Probably the most famous watchmaker to come from Finland, together with his fellow Kari Voutilainen, Stepan Sarpaneva has recently presented several watches that pay tribute to legends of his country. While still highly distinctive and in line with previous his creations, watches such as the Moomin or the Kilpisjärvi, a collaboration with F1 pilot Valtteri Bottas. Sarpaneva’s latest watch is all about an enigmatic creature from Scandinavian folklore, a water spirit known as Näkki. And it has found its place on the dial of Stepan’s watch, resulting in a combination of typical elements of his past, a necessary intrusion of the Moon and probably one of his most complex dials ever.
As we explained in this article, Stepan Sarpaneva recently celebrated 20 years of eponymous watchmaking. Over the years, he has defined a style of his own, refined over the years to become more and more personal and unique. One of the rare Finns to exercise the art of watchmaking, he started his watchmaker career at Piaget, followed by Parmigiani with another Finn and friend, Kari Voutilainen. He then moved to the company of another talented indie watchmaker, Vianney Halter. In the year 2000, he went to work with Christophe Claret. And in 2003, things changed drastically. Stepan flew back to Finland and created Sarpaneva watches and S.U.F Helsinki a year later.
Earlier years of his work defined two main elements; a sharp, highly unique case known as the Korona, the other being Stepan’s fascination for the Moon, which has since been found on so many of his creations, with his signature Moonface – which is somehow his alter-ego. Recent years have been focused on bringing as much of Finn-ness into the design and displays of his watches. References to his country of origin are more and more obvious, and create a fascinating universe around most of his timepieces.
For his latest watch, Sarpaneva has taken inspiration from a legendary beast of Scandinavian and Germanic culture, a ferocious and elusive creature known as Näkki. “Under the cloak of moonless nights, it would emerge from the shadows, ensnaring the lamenting village women and drawing them into its watery domain.” Näkki or Nixie creatures are humanoid, and often shapeshifting water spirits.
“One fateful night, Näkki found itself entangled in the silvery bridge cast by the full moon, unable to escape its grasp. As the night wore on, its skin began to desiccate, and its eyes grew dim. With the dawning of the sun’s first rays, the bridge dissolved, and Näkki let out a soundless cry as it sank into the abyssal depths of the bog. Since that moment, Näkki has vanished from those waters. Some believe it met its demise, while others conjecture that it gathers newfound strength in the unfathomable darkness,” is the story that the dial of this new watch tells.
Housed in a classic Sarpaneva case with its scalloped sides and crown at 4 o’clock, this new watch measures 42mm x 11.4mm x 46mm and is made, classically for the brand, in high-grade Outokumpu stainless steel from Finland. Nothing new here… What matters is the dial, a multi-layer succession of fully opened steel plates with no fewer than 650 cutouts. These have two objectives. One, telling the story during the day, in a relatively discreet way, by revealing a nature morte of a swamp, a Moonface and, hardly visible on the right side (it’s a norctunal creature after all), Näkki. The lower plate has been hand-painted with about 15 different colours, revealed by the dial’s cutouts… And they’ve been painted using Super-LumiNova.
At night, as often with Sarpaneva, the real show begins and Näkki reveals its true nature. The whole dial, the White Moon or Harvest Moon, the beast and the nature surrounding murky marsh waters becomes bright and colourful, menacing but not terrifying… Quite an experience I believe (I’d love to see it for myself).
The back of the watch reveals a modified Soprod A10 calibre, a classic automatic movement now fitted with a moon phase complication and decorated by hand with perlage, rhodium-plated parts and a partially lumed stainless steel winding mass with Sarpaneva Moonface.
Available in two editions – White Moon with Steel Rhodium hands or Harvest Moon with Red Gold hands – the Sarpaneva Näkki is limited to 30 pieces per colourway and priced at EUR 21,000 before taxes. For more details and orders, please visit studiosarpaneva.com.