Introducing the Kaj Korpela’s Hand-Made Tourbillon Wristwatch “Timepiece No. 1”

Swedish independent watchmaker Kaj Korpela makes his debut with an impressive wristwatch powered by a rectangular movement featuring a tourbillon.

Hailing from northern Sweden, Kaj Korpela came to become an independent watchmaker by way of Ulysse Nardin and then a one year stint at Janvier S.A., Vianney Halter’s workshop. He then struck out on his own in 2008, setting up shop in Bern, the federal capital of Switzerland. He then produced timepieces and components for other brands, all the while working on his own wristwatch, which has finally made its debut.

Now 34 years old, Korpela studied watchmaking first at the Sveriges Urmakereförbunds Skola (Swedish Watchmaker’s Association School) in Borensberg, continuing his education at Switzerland’s famous WOSTEP. Korpela’s vocation is actually a family affair – his elder brother Henrik is a respected teacher who set up watchmaking academy KHWCC in the watchmaking town of Le Locle. And the elder Korpela is also a contributor to this very site, having penned a series of exceptionally enlightening articles on the technical ins and outs of finishing and restoration.

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon wrist shot

The Korpela tourbillon wristwatch

Currently named Timepiece No. 1 while Korpela contemplates a name worth of his creation, the wristwatch is hand-wound with a one-minute tourbillon regulator. The tourbillon is traditional: it features a free-sprung copper-beryllium balance wheel beating at 21,600bph that’s fitted with four platinum weights for regulation. It’s attached to a hairspring with a Phillips terminal curve.

The watch pictured here is Korpela’s first prototype, with all the usual accompanying imperfections.

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon production 1

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon Watch 3

Korpela makes most of the watch himself, including the case, dial and practically all of the movement, save for the jewels and springs. The first specimen of the Timepiece No. 1 took some 2300 hours to complete, equivalent to an entire year’s work.

Milling the base plate of the movement

The raw bridge and base plate in brass

The movement prototype before decoration

On the back, most of the movement is hidden underneath a full plate, but the tourbillon is revealed in all its glory, sitting underneath a black polished steel bridge that has been intricately skeletonised in a manner that looks almost organic. The finishing of the prototype skeleton bridge shown here is an approximation of the final product, but nonetheless required 60 hours of effort. Korpela estimates 100 hours will be needed to finish the production version.

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon Watch 6

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon Watch 2

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon production 2

Rectangular in shape with angular lines, the watch is a sizeable 25.7mm in diameter and 43.4mm long – but a notably slim 8.5mm high. Korpela points to early 20th century classics like the Rolex Prince and Patek Philippe Gondolo, and also the modern day Lange Cabaret, as inspirations for the shape of the case. While the prototype is in rose gold, the case material is up to the customer; options include stainless steel and other precious metals.

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon Watch 5

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon profile

Similarly, the dial is customisable, both in design and materials, as are the alloys for the movement bridges, base plate and wheels.

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon production 3

Milling the watch case

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon production 8

Price and availability 

Korpela will make only five of the Timepiece No. 1, and every watch produced will be detailed on a private blog accessible only by the owner. Each watch will be accompanied by a lifetime warranty and complimentary regular overhauls.

The price has yet to be set, but it’s in a similar range to comparable, high quality tourbillon wristwatches by other independent watchmakers. The watch is available direct from Atelier Korpela.

Kaj Korpela Tourbillon wrist shot 2


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Vacheron Constantin Rounds Up Steve McCurry’s Photos of Fantastic Places

Six more exotic places have been captured by Steve McCurry for Vacheron Constantin's Overseas wristwatch.

Commission by Vacheron Constantin to celebrate the launch of its new Overseas sports watch, the series of photos of exotic locales by Steve McCurry is now complete. The photographer best known for his striking Afghan Girl portrait roamed the world, creating a series of pictures that depicts 12 places in McCurry’s postcard-perfect style. The first six were published in May 2016, and here are the remaining six, along with McCurry’s take.

Chefchaouen, Morocco A town situated between the mountains and the sea, notable for having all its buildings blue.

“I have visited a similar blue location in India. There is a poetic story likening this blue city to the skies or heaven. Viewing the town at night from further away provides a magical vantage point where the warm-hued lights give a nice contrast to the blue-painted city.”


Crawick Multiverse, Scotland A land art project in Scotland built on a former coal mine, which uses stones and boulders to form rock installations.

“I was previously unaware of this location, and pleasantly surprised by its ancient mystique despite being a new installation. These man-made formations typify Scotland’s great history of similar formations whose purpose are still unknown to us today. There is a cosmic feeling evoked by these structures.”


Lalibela, Ethiopia The capital of Ethiopia centuries ago, Lalibela is famous for its 11 monolithic churches cut out of a single block of rock.

“Lalibela has a great history, and is distinguishable by its churches which are cut out of solid stone from the top down. It’s a unique structure not unlike the pyramids or medieval cathedrals. Though built 700 years ago, this location continues to be a point of pilgrimage today.” 



Red Square seen from the GUM roof, Moscow McCurry enjoyed unusual access to the roof of Moscow’s most famous department store for his shoot, giving him a unique perspective over the Russian capital.

“Managing to shoot the Red Square from a new vantage point was made possible by the exceptional access granted to the GUM roof. The square topped by colourful steeples thus  revealed itself in a truly unique way. Once night fell, this perspective took on a whole new and even more magical dimension when the GUM glass roof was lit up.” 


Samarkand, Uzbekistan One of the most ancient cities in the world, Samarkand’s centre is the Registan, a vast public square bordered by Islamic schools on three sides.

“Having been there 10 years ago, I was familiar with the location. However, the timeless architecture still holds just as striking and iconic as it did when it was built 500 years ago. The ornate designs and wondrous colors are a marvel to behold.”


Paris Observatory Founded nearly 400 years ago, the Paris Observatory is even older than the better known Royal Greenwich Observatory in England.

“This was my first time entering the dome of an observatory. It was fascinating to have the opportunity to visit a place made possible by human curiosity and ingenuity. The Paris Observatory was technologically revolutionary for its time, and is still one of the largest astronomical centers of the world. The Overseas Tour itself is driven by the same curiosity about the world that is at the heart of this location.”



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