In Conversation with Kari Voutilainen

By rolex
May 27, 2021
7 min read

Kari Voutilainen is perhaps the most regarded and loved independent watchmakers. The watches of this Finnish-conceived ace watchmaker (close to 50 pieces each year) are created to a level that can’t be accomplished in large scale manufacturing. We climbed the lofty flight of stairs of his Môtiers workshop to meet the dominate and comprehend why he is determined to remain an independent watchmaker.

How did a Finnish kid become quite possibly the most regarded specialists in the whole watch industry? 

Among the main influences, one of my dad’s companion was a watchmaker. He had a shop in our town, simply nearby to where we were living. At the point when I was a child, he was repairing and selling watches and tickers. I was enthralled by his seat, his devices, the developments, the tickers hanging on the dividers… I just preferred the climate there.

After completing watchmaking school in Finland, I labored for a year in a retail shop in aftersales. That was in the north of Finland. However, I needed to find out additional. Furthermore, the solitary chance to additional my learning was to go to Switzerland and study at Wostep. This was the motivation behind why I came toNeuchâtel in 1998. At that point in 1999, I did a second seminar on complicated watches. At that point I began to work at Parmigiani, in Fleurier.

What drives you when you leave upon the formation of a watch?

I am trying to do things that are valuable. I need my watches to have an exemplary look, a perfect plan and yet, they should be unique. I need something new inside. I attempt to combine both. I like new things yet not excessive things. Notwithstanding my thoughts, the conversation with my client brings a lot.

Are there any past experts or different watchmakers who inspire you?

Naturally, I appreciate past experts like Breguet. Yet additionally I will specify a couple of watchmakers I have been working with. Among them is Richard Miklosch, a self-trained watchmaker, crafting watches just as a diversion. He was teaching metalwork in a school. He made wonderful pocket chronometers and tourbillons. I went to see him in Germany, and I took in a great deal from him.

Then, my first occupation in Switzerland was with Michel Parmigiani and too with Charles Meylan. The last was 70 years of age, truly experienced and he showed me a great deal of old strategies. He urged me to make my first watch.

What are your most prominent achievements?

I am content with my workshop. Weare a little construction and group, close to 20 individuals through and through and we can make our developments. We can plan the developments, the watches, create the components, finish the developments, and amass the watches… Last year we made 50 watches and 15,000 components with 880 distinctive references.

This gives us the independence, the opportunity, allowing us to endeavor to do the best watches. We determine the quality, we don’t rely upon suppliers.

What do you make in-house?

Almost everything. We do all development components, we make our developments, we create our dials, we do engine-turning. This year, I began to make cases in Le Noirmont (Voutilainen and Cattin). We do everything with the exception of hairsprings, mainsprings and jewels.

For hairsprings, we purchase ébauches from Precision Engineering however we pin the collet, we check, we do the Phillips bend, etc… And for gems, there is even one that we trim ourselves, the locking gem of our escapement. This is essentially something for which we have not discovered a provider willing to undertake.

What is your objective for the company?

My aspiration isn’t to fill in volume. I’m looking instead at creating bespoke, exceptional watches. We are getting near the thing I have been dreaming about. Being adaptable and doing insane things for clients. I need to keep in charge, stay independent. Today we have a family environment, and I need to keep it like that.

I have seen independents and companies growing quick, and abruptly things are changing. We ought to make the most of our every day life. Today this is the thing that I am ready to do simply sitting at the seat. I like to keep it like that.

We have 50 clients each year. Some of them I know as of now. It is an advantage to have the option to meet these individuals. On the off chance that you are doing many watches, this is unimaginable. Today I have no marketing and no outreach group. This would change my work philosophy.

Do you actually work for third parties?

Very little. In the beginning, it was significant for me. To remain independent, the best arrangement was to part my time working for other people, prototyping or doing rebuilding. The remainder of the time was for me. Presently I work for myself. Comblémine, our dial make is normally another story.

What is your interpretation of the advancement of independent watchmaking?

The position of independents has changed fundamentally in these previous 15 years. In the relatively recent past, the industry was ignoring independents, thinking they were simply diversion producers or miscreants. Today, things have changed. We can see that independents – those working the correct way – are paid attention to by private clients and retail shops. On account of the internet, clients can perceive what we are doing. Toward the day’s end, there are people behind the seats, and in some cases with more modest companies, watchmakers are more roused and see their work in an unexpected way. It is positive, watchmakers are liable for what they are doing. It isn’t generally the situation with enormous companies.

How do you see the development of Baselworld and SIHH?

I think SIHH will continue on a similar track. The Richemont bunch is a major accomplice of the FHH (Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie coordinates the SIHH). Baselworld has been changing substantially more, yet it is a verifiable display with in excess of 100 years of custom. It will remain the main display. Baselworld is large with many brands.

Timetable-wise, the springtime is the ideal chance to introduce watches. January is too soon after the finish of the following year. Timewise it is difficult to put together for this.

What is the main test facing the industry?

I think we are living an interesting period. Everything is changing. We just referenced the presentations. The development of the offer of watches is at a turning point as numerous brands are starting to sell online. It will be interesting to perceive what will be the fate of watch distribution.

I actually accept that fine watches will be introduced before a client. The great multi-brand retail shops are genuinely important in this regard. At the point when a client strolls in, he has options, he can take a stab at various watches. In the event of any issue, clients can return to the store and request uphold, for another tie or handle a maintenance. The individual contact is fundamental. You don’t deal with this equitable with a click.

We have a couple of retailers representing us. Here in Switzerland A L’Emeraude, The Hour Glass in Singapore, Manfredi, Cellini or Oster in the United States, GMT in Milan in Italy, or Aseman Kello in Finland. What’s more, we likewise sell straightforwardly to clients.