Soft-spoken and very clever, Russian watch and clock maker Konstantin Chaykin‘s creations never fail to intrigue me. For 2017, his newest watch is a limited edition all about whimsy (and Batman villains). The Konstantin Chaykin Joker is a characterful and relatively friendly homage to the famed Batman villain of the same name. The point of the watch isn’t just to remind watch collectors of the Joker character, but to use his theme in order to present a timepiece with a “face” that has about 20,000 distinct “facial expressions.”
Accent colors such as green, purple, and red, as well as the cartoonish visage of the dial with its elongated red smile are what most hearken to the Joker of the Batman universe. Playing card symbols decorate points around the bezel, and the overall watch seems to be themed around the idea of tricksters (whether they are mischievous or benevolent in intention). Concepts like this can go from attractive to ugly very quickly, and from tasteful to cheesy even faster. I’d say that Konstantin Chaykin cleverly mixes aesthetic and technical elements to keep the Joker watch on the correct side of the “taste fence.”
Inside the Joker watch is a movement called the caliber K07-0, which starts with a base Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic that is then modified in-house by Konstantin Chaykin. The movement has a lot to power, so the power reserve is down to 38 hours, and it still runs at 4Hz. Functionally, you have two discs for hours and minutes with hands that represent the eyeballs. These move around dedicated hour or minute tracks in each of the two “eyes.” This allows for a range of “expressions” which are constantly changing.
To make things more interesting, the Konstantin Chaykin Joker watch has cleverly re-imagined a moon phase indicator to being a mouth with tongue. The lower part of the dial has a mouth which is actually a moon phase indicator that has been visually modified. I think it looks fun and is a very intelligent interpretation of how to use this classic complication. The moon itself is colored red, and is thus the tongue in this mouth which in combination with the eyes allows for an even larger range of facial expressions. Traditional decorative technique such as applied elements and engraved metal allow the design to feel more classic and less cartoony. While the design of the Konstantin Chaykin Joker watch is clearly niche, I applaud Konstantin Chaykin’s efforts to make it as “serious”-looking as possible.
The Konstantin Chaykin Joker case has a crown on each side (the left one is, in fact, simply an inset pusher used to adjust the moon phase) which are meant to serve as ears for this face. The case is in steel and 42mm wide by 13.7mm thick. The design is classic, but spirited and slightly sporty. Over the dial is a sapphire crystal, and the custom strap is alligator with green stitching and deep violet-colored calfskin lining.
Batman watches are on a role, even if the Konstantin Chaykin Joker is among the most subtle ones out there. You don’t even need to be a fan of the franchise to like this watch. Clearly meant for only some watch lovers, this is nevertheless a smart, quality creation which helps define the emotional appeal, and sense of fun that so many timepieces (and brands) seem to miss these days. The Konstantin Chaykin Joker watch will be produced as a limited edition of only 99 pieces with a price of 6,990 euros. chaykin.ru