Hands-On With The Behrens × Konstantin Chaykin — A Mind-Twistingly Cool Watch With A Serious Fun Factor
Behrens is a brand that my colleague Dave made me aware of a while back, and I was skeptical. My love for small, dressy watches runs deep, but I’ll be honest and admit my mistake. That might sound like a pretty strong statement, something I’m not averse to, but I mean it. Except for a Marinemaster 300, I’m into 38mm elegance, but mad, grinning-joker-faced high horology? I have a secret crush on the watches of Konstantin Chaykin but have always thought that with a big budget, I’d stick to traditional, formal, and polished craftsmanship. I’m now a changed man, and the Behrens × Konstantin Chaykin should take the blame.
For me, a cheer-up factor is equally as essential as intricate handcrafted details, don’t get me wrong. But in my collection, that has also resulted in two separate price groups, and cheap equals fun. This too-big-for-me Behrens × Konstantin Chaykin intriguingly embodies everything in one amazing US$9,200 watch, and I have been enamored with it from day one of our affair, living together on borrowed time. It’s a short-lugged, slim-wrist-hugging 42mm case that makes me throw my diameter rules out the window. It also embodies the mad genius of Konstantin Chaykin in a not-quite-so-loud language while still being seriously fun. Where’s the catch?
About Behrens and Chaykin
I haven’t got a $10K budget, but that isn’t a catch per se. For its mechanical intricacy and cutting-edge design, this watch is well worth it. Behrens is a hot brand from China that has made futurist wristwatches for 11 years, mostly within the same exceedingly good case design. Konstantin Chaykin is the poster boy for fun Haute Horlogerie with his Wristmons series, where the Joker is, well, the joker in the pack (pun absolutely intended). With everything from vampires’ faces to the charm of the Minions, his big, grinning watches belie a deep passion for handcrafted wristwear. Chaykin is a member of the independent watchmakers association AHCI, just like Japanese sensei Hajime Asaoka but with a difference. He has a wild imagination, and with Behrens, the temporary marriage is a passionate one.
Behrens, on the other hand, has most of its watches in the $2K–3K bracket, with our editor Dave’s NaviGraph coming in at US$2,680. That is serious value for its multi-leveled complexity. I actually expect the brand’s prices to rise with its popularity, and to be honest, the watches deserve it. With base calibers from Sellita and Miyota, I consider the Behrens watchmakers mechanical alchemists since you’d never guess the origin. Had the movements been entirely bespoke, we’d easily be looking at €15K–20K wristwatches, and the Behrens craftsmanship would absolutely be worth it.
The Behrens × Konstantin Chaykin limited edition
This is mechanical passion without borders and, along with the waitlisted Louis Erard collab, one of the only ways to acquire a Chaykin creation for less than €10K. His Wristmons currently start at around €27,000 and go up to €50,000 on Chrono24. This was Chaykin’s first cross-border collab with a Chinese brand, and besides its unexpected comfort, it rocks. It does take more than a second to tell the time, but that’s part of the massive fun factor. The case is made from crystallized titanium, which is a big part of its charm. Unlike more polished offerings from Chaykin and Behrens, it sets an industrial, sparkly scene. The stars are the marvels within the multi-level open dial. This is a fun feast of micro-tech with sharp finishing. The joker’s face is alluring with its mischievous grin, mouth agape, and a black bridge for a nose.
A Sellita-based futuristic regulator
What strikes me is what Behrens has achieved with a base/mid-level caliber, the time-only SW200. The hours and minutes are shown on googly-eyed discs at 2 and 10 o’clock. Black surrounds frame the rotating convex “eyeballs” with the pupils indicating the time régulateur style. Small details surprise and delight, such as the Behrens and Chaykin logos appearing like Easter eggs style in the Joker’s eyes. The industrial anglage on the black PVD parts speaks of taut quality control. But the pièce de résistance is the seconds indicator. Inspired by a Chinese stone mill, the snailed steel shape of the mouth makes for a toothy grin. Above this, an acrylic disc carries the markings while the pointer hovers between the two. Behrens has devised a cam mechanism that, fascinatingly, makes the Chaykin spade-tipped pointer follow the contours of the mouth, indicating the seconds.
A quite personal conclusion
This level of design and craftsmanship alone deserves the almost $10K price. What about the Sellita SW200? It has simply been a solid Swiss starting point for a blend of fun and exquisite engineering. What about legibility? It takes time to catch the hours, minutes, and seconds, but who cares? At night, the white eyeballs glow with lume, offering a scary stare as it pops out from your cuff. It’s about a vibe and a wild approach to dial design. But this watch is also driven by a serious focus on design and ergonomics that shine through even in Behrens’s soft fluoroelastomer strap and its superb titanium buckle. I’d love one of these cheeky-dialed watches, but unfortunately, I ain’t got a $10K budget. However, within the same 42mm case sits other Behrens creations, and one of these has my name on it. Yes, I’m sold on my own prose, so sue me, but watch this space. Of the 200 pieces for $9,696, there are a couple left directly from Behrens Watches, along with their other portfolio including the Perigee that Jorg had a look at. You can follow Behrens on Instagram too
Fratelli, oh Fratelli, have I gone mad? Should we all stick to small 36–38mm divers resuscitated from the previous century? Or do we actually deserve some future-proof fun in our lives? Drop your answer in the comments below, please.
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