The Konstantin Chaykin Stargazer is a one-of-a-kind item and the most complicated wristwatch ever produced by the important Russian watchmaker. The Konstantin Chaykin Stargazer timepiece was supposed to be sold at the OnlyWatch 2023 auction, an event this pièce unique timepiece was created especially for. Unfortunately, for reasons related to charitable donation communication transparency practices, the OnlyWatch 2023 auction (which was supposed to happen in November 2023) was indefinitely postponed. This strange outcome has put a lot of the companies and watchmakers who donated watches for the event in a strange position. These people have a host of incredibly special products that were intended for a charity auction whose status is now in limbo. Are the Only Watch 2023 pieces supposed to wait until a possibly rescheduled Only Watch auction event? Or, at some point, do the parties who donated (and later retrieved) these treasures, have the right to liquidate these watches in whatever way they please? These are some of the interesting questions that will add flavor to the story of the Stargazer watch in the future.
I got to hear a bit about the Only Watch 2023 circumstances and learn more about the Stargazer watch directly from Konstantin Chaykin himself. We were able to meet up at Dubai Watch Week 2023, one of the few places in the world these days where an American and Russian national are prone to enjoying a routine social encounter due to travel policies within the UAE. That’s a shame, as I recall with fondness traveling to Konstantin Chaykin’s Moscow Manufacture in 2012, and today, I have little hope that I’ll ever be allowed to return given the larger context of geopolitics. That said, Konstantin Chaykin is necessarily adapting, with business operations now extending outside Russia into both Switzerland and Abu Dhabi. Speaking of brand operations, one of the reasons for the Stargazer watch in the first place is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Konstantin Chaykin. In 2003, the company launched by releasing a tourbillon-based clock. His clocks are actually the esteemed watchmaker’s more complicated creations, though he is better known for his playful wristwatches.
Given this minor contradiction in the personality of the Konstantin Chaykin brand, the man behind it decided to merge both of his areas of pride into a single timepiece. In practice, this meant including his fascination for complicated astronomical complication tourbillon clocks and his Wristmons collection of face-based wristwatches. The result is a double-sided wristwatch with a Joker-style face and a tourbillon movement with 16 distinct complications. A timepiece like this from any of the major names in European luxury watchmaking would be cause for a book to be written and a major event to be held. Konstantin Chaykin built it for charity.
It is true that Chaykin, as a watchmaker, might be “on the map” for some of the wrong reasons. For a number of years, Konstantin Chaykin has been the president of the AHCI organization of watchmakers, and as a watchmaker autodidact, he has accomplished a number of very impressive features and mechanisms. Many of his wristwatches incorporate novel mechanisms as well as visual designs. Prior to becoming popular, he was already one of the most accomplished watchmakers of our time. Ironically, what promoted Konstantin Chaykin to stardom wasn’t any of his more complicated watches but a fun watch with a simple module on a base ETA automatic movement. That was the Konstantin Chaykin Joker limited edition from 2017. It and the watches that followed are now known as the Konstantin Chaykin Wristmons collection. The Stargazer watch is meant to merge the popularity of the Joker and the Wristmons with Mr. Chaykin’s deeper passion for multi-function mechanical timekeeping mechanisms.
The Stargazer watch case is based on the original Joker but is also designed to be double-sided in how it is worn. That means it has special articulating lugs that can move in either direction so that either side of the case can be worn up. To facilitate strapping the watch on your wrist, you can swivel around the watch strap buckle (similar to how some double-sided pants belts work). The case is thick but comfortable, and sized at 42mm wide. The interesting case material is known as Russian bulat steel. Traditionally, bulat steel was used in parts of Russia during medieval times for weapons and other purposes. Bulat steel was one form of high-carbon steel, others of which were developed in other parts of the world such as Europe and Japan. Bulat steel was similar in look to Damascus steel (wood grain texture), and also valued for its strength. My understanding is that original medieval bulat steel manufacturing techniques are unknown. There are modern methods that are meant to emulate the look of legacy bulat steel but are really new techniques. One of these new techniques is used to create the interesting textured steel that the Stargazer case uses. When inspected closely, it really looks like high-iron steel mixed with carbon (which may be exactly what I am looking at). You may not love the look of the Stargazer’s case, but it sure does have personality. The statement “Per Aspera Ad Astra” printed on the tourbillon-side dial roughly means “From adversity and into the stars.”
The highly complicated mechanical movement inside the Stargazer is where horology nerds can have the most fun. Most of the complications in the Stargazer are related to astronomical indications, including some obscure indicators that aren’t part of the usual assortment of features. Some of the more interesting complications include a “solar activity cycle” chart, sunrise and sunset azimuth indication hands, and a celestial-view indicator. The side of the Stargazer watch that features a tourbillon does not actually indicate the current time. Only the opposite side of the watch via the Joker-style dial is where you can read the current time. The central hands on the other side of the watch are actually used for the sunrise/set azimuth indicators. I really like how the complications are labeled (as much as possible) and how there is a clear logic and elegance to how things are laid out. A watch like the Stargazer really seems to put companies like Vacheron Constantin and Bovet on notice (among others, of course).
Whether you feel that the Konstantin Chaykin Stargazer watch has it all, or if you feel that you’d like to see another set of complications in the space provided, it is hard to deny that the composition is beautiful and impressive. Chaykin put his heart and soul into making a unique watch that celebrates the current success of his brand as well as the dual areas for which he wants to be known. The two major remaining questions regard what the Konstantin Chaykin Stargazer worth and who will end up owning it. Given his tenacity, I think it is clear that Chaykin will not rest on his laurels here, and as an enterprising person, he will only wish to further up the mechanical complexity ante in the future. I also don’t subscribe to the logic of auction price estimates, so I won’t repeat the Only Watch 2023 auction price estimate here. It would be tough to see the Stargazer watch going for under $100,000 USD. Who will own it, or how it will be sold is information we simply don’t know yet. Learn more at the Konstantin Chaykin website.