Berd Vay'e Makes Its Move with Checkmate Collection
The latest collection from New York artisans Berd Vay’e, Checkmate, highlights the complexity of watchmaking using the royal court of the undisputed queen of board games, chess.
Berd Vay’e founders, Eddie Kurayev and Albert Akbashev, became fascinated with chess while growing up in the former Soviet Union. Chess has long been synonymous with Russian culture dating back to as early as the 14th century, originally reserved for the elite. In Russia, chess isn’t just a board game or a sport, it is a way of living, and one of the most predominant activities in Russian households, schools, and playgrounds.
Kurayev and Akbashev’s love for the game grew in unison to their passion for horology, both arts that require incredible focus, strategic thought, and an appreciation for the intricacies of each science.
The art of watchmaking is a balancing act of creative and strategic design choices seen in each dial, movement, mechanism, and overall design complexity. Every detail in the design process is of great importance to a watchmaker, as does every move made on the board for a chess player.
“Chess is a mind game that requires time and strategy. It is very complex, like the foundations of watchmaking. Growing up, it was our favorite sport and pastime, the way baseball and football are in America,” says Kurayev.
Berd Vay’e is renowned for incorporating rare, vintage watches components into one-of-a-kind Lucite sculptures. Its collections cater to watch enthusiasts and art lovers alike, and now chess fans.
Perfecting the physical details of each chess piece pose a unique challenge for Berd Vay’e. The complexity of the royal crowns found on the King and Queen, the groove engraved on the Bishop’s head, the large curves of the Knight’s head and neck, and the pawn’s spherical tip are just some examples of the attention to detail and artistry that can be admired in this collection.
Each sculpture features 1,500-2,000 vintage components meticulously placed by hand, including a .925 silver plaque designed to depict the jewel from a mechanical watch gear.
Each sculpture is up to six times the size of traditional pieces; the King is the largest and most difficult to create at 18 inches tall. Checkmate is a labor of time and love; the shatter-resistant chess pieces are cast in eight to 10 layers of Lucite over a 24-hour period before being baked in an autoclave at 140° F with a force of 120 pounds per square inch to achieve a seamless, crystal-clear artwork.
Each piece is then carefully shaped and polished by hand to highlight every curve, edge, and important detail. Additionally, each one is individually numbered and comes with gloves and a Certificate of Authenticity bearing the sculpture's serial number. Sculptures are individually sold and limited to 999 pieces each.
Berd Vay’e believes that vintage timepieces are an artistic form of storytelling, one that can recount the journey of craft and the painstaking hours of hand work that went into their creation. Setting aside modern components to prioritize antique know-how, Berd Vay’e highlights the importance of preserving and reflecting upon the historical origins of horology and in this new collection, chess.