One of the most recognisable and best loved wristwatches to emerge out of the independent watchmaking sector in recent years has been the wonderful Joker watch by Russian Master Konstantin Chaykin. A complete departure from the usual gravitas which envelops the watchmaking industry, with its lolling wandering eyes depicting the hours and minutes, and the moon phase in its crazed broad grinning mouth this extraordinary watch stirred an entirely different emotion among aficionados and it has become nothing short of a phenomenon and a must-own addition for watch collectors.
Since making its debut in 2017, Chaykin’s Joker has been reimagined in a number of different limited edition variations, but none so remarkable and complex as the product of his collaboration with one of independent watchmaking’s true grand masters, and co-founder and fellow member of the AHCI, Svend Andersen.
A pioneering figure and a vanguard for the independent sector, Danish-born Svend Andersen has been creating his mechanical masterpieces by hand, in the time honoured tradition of artisanal watchmaking since the early 1980s, and as well as record-setting horologic achievements, has also gained a reputation for his beautiful animated automata.
Combining the profound talents of these two great masters in playful form in one watch, the Joker Automaton is an horologic amuse-bouche and a quite exceptional rarity. This special twenty piece edition is encased in 18kt white gold (a previous version in 2018 red gold selling out almost immediately) and features a single crown for setting the time and winding the movement, as well as a pusher near the 8 which activates the moving characters in the scene on the underside.
On the top, the white dial has a wavy guilloché decoration which radiates out from the centre, and Joker’s familiar face features a pair of eye-like discs which rotate to display the hour and minutes in an abstract regulateur-style, with the dots of their pupils indicating the time, and apart from one minute each hour when both are ‘looking’ in the same direction, wandering off and staring off away from each other for the rest of the time, giving it that funny, zany appearance.
Between the eyes, a brushed steel plate bears the names and logo of both men, and forms a nose and brow. The bottom half of the dial is dominated by the wide-mouthed grin with bright red lips, and a tongue depicts the moon against the blue background of the moon phase disc, as it passes through its cycle.
Underneath, Andersen’s automaton is a scene of a poker school, with four players, including the Joker, Poison Ivy and The Penguin, as well as Andersen’s own favourite card playing dog all sat around the green table. When the pusher is pressed, each character begins to move, with hands dealing and eyes shifting while Ivy secrets away some of the chips. The irresistible charm of the mechanical animation is a classical novelty, but rarely seen today, and it is one which only a few can execute in such detail and complexity, yet the Danish master has made it one of his trademark signatures and it appears on many of his hand crafted masterpieces.
Behind the two displays a manual winding movement is an old one which has been upgraded and modified in-house by Svend Andersen, and it has been further adapted to accommodate Chaykin’s Joker module. A supreme technical challenge, it was not made any easier with the distance between both men’s ateliers in Geneva and Moscow, but the independent master watchmaker is accustomed to challenges, and this successful collaboration is surely a modern day classic and a likely future piece of historic importance.
A strictly limited production of only twenty pieces, the Andersen/Chaykin Joker Automaton will not be available for long, as seen with the red gold predecessor. A magnificent and charming novelty from two of the greatest horologic innovators of our time, it is a special and highly exclusive piece.