If you look too quickly at the latest release from Kari Voutilainen, you might be tricked into thinking its an entirely new timepiece for the Finnish watchmaking maestro. Given the name 28ti, the watch features a brand new execution for Voutilainen, yet it should feel quite familiar for the Kari faithful. If you haven’t guessed yet, that is because much of the watch’s movement — which is visible from the dial side, a first for Voutilainen — is taken from the Vingt-8 construction that is easily distinguishable due to the extra-large balance wheel found in the 28ti’s top-left corner.
The Vingt-8 is likely the best known Voutilainen timepiece and has been a part of the watchmaker’s catalog since 2011. When it was introduced eight years ago, it was the first Voutilainen watch to be fully designed, developed and produced in-house. For the 28ti, rather than feature a dial produced at Comblémine, Voutilainen’s industry-renowned dial workshop, the watch subverts your expectations by showcasing the movement architecture on the front. Despite the movement having literally been flipped from the inside out, the watch is still fairly legible at a glance. Running along the periphery of the watch is an hour and minute track, and the watch’s Breguet-style hands are consistent with previous Vingt-8 iterations. On the watch’s caseback, Voutilainen has shifted expectations once again due to the presence of a running seconds display and a power reserve indicator that shows off the model’s 65 hours of running autonomy. This arrangement is, again, entirely new for Voutilainen; for collectors, it offers some additional hidden functionality while letting the core timekeeping functions remain in focus on the dial side.
The aforementioned extra-large balance wheel allows for precise regulation of the watch to within a strict set of tolerances. When Voutilainen unveiled the Vingt-8 movement construction in 2011, he was the first to use a unique type of balance spring that features a Phillips overcoil on the exterior of the spring and the less common internal Grossman curve. While the caliber inside the Vingt-8 is used as a base, it had to be slightly reconstructed for usage in the 28ti. Additionally, Voutilainen and his team have applied a unique escapement wheel configuration that provides a direct impulse to the balance through an impulse roller/jewel. The consequence of this construction is increased energy efficiency when compared to a traditional Swiss Lever Escapement. According to Voutilainen, the Vingt-8 and its subsequent iterations were the first timepieces to use such a configuration.
One of the immediate positives of this dial orientation is that it allows for the depth of the movement architecture and, more importantly, Voutilainen’s superlative hand finishing to be on full display. The surfaces of the pinions and wheels are completely flat and highly polished to within exceptionally uniform tolerances. All finishing work on the main plate and bridges, both made of German Silver, are by hand to achieve the highest possible levels of surface finish. The screws and all steel parts are finished and polished by hand. The titanium case is made by the workshop that Voutilainen helped establish, Voutilainen & Cattin.
While the 28ti offers those that have always wanted to place Voutilainen’s gorgeous movements front and center the chance to do so, within the canon of Voutilainen, the 28ti is a hard watch to pin down. Feedback for the watch during the show was exceedingly positive, but it will be interesting to see how the watch performs over the long haul. I can easily imagine this watch becoming a cult favorite for longtime followers of Kari and his team; at the same time, it’s a timepiece that is unlikely to be someone’s first Voutilainen. Despite dial work being one of the defining characteristics for a Voutilainen timepiece, this model completely eschews that factor in favor of demonstrating Voutilainen and his staff’s immense talent in movement design and finishing.
The Voutilainen 28ti is limited to eight total pieces in titanium. Pricing available upon request.
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