December 16, 2020
Pareidolic Russian boutique brand Konstantin Chaykin is no stranger to creating unique holiday-themed riffs on its playful Wristmon design concept. This face-inspired design has been transformed into a clown, a jack o’ lantern, Dracula, and even the villainous Mouse King from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” over the years, and for its latest limited edition release the brand has decided to dive headfirst into the holiday spirit. The new Konstantin Chaykin Santa 2021 Special Edition is one of the brand’s most intricate reimaginings of its core design to date, bringing Santa Claus to life through the dial with a handful of subtle and intricate touches.
The Konstantin Chaykin Santa 2021 Special Edition begins with the brand’s unique dual crown case design in stainless steel. Sized at 42mm, the overall case form is simple but offbeat enough to be instantly recognizable. Beyond the twin pillbox crowns at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, the other major visual hallmark here is the complex brushed bezel design. This is a brand staple for Konstantin Chaykin, combining notches, screws, and engraved letters – here, of course, spelling out “Santa.” The relative orthodoxy of the rest of the case keeps the visual spotlight on the dial and its whimsical and intricate finishing work. The caseback is given its own standout visual treatment however, with an intricate engraving of Santa Claus and his sleigh flying over a snowy forest.
While far from the first Konstantin Chaykin dial to form an actual face, the Santa 2021 Special Edition adds a few tweaks to the formula that make this far more labor intensive than previous versions. The layout of a 10 o’clock hours subdial and a 2 o’clock minutes subdial forming a pair of eyes is carried over from previous versions, along with the 6 o’clock moonphase window forming an open mouth, but in execution nearly every component has been extensively reworked. The wavy multicolored lacquer guilloché pattern of the main dial surface is rendered here in pearly white, deep candy red, and a soft flesh tone, but the real source of change comes around the upper half of the dial. This is the first of Konstantin Chaykin’s face designs to be fitted with a pair of glasses, and the black frame design is more than just cosmetic. The raised brushed rings surrounding the main subdials add height to the dial, and to avoid making the case thicker overall to compensate the brand has redesigned the domed subdial disks with shorter drive axles. This revision of the Santa 2021 Special Edition’s movement brings the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock subdials on an even plane with the 6 o’clock moonphase disk for the first time, and to compensate for the change in geometry the hours and minutes disks have been made slightly smaller in diameter with a more pronounced dome shape. Perhaps the biggest challenge of including a pair of glasses in the design was designing a set of lenses. More than just an empty set of frames, the hours and minutes subdials are covered in a second miniature sapphire crystal layer underneath the main crystal. Impressively, Konstantin Chaykin claims the lensing effect of this second layer of crystal acts as a slight magnifier for the hour and minute indicators, visually compensating for their reduced size. These glasses hold one more visual secret, as each subdial contains seven ghostly white snowflakes surrounding the blue and black indicator mark. All told, the dial of the Santa 2021 Special Edition is made from a whopping 18 components, many of which are completely bespoke to this iteration.
The Konstantin Chaykin Santa 2021 Special Edition is powered by the updated K.07-2 automatic movement. Made on a heavily modified ETA 2824-2 platform, the K.07-2 makes substantial changes to many of the components from the K.07-0 movement, but performance remains comparable to the standard ETA powerplant. Power reserve is a slightly underwhelming 38 hours with a 28,800 bph beat rate.
Konstantin Chaykin often finishes its pareidolia themed designs with straps that continue the look of the character, and the Santa 2021 Special Edition is no exception. The base strap is a suitably Santa Claus-esque red alligator leather, given an extra shot of personality with asymmetrical white alligator leather appliques. When looking at the watch head on, these white elements fill in the look of Santa’s beard, suit, and iconic red hat, further reinforcing the sense of character.
Like the rest of the Wristmon line, the Konstantin Chaykin Santa 2021 Special Edition is loud, playful, and unlikely to suit everyone’s tastes, but the sheer sense of playfulness combined with the undeniable craftsmanship mark this as one of the most fun and inventive expressions of avant-garde horology. Only three examples of the Konstantin Chaykin Santa 2021 Special Edition will be made, available now through authorized dealers at a price of €18,230. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.