Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon with In-House Micro-Rotor Movement

Realising a manufacture vision.

To inaugurate its first-ever in-house automatic movement, Konstantin Chaykin created the Wristmon Zebra Piece Unique, a one-off based on the brand’s signature best-seller. Though it retains the familiar “rolling eye” time display, the Zebra is equipped with the K.33-3, a newly-developed automatic movement with a micro-rotor.

Initial thoughts

Ever since the launch of the Joker, Konstantin Chaykin has continued to iterate on the Wristmon with its amusing “rolling eye” display. While the Zebra might look like more of the same, it is notable for having an all-new, in-house movement, which replaces the ETA and Vaucher movements that powered past Wristmon models. Mr Chaykin has long hinted that a workhorse in-house movement was in the works, an endeavour that was probably accelerated by the difficulty of sourcing components from outside Russia due to the ongoing war and resulting sanctions.

With the launch of the K.33-3, Konstantin Chaykin becomes one of the few independent watchmakers with its own self-winding movement, let alone an automatic calibre with a micro-rotor. The K.33-3 is basic in terms of aesthetics and certain specifications, but it is a feat to be applauded, particularly for Mr Chaykin given the relatively scarcity of specialist suppliers close to him.

The Zebra is a one-off conceived to debut the new calibre, but we can expect more watches with the K.33-3 in the future. And if Mr Chaykin retains the same pricing for the new models with an in-house movement, then all the better.

A micro-rotor calibre made in Russia

The most important aspect of the Zebra is visible through the sapphire case back. According to Mr Chaykin, the K.33-3 is the first micro-rotor movement designed and made in Russia.

Having an in-house calibre in a relatively accessible and simple watch is a milestone for the brand, as all Wristmon models to date have been equipped with either ETA or Vaucher calibres, with the exception of the highly complicated unique pieces made for past Only Watch charity auctions, namely the Joker Selfie of 2019, Martian Tourbillon of 2021 and last year’s Stargazer.

According to Mr Chaykin, the K.33-3 was conceived to be a slim movement, hence the choice of a micro-rotor as opposed to a more common full rotor. The height is particularly relevant for Mr Chaykin, since he often uses modules for his unconventional time displays, as is the case for the Wristmon models.

Even with the addition of the “rolling eye” and calendar module, the movement in the Zebra stands 8.1 mm high. As a result, the Zebra is more compact than most other Wristmon models. The Zebra is 40 mm, whereas the standard size of past models was 42 mm. And in terms of thickness the Zebra is 13.3 mm high, which puts it in between the ETA -and Vaucher-powered models that are 13.7 mm and 13 mm respectively.

Besides the micro-rotor, another notable technical feature is the regulator index that appears to be of Mr Chaykin’s own design. The rest of the calibre is straightforward in both form and finish. The bridges have a simple frosted finish while the rotor is circular-grained tungsten. And specs-wise, the K.33-3 has a 42-hour power reserve and balance running at 3 Hz, or 21,600 beats per hour.

Over on the front, the Zebra is as expected. The dial is relatively complex and comprises 40 parts, including a stamped guilloche disc that mimics a zebra’s stripes. The zebra pattern continues on the case with ten carbon fibre inserts in the bezel and a black-and-white strap.

Hours are shown in the left eye, and minutes in the right. The two letters that indicate the day of the week in Russian are indicated in the  nostrils via two discs. And the tongue visible just under the nostrils functions as a crown-position indicator: when the crown is pulled to set the time, the colour of the tongue changes from white to red.

Key facts and price

Konstantin Chaykin Zebra Piece Unique

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 13.3 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: K.33-3
Functions: Hours, minutes, and day of the week
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Calf-skin leather

Limited edition: Piece Unique
Availability: Not for sale
Price: Not available

For more, visit chaykin.ru.


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Zenith Introduces the Chronomaster Sport Titanium

A lightweight, high-frequency chronograph.

Zenith has just taken the covers off the Chronomaster Sport Titanium, essentially a lightweight variant of the bestselling sports chronograph. Entirely in brushed and polished titanium, the new Chronometer is powered by the El Primero 3600 and like most sports chronographs today, available with either a matching titanium bracelet or an integrated rubber strap.

Initial thoughts

The Chronomaster Sport Titanium doesn’t do anything new in terms of styling – the design still remains derivative of the Rolex Daytona – but it feels good in the lightweight alloy. The watch has the large size required of a sport chronograph, but is easily wearable thanks to the lightness.

As an accessible alternative to the Daytona, the Chronomaster Sport is not particularly interesting in steel, but more appealing in titanium. Granted, it retains the same design, but the titanium case and bracelet give it a tangibly different feel.

Of all the Chronomaster Sport iterations, this is the most appealing, particularly since it’s the only variant dressed in low-key, monochromatic colours. The grey hue of titanium complements the palette, with the tri-colour sub-dials in shades of grey being a clever touch.

The Chronomaster Sport Titanium is priced at US$11,800 on a bracelet and a bit less on a strap. It’s priced comparable to other Zenith models with the same movement, and broadly speaking a good value proposition as far as sports chronographs go, with the Daytona being about 40% more expensive and the equivalent Grand Seiko being about 30% pricier. That said, Zenith has historically found most success with competitive pricing, and this would be significant more attractive with a larger price differential compared to its rivals.

Grey ghost

While nearly all Chronomaster Sport models are in colours, ranging from green to pink, the titanium version is restrained. It has all of the same design elements, but rendered in greys with the only hint of colour coming from red accents for the chronograph.

The dial is radially brushed and galvanically finished in a nickel grey, with hour markers that are faceted, polished, and filled with Super-Luminova to match the hands. The hands are usefully colour-coded to indicate their function: the hands for the central seconds and elapsed time registers are tipped in red to match the “36 000 VpH” under 12 o’clock. Notably, the registers are in Zenith’s trademark tricolour, but in three shades of grey, with the lightest being the constant seconds at nine.

The case is 41 mm in diameter and 13.6 mm high. Majority of the case surfaces are finished with matte brushing, including the crown, bezel and pushers. The chamfers along the edges of lugs and links, as well as the flanks of bezel, however, are mirror-polished for contrast.

Like the rest of the Chronomaster Sport line, the titanium model is equipped with the El Primero 3600, which gives it a “lightning” seconds. The central seconds hand whips around the dial, making one revolution every ten seconds, allowing for time measurements of up to 1/10th-of-a-second accuracy.

Featuring 60 hours of power reserve, the El Primero 3600 calibre is dressed up with blued screws and a blued column wheel, while the bridges are finished with various style of satin brushing. The open-worked rotor is finished in the same spirit and features the Zenith star logo at its centre.

Key facts and price

Zenith Chronomaster Sport Titanium
Ref. 95.3100.3600/39.M3100

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 13.6 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: El Primero 3600
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date and chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Matching bracelet or rubber strap

Limited edition: No
Availability: At Zenith boutiques and select retailers starting February 2024
Price: US$11,800 on bracelet; US$11,300 on rubber strap

For more, visit Zenith-watches.com.


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Seiko Brings Out Presage Inspired by Studio Ghibli

An elegant watch with subtle anime details.

This year is the 40th anniversary of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, a 1984 Japanese anime film portraying the titular heroine’s valiant adventures in a post-apocalyptic world. To mark the occasion, anime studio Studio Ghibli and Seiko created the Presage Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind SPB437, a limited edition with an unusual combination of finishes, namely a blue enamel dial and a brushed steel case.

Initial thoughts

Seiko has long incorporated Japanese pop culture into its timepieces, drawing inspiration from iconic franchises such as Gundam and the Street Fighter video game. While the new Presage isn’t the first collaboration between the watch brand and Studio Ghibli, the Nausicaä edition is arguably amongst the best due to its classical, almost minimalist design.

Even though it is a cartoon-inspired watch, the Nausicaä edition has a restrained aesthetic with stylish details. Particularly notable is the blue enamel dial featuring the emblem of the Princess Nausicaä and elongated indices. The simplicity of the dial design, combined with a steel case featuring an unusual aged finish completes the aesthetic that sets it apart from the typical Presage model. Its clean styling stands out even compared to the earlier Presage Castle in the Sky from 2021.

The Nausicaä edition is priced at US$1,600, a modest increase over the previous Studio Ghibli model but still affordable. As is often the case with affordable Seiko limited editions, the main drawback is the production run of 1,500 pieces, which is sizeable.

The Presage Studio Ghibli “Castle in the Sky”. Image – Seiko

Subtle anime inspiration

Co-founded by filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli is perhaps the world’s most storied animation studio. Amongst its acclaimed animated films is Spirited Away, an Oscar winner from 2003. Studio Ghibli  has collaborated with Seiko on various timepieces inspired by its films, including Porco Rosso in 2020 and Castle in the Sky in 2021.

Past Studio Ghibli editions have most been based on the Presage Craftsmanship Series, a range of watches that feature artisanal dials in enamel or porcelain. The Nausicaä edition adopts the simple, three-hand layout also found in the Presage Arita Porcelain. But instead of porcelain, it features a fired enamel dial, accompanied by leaf hands and accentuated by elongated indices.

According to Seiko, the 1984 film influenced the design. The blue dial, for instance, mirrors the heroine’s attire and features her emblem at six. A blue crystal glass cabochon is set on the oversized crown, a reference to the eye of the Ohms, the colossal, trilobite-like creature Princess Nausicaä befriends in her quest to resolve the storyline’s primary conflict.

Also interesting is the steel case with an aged finish meant to evoke the primitive tools used by characters in the film. A “super-hard coating” is applied to the case to improve scratch resistance and preserve the aged look. Cosmetics aside, the case is sized similarly to standard Presage Porcelain models, measuring 40.5 mm in diameter and 12.4 mm high.

This is equipped with the cal. 6R51, the  time-only variant of the cal. 6R55 widely used in the Presage range. It has a useful power reserve of three days, now the norm for modern calibres.

The presentation box for the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Edition

Key facts and price

Seiko Presage Craftsmanship Series Studio Ghibli Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Ref. SPB437

Diameter: 40.5 mm
Height: 12.4 mm
Material: Stainless steel with superhard coating
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 6R51
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Leather strap with folding clasp

Limited edition: 1,500 pieces
Availability: At Seiko boutiques and select retailers starting March 2024
Price: US$1,600

For more information, visit Seikowatches.com.


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