Wednesday, July 31, 2019
The truth is we don’t really know much about Russian watches with oil-painted dials, but we do know that most of them feature typical navy scenes: battle ships and flags. Without any doubt, they were painted by Russian sailors who, like all other sailors, traditionally kept themselves busy on long voyages with either painting or carving. In some cases, those miniature paintings featured scenery of far-away countries; their ports, exotic flora and fauna. And, in some rare cases, they depict local beauties. This is what we know.
But if we allow our imagination to retrace their voyages, then a dial like the one above, on a 1954 watch, can tell us even more, and even answer this seemingly impossible mystery: who is the dark haired beauty?
Clearly, she is beautiful and exotic, and an artist took his time to depict her in detail. Spanish or Caribbean? I propose the latter. Precisely: Cuban. Indeed, Cuba was one of the most exotic destinations for a Russian sailor. We can only imagine how excited a blonde Slavic sailor felt being confronted with a culture so vastly different and completely overwhelming to his own. Language, weather, food, rhythm, stars, not to mention Cuban beauties. An experience he yearned to remember forever, if in no other way but as a miniature piece of art on his watch dial. A souvenir, a story-telling point, an everlasting memory.
Do we know her name? Not with any certainty, but if I were to guess, I think she is Esther, a famous Cuban singer from the 1950’s. The resemblance to Esther in her red dress is simply too obvious to ignore.