Karried away on a tide of horological excellence

When you look at the classical appearance of the Voutilainen Vingt-8, you cannot fail to be beguiled by its impeccable breeding. The high-end timepiece is the latest work of independent watchmaker, Kari Voutilainen.

Independent’s day - Voutilainen Vingt-8

The Swiss Lever escapement features in many wristwatches which I long to own. The pallet stones on the Swiss Lever escapement, typically slide 0.4mm. By the very nature of this sliding action, there is much energy wasted.

Independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen has conceived a very special movement which features two escape wheels which deliver a direct impulse to the balance. This has two noticeable benefits – less energy consumption and less wear.

Independent’s day - Voutilainen Vingt-8

Independent’s day - Voutilainen Vingt-8

Independent’s day - Voutilainen Vingt-8

This technical aspect is just one example of the relentless pursuit of perfection practised by the Finnish watchmaker. However, it is the understated elegance of his timepieces, coupled with matchless finishing which puts the name Voutilainen on my top ten wish list. The question, I have to ask is, “If I had the necessary funds, would this be the model which would lead to my parting with promissory notes?”

The dial

I am not untouched by the appeal of neoteric styled timepieces. An exuberant flourish of the designers pen has been known to create an exciting horological form which has garnered my praise.

Independent’s day - Voutilainen Vingt-8

When you look at the classical appearance of the Vingt-8, you cannot fail to be beguiled by its impeccable breeding. It has a timeless appeal which exudes style, unsullied by the fickle changing taste of fashion.

The guilloché dial is the exquisite product of the artisans skill. The steady manipulation of the rose-engine lathe is the outcome of deft, time-served hands delivering spellbinding patterns.

The centre of the dial features a charming basket pattern. It toys with light and delivers a spectacular three dimensional allure from its textured motif. A barley-corn pattern frames this in a comely circular ring.

Breguet style hands depict the hours and minutes. They are made of white gold and feature blued treatment adjacent their tips and at their fulcrum. I love the way the minute hands gracefully points to the delicately marked chapter ring. Indeed, the chapter ring is beautifully presented in satiné circulaire.

Applied White gold Arabic numerals feature at 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock and noon. The intervening hours are indicated with applied rectangular shaped batons, save for 6 o’clock where a subsidiary seconds display features.

The subdial for the subsidiary seconds has a Clou de Paris at its centre and is framed with a circlet presented in satiné circulaire. This latter, smooth pattern, delivers a beautiful canvas for depicting the minutes utlising Arabic numerals and simple dots. White gold is employed for the seconds hand and repeats the blued treatment at its centre.

Below noon is a cartouche, marked proudly with the maker’s nomen. Kari should be proud of the Vingt-8, I think few watches can surpass the cohesive charm of this beautifully presented dial.

The case

I have had the good fortune to meet Mr Voutilainen and despite his immense skill, he is modest and unassuming. These character traits show in his work.

The Vingt-8 has a clean, uncluttered appearance. It does not need to boast with conspicuous gems or brightly coloured detail. It has a sublime appeal which can be quietly enjoyed. Moreover, the design of the watch has longevity and its appeal will not diminish with increased familiarity.

The dimensions of the case will have universal appeal. The case diameter is 39.00mm and the case height is 11.5mm.

The use of white gold for the case perfectly suits the restrained, informed conversation the watch shares with its wearer. This watch does not brag and boast with garish detail. It quietly confers perfection with distilled clarity.

Independent’s day - Voutilainen Vingt-8

Vingt-8 also available in 18-carat rose gold

I adore the sinuous form of the tear-shaped lugs which embrace the strap, drawing it close to the caseband with secure grip.

The caseband is slightly recessed from the leading edges of the bezel and caseback. Once more, Kari plays with light, creating brilliance and shade on the caseband to exhibit the polished appearance to pleasing effect.

The crown is neatly knurled aiding adjustment. Unusually, it bears no logo or decoration on its vertical flank reinforcing the calm character of the watch.

This handmade timepiece harnesses a profound excellence within. Thankfully, Voutilainen indulges the wearer with a peerless view of the movement, courtesy of a sapphire caseback.

The movement

Besides the ingenuity exampled with the fitment of two escape wheels, there are many other details which imbue this watch with exceptional engineering prowess.

Independent’s day - Voutilainen Vingt-8

The balance wheel is relatively large compared to the norm. It was developed in-house and its greater scale facilitates ease of regulation. A Breguet overcoil features on the outer edge of the spring, typically found on the finest movements. However, this balance wheel, unusually features an internal curve, the Grossman curve. Kari has not sought expedience but excellence.

Admiring the balance wheel, I noticed the beautifully polished balance bridge and the rose gold timing weights on its rim. These may appear to be small details, but these are little details which impart an unbridled joy in the eyes of the watch enthusiast, myself included.

The main plate and bridges are made of German silver. This will age with time, acquiring a rich patina which will enhance the appearance of the movement with the onset of years.

The gear train wheels are made of rose gold and the screws are mirror polished with beveled slots. I have admired many beautiful watches, but can’t think of a more appealing movement from memory.

Conclusion

I have met only a handful of artisans like Kari. They create timepieces without compromise and price their products once perfection has been achieved.

In executing my role, I sometimes meet and occasionally interview charming celebrities, however, it is watchmakers who engender hero worship.

Mr Voutilainen perfectly demonstrates all that is wonderful about haute horology with his delightful Vingt-8.

“If I had the necessary funds, would this be the model which would lead to my parting with promissory notes?” Yes I would. Sadly, I currently lack the required promissory notes. However, I can still dream and be swept away on a tide of horlogical excellence.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Voutilainen Vingt-8
  • Case: 18-carat white gold; diameter 39.00 mm; height 11.50 mm ; sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds.
  • Movement: Manual winding; frequency 18,000vph (2.5Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve 50 hours.
  • Strap: Black hand sewn crocodile strap with 18-carat white gold buckle.

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