There is a reason why The Night Watch, which Ravensburger produced in 1977, still appears quite often (usually in used condition), despite the fact that it is more than 40 years old. Other large puzzles of the late 70’s and 80’s are very rare, like Country Fair, for example, which Ravensburger published just two years later.
Now that I have completed it, I know the reason. It is one of the most difficult jigsaw puzzles out there. I remember when I completed years ago the 6000 pieces Schmidt version of The Allegory of Spring. Back then, I felt it was a real challenge to complete those last thousand pieces, which were mostly dark.
In this case, it was the other way around. After placing one thousand pieces, I had around four thousand pieces left that were mostly dark. This puzzle doesn’t compare to any puzzle that I have assembled before. In fact, I have now the feeling that I got my Master’s Degree in puzzles. Before The Night Watch, I was just an undergraduate student. Now I truly feel that I can put together ANY jigsaw puzzle.
The Night Watch becomes the “Nightmare”.
Soon after you place all the pieces that have distinct fields of color, you hit a wall. In the photograph of the puzzle assembled, it is possible to distinguish the different tones. However, when the pieces are separate on the working table, they all look the same: dark.
I had never hit such wall before, with any puzzle. For the first time, I was able to put myself in the shoes of the people that have ever quit working on a puzzle. I couldn’t understand before, but now I did. I guessed The Night Watch is probably the puzzle that most people have abandoned. And that is probably the reason why it appears often in used condition. Since the assembly process is also longer, I have the feeling that the odds of used versions of this puzzle being incomplete are high.
The middle stages of the assembly process are very hard. There were days when I could only place eight or ten pieces, so I had to intersect smaller puzzles just to take a break; just to have the feeling that I was making some progress and keep my motivation alive. Even at the end, when I was making progress consistently, placing single pieces required looking closely to the image. It was not uncommon that four pieces could fit almost perfectly in the same place, so it was difficult to decide which one was the right one.
For all these reasons, the people that have completed this puzzle have my deep and sincere respect.
My motivation to complete The Night Watch.
Fortunately for me, I had a strong motivation to complete this puzzle, which was in fact the first reason to start it in the first place. Otherwise, who knows? Perhaps I would not have quit, but it would have surely taken me much, much longer.
I had sold a used and complete version of this puzzle. However, my customer discovered that one piece was slightly damaged. One of the knobs of a piece was missing, and I didn’t detect it during the verification process because with the missing knob it looked like a border piece. Bummer!
So, I decided to find a replacement or send a full refund. First I bought a used copy that was not compatible, but luckily the second copy that I bought was compatible. When I verified it, it was incomplete, but it didn’t make much difference anyway, since I bought it in order to find a replacement piece for my customer and later leave it for replacements. It was actually better if it was incomplete. As you can see in the photograph of the puzzle assembled, there are some missing pieces, but I knew it from the very beginning.
In any case, after verifying with photographs that the replacement piece would match, I sent it to my customer and the replacement was perfect. That defective piece had been bothering me for a whole year, but I was finally able to solve the problem. That was my way of making myself accountable.
The Night Watch will now be added to the Missing Pieces section.
5000, Ravensburger, The Night Watch, Rembrandt, 152.9 x 101.4 cm, Reference number 625 5 902 0.