Up Close: Konstantin Chaykin Martian Tourbillon “Only Watch 2021”

Ingeniously extra-terrestrial.

Inspired by German “rolling eye” clocks of the mid 20th century, the Joker is now Konstantin Chaykin’s trademark wristwatch. But the Russian watchmaker’s repertoire is far more diverse than the googly-eyed face – watches that tell the time on Mars are another of his specialties.

For Only Watch 2021, Mr Chaykin has combined the two concepts in the Martian Tourbillon. The robotic clown face indicates the time and calendar on Mars, while the back reveals a one-minute tourbillon that makes one revolution every Martian minute.

Initial thoughts

The Joker Selfie Mr Chaykin created for Only Watch 2019 was not merely a simple variation of the standard model, illustrating both Mr Chaykin’s creativity and his desire to put together something genuinely special for the event.

With most watches at Only Watch 2019 being variations of existing models, the Joker Selfie was notable for being unique in a technical sense. The watch had a built-from-scratch complication, a new base movement, and even a novel case material (which is being used once again for this year’s creation).

The case is Bulat, a high-carbon, patterned steel alloy

Once again Mr Chaykin has put together a truly one-off watch for the biennial charity auction. It is impressive and ingenious, with a Martian complication that’s synonymous with Mr Chaykin. Despite all its novelty, it is easily recognisable as a Chaykin wristwatch.

Like its predecessor, the Martian Tourbillon has a unique complication, albeit one that’s far more complex. Beyond the Martian time and calendar, it also incorporates a tourbillon regulator, making it the first-ever tourbillon wristwatch entirely constructed in Russia according to Mr Chaykin.

The Martian Tourbillon has a modest estimate of CHF40,000-60,000, but I would not be surprised if it finishes past CHF250,0000.

The one-Martian-minute tourbillon visible only on the back

Telling the time

The obvious question with the Martian Tourbillon is it utility. Can it even tell the time on Earth?

Fortunately, the answer is yes, more or less. The watch indicates the time and calendar on Mars, but fortunately it is useful on Earth because the difference between hours and minutes on both planets isn’t major.

While the hours and minutes are Martian, they are close enough to the equivalent units on Earth to be reasonably practical in getting an approximate idea of the time. A Martian solar day is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth solar day, which means a Martian hour will be about two minutes longer than an Earth hour.

(1) Martian hours. (2) Martian minutes. (3) The dates of the first and second weeks of a Martian month (4) The dates of the third and fourth week of a Martian month. (5) Martian days of the week. (6) Two-week period indicator. (7) Combined am-pm and day-night indication for hour indicator. Image – Konstantin Chaykin

The dial is scaled with numerals and symbols designed by Mr Chaykin as Martian numbers. Though unfamiliar, the time display chapter rings are conventionally scaled. The hours are indicated on a scale of “1” to “12”, while minutes are on 60-minute track.

The calendar is more exotic and of zero utility on Earth, though it is impressively complex and a key part of the design. It indicates the Darian calendar, which was conceived by aerospace engineer Thomas Gangale for future human colonisers of the Red Planet. Martian solar days, known as sols, are indicated on two rows within the “smile” – one row for each half of the month – with the day of the week symbols in between the sol scale.

Because the hour indicator goes from “1” to “12”, it includes a discreet day-night indicator in the form of a wheel with a coloured rim on the lower edge of the hour ring

The day of the week symbol (left), and the Martian-font numerals. Image – Konstantin Chaykin

A Russian-made Martian tourbillon

Intriguingly, the Martian Tourbillon is also constructed to function on Martian time. Built entirely in-house as all of Mr Chaykin’s movements are, the K.22-0 features a one-minute tourbillon, but based on a Martian minute, which means it makes one revolution every 61.65 seconds according to Earth time.

And the balance within the tourbillon is similarly Martian. It oscillates at 19,800 beats per Martian hour, which is equivalent to 19,270 beats per hour here on Earth.

The tourbillon has a “alpha” cage that is found in all of Mr Chaykin’s tourbillons

Like the Joker Selfie, the K.22-0 movement is finished well. Amongst the aesthetic flourishes are a trio of jewels in gold chatons, including the centre-wheel jewel in a chaton secured by screws.

The tourbillon is held in place by a straight-grained steel bridge that has polished, bevelled edge, though no inward angles 

The movement also incorporates two subtle elements that refer to the theme of the dial. One is the crown wheel hand engraved with with a Joker motif, with twin screws that form the eyes – and the screw slots each have a round hole worked into them for the pupils.

And the other is the rocker for the winding gears that takes the form of the Martian symbol for “3”.

A proprietary design, the balance wheel has four arms, each with a regulating mass

The dimensions of the Martian Tourbillon are almost identical to that of the standard Joker. The case is the same 40 mm, though it is slightly thicker as a result of a domed crystal (instead of the flat crystal on the standard model).

But the case material is unusual. It has a speckled, textured surface that’s a perfect match for the robot-clown aesthetic of the dial.

It’s made of a steel alloy known as Bulat that is similar to what is now known as Damascus steel, or pattern welded steel. Forged in-house at Mr Chaykin’s workshop, the alloy has crystalline elements within that give it a unique texture as well as a high level of hardness.

Mr Chaykin also used the alloy for the case of the Joker Selfie, as well as for the cases of a handful of his regular-production watches, though not widely, making it uncommon.

Even the crown is made of Bulat

Key facts and price

Konstantin Chaykin Martian Tourbillon Only Watch 2021 Piece Unique

Case diameter: 40 mm
Case height: Unavailable
Material: Bulat steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. K.22-0
Functions: Martian time display, Martian calendar, and 61.65-minute tourbillon regulator
Frequency: 19,270 beat per hour
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: Unavailable

Strap: Alligator with bulat steel pin buckle

Limited edition: Piece unique
 To be sold at Only Watch on November 6, 2021
Estimate: 40,000-60,000 Swiss francs

For more, visit Onlywatch.com.


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Only Watch 2021: Independent Watchmaking Highlights

Quirky, historical, and artisanal.

The top lots amongst independent watchmakers at Only Watch 2021 are no doubt the F.P. Journe FFC Blue and Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II, but they will cost six or seven figures. But half of the participants at Only Watch are independent watchmakers, so there are a few more interesting examples of the genre, which might possibly be reasonably affordable.

We round up five notable watches amongst the “indies”, ranging from the quirky and fascinating Urwerk that’s an upgraded example of the brand’s earliest watch to the stunningly engine-turned Andersen Genève Quotidiana.

Urwerk UR-102 “Gaïa”

Perhaps the avant-garde independent watchmaker, Urwerk is best known for revolutionising the presentation of time, having invented time displays using satellite cubes on a carousel and prisms in cylinders.

But the brand’s creation for Only Watch 2021 looks nothing like its recent work, because it’s a quarter-century old, an artefact from the brand’s start-up days. The UR-102 “Gaïa” is a prototype of one of the brand’s earliest models – it is actually a vintage Urwerk – but dressed up smartly for the occasion, with a special case back decoration that signifies the brand’s success.

The platinum case back is adorned with a sparkling, deep blue emblem that alludes to the Gaïa Prize, which Urwerk’s founders won in 2020

That said, being an Urwerk, the time display is far from rudimentary. While neither a cube nor a prism, it is still a wondering hours, with a tiny window showing the hours that travels around the fan-shaped minute track.

The UFO-like case goes well with the wandering hours, which is a nod to the motion of stars

At just 38 mm wide, the case is notably classical in size for an Urwerk

And the case is best described as sci-fi Art Deco – it looks like a flying saucer, but streamlined and simplified. Its sleek lines are in stark contrast to the brand’s modern-day watches that all boast complex case forms – illustrating the brand’s limited resources in its early days.

Krayon Anywhere Only Watch 2021 Edition

Like the UR-102, the Krayon Anywhere has a cosmic inspiration. Already equipped with a sunrise and sunset indicator, the Anywhere for Only Watch gets a thematically-congruent miniature painting – an abstract reinterpretation of Monet’s Impression, Sunrise.

A major upgrade over the stamped guilloche dial found in the standard Anywhere, the miniature painting is notably fine, accomplished via a process similar to champleve enamelling, albeit with lacquer instead of enamel paste.

Functionally, the highlight is the sunrise and sunset indicator, which is identical to that of the standard model: the light and dark blue rings change expand and contract in different seasons, reflecting the different day and night length. And the intersection between the two rings indicate sunrise and sunset time.

A sun-shaped pointer travels around the dial once a day, functioning as a 24-hour indicator, but it isn’t a GMT hand

The movement is identical to the standard production model. But it is the original prototype of the Anywhere calibre, making it a bit more special, just like the UR-102 “Gaïa” above.

Elaborately finished, despite being a prototype

Romain Gauthier Continuum Titanium Edition Only Watch

The Continuum is the first luxury-sports watch from Roman Gauthier and the Only Watch edition was the opening act, having been announced before the regular-production model. It’s is a finely executed watch that’s still very much a Roman Gauthier, especially in terms of the movement.

The Only Watch edition shares the case and movement of the standard version, but the colourful dial is a one-off. The hour markers and elongated small seconds scale are in a graduated yellow and orange, giving the otherwise monochromatic dial a bit of zest.

Because it’s a Romain Gauthier  – a brand best known for its innovative interpretation of the fusée and chain – the technical qualities of the watch are obvious, even from afar. The movement architecture is elaborate, so are the details like the wheels with petal-like spokes.

The movement is decorated to a high standard, incorporating a few hand-finished details typical of the brand, such as the frosting on the top of the bridges as well as the base plate. But the movement decoration is identical to that in the standard model; a differentiated decor would have made this more special.

Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock

While the lots above are all from prominent independent watchmakers, this is the work of a new brand.

The 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock has several notable qualities, including an appealing, symmetrical layout on both the front and back, and artisanal enamelling on the dial.

The dial is paillonnee enamel, which is made up of tiny, delicate slivers of gold foil suspended in translucent, graduated enamel, a finish that requires multiple firings to achieve.

Interestingly, the curlicued logo at twelve isn’t stationary. Instead, it spins freely with the movement of the wrist, as the emblem has a weighted edge on half its circumference. All that is hidden under the dial, making it a “mysterious” display.

The only weakness is the tourbillon assembly, which is basic in architecture and finish when compared to the rest of the watch

And the movement has character, thanks to excellent layout and finishing. It’s an automatic movement wound by a peripheral rotor, exposing the wide bridges and symmetrical layout. It’s also finished well with hand-brushed frosting on the bridges that also have wide, polished bevels.

Andersen Genève Quotidiana

Last but not least is a timepiece from the longest-established independent watchmaker taking part in Only Watch 2021. Now in his fourth decade of watchmaking, Svend Andersen – founder of  Andersen Genève – is very much a pioneer in custom and bespoke watches.

The Quotidiana is an example of such custom work. It’s an amalgamation of many classical elements, but executed in a manner that’s quintessentially Andersen.

The two-tone case is “Empire” style, which means a fluted middle with narrow, soldered lugs. Importantly, the case is made via traditional techniques – on a lathe without any computerised machines.

The case is especially stunning with its two-tone construction, a nod to vintage pocket watches

But the most attractive element is the dial. The Quotidiana sports twin, arched openings that are a lot more attractive than conventional calendar windows. Add to that the striking, triangular Losanges Magiques engine turning and  the result is a dial that’s both striking and artisanal.

Even the language of the day display is amusing – it’s done in seven languages, one for each day

The movement is a thin Frederique Piguet cal. 1150, which has been decorated in an appealing manner.

It’s visually striking, in part thanks to to the gold rotor that’s decorated with a radiating barleycorn guilloche that increases in scale towards the outer edge of the rotor. And the engraving on the movement as well as the case back is done by hand.

For more, visit onlywatch.com.


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Up Close: Akrivia Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II “Only Watch”

Still great.

The first Chronomètre Contemporain was the watch that vaulted Rexhep Rexhepi into the top league of independent watchmaking. Now the young watchmaker has debuted the followup, first as a unique example for Only Watch 2021.

The Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II (RRCC II) resembles its predecessor inside and out, yet is entirely different in every aspect, from movement construction to the geometry of the lugs. But what it does share with the RRCC I is a gorgeously finished movement and thoughtful design.

Initial thoughts

On the face of it, the RRCC II for Only Watch looks like the original Chronometre Contemporain dressed in another dial. But it is entirely new in practically every aspect, right down to the geometry of the case. The RRCC II is akin to a generation of the Porsche 911 – the styling seems unchanged but it is actually a brand new car.

The most obvious point of difference is the seconds hand – the RRCC II is a deadbeat seconds. That in itself is novel, because the jumping seconds complication is almost always implemented with a centre seconds. In fact, I can’t think of another watch with a deadbeat subsidiary seconds that isn’t part of another complication. In F.P. Journe’s tourbillon for instance, the deadbeat seconds is part of the constant force mechanism.

Even the movement appears superficially similar, though it is quickly evident that it’s a new calibre solely from the two large jewels for the barrel pivots. This has twin barrels, instead of the single barrel of the RRCC I.

And up close the differences become more apparent. The finishing, for instance, has been made more pronounced. The anglage on the bridges is now fuller, both wider and rounder.

And the refinements continue on the case, albeit in a far more discreet manner. The lugs are now longer and thinner, giving the watch a more graceful profile that is difficult to observe unless compared against the first generation model.

Even the dial design has been refined, although it retains the same overall look as its predecessor. That said, the refinements to the dial are not apparent on the Only Watch example (more on this below), which is a prototype.

The Only Watch version is unique, but the RRCC II will be later be produced as a limited edition in two guises. It will be a tangible illustration of the brand’s progress.

The RRCC II is a better watch than its predecessor. It is more complicated, better finished, and more refined in terms of design.

And on the topic of the Only Watch version, there’s the dial colour. It’s a dark gold with a hint of green – not exactly the translucent champagne Mr Rexhepi had in mind.

There wasn’t enough time to remake the dial as the watch had to go on tour around the world, but Mr Rexhepi indicated to me that the buyer of the RRCC II Only Watch has the option of a new dial in a pale champagne enamel, though the replacement will take a while to complete.

The RRCC II “Only Watch” is the first lot in Only Watch, which means the auction will start with a big number. Though is has an estimate of CHF70,000-100,000, I expect it’ll finish well past the half-million mark, and perhaps substantially more than that.

Gently refined

As with the rest of the watch, the dial of the RRCC II was designed to preserve the signature look, but with discreet refinements to the details. Amongst the tweaks are lighter typography and markings, along with doing away with the gold ring circling the seconds on its predecessor.

That said, some of the refinements are not evident on the Only Watch prototype. The lines and numerals, for instance, should be finer.

The dial was conceived to be translucent champagne enamel that reveals a linen weave-like pattern hand engraved on the dial base. It turned out darker than expected, but can be substituted at the eventual owner’s request.

But still JPH

As with the first-generation model, the RRCC II has a case made by Jean-Pierre Hagmann, the accomplished, old-school case maker who’s been with Akrivia since 2019.

It retains the same dimensions, but with more grace. The lugs have been elongated and narrowed, while the bezel has been made slightly thinner.

All of the changes cumulatively result in an entirely new case, but the difference is only clear when the RRCC II is put side by side with its predecessor.

Deceptively similar, but entirely new

Flipping the watch over provides a clear view of the new movement. It is reassuringly familiar in its aesthetic similarity to the RRCC I. According to Mr Rexhepi, this was an intentional choice to preserve the RRCC lineage.

However, the mechanics within are vastly different. One might mistake the prominent wheels in the centre of the movement to be the timekeeping gear train, as they are in the RRCC I. But they are in fact used to drive the deadbeat seconds at six o’clock – one of two gear trains in the movement.

There are a few ways to construct a deadbeat seconds. The most common method is straightforward: a coiled buffer spring that’s part of an auxiliary gear train stores energy to drive a seconds hand. More elaborate setups have the deadbeat seconds as a byproduct of a one-second remontoir – a constant-force mechanism that powers the balance wheel with periodic, even bursts of energy.

The RRCC II accomplishes it with two independent gear trains, each powered by its own mainspring barrel. The prominent gear train visible in the above photo (to the left of centre) is the deadbeat gear train that drives the seconds hand at 6 o’clock.

The other gear train is for timekeeping. It powers the motion works, which drives the minute and hour hand.

But it’s unusually laid out in the RRCC II. The gear train is discreetly hidden along the right side of the movement, going from the barrel to underneath the balance cock and finally to the escapement. The going train also powers the motion works, which drives the minute and hour hand.

The timekeeping gear train is visible above left and runs underneath the balance wheel, hidden away on the dial side of the movement. The large wheel to the top right is part of the deadbeat gear train.

In other words, the movement would still keep time perfectly fine without the deadbeat gear train in the middle – but it would go without a seconds hand.

The deadbeat seconds is controlled via the conventional method of a star and flirt – a continuously rotating five-pointed star gradually releases a long lever, or flirt, once every second. This is how the power of the deadbeat gear train is controlled and gradually released. The flirt is hidden under the triangular bridge of black-polished steel at six o’clock of the movement, and contacts the star which is mounted under the escape wheel.

As the going train is driven continuously while the deadbeat train advances once every second, separate mainspring barrels are logical from a mechanical perspective – driving both gear trains with the same barrel would only be feasible with a buffer spring within the single gear train. But that is a less pleasing solution because it is simpler and more common, though it is more efficient space-wise.

Notice that the barrels are not geared together – the teeth of they ratchet wheels sit on different planes, as they are independent. The left barrel powers the deadbeat gear train, while the right powers the going train for timekeeping.

One could deduce the beat rate of the movement only from photos. The escape wheel has 15 teeth on it, while the deadbeat seconds is controlled by a five-pointed star. This means that every second, three teeth of the escape wheel has to be released, which means that this is a 3 Hz movement, or one running at 21,600 beats per hour.

The balance wheel is of a free-sprung design, with white gold screws along its rim for poising, and four yellow gold screws that serve as inertial weights for regulation. And the hairspring has an overcoil, which is always preferred for better isochronism.

The overcoil hairpsring and the four golden weights of the freesprung balance wheel. Also barely visible is the star and flirt, right under the escape wheel.

The eagle-eyed will also spot a pivoting lever right below the balance wheel – this is to stop the balance wheel.

The RRCC II impressively retains has the zero-reset seconds mechanism of the RRCC I and the AK-06, which means that the seconds hand will reset to zero when the crown is pulled out to set the time.

But because the seconds here is deadbeat, unlike the conventional sweeping seconds of the RRCC I, the hacking mechanism was set up to kick in only after the seconds hand has completed a full step, so that it does not hack in the midst of a jump.

Observe the pivoting lever to the right of the balance wheel, which is for the hacking feature.


The finishing should be familiar to those that follow Akrivia’s other work – in other words, exemplary.

In general, the RRCC II movement exhibits the same standard of finish as the RRCC I, but with some refinements, including a few that are purely a matter of design. One of the most prominent improvement is the increase in black-polished steel parts.

The RRCC II has a large, black polished bridge at six o’clock which supports the deadbeat seconds and the flirt. This was not present on the RRCC I, which relied on a brass bridge instead. That said, the triangular bridge compensates for the fact that the RRCC II does away on the beautiful black-polished steel bridge supporting the centre wheel of the RRCC I, due to the twin-gear train construction of the movement.

On that note, I personally prefer the central bridge design of the RRCC I. The RRCC II has an convoluted barre bridge that supports the wheels of both gear trains, resulting in an awkward crevice in between the barrels – but one magnificently finished with four inward angles on the anglage.

The centre crevice of the barrel bridge feels awkward, compared to the elegant central black polished bridge of the RRCC I.

And anglage does the RRCC II have. In generous quantities the edges of every bridge are adorned by wide, rounded anglage that is easily among the most attractive in watchmaking today. Even the spokes of the wheels have unusually wide anglage, which gives an organic feel to them.

As an aside, wide, rounded anglage is done manually by hand – with files to shape and pithwood to polish – giving watchmakers fine control over the curves of the bevel, while being a painstakingly slow process.

In comparison, high-end watches produced on an industrial scale often have anglage done with a rotary buffing tool instead. That still produces rounded anglage, and at a quicker, practical pace. But it loses the definition of the curves due to less control over the high-speed buffing wheel. Thus, the anglage found in the RRCC II can only be feasible with small scale production, usually by skilled independent watchmakers.

To accompany the bevelling, the jewel and screw holes have wide, bowl-shaped countersinks which complement the broad anglage of the bridges, completing the package.

Large bevels but small scale

Like the bevelling, the Cotes de Geneve on the bridges are a great example of perfect application of the technique. The stripes have a fine, feathery consistency with no harsh borders between each stripe. And most importantly, the stripes are applied lightly, so the surface remains flat, avoiding the jagged border visible between stripes and anglage on industrially finished movement.

A less obvious upgrade in the RRCC II is the pallet fork bridge, which now also supports the escape wheel due to the deadbeat configuration.

Instead of a striped finish, it is now entirely black polished with sharp inward and outward angles on the anglage – a major refinement on a part that is often obscured from view because it sits under the balance wheel.

The pallet fork bridge is an exemplary demonstration of black polish, countersinks and anglage

The balance wheel itself is supported by a balance cock carrying a black-polished steel cap. A minor nitpick would be that the anglage between the steep cap and the brass bridge is not fully aligned – there is a slight distortion at the boundary of the mating parts. The anglage on the steel cap itself also appears slightly uneven. That said, this is a prototype and it will be perfected before delivery.

Another minor quibble ­is the finish of the ratchet wheels. Compared to everything else, they appear plainly finished, with no additional flourishes such as individually polished teeth. This is consistent with the finishing inside the RRCC I, but polished teeth would truly make the finish of the RRCC II all encompassing.

It is also worth mentioning the engraving on the barrel bridge. It is clearly done by hand, as evident by the sharp serifs of the font. The slight inconsistency of the font alignment are only visible upon close magnification, and overall simply gives a pleasing, artisanal touch to the movement.

Giving individually polished teeth of the ratchet wheels would have elevated the overall finish to the highest standard

Notice the slight distortion of the anglage of the steel cap and the boundary where it mates the rest of the balance cock

Concluding thoughts

The RRCC II meets the lofty standards set by the RRCC I, and exceeds them by a modest margin. It is hard to imagine it getting any better (though if I were the winner of the watch, I would opt for a new dial).

Key facts and price

Akrivia Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain II “Only Watch 2021”

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 9.75 mm
Material: Platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: RRCC02
Functions: Hours, minutes, and jumping seconds
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Hand-wind
Power reserve: 82 hours

Strap: Leather strap

Limited edition: Piece unique
To be sold at Only Watch on November 6, 2021
Estimate: CHF70,000-100,000

For more, visit onlywatch.com.


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