Konstantin Chaykin is rather unique in the business, and not only because he’s the only Russian watchmaker who creates Haute Horlogerie. His creations are all imbued with strong themes, such as cinema (look at the Cinema Watch) or with spirituality – he created watches with a Muslim or a Jewish calendar. The Carpe Diem is in the same vein with a highly symbolic representation of Vanitas, a classical theme of funerary art. The Carpe Diem is not only a painting that you can wear on your wrist but it also features some interesting horological content such as a regulator display AND a mechanical Hourglass! Monochrome goes hands-on with one of the five Carpe Diem watches.
“Seize the Day” could be the English name of the Carpe Diem. The dial of Konstatin Chaykin’s watch is a piece of poetry engraved on a wristwatch. Vanitas, a classical theme that cane be found on paintings of Dutch masters from the 16th and 17th century, features skulls, candles and hourglasses to represent the death and the brevity of life. All of these artefacts were made to remind you to enjoy life and to live the present day, Q.E.D. “Carpe Diem”. Konstantin Chaykin recreates the atmosphere of these paintings on his new watch with a gorgeous engravings and adornments.
The dial features several techniques:
- Engraved gold and silver with the representation of Chronos, the Greek god of time, and the skull in the down-left part
- Blue steel for the deep blue sky that is set with 11 diamonds
- Enamelling for the hour counter at 6 o’clock
As in the Greek Mythology, Chronos turns the Zodiac wheel and indicates the current Zodiac sign through an aperture at 3 o’clock. Basically, it can be related to a month indicator. What’s really noticeable in that regulator-style display is the hourglass at 9 o’clock. The sub-dial at 6 displays the hours – classically, with a hand that runs over a circular dial – and the hourglass displays the hour with ten minute intervals.
This complication functions like a retrograde. Like a real hourglass, sand goes from the upper part down to the lower part. In there, small dots indicate 1/6th of an hour, so the hour glass indicates intervals of 10 minutes. Once the hourglass is full – meaning that an hour has passed – the upper part makes a “jump” up (to refill the upper part of the Hourglass). In essence the Carpe Diem does not indicate time to every second, or not even to every minute. As the hour glass indicates every 10 minutes, that is as precise as the watch indicates the time. But indicating time to the second isn’t the main goal for the Carpe Diem; indicating time in a poetic way is and Konstantin Chaykin succeeded brilliantly in that perspective.
Sized at 45 mm in diameter, the Carpe Diem is not a small piece. However once once the pink gold case is placed upon the wrist, you can feel that the short and curved lugs, which help to perfectly balance the watch on the wrist. Due to the hourglass complication and the engraved dial, the watch is also quite thick and heavy.
It’s a respectable timepiece that has to be assumed by his owner and, because of that unusual dial, nobody will miss your watch. A deliberate choice from Konstantin Chaykin that seems quite in line with the idea of a painting to be worn on the wrist. The quality and finish is absolutely amazing, from the case to the dial, and that shown a high level of expertise. No part of the front side of the watch, from the enamel sub-dial, to the engravings and to the hands, feels apart; everything blends in to become one piece of art and the attention to details is unparalleled.
Turning the watch around, you’ll notice a 38.6 mm and 9mm high manually-wound mechanical movement, named K.01-4. It is built on the same base as some other watches from the Russian Manufacture, such as the Muslim Calendar. The finish reveals a three quarter plate, adorned with Cotes de Genève, jewels embedded in gold chatons, bevelled angles and gold gear wheels. There are 33 jewels and 46 hours of autonomy when fully wound.
What to conclude about the Carpe Diem Watch? It’s one of the most offbeat watches I had the chance to see. Is it wearable for daily activities? Obviously not. The dial design, the indication of time with 10-minute intervals, and add to that the size of the watch; all this makes it more an object d’art to demonstrate the capability of the Manufacture, more than a pure functional object. Do we have to blame Konstantin Chaykin for such a choice? NEVER. This kind of timepiece make us dream and demonstrate that some independent watchmakers have serious skills and imagination. Note to the future 5 owners: wear it and enjoy it, whatever people will say. The Carpe Diem Watch will be available in 5 pieces and priced at $70.000
More information on www.konstantin-chaykin.com