10 years ago (in April 2012), Konstantin Chaykin came up with an idea that resulted in the creation of the Cinema watch.
Looking for a new idea.
On the first 10th anniversary, we’re talking about how a certain idea evolved into a one-of-a-kind timepiece representing all the movies we watch on our TVs and other devices. Not only the mastery of a watchmaker is important while creating a piece of Haute Horlogerie, but also the hidden message of the author. The luxurious, fine quality of the finishing won’t amaze connoisseurs of watchmaking anymore. Imagine how many masterpieces they have seen in their lifetime! A product with a unique history and a module based on this “backstory” is another matter. Konstantin Chaykin invented the Cinema watch in 2012 and patented it a year later.
The Google Doodle is a kind of postcard that visualizes various significant events in world history. They regularly appear on the Google homepage.
Anyway, what happened on the 9th of April? On this day Eadweard Muybridge (better known as the creator of the zoopraxiscope) was born. The term is formed from several different words. Translated from Greek, they mean: ζῷον – animal, living being + πράξις – activity, movement + σκοπέω – see = device for “showing pictures in motion”. This event would not have happened had it not been for the bet that made Muybridge make his legendary shooting, which involved a horserider, a galloping horse, a racetrack, and a “photodrome” of 12 booths in front of the long white wall built along the track.
The twenty-five thousand dollar bet (alas, we haven’t found any reliable information about it in confirmed sources) was made by Leland Stanford, former governor of California and one of the four largest businessmen in Sacramento, known as the “Big Four”. Being a person who built a railroad empire, philanthropist, and founder of Stanford University, he was a passionate race-horse owner. He, like all keen racers of his time, was concerned with a debatable question: were there any moments when a horse galloped with all four hooves above the ground? This particular “moment” is unnoticeable by a human eye because of the animal’s moving speed. Artists, who could not capture this moment either, always depicted a running horse with at least one hoof touching the Earth’s surface.
As a result, Stanford invited an eccentric Englishman to make the question clear, once and for all. Muybridge initiated a labor-intensive collodion wet plate process, which required immediately exposing the emulsion photographic plates prepared beforehand, which lost their properties when dry. In contrast to dry plates and daguerreotype, the wet plates had high light sensitivity, which made it possible for them to work at short exposures. Preparations for the experiment took a long time: a research team headed by the photographer was assembled in 1872, but the most significant results were obtained on the 19th of June, 1878. It wasn’t only a technical issue, but also a personal one – the hot-tempered Muybridge was convicted (though later acquitted by the jury) and left the country for several years.
Although the earliest photographs proved that Standford was right, the public eventually suspected that his group might have been involved in forgery, leaning toward the view that a good shot had been retouched for the client’s benefit. Six years later, the series of photographs was taken again, this time being watched by guests and journalists. Muybridge publicly processed all twelve plates and displayed them in front of the audience. In the second and third shots, the four legs of a horse named Sallie Gardner were not touching the ground. A year later, the zoopraxiscope — one of the most significant pre-cinema technologies — was born, thanks to Muybridge.
Zoopraxiscope in miniature
Animation parts of the watch were always the pinnacle of watchmaking art. You can hardly find them today in automaton watches, where the moving elements of the dial duplicate the indication elements or become the indication elements themselves. More often, they are found in repeaters with striking-type movements. In this case, they are called “jaquemarts”. Their movements are accompanied by a sound signal marking the current hour. Exploring this field, the Russian master discovered that no one had seriously considered implementing the animation into the watch ever before, which means that in this niche he would be the first to introduce a design of this type in a mechanical caliber. The most logical thing was to use the world-famous image of a galloping horse with the rider and animate it on the dial. But how? Chaykin decided to (literally) reinvent the zoopraxiscope so that it would fit into a case with dimensions of 47.6×37.6×13.8 mm
The zoopraxiscope is actually an early type of projector. Therefore, it was used as the basis of the first kinetoscope in the history of cinematography. Muybridge’s device played 40-cm glass discs, whereas Chaykin’s watch featured the corresponding miniature wheel — 32 mm in diameter, extremely small in comparison with the original. The inventor remembers, “The difficulty of the task was clear to me. Therefore, anticipating all sorts of problems and traps, I decided to “conquer” the task consistently, step by step, according to a pre-calculated plan. Firstly, I built a plastic model of the animation mechanism on a larger scale, then I created a copy in metal (a 1:1 scale). Only after that could I make a prototype with a watch movement.”
It was necessary for Chaykin to regulate the speed of the rotating disk (the basis of the dial animation). For this purpose, he initially decided to use an aerodynamic stabilizer, but later it turned out that a standard tribe with a pair of cover stones would suffice. While designing the module, Chaykin also implemented several technical solutions from the dawn years of the movie industry: the Geneva drive (initially a horological invention) and an obturator — a mechanism designed to block the light or other kinds of natural radiation in optical devices. The watchmaker calculated and manufactured a special ocular which he placed at the bottom of the dial. Now, with a push of a special button, it cyclically reproduces Muybridge’s “Sallie Gardner” (“The Horse in Motion”) series in 12 frames.
Speaking of the design and texture, Chaykin used white gold for the trademark rectangular case from the limited edition collection of 12 timepieces. By the way, the model itself is made and finished in the style of vintage cinema and photography equipment – another reference to the aforementioned idea. There are several hints for you: a distinctive black and silver color palette and unique design elements — the miniature ocular which resembles a lens, the crown and animation button which look as if they were taken from a real movie camera, and the central hands, accurately made in the shape of the shutter and rewind levers.
The back cover, of course, was made of sapphire glass in order not to hide the finest finishing of the rectangular manufactured caliber with a 45-hour power reserve. The black lacquered dial is intricately guilloched with the traditional “Clou de Paris” pattern.
The watch was presented in Moscow on April 9, 2013, and two weeks later it caused a furore at the famous exhibition in Basel (Baselworld). In those years, it was one of the largest international professional events.
All the greatest Haute Horlogerie magazines, following the trends of the industry, were writing about the brand-new timepiece. In an interview for thewatches.tv, Michael Clerizo, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, mentioned that he ranked the Cinema among the top five watches presented at the Baselworld.
Chaykin’s creative potential found application not only in his ingenious invention but also in the methods the watchmaker used to spread the word. After all, none of the distinguished Swiss masters has ever used the comic book genre to talk about watches.
The Cinema watch was exceedingly empathic, and the reaction of the watchmaking connoisseurs this timepiece evoked made Chaykin think of the enormous role that genuine emotion might play. The Cinema watch became “the prologue” of the wrismons family story: later, the watchmaker brought to life the famous smiling Joker with a dial of anthropomorphic design.
“After the release of the Cinema model, I began to think about emotions and how they affect our contemporaries’ perception of a wristwatch,” — the master recalled afterwards. — “We look at a work of art as an object that evokes some kind of feelings in us. That thought eventually took shape in a timepiece which I called the Joker. You can read that watch’s spirit like an open book, no buttons needed.”