Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon Minotaur: Ingenuity At The Center Of The Labyrinth
As someone who enjoys puzzles, I am well aware of the mythical Greek story of the labyrinth. A structure built by Daedalus for King Minos of Crete, it was designed as a punishment for Athenians in which seven young men and seven young maidens would be sacrificed to a Minotaur at its center.
Of course the story of the labyrinth is not a happy one (the whole sacrifice thing should have given that away already) as it is the setting for death, enslavement, and sorrow, not to mention unrequited love and loss. The Minotaur, a beast with the head and tail of a bull but the body of a man, was trapped in the incredibly tricky labyrinth, unable to escape and forced to wait for unwitting victims to wander into his prison.
Watching over the labyrinth was King Minos’ daughter Ariadne, who had to make sure the sacrifices took place. When Theseus, the son of Athenian king Aegeus, was brought to the labyrinth she instantly fell in love, helping him navigate the twists of the maze with a glittering thread and a sword to slay the Minotaur at its center. Ariadne ran away with Theseus but later was abandoned and, depending on the version of the myth you read, was wed to Dionysus before being killed (or turned to stone, committing suicide, or dying in childbirth).
While Ariadne ends tragically in every version of the myth, the Minotaur both ended and began tragically in a tale that is a bit too much for these pages, leaving the story of the labyrinth with an incredibly dark shadow hanging over it.
Today we look to mythology for entertainment and play with mazes for fun; the Minotaur is a vastly oversimplified character and could use some refreshing, perhaps even with a fun new twist.
Enter Russian independent watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin.
Chaykin is widely known for incredibly complicated horology and the amusing Joker collection, and he decided to honor the myth of the Minotaur with a variation on the Joker line, which instantly became my favorite iteration to date: the Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon Minotaur is an awesome update and both a mechanical and aesthetic shift that reignites my desire for one of his creations.
Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon Minotaur
The Joker collection is anything but tragic, focusing on fun complications and aesthetics that in no way take themselves seriously. Over the years since the first Joker release, the collection has seen clowns, Dracula, Santa Claus, Jack-o’-lanterns, the Mouse King (a take on the “Nutcracker” character), and varieties of the Joker, always having fun with the theme. The Minotaur is no different, but at the same time is the most different of the bunch.
The Minotaur still features the hour and minute disks to represent the eyes but departs a bit more dramatically from there. Each of the previous Joker models featured a moon phase at 6 o’clock that acted as a mouth, with the moon representing a silly tongue swirling around in it. The Minotaur drops the moon phase altogether in place of a day-of-the-week indication. Normally I would miss the moon phase (one of my favorite complications,) but this is the cleverest and simplest change for such a distinct look.
The Minotaur, with the head of a bull, obviously does not have a regular man’s face but instead a snout, and that is exactly what is depicted here. The two round windows for the two-Greek-style-letter day-of-the-week display act as the nostrils of the bull head, surrounded by simple shapes that invoke the end of a bull’s snout.
A simple guilloche pattern between the eyes stands in as the bridge of the nose, but to the sides of this is engraved a delicate labyrinth pattern, tiny grooves that you could get lost in.
The maze pattern is also repeated in the “whites of the eyes,” which makes it look like the Minotaur has angry, bloodshot eyes. This is a very creative way to repeat the theme of the labyrinth as well as convey the emotion of the Minotaur. Around the edge of the bezel we find the name of the watch in an ancient Greek-style typeface, but more distinctive is the case.
Instead of the standard case shape of the previous models, the upper lugs have been shaped specifically to resemble bull horns, curved to a point that they retain the strap but clearly complete the ensemble. Like much of what makes up the whole, this is relatively minor but it shows a great attention to detail that could easily be overlooked or simply forgotten about by less creative people.
Aesthetic and mythology: the Konstantin Chaykin Minotaur’s looks
The case is made of iron bronze, the third Joker model to depart from steel, titanium, or black PVD. And this version makes the most thematic sense. Not only is bronze an appropriate material given the mythology and its historical timeframe (most of ancient and mythological Greece took place during the bronze age), the color of the dark bronze (that will patina with time) fits well with the idea of the head of a bull.
When combined with the various textures and the dark brown rings around the hour and minute disks, the effect is that of an angry (yet goofy) bull. The details coalesce for a visual treat, very intentionally and with purpose – even the tragic dial background by recalling the story of the Minotaur and the labyrinth.
As previously mentioned, the myth centers around seven young men and seven young maidens being sacrificed to the Minotaur, a number that has found a symbolic place in the day-of-the-week display. Seven days of the week correspond nicely to a day display, but since there were both young men and young maidens, there needed to be two sets of seven to remain thematically consistent. This led to Chaykin develop a dual-disk day-of-the-week display residing within the nostrils of the Minotaur.
The left nostril displays the first letter of the day, the right nostril the second, making a two-letter abbreviation for the day of the week. The serendipitous solution once again showcases Chaykin’s attention to detail and how things work together, a highlight for every watch he creates.
A detail that will go unseen is that the two disks differ in material, one bronze and the other silver. According to Chaykin, the bronze symbolizes the Bronze Age, masculinity, and belligerence, while silver symbolizes the moon, femininity, and poetry.
Konstantin Chaykin Minotaur: mechanical details
These details were there from the beginning of the development on the new K.08-1 caliber based on a Vaucher movement. But what is even more interesting is that the idea to make a watch with a bull on it began with a thought toward the Chinese Year of the Ox, which is taking place from February 2021 through January 2022.
Instead of doing an art piece with an engraving of an ox on its dial, Chaykin did what he does best: find a more meaningful reason to undertake the process of creation. Each of Chaykin’s projects is based on more than surface-level consideration, and the Minotaur is no different; it makes sense within the collection and for himself. Chaykin also constantly works to improve as may be noticed by the movement inside this piece.
The Joker watches began life powered by the ETA 2824, a solid and reliable movement that some might argue lacks a bit of gravitas. Chaykin decided to use the Vaucher VMF 3002 for this piece instead as he previously had for the Mouse King edition, which brings the level of the watch higher than it has been for most of the collection’s life. With a free-sprung balance and longer power reserve, not to mention an overall thinness as compared to the ETA movement, the Vaucher caliber gets closer to matching the level of the in-house components Chaykin creates for these models.
The day-of-the-week display and time display are part of the module Chaykin developed and makes in his workshop, which also modifies and refinishes the Vaucher VMF 3002 caliber components. This simply results in a better watch with a better movement and presents a decent value for someone looking for this style of limited edition timepiece.
The case sports two crowns: one for setting and winding on the right, and a fixed crown on the left that incorporates a corrector pusher in its center to adjust the day display.
Like every Joker model before it, the Minotaur is a fun watch. But it also represents the thought and complexity indicative of every Konstantin Chaykin creation. The man just keeps cranking out ideas, each one unique and demonstrating another facet of his skillset.
The Wristmon Minotaur is definitely my favorite Joker model thus far, but I won’t be surprised if he releases something in the future to best himself once again.
Even though I don’t have a sword and glittering thread from Ariadne, let me try to break this Minotaur down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.0 The Joker models always wowed and one shaped like a Minotaur with a cool new day-of-the-week complication definitely wows me all over again!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 90» 882.599m/s2 It may be the half-man, half-bull creature keeping me awake with dread or it may be the awesome display and sweet bronze case!
- M.G.R. * 61.4 Konstantin Chaykin is no slouch when it comes to horological prowess and a brand-new complication that plays perfectly with the aesthetic direction is very geektastic!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild A day-of-the-week indication is usually included with a full calendar, but in this case it is the star of the show. Still, you’ll only need some children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the mythically inspired swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 9.1 Strained feet from walking over 20 miles! When you set out for a day hike, you plan a lot of what you are going to bring. But you may make assumptions about your footwear that turn out false. When I recently did a very long hike over a couple small mountains I discovered that my shoes were not up to the task, but only after about 15 miles in! Still I would gladly do it again for a chance to get this watch on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Is that a day-of-the-week display?! Being taken by surprise with a new complication that is simple yet perfectly executed is more than enough to inspire a devotion that requires booking a DJ and a florist!
- Awesome Total * 833 Start with the number of dial components (18) and multiply by the number of hours in the power reserve (50), then subtract the number of components in the module (67) for a mythically awesome total!
For more information, please visit chaykin.ru/en/collection/joker.
Quick Facts Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon Minotaur
Case: 42 x 13 mm, iron bronze
Movement: automatic Caliber K.08-1 (based on Vaucher Caliber VMF 3002), 50-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, dual-disk weekday
Limitation: 8 pieces (sold out)