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Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

Although smartwatches will inevitably continue to make advances in both technology and functionality, there are some aspects to them which will never be attained through circuit boards and touch screens. Chances are that you will know this already, but allow me to emphasize it nonetheless: the world of watchmaking is much more than simply telling the time; what makes a watch so special to many enthusiasts is the character enveloped behind each timepiece. The art of watchmaking is one of the few crafts still around today which thrives off the fine art of handcrafted goods; and no matter how beautiful and functionally advanced a smartwatch might be, there is something truly exceptional to be said about a piece which has been carefully crafted by a true artisan. Today, we are looking at something that is most fitting of that description, with the affordable hand-engraved watch movements by Artur Akmaev.

Although the supply of master engravers and enamel painters is not as substantial as it once was, there are still young enthusiasts in the field of watchmaking that understand the value and emotions evoked by a well decorated dial and movement. Artur Akmaev, a talented young artist from Russia has taken this passion for art and design and turned it into some beautifully handcrafted time pieces.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

The art of engraving and enamel work has a rich heritage in the craft of watchmaking. The amalgamation of art and engineering has allowed mechanical watches to withstand the accusations of being obsolete by proving to the world that there is much more to watchmaking than keeping the time. The Quartz Crisis of the ’70s and ’80s led to a lack of demand for refined mechanical timepieces, a direct consequence of which was the forced closure of many of the Swiss watch industry’s engraving and enamel art schools in Geneva. With very few options left, the skill of a master engraver and enamel painter became highly prized amongst many companies.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

Artur Akmaev began his journey studying the art of jewelry design, taking classes on hand engraving and attaining a degree as a Jeweler. It wasn’t until his continued education at the University of Applied Arts in Moscow that his passion for watches and watchmaking quickly grew. His early work began on a robust Russian movement known as the Poljot 3105, as part of a project that was created for his personal enjoyment – and that fueled what would soon become a long line of beautifully crafted pieces.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles
Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

A typical project of his begins its life as a base ETA 6497 or 6498 movement as they are most comfortable for his type of work. These movements also allow him to create much more complex work with layered images resulting in a beautiful and three-dimensional piece of art. He begins by planning out and sketching everything from the dial and main plate to the crown wheel and drum barrel. The movement is then stripped down to its bare bones where each component is then engraved and skeletonized individually. The components are then hand polished one by one, and plated in either rhodium, nickel, or occasionally, gold. The movement is then meticulously reassembled and tested to ensure everything runs smoothly.


Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles
Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

A single piece will usually take 2-3 weeks to produce depending on complexity and inspiration for the theme. New techniques are incorporated into every piece to continue improving his craft and learn from master engravers of the past. The main focus of Artur Akmaev’s timepieces are to create art pieces of great detail while uncovering the engineering behind a movement through skeletonization. Thus the cases selected are very simple in design as to not distract the viewer, much like the framing to a painting.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

Before Artur Akmaev could graduate from the University of Applied Arts he had to create a senior project, and what better way than to create a series of timepieces implementing both enamel work and hand engraving. The theme for these pieces draws its inspiration from the mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity. The first piece shown below represents the internal workings of these complex machines along with a tire tread strap to match; the second piece is a representation of the view through the eyes of these rovers. A beautiful blend of enamel colors creates an artistic portrayal of the mars surface with a mountain range in the distance.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

One of his more recent personal projects pays tribute to his childhood hero, Batman. The front the watch implements styling cues from the Dark Knight trilogy. Batman is posed as a watchful protector overlooking the gothic styling of Gotham city with a batarang in hand and the Bat-signal out in the distance. Even components such as the drum were meticulously engraved to display the Wayne Enterprises logo which slowly rotates as the mainspring unwinds. These small details may often go unnoticed, but it is what makes these kinds of pieces so special; the more you look at the watch, the more hidden features you can uncover.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

On the back of the piece we have a beautiful artistic representation of the Batman cartoon series from the early 90’s. Even the enamel colors used were carefully blended to mimic the color pallet from the cartoon. At first glance, one will notice the Joker, Scarecrow, Bane, and a question mark for the Riddler; however upon further inspection, there are also symbols scattered across the movement to represent other characters of the series. There is the Arkham Asylum, poison ivy, Penguins umbrella, as well as the phrase “liberty 1922,” paying tribute to the coin used by Two-Face. The amount of time and effort spent hand engraving and enameling each of these small little details truly makes it a labor of love.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

We have reached a point in time where CNC machines and even some 3D printers can surpass the precision of a human hand, and yet, when faced with the choice of a perfectly machined dial and one that is engraved by hand, many enthusiasts will often choose the latter. The CNC machined piece may be engraved to perfection in every single way, but that perfection gives a lack of character in the piece. The imperfections of a hand engraved dial are what give it life, and a connection between the wearer and the engraver. Each imperfection tells a story, and it is up to the engraver to challenge his creativity and make what was once a mistake into a beautiful flow of art.

Affordable Hand-Engraved Watch Movements By Artur Akmaev Featured Articles

Artur Akmaev’s timepieces will run you around $2500, however, since these are custom, one-of-a-kind pieces, prices will vary depending on complexity and desired amount of detail. This includes a Swiss ETA movement with plating, steel case, sapphire crystal, leather strap, and of course hand engraving work by Artur Akmaev. For those with inquiries or interest in a custom piece of their own, feel free to contact him directly via his email.



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  • Very cool and reasonably priced to boot. Thanks for the review Karel.

  • nickyb66

    Thanks doe the review Karel. Certainly different, lovely movement for sure, OTT on the engraving but I love the Batman watch. Certainly one for my collection and the price is very reasonable, well done!

  • MikeinFrankfurt

    Cool article…and based on a lot of the new watches we see reviewed, I think you can do far worse for your $2500!

  • VM1960

    It’s wonderful to see someone doing something individual and different. Great article.

  • iamcalledryan

    Love them. They are less refined than my tastes, but much more alligned to my budget!

  • 5803822

    Limit the clever stuff to the movement and it has a sporting chance.

  • Very nice over all. Some of them are a little cheesy, including the batman piece, and some of them are quite stunning. A few of them appear to be much more lightly engraved, not sure if that is a halfway point and they are unfinished, but it gives more of an appearance of them being stamped than hand engraved.
    I’d like to see what he could do in a more abstract style, rather than engraving actual things.

  • paulester17

    Impressive! Thanks for the story.

  • LapYoda

    Nicely done, and pretty reasonable prices for all the hard work to engrave all these small pieces.  It’s a straight-up bargain if you want something completely unique!

  • As should be no surprise, I am really digging the Batman version!

  • Lkcons

    What? No 60 000 dollar pricetag? Whats going on here….this kind of thing cannot be tolerated!

  • shinytoys

    How TRULY magnificent! The price says absolutely YES! Thank you ABTW for the heads up! Well done piece K.B.

  • real_doctor

    ABTW_Patrick aBlogtoWatch JohnLegere Aw yeah, something for John Legere!

  • Ulysses31

    Relatively cheap and interesting for what they are.  I like the Panerai inspired one – what an interesting dial.  The Batman one is OK but he’s used both the Bale and Keaton-era bat-symbols in the same watch.  You’d think a big fan of the franchise would go for watches with that theme, and would immediately notice the error.

  • I think this guy is going to get a flood of requests. His work is stunning and has me very interested.

  • joblow

    One more for the “I want this watch” list.

  • bichondaddy

    Lots of craftsmanship and creativity obviously goes into making one of the watches!  Quite reasonable for what you are getting!!

  • alanbachand

    Yeah, I got to get me one of them cool watches…  NICE WORK GUYS!!

  • Hank429

    If I get a promotion in the next year I may be ordering.  I’ve always wanted a fishing or a hockey tribute on my dial.

  • dbhoney

    That’s not a lot of money for beautiful watches.

  • spiceballs

    Great to see another art is being rejuvenated by a younger person who appreciates beauty and can produce objects that both hark back to bygone eras and reflect more modern times.  Bravo Artur, beautiful work.  And Karel for bringing it to our notice.

  • DG Cayse

    This gentleman has the 3-D effect going well for his work.
    Stunning in a very good way. 
    Thanks to the author for this piece.

  • LaurenClifford

    Gorgeous!  Lovely to see an artist dedicated to his craft.  Can’t wait to see what Artur Akmaev creates in the future.

  • socabaptist

    Wow a piece of art I can actually afford ( after saving for a while). Great work! Going to save this article who knows I may be able to get one of his pieces. Appreciate seeing a watch for the rest of us.

  • brlumaja

    Just an FYI to anybody who wants one go these, good luck getting in touch with him. My son loves Batman and I said what the heck I can buy a watch that would grab his interest an look decent on my wrist. I have sent two emails with my contact info and no response. I am big customer service oriented person and I guess I will look elsewhere.

  • barrettjam

    brlumaja I emailed Mr. Akmaev today and got a positive response today. I guess it really depends on how you’ve approached your inquiry. Mr. Akmaev is quite obviously an artist above all else and as an artist reserves the right to pick and choose his commissions. Basically, if you take the “what the heck” attitude towards your potential purchase of something an artist has lovingly created and poured their own soul into you are unlikely to garner a quick response to your inquiry. Akmaev has an obvious talent and as others have pointed out here will likely have a “flood of requests”. You’re not strolling into Wal-Mart here to pick up a Timex regardless of the price; it’s a one-of-a-kind, individually hand-crafted piece. I would suggest you may have more luck if you presented a real project of interest to challenge and appeal to the artist… But “what the heck” do I know?

  • barrettjam

    These are stunning pieces and I hope to be the proud owner of an Akmaev piece in the not-so-distant future. He has an obvious talent and passion for his work and I predict that he will do very well in his trade, continuing to grow and improve his craft. Keep up the great work Artur!

  • KarelBachand

    Very well put @barrettjam . He certainly is trying his best to accommodate everyone but we must all keep in mind this is a one man show, and as many have mentioned below he has been getting a flood of requests. He puts a lot of time and effort into each of his pieces and although there are many requests, his craft is not something which can be rushed. Ultimately what you are receiving is something Completely unique and hand crafted to your request by a very talented artist. It is certainly a lot of work but the end result speaks for itself

  • ??????

    Wonderful pieces! I wonder – what novelties did he make in almost 1.5 years since this article?…

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