Kari Voutilainen was born in 1962 in the city of Rovaniemi, the very capital of Lapland, which is called the birthplace of Santa Claus. When it came to choosing a profession, Kari decided that sitting at the office was not for him. He realized that he needed freedom; he needed to do something with his hands and to see the result of his work. With these thoughts, in 1983 he entered Kelloseppäkoulu, the Finnish School of Watchmaking in Tapiola. After studying in his homeland, the young watchmaker continued to comprehend the intricacies of watchmaking in Switzerland. In 1989 he completed a course in the restoration of complicated clocks at WOSTEP Neuchâtel, and in 1990 he was invited to work in the restoration workshop of Michel Parmigiani.
For nine years, the discreet Finn has been honing his skills by restoring luxurious tourbillons. While working in the workshop, Kari was also creating his own tourbillon pocket watch in the style of old Breguet masterpieces.
In 1999, Voutilainen was invited to lecture at WOSTEP. He moved his family to Switzerland and began purchasing equipment for his own workshop.
The workshop opened its doors in 2002, but at first Kari had to work for other companies in order to be able to finance his own projects. Finally, in 2005, at Baselworld, Voutilainen presented the first watch under his own name. It was the world's first decimal minute repeater.
The master always treated the decoration of the face of the watch with special attention. So it’s not surprising, that his models often win the “watch Oscar” not only as the best men's watch, but also as the best artistic watch.
In 2007, Voutilainen released his first sensational watch – the Observatoire. In addition to the classic finish, which later became the hallmark of the Voutilainen brand, the watch was equipped with the Peseux 260 caliber created back in the last century. But Voutilainen didn't just equip the watch with a vintage caliber. He seriously reworked the movement, providing it with a new escapement system of his own making, a new balance and a balance spring with a Breguet end curve and an internal Grossmann curve. The improvement was highly appreciated by his Swiss colleagues, so in 2007, the Observatoire watch won the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the Best Men's Watch category.
A perfectionist by nature, Voutilainen never liked to depend on anyone, be it investors or suppliers. Therefore, since 2011, almost all watches produced under the Voutilainen brand have been equipped with an in-house movement called Vingt-8. The main feature of this movement is the presence of two escapement wheels. The escapement requires no lubrication, and the mainspring provides up to 65 hours of power reserve.
Since 2009, Voutilainen's workshop has been located in the Swiss town of Môtiers. In 2014, Voutilainen acquired Dialtech SA, renamed it Comblémine and started making his own dials.
The master always treated the decoration of the face of the watch with special attention. So it’s not surprising, that his models often win the “watch Oscar” not only as the best men's watch, but also as the best artistic watch. In 2014, for example, the Hisui model with a dial of hand crafted Japanese lacquer was recognized as the best watch in the Artistic Crafts category.
Voutilainen produces all his watches either in small limited series or as one-off pieces and custom orders for private clients. The Môtiers manufacture with a staff of 24 people produces from 25 to 50 watches per year, and Kari does not strive for larger volumes.
Since 2006 Kari Voutilainen has been a member of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants. Over the past 15 years, he has earned 8 awards at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, and in 2014 he was also awarded a “Nobel Prize” in the watch industry – Prix Gaïa.
Auction 2023 lot:
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