December 31, 2013
by Ariel Adams
Here is watch that you won’t see everyday. In fact, you will probably never see it at all. This is a totally unique Voutilainen Decimal Minute Repeater GMT watch with a semi-erotic display and a hunter-style case back that is probably one of his coveted Masterpiece watches. There are a few unique elements to the watch in addition to the artwork on the rear of the case that makes it distinct from other known watches by Kari Voutilainen. Whether or not the theme of the piece is to your taste, this is an amazing watch by one of today’s best independent watchmakers. This watch once again represents the “seven daughters of atlas” (Plediade) from Greek mythology. Voutilainen produced his Masterpiece No. 7 watch in a similar theme in 2006, also with seven ladies on the rear of the case. So while I am not sure if this is technically another “Masterpiece” model, it does once again revisit the theme for a totally unique piece.
Allow us to remind you that Kari Voutilainen is Finnish, and produces all of his watches by hand. In fact, a unique design element that you’ll find on some of his watches is the actual statement “Hand Made” on the dial. While I can’t say for sure that this doesn’t exist elsewhere, I’ve never see it. Kari isn’t the only person out there doing hand-made watches of this variety, but I must admit that in its diminutive form on his watches it does add to the sense of class just a little bit. Any larger and the text might ruin the dials.
So where does a watch like this come from and who is it made for? The first thing to understand is that like many independent watchmakers, Voutilainen has both a small regular series of watches clients can order, or a service to provide customers with totally unique creations. These latter pieces may be normal pieces with small cosmetic changes, or contain a range of unique parts including those in the movement. This watch for example doesn’t appear to be like anything else in his collection, but these are all elements we’ve seen before.
Voutilainen must have conversed with a customer and selected a unique arrangement of features for the creation of this Decimal Minute Repeater GMT. From the perspective of the movement a few things are different about it. The movement (made and decorated by Voutilainen) is one of his decimal repeaters. This is similar to a minute repeater but slightly more complicated. Rather than “repeat” the sound using chimes for the minutes, quarters, and minutes… a decimal repeater counts out 10 minute versus 15 minute increments in the middle. Why? Well it is meant to help make it a bit easier to decipher the chimes to indicate the time. The only other modern watch I know to do this is the Seiko Credor Minute Repeater.
Functionally, the mechanical movement offers the time with subsidiary seconds dial, day/night indicator, and minute repeater complication. I love those Voutilainen hands. Hand-made, the hands are a slight variation of traditional Breguet pomme-style hands and done in steel and gold. A unique element is not just the finishing, but the coloring. Two-tone hands on watches of this ilk are very rare. The hands are steel-colored, but the round elements at the ends of the hands as well as the base are flame-blued.
In addition to beautiful mechanics, Voutilainen watches are all about decoration – and at that he excels. You may not have noticed it but the dial is a small city of various decorative styles. The dial itself has three distinct styles of machine guilloche engraving and is solid sterling silver. The outer engraved ring has a Clos du Paris style motif, the middle ring has more elongated diamond-style shapes, and the subsidiary seconds dial is engraved with a checkerboard style pattern. This not only significantly increases the complexity of the dial, but also the value to collectors. There is also the matter of the hand-engraved sun and moon sections (in two different colors no less) for the GMT indicator on the upper sub dial. An interesting note about the GMT function is that to change the GMT time (by one hour increments) the user simply needs to press the crown in.