This year Konstantin Chaykin celebrates the 5th anniversary of the Wristmons collection and particularly of the Joker watch he invented. He came up with the idea of this timepiece, a kinetic art object with an anthropomorphic face-like dial, in late 2016. In the spring of 2017, the watch was presented at the BaselWorld exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, and made a huge impression on all the participants of the event, including watchmakers, collectors, experts and journalists.
The making of the project, as well as the great feedback given to the Wristmons by the watchmaking community gave the watchmaker courage to put his creative energy into a new, hitherto unexplored direction. The Wristmons collection gets bigger every year. One might say that it is all because of the wristmons’ designs with different types of dial coloring and decor elements. However, Konstantin Chaykin is not just a watchmaker. He is an inventor who hates stereotypes. Each new wristmon is a brand-new project. The collection evolves as the master comes up with new stories, concepts, designs, and ideas for extraordinary movements and unprecedented complications.
Chaykin returned to the idea of an anthropomorphic watch with a face-like dial more than once. He started implementing this thought in autumn 2016. The original title of the project was “Smile,” which meant that the watch was also an art object that evoked an immediate emotional response.
What emotional response is faster than the response to a genuine smile? “Then, the new watch would smile!”, Chaykin have decided. The “smiling” dial could not be frozen and static — this way it might look frightening. According to the watchmaker’s initial thought, the main design elements (the character’s “facial features”) became kinematic, changing every minute along with the emotional perception of the art object by its owner. The feelings of novelty and change always bring vivid and positive emotions.
Konstantin Chaykin designed a joker-indication module for the wristmon. The role of the character’s eyes in it was played by disk indicators of hours and minutes, while a moonphase indicator became the smiling mouth. Consequently, the red moon turned into a teasing “tongue” of the Joker.
The K.07-0 automatic caliber, the original movement of the Wristmons collection, consists of this module and the Swiss basic automatic movement Eta 2824-2 which activates the aforementioned caliber. The fact that the Joker and other wristmons were the first automatic watches of the Konstantin Chaykin Manufacture also made them popular among the connoisseurs of Haute Horlogerie.
The word “multifaceted” has become the most literal definition for the new collection. Just as any human face is unique, each wristmon has its very own features. Some of the “monsters on the wrist” are dramatically different from the first model of the collection, the classic “Joker.” Soon after its presentation, Konstantin Chaykin came up with a smart idea to produce new wristmons in accordance with the signs of the Chinese horoscope to greet each new year. He also decided to make one for the fun and scary “monster holiday” – the European Halloween.
This is how the Pumpkin Head with its bright orange “face” and its “brother” — the Green Halloween — were born in the spirit of the Irish tradition, where green turnips are used instead of pumpkins for this particular holiday. These timepieces were distinguished by their unique design: the hour and minute indicators have triangular shape — the exact shape of the Halloween vegetable lanterns.
Later, the Dracula watch joined the collection of Halloween Wristmons. It was distinguished not only by the authentic dial’s design, but also by the new complication – the “Dracula time” indicator. A moonphase indicator in this piece is supplemented by “vampire fangs” which begin to grow when the night takes the rein and gradually disappear by six in the morning.
The “Chinese Wristmons” spin-off also featured the funny pink piglet watch, released for the year of the Pig. It was followed by the Mouse King with a unique golden “crown” (which acts as a watch crown). Then came the Minotaur for the Year of the Bull and the Smilodon (the Latin name for a sabre-toothed tiger) for the Year of the Tiger. The funny Joker Soccer with the face resembling a soccer ball was released for the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia and also belongs to this series of wristmons.
Certainly, the Wristmons gained international recognition by the whole watchmaking community, including watch collectors and experts. The first great success of the “monsters on the wrist” was the nomination of the Joker watch (2017) for the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in the Artistic Crafts category. A year later, the Clown watch received the Audacity Prize. The same year, Chaykin received a GPHG award for his collaborative work with another independent watchmaker, Svend Andersen. The Automaton Joker was nominated in the Mechanical Exception category. In 2021, Chaykin received a nomination for his Minotaur watch in the Calendar and Astronomy category.
During the world-famous Only Watch charity auction (2017, 2019 and 2021), three Chaykin wristmons, and more specifically the Joker Only Watch in a zirconium case, the Joker Selfie (the world’s first self-portrait watch portraying its creator with a watchmaker lens in the right “eye”) and the Martian watch with a Martian tourbillon and calendar were sold for a prize multiple times exceeding the estimate. This triad of timepieces raised a total of 405,000 francs. Funds from the sales were donated to support people who fight Duchenne myopathy today.
The first wristmons followed the “Smile” concept: they “smiled” widely and teased the owner with a “tongue” substituting the Moon. Later, Chaykin found himself stuck in the narrow frame of this functionally defined moonphase indicator. It was high time to reimagine the complication. The trend of 2021 was to replace the “moon-smile” complication with indicators created for other purposes.
In the Wristmons collection there was a Minotaur watch with a unique two-disk weekday indicator hidden in the “nostrils” of a bull, covered with lenses. Later came the Martian watch, in which the trademark “smile” became a Martian calendar with special numerical symbols, also invented by Chaykin.
Then Chaykin created the Smilodon wristmon, depicting the extinct sabre-toothed tiger — the smilodon — with its “prey” in the mouth. The animalistic images made in the style of cave paintings symbolize the days of the week.
Nevertheless, the classic wristmons with a teasing tongue never lost their popularity among the connoisseurs of Konstantin Chaykin’s Joker series. The most recent example is the Minions watch which became a hit at Dubai Watch Week in autumn 2021.
The big-eyed characters with banana-yellow faces, loved by children and adults, perfectly fit the concept of anthropomorphic watches evoking immediate emotional reactions, in this case the most vivid and benevolent. Both cute rounded teeth of the Minions and a blue denim strap in the style of their jumpsuits make the characters instantly recognizable.
Konstantin Chaykin continues working on his Wristmons collection. He never stopped developing new ideas and complications, as well as extraordinary designs you have never seen before. What wristmon do you think we will meet in 2022 and what joker-functions might it have?