Carpe Diem? Seize the day!

Konstantin Chaykin talks about the Carpe Diem watch and the ability to get positive emotions from life.

When I first conceived the Carpe Diem watch, which was already quite a long time ago, in the spring of 2013, I was led by one thought – to seize the day and enjoy every moment. That is the essence of the concept expressed by Ovid’s phrase ‘cárpe diém, quám minimúm crédula póstero’, or ‘seize the day, trust the future as little as possible’.

Hourglass in Carpe Diem watches

My inspiration came directly from the still lifes of Dutch artists working in the allegorical vanitas genre, which was incredibly popular at the beginning of the 17th century – so popular, indeed, that many such examples ended up in Russian collections and can now be seen in museums including Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. At that moment, I immediately began to work out how this particular genre could be expressed in the form of a watch, and I came up with the idea of putting a time indicator on the dial – hours, minutes, or some kind of non-cyclical process (here I quote from my patent application, which was filed in 2013) – in the form of an hourglass animation.

Moving still life - hourglass minutes indicator

I feel that the most valuable idea was the principle of the allegorical timepiece, in which the hourglass, as a classic element of the allegorical still life, was embodied using watch mechanics and acted as a subsystem of the mechanism. That is, I was able to invent not just a simple, stationary allegorical still life image, but one which was animated, moving and entirely mechanical. Along with the development of the core construction, I started checking whether another or more watchmakers had chanced upon the idea of putting an animated hourglass on the dial, as for watches with jacquemarts and animated musical scenes several different moving figures had already been created. However, my search was unsuccessful. I won’t pretend that it saddened me. Therefore, with a clear conscience, I submitted a patent application to the Patent Office and set about seriously constructing my Carpe Diem watch. Of this family of animated hourglass-shaped time indicators submitted, I implemented only one – the minute indicator. Why did I choose precisely the minute indicator? The answer is simple: seconds, for example, would look more dynamic, but for that to work would require a huge amount of energy, the reserves of which in a compact watch mechanism are extremely limited. For the hours, or, say, the power reserve indicator, it is much easier – the movement is slow and less energy is required, but the picture changes very slowly and I wasn’t happy with it. Therefore, the minute indicator seemed to be the best option. Patent number RU2537507 was registered and published on 10th January, 2015, while the first Carpe Diem watch I made was presented to journalists and members of the Russian public 13 months earlier, on 10th December, 2013. The minutes were indicated by an hourglass, in which the imitation of the movement of sand between the upper and lower bulbs was carried out by mechanical shutters driven by the minute wheel of the movement.

louisvuitton Konstantin Chaykin

A few days ago, immediately after the start of the Watches and Wonders Geneva 2021 online exhibition, I suddenly received a number of messages from clients, friends of the manufacture: “Look! The Louis Vuitton brand used your idea in their new Tambour Carpe Diem watch.” I checked, and it was true. And then I thought to myself: “Yes! Carpe Diem, that’s what my watch is about.” Watchmaking is a huge field of ingenuity and creativity, and it happens that even great watchmakers use the fruit of someone else’s genius. The tourbillon, the brainchild of Abraham-Louis Breguet, is used by almost every watchmaker in the world who produces complicated mechanical timepieces. His dial hands, the Arabic numerals of the hour markers…and who knows what else. Does anyone remember who first used a Breguet dial after him? No, nobody remembers. But the fact it was first created by Breguet, everyone remembers.

This thought warms my heart. Carpe Diem.

Indicator - hourglass borrowed by Louis Vuitton

If a great brand (and I say this without irony or scepticism) continues the line of a mechanical creation I once invented and patented (the patent is still valid, albeit only in Russia), a mechanical indication system reproducing the movement of an hourglass, and along with that invented a new concept of a mechanically animated allegory, it’s not something I’m happy about, but I hope my idea will live on in the high watchmaking art.

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