Voutilainen - The Watchmaker and The Manufacture
Throughout his life, Kari Voutilainen has followed the path which we’ve come to expect from noteworthy independent watchmakers - restoring antique pieces, learning by experimentation, and creating commissions for established brands, before setting out on his own. He attended Kelloseppäkoulu, the Finnish watchmaking school located in Espoo, before attending WOSTEP, in Switzerland, in 1988.
Following graduation, he joined Parmigiani, one of the foremost restoration workshops in Switzerland, with a vast array of delicate and historic timepieces passing over its benches. He spent nine years there, where he learnt “everything they don’t teach you at watchmaking school,” Voutilainen recalls. While absorbing the long-lost techniques that were used to first assemble the vintage chronometers he was restoring, he also began working on his first watch, a one-minute tourbillon with twin barrels and a power reserve.
In 2002, following some time teaching at WOSTEP and creating commissions for larger brands, he established himself as an independent watchmaker, working under his own name. Since then, his work has been welcomed with great acclaim, on account of its unique aesthetic and quality. Every component in his watches, from the bridges to the smallest of screws, involves manual labour, from adjusting tolerances to polishing and angling. His efforts have been recognised with more than a half dozen awards the GPHG - the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève - the most prestigious award ceremony in the watch industry.
The Vingt-8 has arguably become the backbone of Voutilainen’s offering. With the first models leaving the workshop in 2011, the Calibre 28 was developed entirely in-house and is regulated by the double wheel escapement that has become a trademark of the Finnish watchmaker. As Kari has stated publicly, “the design and philosophy of the movement combines respect for longevity and precision with classical watchmaking tradition.”
This Vingt-8 is encased in white gold, and has a particularly striking dial, with a combination of dark-grey and cobalt blue and three different styles of engine-turned patterns. The outermost chapter ring features a Clous de Paris hobnail pattern, while the centre portion of the dial has a slightly asymmetric checkboard pattern in varying tones of blue, and the sub-dial has a mesmerising sunburst pattern. Each pattern reflects the light differently, giving the dial a mixture of tones and fantastic depth alongside the various brushed and polished surfaces.
The dial is comprised of a mixture of applied Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 12 o’clock and index numerals. Applied index markers and matching Breguet hands, with blued steel, add further classicism to this piece, while Kari Voutilainen's signature tear-shaped lugs finish off this elegant Vingt-8, showing the watchmaker's uncompromising attention to detail and craftsmanship. Rather remarkably, the watchmaker’s name is entirely omitted from the dial, though his signature design traits remain unmistakable.
This Vingt-8 is just as impressive inside the case. The sapphire crystal on the reverse allows one to see inside the movement, revealing the rich palette of hues and forms. The in-house Calibre 28 is made from German silver and titanium, with the additional ruthenium-coating enhancing the visual impact of the movement.
Through the combination of a free-sprung balance with Breguet overcoil and a Grossmann interior curve, and the signature direct impulse escapement with two large (13.6mm) escapement wheels, a high degree of engineering ingenuity is accomplished. One of the hallmarks of Voutilainen as a manufacture is their superlative hand-finishing; with expert anglage and a mixture of complimentary surfaces. The watch has a 50-hour power reserve.
This Voutilainen Vingt-8 is accompanied by its outer box, inner wooden box, polishing cloth, manuals, and Certificate of Origin. It also comes with a black alligator Voutilainen strap and a white gold buckle.