Watch Life - An Interview with Kari Voutilainen

By Silas Walton

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.

 

Watch the interview with Kari Voutilainen, in which he talks about his career and his views on independent watchmaking today.

 

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.

Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art watchmaking workshop, creating hand-made luxury timepieces  Voutilainen hand-made luxury timepiece with guilloché dial in the watchmaking workshop

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.    Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art watchmaking workshop, creating hand-made luxury timepieces with hand operated rose engine machine


Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art watchmaking workshop, creating hand-made luxury timepieces with 3D design

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.

Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art hand-made luxury timepiece with black lacquer and red numerals

The watches thus created are truly individual and with their exquisitely finished dials, extravagant Breguet hands and large numerals, are meant to be seen.

Voutilainen Vingt-8 hand-made luxury timepiece in platinum with two types of guilloché in the watchmaking workshop

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.
 Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art watchmaking workshop, creating hand-made luxury timepieces

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.

Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art awards for achievement in creating hand-made luxury timepieces

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.

Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art watchmaking workshop, creating hand-made luxury timepieces

Alternatively, hear him speak at Salon QP 2013.

Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art watchmaking workshop, creating hand-made luxury timepieces

We would like to take this opportunity, to thank Mr Voutilainen for his time and his warm welcome to his wonderful home and workshop.


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