Kari Voutilainen 217QRS With Retrograde Date: Striving For Perfect Beauty
While we usually try to avoid complication in our daily lives, complications are the icing on the proverbial cake in the world of high-end timepieces.
For most lovers of fine horology, there is no such thing as “too complicated” when it comes to watch mechanisms. The more so-called complications (which means additional functions beyond the sheer timekeeping; a date is already a complication) employed, the better.
And this doesn’t always have to be a grand complication – like a repeater, a perpetual calendar, a complex chronograph, or the combination of more than one of these (though we certainly do appreciate them). “Small” complications with less complex workings such as a large date, a jump hour, or a power reserve indicator can make our hearts jump too.
Retrograde: a charming complication
The charming retrograde indication certainly ranks among extra functions. It is one of these technical finesses that watchmakers came up with in the late seventeenth century in pocket watches.
What is it exactly? Simply put, it is a display that usually sees a hand moving across an arc instead of around a circle.
And since it doesn’t follow the usual infinite circle pattern that allows a hand to go on forever, but instead stops at the end of the arc, it jumps back once it has arrived at the end. This jumping action is a lovely (and addictive) detail to watch.
Retrograde displays can be used to indicate the day of the week, the power reserve, and some watchmakers even employ them in chronographs. The most common use, though, and my favorite style of this indication, is the classic date.
The retrograde date display shows the passing of the month with a hand that moves in an arc from the 1st to the 31st of the month (or the 28th, 29th or 30th depending on the month and type of calendar it is attached to). After the last day of the month has passed, the spring that has gathered tension throughout the month, releases it all at once, propelling the date hand to jump back to the beginning.
Kari Voutilainen’s beautiful retrograde date
One of the most awesome retrograde dates I have seen lately is the one displayed on the stunningly beautiful and artisanal dial of Kari Voutilainen’s 217QRS introduced at SIHH 2018.
Three different perfectly executed guilloche patterns shimmering in an intense blue or a frosted silver build the perfect backdrop for the retrograde date display’s 240-degree arc right around the center of the engine-turned dial with applied numerals, which are reminiscent of the Observatoire watch that earned him the award for Best Men’s Watch at the 2007 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
In fact, I find myself wondering why this watch was not already in the collection because it exudes such a balanced aura that it perfectly fits there.
But it is not only the breathtaking beauty resulting from unique craftsmanship that is so very typical Kari Voutilainen; of course the Finnish watchmaker shows his prowess also through an impressive novel technique. Instead of jumping back fast, like retrograde hands normally do, this one makes its journey back to the beginning in a slow-paced manner.
The complication is directly integrated into the meticulously finished manufacture movement with manual winding boasting a power reserve of 65 hours. In order to achieve the slower retrograde return, Voutilainen used special gear wheels. “Thus, a bounce to the 2nd or 3rd, as is often the case with common retrograde designs, is avoided,” said Voutilainen. “Another benefit of the configuration is the reduced stress on the mechanics.”
Voutilainen’s virtuoso handcrafted timepieces are equipped with a very large in-house balance wheel whose spring boasts a rarity: a Philipps overcoil on its exterior and an internal Grossmann curve. The escapement also unusually includes two escape wheels in order to provide a direct impulse to the balance and to reduce the amount of energy needed.
For more information, please visit http://www.voutilainen.ch/item/217qrs.
Quick Facts Kari Voutilainen 217QRS
Case: 39 x 11.5 mm, white gold, pink gold or platinum
Movement: manual-winding caliber, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, power reserve 65 hours, large balance wheel 13.6 mm in diameter, pink gold wheels, free-sprung balance with Breguet and Grossmann curves, direct-impulse escapement with two escape wheels
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds; retrograde date
Limitation: 30 pieces total
Price: CHF 128,000 (platinum), CHF 118,000 (gold)
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Also published on Medium.