Voutilainen Vingt-8, Titanium

This is one of the most unusual Voutilainens I’ve ever seen surface and it’s not like there are many I get to talk about to begin with. The Vingt-8 is Kari’s aesthetic sense, distilled. What the Chronomètre Bleu is to FP, the Vingt-8 is to Kari. Only this Vingt-8 is in titanium with a space age grey tuxedo-ish dial. But that modernity is offset by a cabochon-set crown, as if it were dressed up like a tech-saavy Cartier. I’ve never seen a Voutilainen quite like this, which I suppose is a massive part of the appeal for independents who will brave small alterations of the standard recipe like Kari.

There were ten, just ten, Vingt-8s made in titanium during the earlier years of Voutilainen and you never see them surface. The dials are usually entirely grey to match the grey tones of the metal, although there’s also a burgundy lacquer known, but not once have I seen a cabochon crown. You only ever see that on the Masterpiece Chronograph series and one-offs like the Hisui that auctioned at Phillips Hong Kong in ’22. And that contrast dial shouldn’t be overlooked, in color or guilloché pattern (there are three styles on display).

What I love most about this is you sort of don’t associate Voutilainen with titanium. In independents, that brings to mind Laurent Ferrier, MB&F, or De Bethune. But nope, Kari got there before most and just left it at 10 watches. The Vingt-8 has always felt to me like a beautiful dance between the push and pull of being a modern execution of a very classic aesthetic. From the teardrop lugs to the subtle dial signature flex reading only ‘Hand Made’ instead of ‘Swiss’. And that’s true, the joy of Kari’s work is how long it takes to make one watch: these days his entire workshop makes 60 watches per year. For context, Richard Mille and Lange create a similar volume of about 5,000 watches yearly. Journe, 900ish. 


Nowhere is this dichotomy more clear than the calibre 28. It seems like a classic lever escapement and gear train at a glance, but isn’t. There’s a direct impulse, two escapement wheels. The balance has an intricate architecture comprised of a traditional Breguet overcoil but then a super unusual interior Grossmann curve which distributes tension more evenly over the entire spring. That’s what’s possible when you’re creative and make every detail in hand. This example just leans into that dichotomy more than most, by pulling in extra contemporary taste in the grey dial but offsetting a super classical cabochon. I love it.

This example sports a very light and honest surface wear, but that’s it. It is from 2017 and has the full kit. It comes from a well-regarded London retailer.