Voutilainen 28SC SB
There’s a reason every watchmaker under the sun is trying to get Kari to make dials for them. Names you wouldn’t expect like Gronefeld, Moritz Grossman, Petermann Bedat, Sylvain Pinaud, and many others have leveraged Voutilainen’s dial making arm, Comblémine, to great effect. Many have made the argument that this waters down Kari’s own work. I disagree. If tricky finishing techniques, intricate guilloché, and bright colors are their expertise, why not allow other watchmakers to access that level of expertise? There are many flavors of ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Voutilainen’ that make for more special watches overall, an attractive face is worth a lot (this is why I stick to writing). Besides, as this 28SC SB proves, I still suspect, and today find, that Comblémine are reserving their best work from both a design and technical perspective for Kari’s own.
The 28SC was the very first Vingt-8 to feature centre seconds, which leaves its dial totally unobstructed. This 28SC SB is the limited edition which followed, with a green and gold-brown dial, made in just 12 examples. Each detail from its multiple guilloché styles to the handset is lavished with attention. The handset, for example, takes two full days, a mix of white gold and blued steel that modernizes the traditional Observatoire style. And perhaps even more impressively, this watch introduced a new case material to watchmaking in AISI 316L grade 4441 steel. This steel is entirely recycled and recyclable, solar-forged, and low carbon footprint. The very first bar of it was used to make a Voutilainen case. This saw the 28SC SB deservedly snatch the Men’s Watch Prize at the 2020 GPHG (bet that award title doesn’t last another 5 years).
One of the reasons I so deeply respect Kari, aside from his immense ability, is this philosophy. I can think of many watchmakers who wouldn’t be too keen to see other brands using their dial tech. But Swiss watchmaking was always collaborative, from the very start. There used to be small independent dial makers, crystal makers, case makers, and movement manufactures in the Vallée de Joux; watches would be created by engaging all of them together. In the recent celebration and proliferation of independent watchmaking, some of that collaborative tradition has been overlooked. Kari’s bringing it back, and that just makes me love his own work all the more. No man is an island.
This example is from 2021 and shows only the very lightest of case wear. It’s as you’d hope. It comes with its full set from a well-regarded Belgian retailer.