From Russia with Love for Watchmaking, a Factory Visit to Konstantin Chaykin (article)
Beware, to read this article You’ll need:
- Russian Accent
- Friendly Bear
- Bottle of vodka
Last week, when I went to my motherland Russia, Anish was thoughtful enough to get in touch with the team from Konstantin Chaykin, most probably the only Russian brand known worldwide and actually valued and recognized for the innovations and the watchmaking itself (Since some few years Chaykin is also a member of the independent watchmakers association). As Konstantin Chaykin is a true Russian brand, started by Mr. Chaykin himself around 10 years ago (in St. Petersburg, the poetic and artistic capital of Russia) it wasn’t hard for me to get acquainted with the managers and schedule a meeting at their factory, located today in Moscow.
Konstantin Chaykin to me is a brand that I found out about quite some time ago, back when the Lunokhod, a watch that really made Konstantin famous in the international watchmaking and consumer circles, was released. I saw that watch in a magazine and though “Wait.. this is Russian?”. The reason even I had a reaction like this is not that I doubted the watchmaking possibilities of my people, but that recently Russian industries such as machinery, cars and technology weren’t going so great, and it was quite unusual to see not just a well made watch, but a completely new concept, that I haven’t even seen in any of the Swiss watches.
The Lunokhod in Russian means a Moonwalker, a machine made to walk on the Moon, thus we have the gigantic 3D moon phase indicator in the center of the watch. The piece exists in two versions, one made of a special damask steel, and other (shown here, the Prime version) of Rose Gold, with a sapphire case back and partially skeletonized dial.
Chaykin’s innovations do not stop at the Lunokhod though, and this year at Baselworld the company proved it yet again, by presenting the first mechanical watch with an actual movie inside, called accordingly ‘The Cinema’. After winding the movement you can simply press a button on the left side at 9 o’clock and activate the ‘cinema’, you will see that the empty screen at 6 o’clock suddenly has a galloping horse in motion. Whenever you release the button the movie comes to an end.
I am not saying that this is a very useful complication, but it is a first of its kind, it is entertaining and definitely gets that ‘Wow’ reaction from whoever is looking. I’ve seen the case back of the masterpiece, and it is transparent, which means you can see the movement. But to be honest I have no idea about how the watch fits all these images of the horse in it! Here is a short video we made of the watch in action!
WatchAnish x Konstantin Chaykin – Eadweard Muybridge Cinema watch from Watch Anish on Vimeo.
Speaking of the movements I can’t figure out, during the BaselWorld I also was very drawn to another watch, that seemed very unusual to my eyes, that is the Levitas, a watch that has a literally transparent see-through dial. Meaning you can see the hour and minute hands and you don’t see the movement anywhere next to them, a question arises – how does it work?! Well the movement is located in the thin part of the dial which is not open from front, and the arrows work because the see-through sapphire glass is used to help rotate them.. you just won’t ever see it, unless you open the watch!
Apart from the usual Levitas model there was one very special edition of it.. Literally one, the unique piece made has a real jazzy look to it..
Konstantin is one of the not so many independent watchmakers who also makes very nice ladies watches and does not only focus on the mens collections. This goes mainly for that same Levitas watches, with very distinctive dials and casings.
Not many of you know, but Konstantin Chaykin actually started as a clock maker. And his clocks (along with the Jaeger LeCoultre Atmos) are my personal favorites, they are made with such high quality and finishing, that it would definitely be something for the guests at home or in the office to gaze at.
During my visit at the factory I saw three different clocks, all three contained really cool looking tourbillons, and were made for different types of people. First piece was a regular clock (at least for Chaykin that is considered regular 😉 ), second one I saw was a special clock with the Muslim calendar, which is the older brother of the famous Hijra wristwatch.
The third one was the clock that really fascinated me with the woodwork on the sides – the Hebrew calendar piece, that shows the scenes from the creation of the World, all crafted from wood! That clock also has a younger wristwatch with a very nice way of showing seconds.
Of course a factory visit implies that there is a factory, and Konstantin Chaykin was kind enough to show me the place where the production and assembly take place. To be honest the masters were first Russians I’ve ever seen working on watches, and they all had a perfect idea of what they were doing. Talk about crashing the stereotypes!
Overall the visit to Chaykin’s factory was really nice, and I got to see some of the coolest watches out there today and take a closer look at how they are made.