SIHH 2019 sneak preview: Kari Voutilainen
Greetings from Geneva! As always for our small group of enthusiast collectors from Northern California, SIHH week 2019 started with our arrival in Geneva and our traditional dinner with independent watchmaking wizard Kari Voutilainen and his wife Terttu.
It’s always an evening of laughter, storytelling, and catching up on events of the past year as well as a chance to see many of the watches that Voutilainen will be displaying at the show; and with the watchmaker’s kind permission I’m able once again to share some of those here with you.
This time around, Voutilainen’s focus will be on variants of his established Vingt-8 line that showcase a variety of materials, sizes, and dial-making techniques. The watch shown above draws on all three threads as it’s a platinum-encased piece with a dramatic guilloche dial in a very wearable 37.5 mm case diameter. I particularly liked the fully blued hands and the guilloche pattern that alternates vertically and horizontally striped boxes that gradually narrow in shape as the pattern approaches the edges of the dial.
The next piece that blew me away was another 37.5 mm watch with a stunningly textured, bright red guilloche dial. Once again, the hands are a standout feature of this watch with their red circles matching the dial color and rhodium-plated frosting on their other surfaces.
In the more standard Vingt-8 diameter, Voutilainen experiments this year with case materials; the watch below is in titanium, giving physical lightness to a piece that also sparkles with bright blue on its enameled guilloche dial and catches the eye with radial guilloche ribs between the hour markers.
I was really pleased to see this next watch with its red gold case, perfectly made jet-black enamel dial, and applied Breguet indices. Voutilainen pointed out that his intention with the Breguet numerals was to use a somewhat flatter (but in my view, still nicely dimensional) top-to-bottom shape than we see in pieces like the Patek Philippe Reference 5950 in order to give his watch a more contemporary look; for me the approach works quite well.
The look of the watch shown below was almost holographic, with the bright orange-red color and op-art guilloche texture combining to catch the viewer’s attention. I liked the minimalist approach that Voutilainen took with the rest of the dial to ensure that the guilloche work is the star here, including the delicate printed dots indicating the seconds.
It seems that each year, Voutilainen also introduces a “big boy/big girl” watch with a dramatic dial treatment, and 2019 is no exception as his assortment includes a weighty 44 mm platinum piece with a fantastic mother-of-pearl dial. Terttu Voutilainen told me that a good deal of work went into deciding exactly which way to orient the discs of natural material on the dial to capture the maximum color variety and luminance as seen by the wearer. Even in dim restaurant lighting this piece really popped, and its size and weight added to the statement.
Voutilainen will have additional watches at the show, including one or both of the only two remaining unsold examples of 2018’s impressive retrograde date calendar watch. I’m looking forward to seeing the complete display, but these watches were an outstanding start!
For more information, please visit www.voutilainen.ch.
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Also published on Medium.