Mother of Pearl Dial 217QRS Voutilainen Retrograde Date
Only 30 217QRS, Karis’ Retrograde Date, have ever be made, in an even split of platinum, white gold and rose gold. But this? This is the very last one produced, 30. And the material combination here is something outrageous: teal mother of pearl dial, green guilloché hour track, and white gold case. It’s no surprise every smaller independent wants to get Kari making their dials. His ability to obsessively elevate the finest points of finishing, dial or movement-side, is nearly unrivaled.
This calibre 28 embodies that focus. The inspiration for the 217QRS movement was the classic Vingt-8, but with a ‘slow return’ retrograde date mechanism integrated entirely in the main plate. It has a special energy saving mechanism designed to stop the date harshly snapping back, but instead glides with an elegant grace gently home to 1, in order to remove ‘bouncing’ inaccuracies which can happen in retrogrades. Moreover, its direct impulse balance features a spring with a Phillips overcoil outer but Grossmann inner curve, which dramatically improves efficiency but is a total pain to manufacture. Nonetheless, Voutilainen make it, and entirely in-house. Almost no one, even in independents, manufacture their own hairsprings, let alone one this complex. There are even two escapements to reduce mainspring energy draw. But it’s the finishing on that massive cylindrical bridge holding the oversized balance that most draws visual attention: flawless complex angles, here and in plate anglage. See what I mean about obsessive attention to the finest points?
And that’s before we get to what Mr Voutilainen is perhaps most well-known for, his dials. It’s a solid silver blank, engine turned by hand at his workshop in Môtiers near Neuchâtel, with a mother of pearl inner. The teal-emerald pair is not something I’ve seen before and my god it works. It’s set off by Breguet styled hands where only the inner circles are heat-blued. All this in a 39mm white gold case with Karis’ signature, more sculptural updated lugs. Coming from the youngest of three, the last child is always the most attractive . . .right? Definitely in my family, but it might just be the case for Kari’s workshop as well.
This example is near near-perfect condition. Its case shows only the very lightest hairlines of time on wrist, hardly visible. There’s nothing else of note. It comes with a full set, from a well-regarded Swiss retailer.