Kari Voutilainen is quite possibly the most regarded and worshipped independent watchmakers. The watches of this Finnish-conceived ace watchmaker (close to 50 pieces each year) are made 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 perhaps the most regarded specialists in the whole watch industry?
Among the main influences, one of my father’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 timekeepers. I was dazzled by his seat, his apparatuses, the developments, the timekeepers hanging on the dividers… I just enjoyed the environment 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. In any case, I needed to find out additional. Also, the solitary chance to further my learning was to go to Switzerland and study at Wostep. This was the motivation behind why I came toNeuchâtel in 1998. Then in 1999, I did a second seminar on complicated watches. Then 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 spotless plan and yet, they should be unique. I need something new inside. I attempt to combine both. I like new things however not luxurious things. Notwithstanding my thoughts, the conversation with my client brings a lot.
Are there any past experts or other watchmakers who inspire you?
Naturally, I appreciate past bosses like Breguet. Yet in addition I will make reference to a couple of watchmakers I have been working with. Among them is Richard Miklosch, a self-trained watchmaker, crafting watches just as a pastime. He was teaching metalwork in a school. He made delightful pocket chronometers and tourbillons. I went to see him in Germany, and I took in a ton 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 ton of old procedures. He urged me to make my first watch.
What are your most noteworthy achievements?
I am content with my workshop. Weare a little construction and group, close to 20 individuals altogether and we can make our developments. We can plan the developments, the watches, make 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 tally, 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 basically something for which we have not discovered a provider willing to undertake.
What is your objective for the company?
My desire isn’t to fill in volume. I’m looking instead at creating bespoke, unique 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 climate, 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 day by 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. In the event 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 others, prototyping or doing reclamation. 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 development of independent watchmaking?
The position of independents has changed profoundly in these previous 15 years. In the no so distant past, the industry was ignoring independents, thinking they were simply diversion creators 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 some of the time 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 huge companies.
How do you see the advancement 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 arranges the SIHH). Baselworld has been changing considerably more, yet it is a verifiable presentation with in excess of 100 years of custom. It will remain the main display. Baselworld is enormous 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 coordinate 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 shows. The advancement 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 eventual fate of watch distribution.
I actually accept that fine watches will be introduced before a client. The great multi-brand retail shops are really 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 lash 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 additionally sell straightforwardly to clients.