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Konstantin Chaikin: modern Russian kulibin
Konstantin Chaikin: modern Russian kulibin
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Konstantin Chaikin is an independent Russian watchmaker with dozens of inventions. His works have long gained worldwide recognition: for four years (until 2019) he was the first and only Russian head of the most prestigious association of independent watchmakers in the world, the AHCI Academy.

In April 2021, the WIPO International Patent Office awarded him a gold medal, which is given for merits in the development of a particular industry - again, the only one from Russia. Moreover, in the watchmaking world, in principle, only a few have such medals.

"Mars Conqueror 3"

The watch, created by the Chaikin manufactory, regularly takes first places at the main exhibitions of the world, but the planet is not enough for him either: the latest development, the wrist watch "Mars Conqueror 3", synchronizes the Earth and Martian time and is intended for pioneers exploring the Universe.

Self-taught technician

He entered the watch industry almost by accident. “No family history,” he tells Russia Beyond. - Unless my grandmother worked at the reception of hours in a repair shop on Nevsky, 23, in the then Leningrad. As a child, inheriting his father's hobby, Konstantin became interested in radio mechanics. First there was a circle in the pioneer camp ("A unique experience! With the help of Morse code and an amateur station, we Soviet boys could communicate with the whole world!"), Then a section and, finally, a specialized technical school.

The romance of the world of mechanics, pushing the usual boundaries of reality, captured the talented young man. “True, service in the army (a signalman, first in Karelia, then in South Ossetia) allowed it to quickly fade away,” he says.

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Upon his return from the military in the 1990s, he tried a variety of specialties, from plumbing to working as a sales agent, until he started selling watches. “My partner and I quickly set up a business that did not take much time, and I had a desire to figure out what was inside the watch, to delve into it, to understand the principle,” says Chaikin.

He began to disassemble and study watches, modern and old, mastering the profession on his own. “There was no YouTube then, no wide internet space,” he says. - Therefore, I studied from books. But this is not even the main thing. I studied by trial and error, and I think this laid the foundation for my perception of the specialty as a constant creative search. I am not interested in repeating, I am primarily interested in inventing, doing what no one has ever done before."

From the first tourbillon to the Martian collection

Konstantin admits that now he no longer needs to look inside other people's mechanisms. All roads are well-trodden, what came before him was studied. The collected collection of watches went to the start-up capital of his own business, when in 2003 Chaikin decided to open his own manufactory.

A successful experience that brought recognition and orders was associated with the first tourbillon created by a Russian watchmaker. Before Chaikin, no one had this in the last 175 years. The tourbillon is a special part in a watch that dampens gravity and thus allows the movement to run smoothly.

Tourbillon 55

“At that time it was something very complicated, from the world of fine watchmaking, which no one in our country did,” says Konstantin. Chaikin made, literally cut out the first table clock with a tourbillon himself. Specialized magazines wrote about the ambitious novelty of the ingenious self-taught watchmaker who came out of nowhere, and he, as they say, woke up famous.

Cinema

Further, the complexity of the clock only increased. “My first wrist watch (2008) was just a movement with a ten-day power reserve, I wanted to make such a“long-playing”movement,” says the master. Then there were unique models that Konstantin still considers to be one of the most complex in his collection.

Decalogue

These are the "Decalogue" wrist watch with Jewish time indication in heleks and regs, the "Cinema" watch with a miniature device like a cinema projector mounted in it, showing moving pictures, the "Lunokhod" watch with a unique indication of the phases of the moon in the form of a sphere in the heart of the dial and, finally, the Martian collection.

Lunar rover

When the clock grimaces

But the most popular and well-known all over the world series is “Ristmons”, wrist watches with “anthropomorphic” time indication. It began with the already legendary Joker watch of 2017, which has collected all possible prizes, and still accounts for the lion's share of the manufactory's orders.

Ristmon

The dial of this watch depicts the hero's face with his characteristic smile (here she demonstrates the phases of the moon), and the usual hands replace the pupils of the eyes, moving in special steel with enamel “eye sockets”. The “expression” of the face-dial is thus constantly changing - “20,000 different grimaces,” the watchmaker counted.

As part of this series for the prestigious world auction of Christie's Only Watch in Geneva in 2019, Konstantin even invented the world's first self-portrait wristwatch, giving the "face" of the dial its own features. With an estimate of CHF (Swiss franc) 18,000-24,000, they were sold for CHF 70,000. Within a series that is constantly growing with new ideas, there is, for example, the Dracula model, which … grows "fangs" at night …

Dracula

Table clocks are another field of Chaikin's technical experiments. So, his watch "Moscow Easter" is included in the Russian Book of Records as the most complex ever produced in the country - there are 2506 parts in them that are responsible for 27 different functions.

Moscow Easter

“Once I wanted to solve a non-trivial task that had not been dealt with before me - to make a clock that would count down and show the date of Orthodox Easter (it is, as you know, rolling),” says the master. - Since this all started. We made one of the first models in this series as a gift to the patriarch. " It was this ultra-complex and revolutionary mechanism, shown at the international exhibition in Basel in 2007, that became for Chaikin a pass to the elite of the world watchmaking art.

Unique school

Konstantin invents all his models himself. The workers of the manufactory (the staff are small - 20 people) help to bring them to life. The masters are taught here themselves, because there is no school as such in the country. The production can produce about 150 hours per year (this year, making up for the downtime for the pandemic, they expect to reach 200 pieces). The cost of the watch is from $ 10,000. Each watch is made by hand, with the most careful study of all the details under the watchmaker's personal control.

“Watchmaker is a specialty that combines up to 20 different professions,” says Konstantin. - It's daunting. That is why we are so alone in Russia. Of course, there are large factories left over from Soviet times or revived. But the watch manufactory, which produces unique and expensive high-end watchmaking mechanics, is still one. By the way, we shut down any plant in terms of revenue."

Speaking about the future of wristwatches, Chaikin, who has been reading fiction for a long time, predicts that fine watch mechanics, similar to the things of his manufacture, will appear in museums. And to show the time we will be bioprostheses based on chips implanted in the hand or eye.

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