Good evening gentlemen,
As I've been reading Kari Voutilainen's book cleverly written by Theodore Diehl lately and as I had a wide look at articles on the internet, I also had an overall look at Voutilainen's unique or very limited pieces and how some are called in its collection "Masterpiece" (and I think in this case is legitimate).
I thought, as it is not a brand we don't hear much of and that some don't even know about, that I could post some pictures from his official website or "in the metal" experience some purists could have shared here.
For those who are not familiar with KV's collection, there is only one standard model in a non limited edition which is called "Vingt-8" ("Twenty-8" in English) and which replaced the Observatoire in late 2011. By the way, I won't talk about the Vingt-8 regular line (except the GMT) as it would need another deep intro and description.
Next to this watch, KV manufactures very limited series (around 10 pieces) or unique watches ordered by collectorsor made for a particular event. They are usually a way for Voutilainen to create something new to him and let flow his pleasure in testing new efficient displays.
He is not just duplicating complications from a watch to another, he is more often trying to improve and bring some changes when useful where he can.
Please note that I didn't go too much into the details I found in the book in order not to spoil the pleasure ofreading it but it is worth reading to see how much attention and work is dedicated to make these beauties and being able to measure the difference between an independent watchmaker putting all his know-how and talent into his work and more traditional brands providing a wider market.
I hope this overview will make you want to appreciate the work of indies and discover more of Kari's work.
Hope you'll enjoy it and do not hesitate to share some pictures
PS: I tried to mention the source when I could; sometimes I couldn't find it (or missed it). Sorry for that and thank you to all who shared them with us.
Special thanks for the pictures I could identify to many purists as Stefan, Alex, Don, Fr.-Xavier, Gary, SuitbertW, Oliver and from pictures posted on the net by Sjx, Pete Chong, Eddie Sng... and I guess other people I missed in this list but we thank for sharing on many platforms dealing with watchmaking.
(Feel free of course to PM me if there is a problem you wish I correct about your pictures).
- Minutes Repeaters -
To begin with, Kari Voutilainen is known for his mastery in making minute repeater wristwatches.
At the beginning of the millenary he decided to re think the minute repeater watch by making it "decimal" instead of the usual "quarter" indication (instead of marking each of the 3 intermediate quarters of an hour it plays each of the five 10 minutes periods). It was more logical as an hour is easier to divide by 10minutes parts instead of quarters and with a lower possible number of minutes it is easier to count too (9 instead of 14).
Many of them (all of them?) are made on the basis of a LeCoultre ebauche and when they are not unique, they have only been edited at a very few number of pieces. Some of the movements have been applied some changes, especially concerning the balance wheel and spiral. Each movement is not identical from one another from the pictures and details I could see on the net (bridges shape, spiral and balance wheel material).
What we can notice is that the diameter of all the MR movements is not the same size. Voutilainen is proving the detailed work he performs as he is each time selecting the right dimension. Furthermore, some of the pieces have a special material showing his intention to try something new in a way to improve the result (accuracy, reliability, aesthetics...).
I found 3 videos showing some differences in tone from a material to another. Have a look at them!
1. Masterpiece 6 ( 39.5mm)
This is his first wrist watch decimal repeater and is equipped with a power reserve indicator. I think this version is my favorite among all repeaters and one of my favorite from the whole collection, present and past.
Please have a look at the specific back engraving
which matches very well
with the case and the sapphire of the crown. The blue and the gold fit
well together and the Roman numerals bring a nice touch to the more modern
2. Masterpiece 7 (39.5mm)
It has the particularity of having a Pleiades theme engraving representing the 7 daughters of Atlas (made by Eddy Jaquet).
This one has a GMT function.
3. Masterpiece 8 (unique, 39mm)
Another version of the decimal repeater in a more
4. Minute Repeater GMT "Seven sisters" (42mm)
It is a GMT MR with another engraved back based on the Pleiades theme.
I find it 2 tones Day-night indicator
5. Minute repeater Power reserve Decimal (unique, 40mm)
A more classical look for the front and a bit richer
at the back made by
Eddy Jaquet again. The lion is taken from the Finnish flag and mixes red
work with rose and white gold decoration.
6. Minute repeater 10 (unique, 38mm)
This piece is made of a special hardened steel (Stavax) used for sound propagation purposes and has an open-worked dial which is unique in what Voutilainen's has already done.
7. Decimal Tantalor (45mm)
As the name suggests this one is made with a
8. Minute repeater Turning bezel (unique, 37mm)
On this particular and early version the collector wanted something very discreet for a minute repeater, thus the mechanism is launched via the bezel.
9. Another unidentified I found, MR and GMT.
Some MR videos:
- Tourbillon -
Kari Voutilainen has also been producing very high end tourbillon watches.
1. The Tourbillon Pocketwatch with power reserve indicator (unique, 50mm case, 43.4mm movement)
This is his first major personal creation. It took
more than three years
and 2,000 hours (in the early 90's if I'm not wrong) to elaborate during
free time when he wasn't working yet for his own brand. As always, he
to perform a very precise hand polishing finishing, especially on the
2. Tourbillon Board Chronometer with constant force escapement (unique, 85mm case, 67.5mm movement)
Another fantastic finishing of bridges' edges and
3. Tourbillon (unique, 37mm)
As its usual attention to details, the hands are
off-centered to give more
room to the tourbillon cage.
4. Tourbillon with chronometer escapement (unique)
The movement shape is totally new and absolutely beautiful and balanced.
5. The latest tourbillon
Presented in 2014 it also has the hands off-centered.
Some videos of tourbillon watches:
- GMT -
Lately, Kari Voutilainen has worked on unique GMT timepieces with engraved dials. Whereas the early versions had 2 different subdials and the GMT was indicated via a standard hand, the late versions were equipped with a cleverly integrated mechanism within the small seconds sub dial (disk). That way, KV's GMT function is not "intrusive" as it is very discreetly integrated.
1. Observatoire Unique with big sized date (38mm case, 30mm movement)
As its name says, it is based on an Observatoire movement. This unique piece has a patented selector mechanism activated by a pusher on the crown for the different functions.
On this early GMT version the GMT is indicated by a hand on a separate sub dial from the small seconds one.
This version is based on the new Vingt-8 movement
(with a specific balance
wheel bridge) with an engraved officer's back (by Eddy Jaquet). The case
Tantalum and gold.
3. Other limited series GMT
The latest Vingt-8 GMT watches gather this useful complication as well as an engraving work of art.
Jura Mountain (or Alpes?)
- Shaped watches -
Kari Voutilainen has also been exploring the non round watches area with a very fine taste. Here are some examples I could gather.
1. Chronomètre 27 (44 x 31.5mm)
Based on a Longines 360 ebauche, it has a 36,000 vph frequency.
Beautiful, even if I wondered when looking at the pictures how the watch behaves on the wrist (comfort) with this sort of "column" lugs on the back side.
2. Tonneau (unique)
This one has a jumping second
- Métiers d'Art -
As we saw earlier Kari Voutilainen is known to have collaborated with several artists for several dials decoration. Apart of the engraving skills, KV also has created other kind of decorated masterpices.
1. First, the Sarasamon two unique pieces (37mm) with the Japanese laquer studio Unryuan inspiring his work fro Edo period.
One in yellow gold:
With a different strap:
One in white gold:
2. Secondly, the unique Oukamon piece (37mm) from the same author:
3. And finally, the unique Hisui mosaic piece (39mm, in
from Emeralds and Jade:
- Chronograph -
To finish with let's have a little word about the chronographs.
There are three models which are:
1. The Masterpiece Chronograph I (10 pieces, 39mm case)
2. The Masterpiece Chronograph II (10 pieces, 40mm case)
3. The Chronograph Monopoussoir (above 40mm)