The twentieth edition of the Gaïa Award was held on 18 September this year at the International Museum of Horology (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Created in 1993 by the MIH and the only event of its kind, the Award singles out the best of the best from among those who have contributed to the enown of horology in terms of its history, its techniques or its industrial success. The Gaia Award singles out three categories of achievement.
The craft and design category was created to pay tribute to bold and creative watchmakers sometimes working in relative anonymity, their names being discreetly associated with large firms. Its 2014 winner is Kari Voutilainen.
Born in 1962 in Rovaniemi (Finland), Kari Voutilainen trained at the world-renowned Tapiola School of Watchmaking in Finland and followed this with a course in business studies. An independent watchmaker in Finland, he travelled to Switzerland in 1988 initially to attend a refresher course at WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program) in Neuchâtel. He then attended classes devoted to complicated watches. In 1990, he was hired by Parmigiani to work on the restoration of exceptional complicated watches. He was also involved in the design of unique and original timepieces.
After teaching at WOSTEP between 1999 and 2002, Kari Voutilainen founded the Voutilainen Artisan d’horlogerie d’art atelier in Môtiers, in the Val-de-Travers. Three years later, he presented his works for the first time at Baselworld. A member of the Academy of Independent Watch Designers (AHCI) since 2006, he was voted watchmaker of the year by the Finnish Watchmakers’ Association in 2007. In 2013, he won the award for best men’s watch at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
Today, the Voutilainen Artisan d’horlogerie d’art atelier employs fifteen people and produces around 45 watches a year – unique timepieces or strictly limited editions – following the precepts of watchmaking tradition and quality craftsmanship.
We congratulate our colleague from the Academy for this high distinction.