The trend for smaller watches has been steadily picking up steam for the last couple of years. Where previously the focus was on big-and-bold, more and more vintage sized watches with a restraint look and feel are being released. And when done right, it is difficult not to fall in love with some of them on the spot. And when Torsti Laine, the Finnish watchmaker behind Laine Watches does things right, we take notice. Today we’ll have a look at the brand’s latest creation, the Laine Watches V38, a compact, vintage-inspired, Calatrava-like beauty.
I’ve met Torsti Laine twice, and both times I was really impressed by his work. A humble man, from Finland, setting out to do as much as he can by himself. Packing up everything he has and moving his family to Switzerland in order to pursue a dream. Mind you, this was after he first worked as a computer engineer. Seeking a shift in work, he enrolled in the Finnish Kelloseppäkoulu Institute for Watchmaking.
Following this dramatic change in life, Torsti Laine has not let up. Showing great potential, evidenced by winning the A. Lange & Söhne F.A. Lange Watchmaking Excellence Award in 2014, he has been making watches under his eponymous brand for a few years now. I first wrote about his Classic Chronograph that featured a restored and beautifully decorated Valjoux 22 in 2018. While the movement was an old (reworked/restored) ébauche, the dial was a modern interpretation of a vintage chronograph dial with oversized sub-dials. Since that very first encounter, he now has four models on offer: Gelidus 2, Gelidus 3, GG3 and since very recently the V38.
All watches share a common theme, with vast bespoke options available. The focus is on the decoration of the dials, with everything from hand frosting to intricate guilloche patterns, applied numerals and more. The movements are always decorated and finished by hand as well, with either a frosted finish or completely engraved. What stands out in the movements is the crispness of the decoration of the bridges. It is somewhat reminiscent of the style of finishing in a Grönefeld, with stark contrasts between the bevels of the bridges and the deeply recessed, decorated areas.
The Laine V38 is a break from former Laine Watches in the sense that it uses a new movement as a base, while remaining true to the original design philosophy from the Gelidus and Gelidus Guilloché (GG) collections. The Laine Watches V38 is first and foremost smaller, at 38mm diameter whereas the previous watches were 40,5mm wide. The smaller size is made possible by opting for a smaller movement, which we’ll get into later.
The stainless steel case measures 38mm, with a thickness of only 9mm. This makes it an elegant option in terms of dimensions. The case is fully polished with a domed sapphire crystal on top and a see-through caseback, both with an anti-reflective coating.
The dial for the Laine Watches V38 follows the same principles as the Gelidus and Gelidus 2 models do. On the outside edge of the dial is a minute track, with hollow dots every five minutes to reveal the dial colour underneath. In between these larger dots are smaller ones marking each minute. On the inside of that is the section for the hour markers. The applied Breguet-style numerals are done in white gold and can be ordered fully polished or with a blue PVD coating. The V38 also has an applied steel ring encompassing the inner section of the dial, while simultaneously outlining the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock.
As with all previous watches by Torsti Laine, there’s plenty of bespoke options to choose from. Each section of the dial (outer ring, inner portion and small seconds sub-dial) can be finished in a range of different techniques, colours and materials. These include several types of frosting, guilloche patterns and things like a meteorite insert. One of the most interesting ones, to me at least, is where the flame-like guilloche pattern of the centre section continues into the sub-dial. Presented colours include silver, blue, salmon, black or a mix of tones.
As mentioned, the smaller size for the V38 is due to a new movement. Where previous watches had a hand-wound calibre based on a Unitas, the V38 gets a Vaucher VMF 5401 micro-rotor movement. Visible through the caseback, it is upgraded with a laser-engraved tungsten rotor. Known from several other brands, the Vaucher micro-rotor movement is a handsome solution to offer a slimmer watch without losing the practicality of an automatic winding system.
The movement runs at a frequency of 3Hz, or 21,600vph. Measurements for it are 30mm in diameter and only 2.6mm in height. It has a total of 160 components, including 29 jewels. The balance wheel has gold variable inertia blocks. The bridges are finished with a Côtes de Genève striping and rhodium plating. The edges are bevelled and polished by hand.
The Laine Watches V38 can be fitted to various leather straps, depending on your preference. You can select from either an alligator leather strap or a slightly distressed leather one, both in multiple colours. The V38 starts at a price of CHF 9,400 for a dial with frosted finishing, then CHF 9,900 for a dial with a centre guilloche or meteorite section and finally CHF 10,900 for a triple guilloche dial.
For more information and orders, please visit LaineWatches.com.