Born in Leningrad (today Saint Petersburg, Russia) watchmaker, Konstantin Chaykin, has been a member of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) since 2010.
1 Describe briefly your childhood
2 As a child did you have any driving ambition?
1 & 2 Since I was born in the Soviet Union in 1975, my childhood was like that of most Soviet boys — I studied at school, was an Octobrist, a Pioneer, wore a red tie. From the age of 6, I went to pioneer camps for all 3 shifts and sometimes to my grandparents in the countryside, where I helped to plant potatoes on May holidays, and to dig it out at the end of summer. I did nothing special that would set me apart from other teenagers. My childhood hobbies were as follows: for 4 years I have studied at the music school in the accordion class, while I had also solfeggio and piano. After grade 3, I stayed for the second year, and then completely left the music, and only at an older age I returned to it, then I was carried away by drums. I never returned to the accordion. I can’t recall that I had any specific desires and wanted to become someone. But at the age of 10, I became acquainted with radio engineering, radio communications, and this topic fascinated me. Since in my father’s house in the attic of my grandparents I found various radio components and literature on the topic of radio engineering - I was carried away by so much that I went around garbage dumps and collected all kinds of details, put them in matchboxes and then assembled something from them, in particular radios. In the pioneer camp I got into the radio club, and this was a great discovery for me. In addition to studying Morse code there, an amateur radio station worked in that club. For a Soviet boy in the mid-80s it was an incredible experience, because I saw how adults could communicate with the whole world through radio waves - with USA and with some islands, and with Antarctica. Having returned from the camp, I began to go to the radio club after school and study radio engineering, and as an option we additionally engaged in orienteering, hunting for foxes.
3 What is your first significant memory as a child?
Many bright emotions are associated not with the school, but with the pioneer camps, many impressions are associated with traveling with parents to Ukraine. Many good and kind memories are connected with the fact that even when I was 7 years old we went hiking with them.
4 Have you ever had another profession?
5 What made you decide to go in the direction you are currently in?
4 & 5 After school I went to a technical school (now called a college) of telecommunications, where I began to seriously study radio communications, and from 1994 I went to the army for 2 years, where for 7 months I was the only signalman at the unit, and then of my own free will I went to serve in the infantry in the peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia and then served near St. Petersburg. After the army I didn’t want to return to radio communications and radio engineering. Then I worked as a mechanic, was engaged in the manufacture of iron doors at one enterprise, received locksmith skills - was able to weld and install iron doors. Then I worked as a sales agent for a long time. After that I became the deputy director of the company that was engaged in woodworking. When I left it in 2000, I started my own watch business. In 2003 I made two attempts to create my own watches. In 2002 I had 2 small shops, for which I made a small batch of watches, and then in 2003, I created a golden watch as a present for my father's 50th birthday. After that I wanted to make a tourbillon watch.
6 What’s the worst job you’ve had to do?
The worst job for me was working as a sales agent for 3 years. The work was hellish when I had to come to work at 7 o’clock in the morning, left at 10 in the evening. As well as the army, that was a great school of communication for me.
7 What’s been the hardest moment in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?
I had a difficult period in my life when I divorced my first wife.
8. Who has had the strongest influence on you?
As a man of art I need a constant source of inspiration, some examples. I very often visit various museums and exhibitions. In 2004 an exhibition of Breguet was held in St. Petersburg in the Hermitage, and his work had a great influence on me. Since I was just starting my way, and I realized that if Breguet could create such amazing and wonderful things 200 years ago, then I can probably continue to do what I do. This was a big push and incentive for me.
9 What are you most proud of?
What I am most proud of is that I almost always find a way out of difficult technical situations (namely technical) and can quickly make unusual decisions. This is an indicator for me that I don’t stop on the spot, and try, overcoming myself, to set myself difficult tasks.
10 What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?
If you want to earn a lot quickly, then forget about the path of an independent watchmaker, because this is far from the most profitable business, for which on the contrary you need to devote an incredible amount of energy, time and yourself. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult ways that you can choose. And not at all as simple as it may seem from the outside. If nevertheless you embark on this path, you will face a huge number of different failures. Therefore, my advice is: don’t be afraid and always find strength to rise and move on to your goal. Be courageous, don’t look back at the opinions of others and do what comes from your heart. What I am most proud of is that I almost always find a way out of difficult technical situations (namely technical) and can quickly make unusual decisions. This is an indicator for me that I don’t stop on the spot, and try, overcoming myself, to set myself difficult tasks.
11 Name three things on your bucket list.
Since I have been engaged in climbing various peaks for a long time, the idea of climbing Mount Everest does not let me go yet.
From the point of view of the challenge in watchmaking, this is to make the Easter watch in a wrist variant. I hope I can do it. This idea turns me on and does not stop me.
I wish I could find more opportunities and time for my family and some of my hobbies, for example, drawing. I really like to draw, but unfortunately have no time for this. I work 12-14 hours per day.
12 Where do you think the industry is going to be in 10 years’ time?
Everything is developing very quickly, and I have no doubt that in 10 years there will be enormous changes not only in watchmaking, the whole world will change. Watches are atavism, there are many other ways to determine time. Most likely, there will be new options for integration with digital. Marketing will change and even more opportunities will open than now for independent watchmakers. At least I see the future behind them. I myself am at the forefront of watchmaking, creating things outside of the standard watch complications, then more professionals will be pulled there.
To learn more about Konstantin Chaykin