Voutilainen Vingt-8

In the same way that when you distill Journe to just the essential elements you wind up at a Chronomètre Bleu, when you distill Voutilainen you wind up at the Vingt-8. The Vingt-8 was Kari’s first entirely ground-up design, movement and all, introduced 2011. Kari chose the most simplistic watch format for a reason. As we often repeat, when a watch sports no complications there are also no distractions to hide behind. Distilled watchmaking creates focus around the intricacies of a watch, stylistic flairs and the priorities a watchmaker holds dear. This intimacy though lack of distraction creates a more human connection. It’s why many collectors run through the gamut of rattrapante, perpetual calendars, resonance, or any other number of complications only wind up back at the simple three-hand formula: it’s not basic, it’s high-ABV watchmaking.

Kari has handful of signature touches everywhere which seem to comprise this entire design: varied and intricate guilloché, finely polished elongated teardrop lugs, observatoire hands, and painstaking movement finishing. Further, every watch I’ve ever seen from Kari also has a very clear dichotomy, a pull, between being modern execution of a very classic aesthetic. For example you get three styles of hand-turned guilloché on the dial, but also Arabic numerals in a very modern font with only 1 serif on the edge of 2. The dial is signed, but instead of the country-wide edict of ‘Swiss Made’, it’s subtle flex reading only ‘Hand Made’. 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. Kari has not scaled as aggressively as some other comparably esteemed independents by choice and that should be more discussed. Lauded? debatable. Interesting? Definitely.

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. The dial signature is far more meaningful and relatable than Swiss alone, besides, Mr. V is a Fin. The Finnish have a word that doesn’t exist in English: sisu. It means stoic determination, tenacity toward one purpose with grit. The Vingt-8 simply displays Kari’s sisu more potently than anything else in the catalogue.

This example is in excellent overall condition. The case is a platinum in 39 and there are no visible bashes, I can only make or the lightest of marks in this imagery. It comes with the works from a well-regarded London retailer.