Interview: A Collector's Discussion With Kari Voutilainen
How numerous individuals are in your workshop now, and what are their roles?
I have around 15 individuals. We are two mechanical folks that run machines and produce components. We have two individuals doing enhancement – anglage, etc. We have one individual making dials – machine turning, etc. My wife is in the workplace. At that point there are eight watchmakers and myself. However, the watchmakers are likewise accomplishing completing work like warmth medicines and cleaning shafts and shining turns – on the grounds that enrichment is [not only] aesthetical work like extensions and mainplates , yet additionally mechanical like improvement on pinions and wheels and cleaning the shafts with machines, etc. So watchmakers are doing a great deal of such a thing as well.
How numerous pieces do you make each year under your own label?
Since 2006 it has been fluctuating between 25 and 52. In 2013 we made 45, a year ago  we made 38. It depends in the event that they are more complicated, or less complicated. I’m making an effort not to push the numbers up. It was 2006 when I was confronting the truth that request was extremely high. At that Basel reasonable, a ton of retail shops everywhere on the world were attempting to arrange numerous pieces. I got back and I concluded that I’m not going to do that, and I wrote back to those retail shops and I didn’t take those orders. We have a few retail shops addressing us, and the remainder of the watches are sold direct, and I believe it’s probably the best choice I’ve ever made.
You make everything barring jewels , hearts , and hairsprings . Does that mean you make screws ?
Straps and sapphires ?
No. I have made a few cases, however it’s not my calling. I can do it, yet we’re dealing with different issues afterwards. Working with gold and platinum you need to reuse the metal. Additionally you have machines that solitary work with gold and can’t blend in with steel.
The hands of your watches are made of three pieces, correct?
Yes, the associating tube is steel. The ring is steel, the body of the hand is gold. The ring is grating fit into place. You must be exact with that. There’s simply a .01 mm of a distinction in measurement. It’s significant that it’s exact. In the event that it’s .02 mm, it’s excessively hard and you can’t push it any longer. In the event that it’s .005 mm, it doesn’t remain – so it’s pretty precise.
I would say your unique tasteful qualities incorporate extremely high clarity, delightful applied lists, and guilloché work. What are your thoughts?
What I like is the presence of the watch. There is a glow and a presence. Furthermore, I like smooth structures, similar to the hauls. They are adjusted and when they are adjusted at the outset, they stay adjusted. We can clean however many occasions as we want, and it stays adjusted. These things are significant things to me.
I originally got comfortable with you due to your Observatoire. Was that your first arrangement watch?
No, I had a chronograph series.
That was the Master Chronograph? That was first?
[About the Observatoire] I felt that I must have the option to do it without help from anyone else, however I wasn’t prepared around then. Simultaneously I discovered some ébauches and that is why I was ready to do that watch.
How numerous Observatoires were made?
Less than 50 watches. There were additionally some unique forms that additional complications to the Observatoire.
Was the Chronomètre 27 your next series?
What I like is the presence of the watch. There is a glow and a presence.
– – Voutilainen on some mark qualities of his watches
How did that one come about?
In a similar way. I was adequately fortunate to discover a few developments, and I’ve always appreciated the watches made during the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s by Vacheron and Patek . They have those rectangular watches, with extravagant shapes here and there. I’ve always appreciated them and I was imagining that would be ideal to accomplish something to that effect from this development. I made loads of drawings and plans and we wound up with a little arrangement of that.
How did you discover these developments? It appears to be very lucky.
It’s something or other, when you begin to purchase, individuals begin to offer them since they know that you’re buying.
How numerous Chronomètre 27s were made?
A chomped more than 20.
Your current assortment has the Vingt-8, GMT-6, GMR, and Tourbillon 6, is that correct?
No, the Tourbillon 6 is sold out, and the GMR is likewise sold out. They were restricted series.
Where does the naming of these watches come from? What does the 8 mean in Vingt-8, and the 6 in GMT-6?
I’m not extremely innovative in my names. I’ve been keeping the type names. Like Caliber 27 in the Chronomètre 27. The Observatoire I call Caliber 26. The Master Chronograph I call Caliber 25. It comes from the year I began working on them – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and so forth The Vingt-8 I began in 2008. It took me three years and it launched in 2011. So I just dropped the zeroes to get the names. I would not like to call it 28 since that name has been utilized by different companies. So I utilized the French word for 20 and I got Vingt-8.
What about GMT-6?
I have a few watches with a GMT [indication] at 12 o’clock, and here the GMT is at 6 o’clock.
Ah, in light of the fact that it’s situated at 6 o’clock. What about the GMR?
Well, it is the GMT, however adds power reserve.
No, I mean why is it not the GMR-6?
I thought it was getting excessively complicated. [Laughs]
So these watches have the Voutilainen escapement , which is an immediate drive escapement with two break wheels. Would you be able to speak more about the escapement?
I previously experienced the characteristic escapement of Breguet in the start of 1990s, and I was extremely shocked and content with that escapement .
I’ve made an escapement where the calculation is done in a way with the goal that we can machine the components without anyone else. It’s essential for the autonomy and freedom of creation – to have the option to get things done without anyone else. For the Swiss switch escapement, the break wheels are hard to make. You need to utilize uncommon machines or you utilize innovative stuff like silicium, however I don’t do that. To have the option to create myself was one explanation.
Another is that it gives direct drive to the equilibrium wheel and it has a security gadget like we have on the Swiss switch escapement. If there should arise an occurrence of a stun, the escapement can’t get away – it’s always snared. There is a gotten end. It can get stuns and it continues to run. It has the point of the draw that pulls the switch against the financial pin. So it has every one of these advances yet it we can in any case do it ourselves.
I did the main model in 2008/9. I had insight with different escapements as of now since I did the model, for example, for Urban Jürgensen .
There are always pluses and minuses of anything. I’ll begin with the minuses:
There is more dormancy on the wheels. So we don’t utilize gold on the escapement and the driving wheels. Furthermore, I use steel on the departure wheels since we can’t break them. In the event that we did the escapement with gold it would run without oil, yet it’s a question of weight, and I’m apprehensive the slight tips of the wheels will twist. That is the motivation behind why we have steel.
The in addition to is that when we are impulsing straightforwardly we acquire about 30%, which is why we have 65 hours of power hold rather than 50 hours. When we made the primary model, we had substantially a lot power, so we needed to lessen the origin and increment the power hold, so now we have a much more slender and longer fountainhead and 15 additional long stretches of power save. We knew that there would be more power, yet there was much more than we anticipated.
When you have something new, it is energizing to work on it and improve it. Furthermore, that is what we were doing during the three years of advancement.
Other than your escapement, would you be able to discuss different developments we find in your watches?
I would say that I present extremely old style watchmaking such that the development is somewhat thick – 5.6mm thick. For example, the Peseux 260 [used in the Observatoire] is 5 mm thick and that was at that point thick. 5.6mm is thick. The mainplate is thick.
I favor that. The shafts are long, and I have genuinely huge turns. I don’t have little screws with small strings. I have large screws with 1 mm string and huge screw heads. I like such a thing that is kind of powerful rather than exceptionally little and fragile. We can screw the screws and they won’t bend.
So, other than the arrangement we’ve just discussed (Chronograph Masterpiece, Observatoire, Chronomètre 27, Vingt-8, GMT-6, GMR, Tourbillon 6), you likewise have a few other arrangement. The Model 2-Eight was restricted to 10 pieces, the V-8R Power Reserve was restricted to 25, and the Masterpiece Chronograph II was restricted to 10 pieces. Is all the other things you’ve done fundamentally a piece unique?
Yes, the rest are unique.
So your work for companies like Maîtres du Temps , MB&F , and Urban Jürgensen might be well known, yet are there some other things you accomplished for different companies that you can talk about?
One of my first positions when I was autonomous was making a pocket watch for a brand. It had a tourbillon , minute repeater, ceaseless schedule, split-seconds chronograph, and power save sign.
This was a unique piece?
It took me two-and-a-half years, in spite of the fact that I did numerous different things simultaneously. It had very nearly 1,000 components. It was a ébauche development, which I completed and I made the tourbillon and I did this and that.
Also, I did loads of models for some companies.
Do you want to discuss your coordinated efforts with Maîtres du Temps, MB&F, and Urban Jürgensen?
In 1994 I completed my night work, which was a pocket watch tourbillon. here was a presentation at the historical center in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1995/6, and that watch was shown there. Mr. [Peter] Baumberger, who was the owner of Urban Jürgensen, went to the show and saw the pocket watch and wanted to get it. He called my home, and my wife got the telephone and said I don’t think [Kari] will sell the watch. I didn’t sell the watch, yet I began working with him at that point – around 1996. It was an excellent joint effort, and furthermore a companionship, and I continued working with them over the years.
For Maîtres du Temps , I met Steve Holtzman a few years before we began to work together. When I began my own, I saw the experience of individuals like Franck Muller and Daniel Roth and how they lost their freedom, and I thought [independence is] something I truly want to keep. What’s more, to be monetarily free is the explanation I worked for a great deal of different companies to get cash. Unique pieces, prototyping, proceeding with Urban Jürgensen , and so forth, acquired income and I could in any case do my own watches. It was essential for my arrangement to keep up funds since you need a great deal of cash. With Maîtres du Temps I think it was 2008 that we began to work together.
And with Max [Büsser of MB&F ] it was additionally on the grounds that we had common regard since I had met him ordinarily. It was somewhat unique since it was not development – it was aesthetical work. That was additionally fascinating work for me. Likewise for me it’s significant that it’s about business, yet in addition about shared regard and joint effort. That part is important.
In absolute, how much of your workshop’s time is spent doing Voutilainen watches versus work for other companies?
In 2002/3 it was 90% [for other companies], yet now it’s 95% [for my watches]. What has changed in this last year is my dial industrial facility. I couldn’t say whether you know, however I was sufficiently fortunate to purchase a dial industrial facility a year ago. It’s a company that was in our valley called Dialtech, and it went into liquidation on the grounds that the owner died. They had machinery and equipment for galvanic plating. Also, I was the one in particular who was intrigued. Now it’s been one year.
When you got it, obviously you got all the equipment. Did a ton of the workers stay?
No, it had been shut for a large portion of a year, so there were no representatives. Now there are seven people.
Comblémine, that is the new name?
Yes. It’s named after the road that my workshop is on.
So you make dials for different companies now?
Yes, my own workshop is the littlest client.
So the motor turning for the greater part of your watches is done at Comblémine?
No, in my workshop. Now we have such a lot of business there that we’re doing a portion of Comblémine’s work in my workshop.
So rather than you moving a portion of the work for your watches to Comblémine, you’re really assisting them with doing of their work?
Do you have laments about your vocation up until now – things that you wish you’d done differently?
No, I don’t have laments. I was very fortunate in light of the fact that the time frame when I began, I saw different free thinkers confronting inconveniences, and I knew what I shouldn’t do. I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I ought to do, yet I knew what I shouldn’t do.
Also, one of my first clients, who was additionally a client of Franck Muller and Daniel Roth, pushed me to keep it little. Little is delightful. Furthermore, this is one of my qualities today.
Can you give any clues about what’s coming next?
It’s a watch that is somewhat more modest in width than the Vingt-8, however somewhat thicker and with more functions.
I’d prefer to express gratitude toward Kari Voutilainen particularly for setting aside the effort to talk with me. I trust you making the most of our discussion!