Unveiled at the ongoing Geneva Watch Days 2023, the latest novelty from Russian watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin skillfully resurrects a cherished fairy tale persona. Titled ‘Kolobok’, this limited-edition watch captures the essence of the jovial fairy tale protagonist through its anthropomorphic dial design.
In 2013, Konstantin Chaykin, a multifaceted horologist and member of the Academy of Independent Watchmakers, unveiled his Cinema watch — a timepiece with an integrated mechanical film projector — at BaselWorld. This innovative creation stirred deep emotions. In 2017, Chaykin wowed again at BaselWorld with his inaugural anthropomorphic dial watch, the Wristmons, playfully nicknamed the "wrist monster". The first model, Joker, paved the way for a lineup of unique characters, inspired by fairy tales (like the Mouse King watch) and holiday wonders (take Santa).
Soon after, Chaykin felt the urge to incorporate a Russian folklore hero into his Wristmons collection. He said, "You can find a variety of figures in my records over these past six years, including warriors, mermaids, and nesting dolls. That's how we came up with the One-eyed Likho image that later turned into the Time-Eater collaboration with Louis Erard." He added, "But there came a moment when I figured out that Kolobok (name of fairy tale hero Little Round Bun) was the ideal starting point for a series of Russian Wristmons. I was so inspired by this image that I drew 3-4 versions of sketches in a couple of days. The hero turned out to be so captivating and positive that I could no longer put this idea aside and I returned to it, finalising the design again and again."
Kolobok, the chief protagonist of the Russian fairy tale, is a lively bun baked by his grandparents. He embarks on a daring journey, encountering a tricky rabbit, a cunning wolf, and a menacing bear, all aiming to devour him. Yet, Kolobok's cleverness prevails each time. The heart of the well-known Russian narrative lies in Kolobok's recurring song about eluding those who pursued him. However, the tale has a twist; a sly fox appears — a common archetype of craftiness in Russian folklore — ultimately deceiving and consuming the brave bun.
From Kolobok to Smiley
In the world of fairy tales, simple stories have an everlasting appeal. These stories, whether about a hen, a turnip or the mischievous Kolobok, are relatable to people of all ages. Chaykin, captivated by Kolobok's charm, saw the hero as a playful "trickster for children". This character, full of cheer, managed to escape its grandparents, endearing itself to all. Despite its simplicity, this narrative holds deep historical value, much like the other famous tales from around the world. Chaykin's inspiration for Kolobok came from the ubiquitous smiley face of the 1990s, a simple yet powerful symbol. He envisioned Kolobok as a potential ancestor of the smiley face. Interestingly, the smiley face, with its dot eyes and curved mouth, can be traced back to the 1953 film, Lili. The culmination of these influences led Chaykin to turn Kolobok into a tangible timepiece.
Expressive Features of the Kolobok Watch
Inspired by cartoon characters, Chaykin accentuates its expressive ‘eyes’. The watch's pupils, acting as hour and minute indicators in the Joker-indication module, have been enlarged and set in vivid blue against a glossy white background. The character's nose resembles a dough ball and the curved dial echoes the plumpness of dough, just like the ruddy crust of warm, freshly baked bread. To achieve this effect, Chaykin has carefully crafted a gradient, with the dial turning lighter towards the centre and darker at the edges. Mother-of-pearl dust has infused the dial with a soft radiance.
Kolobok's wide smile brings unmatched cheerfulness to the Wristmons collection. It serves as the moonphase and the day of the week indicator, depicted by an openworked yellow circle. The 40 mm stainless steel case of the watch holds the K.18-20 caliber, an automatic movement, based on a modified Swiss-made ETA 2892-A2, with a proprietary module. An intricate gilded rotor, composed of 15 parts, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, is a special detail for the watch's owner. This rotor's design tells a story, featuring a glowing sun that is reminiscent of Slavic sun pastries, flanked by a cosy hut and a birch tree that embody the charm of a fairy tale world.
The watch's crown was originally crafted for the intricate Stargazer model. Resembling the sun with unique rays and a central logo, the crown of the Kolobok carries a folkloric touch, elegantly linking itself to the watch's thematic rotor. The timepiece is finished on an alligator leather strap, featuring lively yellow details, secured by a stainless steel buckle from the Konstantin Chaykin workshop. The watch is available in a limited-edition series of 99 pieces.
This creation brings together Russian folklore, Western pop culture, and watchmaking, birthing a timepiece that captures Kolobok's timeless allure in the world of horology.