IN­DE­PEN­DENTS' DAY

Most me­chan­i­cal watches come from Switzer­land and are made by Swiss watch­mak­ing com­pa­nies. High-end watches are com­monly thought of as be­ing un­der the ‘Swiss Watch­mak­ing’ um­brella and the en­tire in­dus­try uses that de­nom­i­na­tion. But are all high-end mechan

Plaza Watch International - - Contents - WO R D S Frank Gee­len

Are all high-end me­chan­i­cal watches made in Switzer­land? We look at some of the key play­ers in the world of in­de­pen­dent watch­mak­ing.

is no, not all high-end watches are Swiss-made. Al­low us to re­veal to you six nonSwiss in­de­pen­dent watch­mak­ers, who make watches of the very high­est qual­ity. Whether they are made in Fin­land, the Nether­lands, Aus­tria or sim­ply hand-made, th­ese watches can eas­ily com­pete with their Swiss ri­vals. Three of them were just awarded prizes at the Grand Prix d’Hor­logerie de Genève, the Os­cars of watch­mak­ing.

The sim­ple an­swer

Kari Vouti­lainen

Let’s start with some­one whose rep­u­ta­tion is al­ready im­pec­ca­ble. His name is cel­e­brated among watch col­lec­tors and if you own one of his time­pieces, you will be taken very se­ri­ously by ev­ery watch col­lec­tor. His name is Kari Vouti­lainen and he was born in Fin­land in 1962. His train­ing as a watch­maker started at the renowned watch­mak­ing school of Ta­pi­ola in Fin­land. Yes in­deed, there is a renowned watch­mak­ing school out­side Switzer­land. In 1989 Vouti­lainen went to Switzer­land to at­tend the In­ter­na­tional Watch­mak­ing School of WOSTEP and he was quickly spot­ted by Parmi­giani and of­fered a job there. He worked in the mag­nif­i­cent restora­tion work­shop, han­dling some of the most com­pli­cated and out­stand­ing time­pieces and au­tom­ata that have ever been cre­ated. Kari Vouti­lainen taught for the next three years at the WOSTEP School of Watch­mak­ing, head­ing the depart­ment of com­pli­cated watch­mak­ing.

In 2002 he started an in­de­pen­dent watch­mak­ing busi­ness, and now his ate­lier is in Môtiers, Switzer­land. He started by build­ing a limited num­ber of hand­made time­pieces and his pieces were im­me­di­ately sold to col­lec­tors around the world. In 2005, he in­tro­duced the world's first dec­i­mal re­peater that sounds at hours, ten-minute in­ter­vals and then min­utes. When you think of it, a much more log­i­cal so­lu­tion than the odd minute re­peater that strikes for hours, quar­ters and min­utes. In 2011, Vout­lainen in­tro­duced his first in-house de­vel­oped move­ment that could be pro­duced in a

Vouti­lainen Vin gt- 8.

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