The Voutilainen x Leijona Försti Diver combines the timeless design of the Finnish Leijona watch brand with Swiss independent watchmaking expertise.
Försti Diver is the fourth fruit of Perkko Ltd’s Leijona Heritage 1907 watch collection and Voutilainen x Leijona Heritage’s collaboration with Kari Voutilainen, alongside Oiva Classic, Jalo Sport and Urho Chrono.
Unique cooperation with Kari Voutilainen
The Voutilainen x Leijona Heritage collection is the result of a unique collaboration in which the Finnish master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen and his team have given a strong imprint, especially on the production of watches. The technical design of the watches takes place in Voutilainen’s workshop and the various stages of the production process take place in production plants specializing in small-scale production owned by Kari Voutilainen.
For example, the dials come from Comblemine and the cases are manufactured and finished at the Voutilainen & Cattini factory. Similarly, the watches are assembled and tested at Voutilainen & Cattini’s another production plant. What makes it interesting is that Voutilainen’s own watch production relies on exactly the same facilities and professionals.
The most significant parts purchased from the outside are automatic movements manufactured by the Swiss Sellita, as well as steel bracelets by the Swiss family company Rhein Fils, and rubber straps by the Hong Kong based Crafter Blue.
Försti Diver is also the first diver’s watch that Kari Voutilainen and his workshop have made from start to finish – based on the plans of Perkko and especially Jari Mantila, known as the driving force of the Leijona Heritage 1907 collection. A funny detail about the project is that Kari Voutilainen’s first Leijona watch was also a diver’s watch, so Försti Diver can be seen as a kind of return to the roots and the closure of the circle.
Voutilainen x Leijona Försti Diver
The Voutilainen x Leijona collaborative collection, part of the Leijona Heritage 1907 collection, relies on strong Swiss independent watchmaking production with Kari Voutilainen, where the amount of work and finishing – especially the case and dial – as well as the watch production methods and materials used have not been compromised. The end result is a high-quality product that lasts time and use by Swiss standards.
Voutilainen x Leijona Försti Diver is a full-blooded diver’s watch, the design of which is based on a quartz-powered diver’s watch model taken from the history of Leijona. Based on the selected model, Kari Voutilainen’s studio carried out structural design as 3D modeling, in which the design was honed in terms of mechanical machinery and the best possible usability and durability, without, however, interfering with the dimensions.
The end result is a modern and exemplary interpretation of the diver’s watch that is perfect for today’s consumer in everyday use. Kari Voutilainen said that one of the starting points of the design is that the watch case must be able to re-work like new without changing the dimensions and appearance, if necessary. This has required frictionless communication between the designers and the case factory, so that, for example, the various finished surfaces and facets on the watch case can be easily re-finished from scratches or small bumps.
The watches in the Leijona Heritage 1907 collection rely on the movements of the Swiss manufacturer Sellita. Originally a subcontractor to the ETA, Sellita is one of the largest players in the industry, whose movements are used by numerous quality watch manufacturers.
Just like in the ETA, Sellita offers different versions of its movements of which Leijona Heritage relies on the Special (Elabore) quality level, which promises a range of ± 7 to 20 seconds per day. During the production process of the Leijona Heritage collection, the movements are inspected and tested three different times.
There are two reasons for choosing Sellita: Firstly, the availability of the movement is guaranteed, so spare parts are easily available. The prevalence of the movement means that there are many watchmakers and watch services capable of servicing it. Therefore, the consumer’s experience in possible service situations, especially in terms of speed and reliability of service, can be considered good. This is something that should not be forgotten as an everyday watch user in the era of the inhouse movement boom.
Another, more significant reason is the Leijona Heritage collection’s in many ways a “Japanese-inspired” philosophical approach to watches as aesthetic everyday objects, where you want to pay more attention to what everyone can see with their own eyes. In this world of thinking, the design language of the watch case and dial, the level of finishing and the materials used are emphasized.
Försti Diver’s design solutions emphasize the importance of aesthetics in a functional way. Even if you look at the dial, the elevated and strongly luminescented indices give it a beautiful three-dimensional impression – plus the dial is extremely easy to read in all conditions. When looking at indexes and hands with a loupe, they are finished to a high standard.
At the bottom of it all, there is an exceptionally high-quality galvanized dial in this price point. As a method, electroplating produces a velvety glowing surface that requires flawlessness in the material and surface finish to achieve an aesthetically pleasing finish. If there is even the slightest defect in the material, it will show up mercilessly in the end result – which is unforgivable in a visible part like a dial.
Fit in glory
For the watch case, the most important issue related to usability is the fit. In this respect, Försti Diver has succeeded well in achieving a good fit on both the smaller and larger wrists. The main reasons for this are the moderate 41mm diameter of the watch case, which feels and looks a little smaller in size on the wrist.
The fit is affected by a moderate thickness of 12.75 millimeters, some of which is brought about by the still slightly raised anti-reflective sapphire glass. The height is identical to the original model, but due to the better fit, the back cover of the watch is correspondingly lower than Sapphire glass, which means that the watch is a little closer to the wrist.
In order to maximize the fit, the rubber strap made by Crafter Blue is strongly curved downwards, leaving no empty space between the wrist and the watch. At the same time, the watch naturally settles slightly in the middle of the wrist, depending on the shape of the wrist, and not uncomfortably on the inside or outside of the wrist.
The steel bracelet of the watch fits almost as well, and I would miss a little more roundness for comfort at the edges against the wrist. The plus is that the steel bracelet has a small possibility of fine adjustment. The detailed design is indicated by the fact that the steel bracelet and rubber strap are designed exclusively for the Försti Diver watch model.
Those who change their straps will be pleased to know that Försti Diver’s lug width is standard 20 millimeters, so there are plenty of suitable accessory straps on the market if the steel bracelet and rubber strap that comes with the watch is not enough for your own needs.
Two models, eight looks
Voutilainen x Leijona Försti Diver is available in the first phase in two different colored models, which are delivered with two different colored bezels and a steel and rubber bracelet. In this way, four options with different looks can be modified from one model.
The light-colored model (ref. 21.400.01.521) is made in a limited edition of 50 pieces and comes with a two-color blue bell ring and a one-color dark blue bezel. The black model (ref. 21.400.01.220) is a series production model and comes with a so-called Coke (black-red) and black bezel.
Price and availability
Voutilainen x Leijona Försti Diver is available in Finland through retailers and internationally from the Heritage Leijona online store. The price of both watch models is 4,490 euros.
Introduced by the Leijona watch brand more than two years ago, the Leijona Heritage collection is a very ambitious project that aims to restore Leijona to the roots of Swiss watchmaking. The goal has been reached in terms of manufacturing, but in the end, success is measured by commercial metrics.
What is respectable about the project is that, according to the original plan, Leijona has not embarked on the path of quick profits with its Heritage 1907 collection, but has dared to build a credible position of quality and price in the eyes of consumers. The challenge is not easy, but achieving the goal does not depend on the quality of the watches.
Försti Diver is a step in the right direction, as the Leijona Heritage collection has needed a diver’s watch to increase interest in the international market as well. Against this background, the collaboration model with Kari Voutilainen, which includes a huge amount of handicrafts and high-quality Swiss watchmaking, is a wristwatch worth the price.
In a nutshell
- Manufacturer: Leijona (Perkko Ltd)
- Collection: Leijona Heritage 1907
- Model: Försti Diver (ref. 21.400.01.521 / 21.400.01.220)
- Movement: Sellita SW200-1 (automatic)
- Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 A / h)
- Power reserve: 38 hours
- Watch case: stainless steel
- Case diameter: 41 mm
- Watch thickness: 12.75 mm
- Glass: sapphire (anti-reflective)
- Caseback: stainless steel
- Water resistance: 200 m (20 ATM)
- Bracelet: steel and rubber
- Price: 4490 €