Kari Voutilainen quietly released his 20th Anniversary Tourbillon, tributing his first-ever watch

Kari Voutilainen quietly released his 20th Anniversary Tourbillon, tributing his first-ever watch

Russell Sheldrake
  • Modelled after the very first watch Voutilainen made, the independent powerhouse is releasing a 61-piece run of this limited edition.
  • The dials are decorated in Voutilainen’s renowned guilloché, crafted from a solid silver blank.
  • Visible through the caseback, the one-minute tourbillon movement is the star of the show, equipped with two barrels, a Phillips terminal curve and Grossman internal curve.

kari voutilainen tourbillon 20th anniversary front

Many still think of the independent space as a young and vibrant sector of the industry. However, there is a select group of watchmakers who have been around for multiple decades already, and laid the groundwork for those emerging today. Kari Voutilainen is one of these precious few. To celebrate 20 years of operating under his own name, Voutilainen has produced a limited run of tourbillon wristwatches that are modelled after the first pocket watch he ever produced, which just happened to have been completed 30 years ago.

For those of you unfamiliar with Voutilainen, allow me to give you a quick intro to this Finnish watchmaker. Born and raised in Lapland, watchmaking was an unlikely profession for young Kari, far more interested in sports like ice hockey and cross country skiing. But after completing the watchmaking course at the Finnish school of watchmaking, otherwise known as Kelloseppäkoulu, he was convinced this would be the path for him.

kair voutilainen workbench watchmaker
Courtesy of A Collected Man.

He went on to complete the WOSTEP refresher course in Switzerland, and then enrolled in their complications course too. After graduating from this rather gruelling undertaking, he would go on to work in the renowned restoration workshop of Michel Parmigiani from 1990 to 1999. After seeing the emergence of the very first independents like Daniel Roth and George Daniels in the early ’90s, Voutilainen would attempt his own project, and working in the evenings, using the Parmigiani workshop over the course of three years, he created his very first pocket watch.

Tourbillon pocketwatch from 1994 Front A4 B
The product of 2,000 hours of Voutilainen’s evenings in the Parmigiani workshop.

The watch was a one-minute tourbillon with twin barrels, power reserve indicator, and a finely guillochéd dial, and Voutilainen finished it in 1994. This pocket watch still remains in Voutilainen’s collection today, and was the inspiration behind this latest release. It would take another 10 years and a stint of teaching at WOSTEP for Voutilainen to finally step out on his own with his eponymous manufacture.

Tourbillon pocketwatch from 1994 1

Here we are 20 years later, and Voutilainen has established himself as one of the most talented watchmakers and businessmen in the industry. While his beautifully crafted and colourful dials make his watches stand out visually, what makes the man stand out from his peers is the complete manufacture that he has been able to build over the past two decades. With his main workshop now overlooking the small town of Môiters, where his case and dial manufacturers are based, he’s producing components for his own watches, and other companies around the world.

zenith 135 desktop

You might have come across Voutilainen in the past thanks to this collaborative nature. Notable is his work with MB&F on many of its more complex movements, or his teaming up with Phillips, Bacs & Russo, and Zenith to produce the Calibre 135 Observatory where Voutilainen and his team restored all of the historic, vintage movements that were used. He re-entered the news cycle recently when it was announced that he was taking control of the historic Urban Jürgensen brand, and bringing it back to the market alongside his daughter, a now fully qualified and talented watchmaker in her own right.

kari voutilainen tourbillon 20th anniversary case profile

To mark this historic rise and continued success, we have this highly impressive tourbillon wristwatch. With just 61 being produced – 20 each in platinum, white gold, and rose gold, and a unique piece in steel – they will be hard to come by and not instantly recognisable. Each one will be fitted with a custom dial in the same layout as the pocket watch, but the colours and possibly the guilloché designs can be chosen by the clients.

kari voutilainen tourbillon 20th anniversary movement caseback

While the dial and 40mm precious metal case with a knurled band are impressive to look at, the real show happens through the display caseback. Here, Voutilainen has been able to accurately recreate his original pocket watch movement, but now to a diameter of just 32.5mm. With twin barrels that connect directly into the centre wheel pinion, feeding power into the movement this way helps the timekeeping of the watch by maintaining a more constant amplitude over the course of the 72 hour power reserve. This means that the watch should keep a far more similar rate whether it has just been wound or you’ve left it on the bedside table for the weekend.

By keeping the same architecture as his first pocket watch’s movement, the eye is instantly drawn to the one-minute tourbillon that is almost framed by the barrel bridge that holds the large twin barrels. The level of hand-finishing is beyond impressive, and can hardly be conveyed in press imagery. I was lucky enough to visit Voutilainen’s workshop just over a year ago and witnessed first-hand the skill and concentration it takes to produce these flawless finishes. Not something I would have the patience of dexterity for.

While the watch is impressive in and of itself like all of Voutilainen’s releases, the anniversary that it marks is perhaps even more so. To go from putting thousands of hours into his early watches his evenings while maintaining a full time job, to now running one of the most complete independent manufactures and be looked up to by a host of young brands, it’s clear that the legacy of Voutilainen is far more than this one-minute tourbillon, with hopefully a lot more still to come.

Kari Voutilainen 20th Anniversary Tourbillon pricing and availability

The 20th Anniversary Tourbillon from Voutilainen was made available for orders from during the AHCI Exhibition, with 20 being made available in white gold, rose gold, and platinum each, and one in steel. Price is available on application. 

Brand Kari Voutilainen
Model 20th Anniversary Tourbillon
Case Dimensions 40mm (D)
Case Material Platinum, white gold, rose gold, or steel
Water Resistance N/A
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Dial Guilloché, solid silver blank
Strap Hand-stitched calf or crocodile leather
Movement Tourbillon 22, in-house, manual winding
Power Reserve 72 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve, one-minute tourbillon
Availability 20 pieces in each precious metal, piece unique in steel
Price POA