Voutilainen 28 Hisui
Independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen strikes again with his Hisui masterpiece featuring the ancestral art of Japanese lacquer mastered by Unryuan. Led by T. Kitamura, the renowned lacquer studio in Japan, determined to keep alive the soul, spirit and identity of time-honoured Japanese culture as expressed in the Edo period, perpetuates a centuries-old art. It comes together with Swiss fine watchmaking in a contemporary creation that perfectly marries Eastern and Western traditions. The degree of commitment, patience and dedication required to create the unique visual work of art is unrivalled. Using raw materials like kinpun (gold dust), jyunkin-itakane (gold leaf), yakou-gai (great green turban shell) and awabigai (abalone shell from New Zealand), the lacquer technique known as “saiei-makie”, developed by Unryuan, which is given pride of place on the dial and bridges, required more than 1,000 work hours to complete. A time-consuming and delicate process, the artisans had to find shells of the right colour, cut every single one of them into pieces and adjust them. Voutilainen had been introduced to Unryuan by his student, Masahito Hayashi, who comes from a watchmaking family. They went together to Wajima to meet Kitamura for initial discussions, then prepared a movement and dial ébauche for him to work on. The difficulty lay in creating bridges that could be decorated; the solution was to build them in two layers: German silver topped by a titanium part that could be disassembled at any time. The name “Hisui” comes from the Japanese word for jade and emerald, precious stones from which the one-off bespoke watch drew inspiration. Sold for CHF225,000, it comes in a 39mm platinum case with handmade gold and steel hands. Comprising a pure German silver mainplate, the in-house designed and manufactured Vingt-8 movement features a new proprietary direct impulse escapement with two escapement wheels. All manufacturing, hand finishing and assembly were carried out in Voutilainen’s seven-person workshop, and the lacquer work by a team of three in the Unryuan studio.