July 03, 2019
“I design what I like”
Independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen is known for the beauty of his design and finishing as well as his clever mechanical constructions. While his watches have been relatively classic up to now, his new 28ti is about to – literally – add something to his line of collector’s pieces that has not been seen here before: a reversed movement with no dial to cover it.
How hard was it to create a ‘look’ for your watches that sets them apart from all the other watches and brands out there?
Kari Voutilainen: I am a watchmaker and not a designer. But I do the design by myself. It might be a selfish approach, but I design what I like. I am also influenced by practical aspects such as manufacturing and polishing as well as elements like how the watch will look after years of being worn.
Retrograde is a charming complication that you use occasionally in your watches. What is it about the retrograde that enchants both watchmakers and consumers and how is yours different?
It is the motion our eyes can see when the hand is moving on the dial, in particular when it comes flying back. We have created a mechanism to slow down the motion, which adds a significant number of components to the movement.
One of the new pillars of your business seems to be the Comblémine dial factory, which you acquired a few years ago. Please tell us how important it is to you.
Once we could manufacture dials ourselves, we could master the quality and delivery time. We can always make better [components ourselves], which is not always the case with suppliers, where we have to be happy about the quality we get. Comblémine has increased our creativity, and I have been able to make trial dials using different colours and techniques, which wouldn’t be possible working with suppliers. Also, delivery time is very important.
And then you decided not to put a dial on your new 28ti model. Is that ironic?
It might look ironic, but we manufacture our watches in my workshop, which means we do the design, manufacture and finish, and assemble all our movements, in my workshop. Not only dials. We have our own escapement – the échappement à impulsion tangentielle Voutilainen – which is used in our movements and is also described in a new escapement theory book.