In the spring of this year, I visited Baselworld for the first time. There will also soon be a small report on this. After the visit to the fair, I went on a little trip in Switzerland.
After leaving Basel, full of impressions, especially of the “independents”, we went on a little round trip and visited three independent watchmakers. Independent watchmakers are like the ronin of their guild. They don’t serve any master, but they dispute the art of watchmaking themselves and make a living out of it. The comparison to Samurai or Ronin is allowed, although Independent Watchmakers choose their own destiny and build their own watches, out of passion and not because they cannot find a “master”.
An Independent Watchmaker usually builds a watch from scratch. Every little part is designed, made and refined. Big brands use existing movements from different manufacturers. Hardly any larger company can afford to develop new movements. Exceptions prove the rule, like Patek Philippe or Rolex, but are very, very rare. In the guild of the high art of watchmaking, Kari Voutilainen is an aesthete.
At the fair we have already met Kari and could see some of his watches in the flesh. Until then, I had never held a watch from him in my hands.
The dial of a watch is something special, virtually the face. You look at it in its entirety and within seconds you know whether you like the design. Kari’s dials are extremely beautiful. Period.
One watch really blew me away. A light blue, almost white, on this model on the right side. I think it is an Observatoire, however some details are different. From being “blown away”, I didn’t ask this, at Baselworld.
If you want, you can compare here: http://www.voutilainen.ch/
When you arrive in Môtiers, you are quickly out again. There are just 825 inhabitants living here. When we arrive, the weather is mixed, briefly rain, then sun again. The landscape is beautiful and the headquarters of the watch manufactory is an old villa from around 1900.
When we arrive, we are very warmly welcomed. The native Finn is a really, really friendly and polite person and we are allowed to see all the details right away. Dial blanks or a kind of design book for dials. The workshop in the basement, which looks a bit like a museum, but is still in use. I think we go through four floors roughly. All the way under the roof is computers next to crafts. This is where the movements are designed, watches are designed, assembled and restored. When we were there, they had just restored four clocks from a collector whose house had burned down and the clocks in the safe had taken major damage.
Time flies and we get in the car to drive just under a kilometer to the dial workshop. Part 2 of the story follows.
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Danke Dir, Eva! 🙂