name. The clock stops 5-6 hours before the holiday begins and starts again at its ending and the dates and times are calculated using the duration of the lunar month and solar year. Gilded Hebrew letters mark the hours, while the tourbillon bridge is in the shape of the Star of David. Below the dial is a plate with a phrase from the Tanakh book, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom’.

We’ve never had a horological poet before and Chaykin inaugurates this amazingly unexpected space, imbuing his timepieces with literary and symbolic depth. 

With the Cinema watch, Chaykin came up with a mesmerizing, never-before-seen complication. He incorporated a zoopraxiscope, which is one of the first devices to project motion pictures, into a watch. Press the crown on the bezel and hear the crackle of an old film running in a movie projector, while watching a horse gallop. Chaykin made this watch in tribute to Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer and inventor. 

Chaykin lives and works in Russia. You might expect to find world class Matryoshkas (Russian dolls) and ballet created there, but not fine watchmaking. It seems that Chaykin was offended by this disregard of Russia as a horological player, and, it’s this pride in his heritage, that is one of his drivers. There hadn’t been a tourbillon watch or clock produced in the USSR since 1917 so Chaykin decided to remedy that. He completed the first table tourbillon clock made entirely in Russia in 2004.

In 2010, Chaykin applied to the prestigious academy of independent watchmakers the AHCI, Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants. and was the first Russian to be accepted. Despite his achievements, Chaykin doesn’t let them go to his head. In a world where seldom a joke is heard, he lets us know horology doesn’t have to be such a serious undertaking. After all, it’s just engineering, invention, and a Swiss obsession with accuracy—which is really a McGuffin in mechanical watchmaking anyway—not brain surgery.

And so, for 2017, Chaykin shakes up the Swiss, monk-like seriousness and silence with a big guffaw by presenting the Konstantin Chaykin Joker. It is a welcome sound and one everyone enjoys, letting us know that time, while a serious endeavour, is also one of, joy, laughter, as well as doubt and sorrow.

The Joker by Konstantin Chaykin

To give the Konstantin Chaykin Joker its expression, Chaykin developed a proprietary module with eight jewels to reduce friction, sitting on top of an ETA 2824-2 calibre. A crown for the moonphase corrector sits at 9 o’clock opposite the time-setting crown at 3 o’clock. In a 42mm stainless steel case, it comes on an appropriately cheeky green stitched, violet alligator strap lined with calfskin. 

I guarantee you it won’t be a laughing matter if you don’t seize the Joker before its edition of 99 pieces sells out.

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