Up Close: Konstantin Chaykin Joker Selfie for Only Watch 2019

Funny and thoughtfully detailed.

Though the Konstantin Chaykin Joker Selfie was already explained in great detail by Bjorn Meijer a couple of weeks ago, it’s compelling enough for a second, quick look, since I just received a new set of photos.

Konstantin’s standard Joker (or Clown) wristwatch is well known, while also being fairly straight forward mechanically. The one-off Joker Selfie he created for the upcoming Only Watch charity auction is fundamentally and dramatically different, although the shares the familiar funny face.

To start with the case is made of bulat, a high carbon steel alloy better known as Wootz steel. Sometimes incorrectly known as Damascus steel, bulat is an alloy with a patterned surface that’s a result of the metals mixed within.

The irregular structure of the alloy, combined with its hardness, means it was a challenge to make the Joker Selfie case. Konstantin only completed the case after two discarded cases due to structural problems that emerged after machining.

The Joker Selfie tells the time like the standard Joker, with the pupils in each eye pointing to the time, with a moon phase display incorporated into the mouth of the clown. And it has the day of the week, indicated with emoticons, much like Alain Silberstein’s trademark “smileday”, at 12 o’clock.

But it also has an additional “secret” display, with a swivelling lever under the dial that covers either the hours or the day of the week display. It’s a gravity-activated mechanism that shows the hours when the watch is vertical, and the day when the watch is flat.

More interestingly, the movement inside is not the ETA 2824 found in the standard Joker.

Instead the movement is a 1960s Volna cal. 2809, produced by the state-owned Chistopol Watch Factory of the Soviet Union. More interestingly, the hand-wind movement is actually a replica of the highly regarded Zenith cal. 135 chronometer calibre.

Konstantin kept the architecture of the cal. 2809, but remade the bridges and base plate. At the same time, he also redid smaller parts like the winding click, crown wheel, and steel cap for the escape wheel, while also finishing the components by hand. The result is a handsomely decorated movement that is distinctly un-Soviet in its style.

Notably, Konstantin stated that he will not be using the cal. 2809 in this decorated form in his other watches.

Concluding thoughts

Konstantin expended a surprising and impressive amount of work in creating the Joker Selfie, managing to retain the style of the original Joker while making it much, much more elaborate.

With a low estimate of 18,000 Swiss francs, the Joker Selfie is one of the most affordable watches in Only Watch 2019, though it will surely sell for above that; in fact, I expect it’ll finish well past 50,000 francs, and perhaps closer to 100,000 francs.

Key facts

Diameter: 42mm
Height: 14.75m
Material: Bulat
Water-resistance: 30m

Movement: K.21-0
Functions: Hours, minutes, moon phase, secret hour and emoji day of the week
Winding: Hand-wound

Frequency: 18,000bph, or 2.5Hz
Power reserve: 46 hours

Strap: Alligator with Bulat pin buckle

Price and Availability

Estimated at 18,000-24,000 Swiss francs, the Joker Selfie will be sold at Only Watch 2019 on November 9, 2019, at Christie’s in Geneva. For more, visit Onlywatch.com.

Update November 11, 2019: the Konstantin Chaykin Joker Selfie sold for 70,000 Swiss francs, with no fees since it was a charity auction.

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