Arguably, we live in a world where luxury is less and less exclusive. Suppliers mass-market their products and become victims of their own success, falling short of the expectations of their most discerning clients. In parallel, true originality, alongside individualism and independence gain even higher value and represent true achievement. Such paragons of horology have been created for some time now by Kari Voutilainen at his workshop in Môtiers, near Geneva, Switzerland.
We visited Kari to get to know the man behind the brand and gain a glimpse of his tradecraft. He opened his own, independent workshop in 2002 where he has been creating extraordinary pieces for over a decade.
Mr Voutilainen is both tremendously humble and skilled, and for us, nothing symbolises his mastery of the horological arts better than his wide array of antique and modern tools. As happy engine-turning dials by hand, as designing his concept watches in 3-D, this deep understanding of watchmaking, its history and its innovations, allow his workshop to produce, fantastic hand-made watches.
Much like the equipment in his workshop, he uses some old – almost forgotten – techniques in his watches. His first in-house movement, the Calibre 28 for example re-instated the use of the Grossmann curve:
This blend of diversity, tradition and innovation is anything but upsetting. The way he incorporates the ancient technique of lacquer decoration for dials, brings an age-old art, to a very modern piece.
The watches thus created are truly individual and with their exquisitely finished dials, extravagant Breguet hands and large numerals, are meant to be seen.
And rightfully so; they represent a mixture of engineering, physics, chemistry, artisanship and art. It takes a polymath to bring them all together in a harmonious and aesthetic way, without compromising the quality of the movement or the look of the watch itself. That alone is an extraordinary achievement.
However it is his independence, his democratic and approachable manner, that make Kari Voutilainen a true Libertarian of Watchmaking. As such, one cannot help but have the upmost respect for him.
Our glimpse into the Voutilainen workshop left us with even more questions than we arrived with. If you, like us, would like to learn more about the man, we wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Alternatively, hear him speak at Salon QP 2013.