Prepare to be mesmerised by the dial of the Laine 1817 engraved first seriesNick Kenyon
Torsti Laine is a relatively fresh face on the independent watchmaking scene, releasing his first watches back in 2016, but he’s quickly made a name for himself by offering affordable and customisable watches. Born in Finland, Laine was a computer programmer before he turned his hand to watchmaking, enrolling in the Kelloseppäkoulu Finnish School of Watchmaking where independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen also learned his craft. After making an initial series of 10 chronographs that were the first watches to feature Laine on the dial, he launched the time-only Laine 1817 collection just a year later in 2017. The watch that we’re looking at today is the Laine 1817 engraved – the first ever watch to feature an engraved dial in the collection.
The case of the Laine Watches 1817 is certainly not the star of the show, but still has a number of attractive details. Measuring 40.5mm in diameter and 49.5mm from lug to lug, it isn’t a small watch, but does wear comfortably on the wrist. The majority of the steel case is finished with a mirror polish, while the case sides have a straight grain brushing. The lugs have been scalloped out slightly and have a sandblasted texture, offering a nice detail if you ever tire of looking at the dial or movement.
This is where the magic is, featuring one of the more beautifully hand-engraved dials you’re likely to ever have seen, particularly at this price point. The complex and intricate pattern has been engraved in the fleurisanne style, which is a 19th century engraving technique, that has then been ink-filled to add extra contrast to the impression that it offers.
The engraving is asymmetrical in its layout, appearing to grow upward from the bottom of the dial as it wraps around the sub seconds dial at 6 o’clock.
The engraving continues all the way to the edge of the dial where there’s a minute track to aid legibility, to what is otherwise a fairly busy dial. The hours are marked by engraved flowers within the minute track and the Laine name appears at 12 0’clock as the only text on the dial. The hands are spade-shaped, adding to the sense of classicism that the watch delivers and have been beautifully heat blued.
The movement is another shining example of Laine’s talent and is almost a shame to be hidden away at the rear of the watch. The caliber itself is a heavily modified manually wound Unitas movement that runs at 18,000 vph, featuring more beautiful engraving across the entire three-quarter plate.
This engraving has not been filled with ink, offering a glimpse of what the dial would have looked like without ink and delivering a slightly more utilitarian impression to the caseback of the watch. The bridges below have an evenly frosted finish, with decorative anglage across the entire movement. This movement is number one of the 10 watch series.
The strap is black leather, secured with a steel pin buckle that further adds to the nod of the golden age of watchmaking that this collection is a nod to.
If you’re looking for an entry point into independent watching, the Laine 1817 collection is the perfect place to start. If the case was slightly smaller it might wear better for those with smaller wrists, but it would require a different movement and then drive the price up, as well as offering less of an engraving canvas in the dial and movement.
With the Laine 1817 engraved, not only do you get an immediate impression of the hand-made quality of the watch, but also an overwhelming sense that this is something special. While the specific style of the engraving may not be to your specific taste, it is impossible to argue that the quality of the work is lacking across the dial or movement.
As one of the first series production watches from Laine, it is an impressively high bar that he set himself with this collection. In the years since this was launched, that bar has continued to be met, increasing his capability to customise special pieces for clients, working with different materials (such as meteorite in dials) and more diverse production techniques (like proper engine-turned guilloche). If Laine still isn’t on your radar, he should be.
Laine 1817 engraved price and availability:
The Laine 1817 engraved retailed for CHF6900 when it was first released and was a limited run of 10 watches. Understandably it is all sold out, however pre-owned examples do occasionally come up for sale online. If you’re interested in learning more about Laine Watches, you can find out more right here.