September 17, 2013
by James Stacey
Watches that emerge from the Voutilainen workshop in Môtiers, Switzerland are the kind of creations that can weaken the knees of any watch nerd. Their entirely handmade watches are the result of one Kari Voutilainen, a Finnish watchmaker trained at WOSTEP with a specialization in restoring complicated and rare wristwatches. After eventually teaching at WOSTEP, Kari launched his own independent brand in 2002. Voutilainen watches represent a very special proposition to a specific type of enthusiast collector, or more simply put, if you can afford one, do it. Characterized by extremely limited production, customized service and the promise of something both technically interesting and quite beautiful, a Voutilainen would be a prize in any collection. This year at Baselworld, we got a chance to spend a few minutes with their lovely V-8R, an elegant dress piece with an interesting movement and stunning details.
The Voutilainen V-8R is a 39mm dress watch that can be had in platinum or 18K red or white gold. Its elegant aesthetic promotes both legibility and the discovery of a wide range of subtle detailing from the coloring of the gold and steel hands to the contrast of the distinct finishing for the two sub displays on the silver dial. The hand-turned dial is a rich charcoal grey, with a wavy guilloché finishing and applied indices rendered in white gold. Both the sub seconds and power reserve display feature framed sub-dials that match the simple branding and the Arabic markers for three, nine, and twelve.
Inside the 11.4mm thick case beats an in-house, hand wound movement with a number of noteworthy aspects. Designed from the ground up to be hand wound, the V-8R’s movement offers a retrograde power reserve display that shows the remaining reserve in the movement’s innovative winding barrel. While the movement technically provides 65 hours of power reserve from full to empty, Voutilainen has implemented a Maltese Cross to limit the power reserve to just 49 hours, cutting off the low-torque power derived from a barrel that is running into its final hours.
A winding barrel uses a spring (called the mainspring) to retain the energy needed to power a mechanical movement. As the mainspring winds down there comes a point in its total power output where the power provided by the barrel does not provide the necessary torque to maintain the accuracy of the movement, causing the rate to slow. The V-8R is designed to cut off the supply of power before the accuracy of timekeeping is affected. This mechanism ensures the movement gets only the best possible power from the mainpsring. Along with the intricate power reserve system, the V-8R also boasts a direct impulse escapement with dual escapement wheels and a free sprung balance that runs at a relatively slow 18,000 vph. This interesting and complex movement can be viewed via the V-8R’s sapphire display case back.
The V-8R is limited to 25 pieces with a starting price of $87,200. Given both the price and the limited hand-made nature, it was a treat just to see the Voutilainen V-8R in person. If you ever get the chance to experience a Voutilainen for yourself, be sure to take the time to appreciate the level of perfection and detail that Kari demonstrates with his watches. The V-8R is undoubtedly a subtle and beautiful watch that hides much of its complexity beneath a layer of detailed finishing and fine design. voutilainen.ch