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Voutilainen X Leijona: Heritage 1907 Collection

Leijona a historic watch brand that proudly keeps an enduring relationship with two countries: Switzerland and Finland.

Leijona means Lion in Finnish language. The brand traces its history to the last decades of the 19th century. Initially, Leijona watches were made in Switzerland. Since then, it has remained a popular watch brand in Finland. However, after the quartz crisis, the production of Leijona watches has been moved out from the country.

Finnish company Perkko has collaborated with Master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen and launched Leijona Heritage Collection as a tribute to the brand’s Swiss origins. This new series is comprised of Swiss made watches produced in the valley of Val-de-Travers.

Leijona watch brand was originated in the famous watchmaking valley of Val-de-Travers in Switzerland. Since 1892, a watchmaking company named Manufacture d’Horlogerie Lion SA had been the location where the watches bearing the distinct twin-tailed Leijona logo were made. The same logo, however, had already appeared on some of the pocket watches created by Albert Kenel in the 1880s, who would later be hired to work at the Lion factory.

The first importer of the Leijona watch in Finland was J.W. Lindroos, a watch wholesaler and retailer based in Tampere. The first documented appearance of a Leijona watch in Finland was recorded in 1907, but Lindroos may very well have imported Leijona watches at an earlier period in time as well.

Voutilainen X Leijona Heritage 1907 Jalo

The last decade of the 18th century was a period of great unrest in Finland. The popularity of the Fennoman (Finnish nationalist) movement, which sought to establish the dominance of Finnish culture and the Finnish language in a country that was still ruled by the Russian Empire, was increasing by the day.

The Russianization policy at the turn of the century also contributed to the popularity of this historic movement. Many everyday items were given Finnish names, and so J.W. Lindroos decided to register his new Lion watches under the equivalent Finnish brand name “Leijona”.

The Finnish Coat of Arms has featured a lion since the Middle Ages, and it is most likely for this reason that the Leijona watch became a symbol that the populace could use to discretely show which side they stood on. While this may sound like a small gesture, it was anything but – even the act of displaying the wrong type of painting (for example, Edvard Isto’s “The Attack”, where the three-headed Russian eagle attacks the Finnish Maiden) could result in exile.

Voutilainen X Leijona Heritage 1907 Oiva Classic

The use of wristwatches became more widespread in Finland during the wars, and the Leijona watch could be seen on the wrists of those fighting for the independence and freedom of Finland during the Second World War. Finns have worn their Leijona watches as they reconstructed the country, educated themselves and gained new success across the globe. During all of this, the Leijona watch would always remain the best-selling timepiece in Finland, and the history of the Leijona watch encompasses hundreds of thousands of touching personal stories of success and loss.

On the 8th of November 1918, three brothers (Jalo, Urho and Oiva Perkko) founded a company bearing their family name, Oy Perkko Ab. One year later, they would purchase J.W. Lindroos’ business. Their brand portfolio now encompassed the watches made by Omega, Tissot, Certina, Rado, Leijona, Pierre Balmain and Jaz.

In 1939, Perkko became the first watch company in Finland to launch a gross price system to stabilize the retail prices of watches. The previous net price system had introduced an element of uncertainty to the market when it came to determining the “right price” of a watch.

Voutilainen X Leijona Heritage 1907 Urho Chrono

The Second World War would also cast its shadow on the Perkko family: the company’s managing clerk, C.U. Bergman, and Ensio Perkko, the son of managing director Jalo Perkko, perished on the front in 1941. The following year, Jalo himself died from his grief, after which his position in the company was passed on to his beloved wife, Esteri.

To honor the life’s work of her late spouse, in 1943 Esteri Perkko made the remarkable decision to donate 500,000 Finnish marks to the establishment of the Finnish School of Watchmaking. The school began its operations only a few months later in February 1944.

A lack of currency, strong import regulations and high tariffs created a good opportunity for smuggling activities. Coffee, watches, tobacco and money soon became the most smuggled items to Finland. Leijona watches would also become a popular item with smugglers, as tens of thousands of Leijona wristwatches were smuggled to the country.

The ever-popular Leijona watches were easy to smuggle as, by the 50s, the watches were manufactured in numerous Swiss watch factories across Switzerland. For its part, the Perkko Company attempted to restrain these activities by registering the Leijona trademark in Sweden, which had served as the main thoroughfare for watch smugglers, and by having its factories stamp the letter P on each genuine Leijona watch.

In the 70s, Quartz watches became increasingly widespread and completely disrupted the market for traditional mechanical watches. The Swiss watchmaking industry was badly behind in the development of its quartz machineries, and it was decided at this time that the production of Leijona watches would be moved from Switzerland to Japan, which would allow for more affordable consumer prices and further increase the popularity of the Leijona brand.

Leijona is Finland’s oldest and best-selling watch brand of all time, with hundreds of thousands of satisfied consumers. Despite the fact that the Leijona watch has always been considered a “Finnish watch”, its origins lie in Switzerland. With the new Heritage Collection, the Leijona watch now returns to Switzerland and the same famous watchmaking valley of Val-de-Travers from which it once departed, but this time to the village of Môtiers and the studio of Kari Voutilainen, the Finnish watchmaker extraordinaire. A new page in history has been turned.

During the era of Finnish import regulations in the 1950s, Oy Perkko Ab stamped every watch that came through its official channels with its own stamp to weed out the market for smuggled Leijona watches.

To honor the company’s past, this same stamp can be seen in the back of Heritage Collection watches which has a solid caseback (Oiva & Jalo).

Leijona Heritage 1907 Collection

In 2017, Perkko, the Finnish company that owns the Leijona watch brand decided to create a Swiss made watch collection inspired by its history and approached master watchmaker Kari Voutilainen for this project.

The conceptual design of this milestone collection was done in Finland by Perkko. The Leijona Heritage watches are manufactured in Switzerland under the proficient supervision of Voutilainen.

The cases are manufactured by Voutilainen & Cattin SA who also assembles the complete watches. The dials are made by Comblémine SA, the dial manufactory established by Kari Voutilainen. The straps are made by Rhein Fils.

Inspired by the historic Leijona watches, this series is comprised of three different models – Jalo, Urho and Oiva – representing the first names of the three Perkko brothers. The Leijona Heritage 1907 collection now includes three categories: Classic (Oiva and Môtiers), Sport (Jalo) and Chronograph (Urho).

Leijona Heritage 1907 Môtiers Classic Limited Edition

The Leijona Môtiers Classic Limited Edition celebrates the collaboration between Leijona and Kari Voutilainen, as well as the village of Môtiers, located in the valley of Val-de-Travers, where the watches are produced. The blue color of the dial invokes the atmosphere of Val-de-Travers, and blue is also the favorite color of Voutilainen. Introduced in 2019, this timepiece was limited to 50 pieces. Sold out.

Leijona Heritage Môtiers Limited Edition, Reference: 19.300.02.311

Technical details

Leijona Heritage 1907 Oiva Classic

The Leijona Oiva Classic automatic wristwatch is inspired by the style of the Leijona watches made in the 1950s. Its clean and harmonious appearance exudes a timeless sense of style that makes a real statement.

Oiva Classic Graphite Black, Reference: 19.300.01.210

The name of the model is a reference to one of the founding brothers of Oy Perkko Ab, Oiva Perkko. Oiva was the oldest of the brothers and very skilled goldsmith in his own right. He served as the director of the store that the brothers purchased from J.W. Lindroos. Oiva was known for his restrained and balanced nature, and these qualities can be seen in this namesake watch as well.

Oiva Classic Ivory White, Reference: 19.300.01.110

Equipped with the Sellita SW200-1 self-winding movement, this stainless steel watch is available in two dial colors: Graphite Black and White.

Technical details

Leijona Heritage 1907 Jalo

Leijona Jalo Sport is a practical and robust watch that is also equally elegant and sporty in appearance. The design of the watch is based on the style of the Leijona watches made in the 1960s.

Jalo Sport Royal Blue, Reference:

Jalo Sport is named after Jalo Perkko, one of the three founding brothers of the company and the company’s beloved managing director who was famed for his honest nature and bold initiatives.

Jalo Sport Sunburst Gray, Reference:

This stainless steel watch has a water resistance of 100 meters. It houses the Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement. The Leijona Heritage Jalo Sport model is available in two dial versions: Royal Blue and Sunburst Gray.

Technical details

Leijona Heritage 1907 Urho

The Urho Chronograph is a testament to the daring speed and aesthetic qualities of the 1970s. Urho Perkko was the youngest of the three founding brothers and a highly skilled watchmaker. Urho was responsible for the company’s office in Vyborg, and he was known for his meticulous nature and acute sense of style.

Urho Chrono Black, Reference:

This stainless steel automatic chronograph watch is equipped with the Sellita SW510 BH movement. Measuring 42mm in diameter, the watch is water resistant to 100 meters.

Urho Chrono White Panda, Reference:

The Leijona Heritage 1907 Urho chronograph is available in three dial versions: Black, White Panda and Toivo (with deep blue sky dial with satin silver sub-dials).

Urho Chrono Toivo, Reference:

Technical details


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