Sarpaneva: Watches as Art

These watches are not created for everyone.

If you happen to stumble across a Sarpaneva watch, that’s the clear message you’ll get.

Stepan Sarpaneva, an independent Finnish watchmaker, cut his teeth in complicated watchmaking with stints at Piaget and Parmigiani. In 2003, he left Switzerland for Helsinki. There, he individually handcrafts each and every watch in his workshop. Sarpaneva’s watches are distinctive, marrying functionality and design together in one machine. At its core, Sarpaneva merges watchmaking and horology with art.


Sarpaneva: Art and Watches

Sarpaneva takes his design inspiration from his immediate surroundings—the long, dark winters and the bitter cold of Scandinavia. So what are the hallmarks of Sarpaneva’s style?

Well, the signature moon phase, for starters. A stylized moon face is a recurring motif, usually in white or rose gold (and sometimes sterling silver), and Sarpaneva typically features a rotating moon phase on the dial. The watchmaker has also created a slightly unusual case shape for his watches as well—they’re scalloped, not rounded. And then there’s the lattice pattern on the dial (or the movement) that gives the watches extra dimension, along with the super-luminous material used to make his watches really glow in the darkness.

Sarpaneva Watches


Sarpaneva Watch Models

Given that Stepan Sarpaneva manufactures each watch individually, you can imagine there aren’t many of his watches out there. His workshop only does small-batch productions of maybe 10 or so watches per collection, depending on materials used—generally white and rose gold or steel.

The Korona collection–so named for the Northern Lights of the Arctic–is the main family of watches, divided up into smaller batches with different complications. There are moon phases and super-luminous dials in multiple colors, but they’re all distinct and all clearly Sarpaneva. The casebacks feature either a sapphire caseback to showcase the movement or the signature moon face, as well as the production number.

Sarpaneva Watches

Stepan Sarpaneva’s watches capture the modern spirit of independent watchmaking. They won’t appeal to everyone—and certainly, they’re not meant to. It’s a refreshing perspective for a watchmaker to have, valuing craft and personal design sense over maximizing one’s margin. But if you like fine art and fine timepieces, Sarpaneva is well worth your consideration.

Want to learn a little more about this small, unique watchmaker? Check him out here.


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 16, 2015. We have updated it for relevance and clarity.

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