Steel Labyrinth by Finnish Watchmaker Antti Rönkkö

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Frank Geelen | ic_query_builder_black_24px 6 minute read |
Rönkkö Steel Labyrinth

Here at Monochrome we always find interesting news from noteworthy independent watchmakers and today we’re bringing you something very special from Finland. When talking about Finland you probably immediately think of Kari Voutilainen or Stepan Sarpaneva, who are both originate from this North European country. Today we’ll show you the first watch from another Finnish watchmaker, with the name Antti Rönkkö. His first timepiece is called Steel Labyrinth and when you look at the dial you’ll understand why he chose this name.

According to the young Finnish watchmaker his design, especially the dial design, has everything to do with Greek mythology and I’ll gladly share his ideas about this unusual design. But before I do that, let us focus on the watchmaker himself. Antti Rönkkö is based in Espoo, half an hour drive from Helsinki, and started as an apprentice to the watchmaker in his hometown. After high school he went to Tapiola, the famous watchmaking school in Helsinki where aforementioned Voutilainen en Sarpaneva also made their first steps towards becoming a watchmaker. Later Rönkkö worked for the Nokia Research Center and recently he made the decision to return to his first love, watches.

The Steel Labyrinth is Rönkkö’s first wristwatch that he designed and build himself and the first piece produced was bought by Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop.

Rönkkö Steel Labyrinth

The stainless steel caseis made of hardened steel and measures 41 mm in diameter and 11.5 mm in height. These dimensions wear very nice on an average size wrist. Because of the rather pronounced lugs, Anti Rönkkö calls the case’s design, a dragon foot design. The entire case is hand finished, featuring satin finished surfaces and polished edges. By the way, the case is totally free of nickel.

When I first saw the Steel Labyrinth, I must admit it reminded me of another watch, accidentally also made by a Finnish watchmaker. Despite details are pretty different, the labyrinth dial and surrounding steel chapter ring remind me of my own Sarpaneva Korona K1, which is the first generation Korona. When you take a closer look it is of course an entirely different watch, but one could see some similarities on first glance.

Rönkkö Steel Labyrinth

The complex labyrinth textured dial is black DLC coated. On top of it is a stainless steel index ring, with the name Rönkkö at the 6 o’clock position, which is held in place by 4 screws. The bezel is satin brushed and shows small notches at 12 o’clock, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 o’clock. I think that the skeletonized hands match very well with the rest of the design, although the small seconds hand with triangular tip seems slightly out of style.

While everything is hand finished, and this is something you feel when handling the Steel Labyrinth, the true beauty can be seen through the sapphire crystal in the caseback. That’s the manual wind movement AR1, which is based on an old movement. It indicates hours, minutes and small seconds at the 7 o’clock position. When fully wound it has 36 hours of power reserve.

Rönkkö Steel Labyrinth

The finishing of the movement is very, very nice and in real life it looks much better than on these photos. What the photos do show very well, is that the German silver bridges are beautifully shaped (that’s the work of an artist!) and the finishing is executed to a very high level. The straight line grinding is very nicely done and the edges (with many interior angles) are beveled and polished. The reverso side of the bridges is, like the main plate, finished with circular graining (pèrlage).

Rönkkö chose for a Breguet balance spiral and a screw balance. As already said, the bridges are made from German silver, except the pallet lever bridge and escape wheel bridge, which are made from stainless steel.

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Steel Labyrinth – Movement AR1

  • Manual wind
  • Hours, minutes, small second at 7 o ́clock
  • 36h power reserve
  • 18000 vibrations per hour (2.5Hz)
  • 17 jewels
  • Breguet balance spiral
  • Movement diameter 35mm and height 3.5mm
  • Plates are made of non-plated German silver, except pallet lever bridge and escape wheel bridge made from stainless steel
  • Finishing of the movement: bottom side circular graining (perlage), top side straight line grinding, edges are hand bevelled and polished with many interior and exterior angles

I promised to come back on the Greek mythology that inspired Antti Rönkkö. As he says himself, “each unique timepiece is born out of Finnish Silence”. In that silence he found the inspiration and thoughts about the labyrinth and it becomes more clear why the case design is called dragon foot design. Please take a minute to read the mythological reverie, below the photo.

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In Greek mythology the Labyrinth was an elaborate construction designed specifically to contain the Minotaur. The mystic beast – part man and part bull – dwelt at the very center of the Cretan Labyrinth. The story of how the Minotaur came to be captured and contained by Theseus is a story all of its own.

Just like the mythical Labyrinth, each of us has our own beast at the center of the Labyrinth that conjures the illusions with which we have surrounded ourselves. Only by braving the maze and stripping away the illusion we call reality, can we then penetrate the center of our own Labyrinth of life. Like Theseus, finally facing the Minotaur, the myth in symbolic context is about confronting the unconscious dark side of the human ego; with a realization that only when facing all our fears and insecurities, we can find our true Self.

Created from our fears and insecurities, our personal Minotaur is a fearsome beast. It is created from the very things that we fear the most; from the things about ourselves that we do not want to admit exist in the darkest places of our hearts. It is our shadow-self; the part of ourselves that we continually deny. Only when we can find the courage from within to face the things about ourselves that we fear the most, then we can stand eye-to-eye with the beast and accept it as part of who and what we are.

Only when we realize that the beast does not define us, but instead makes us complete, then we can move past the darkness of the heart and emerge into the pure light of awareness.

Labyrinths in sacred sites around the world are used to help to achieve a contemplative state of meditation. Going through the maze; one loses track of direction, time and the outside world, thus quieting the mind. The Steel Labyrinth can also be used as a tool for contemplation. The practice of meditation is proved to be the best way to gain self-knowledge and insight. Solving the Steel Labyrinth can be thought of as a personal pilgrimage; one can follow the path, ascending toward a quiet mind and deeper inner knowledge.

By now the spiritual significance of labyrinths has faded, and they serve primarily for entertainment purposes, though recently their spiritual aspect has seen a resurgence. The journey to the center begins with a single step.

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Altogether the Steel Labyrinth is a very interesting debut by Antti Rönkkö. Everything based on solid technical foundations incorporating centuries old knowledge and the highly prized tradition of watchmaking by hand. The Steel Labyrinth retails for €21,000 Euro (before tax), which is equivalent to about $27,500 USD. You can contact Antti Rönkkö via his website.

1 response

  1. hi frank,, your blog made me realize that not all beautiful watches must come from swizerland (though they are more popular…,..and u just got to give it to them) and i really appreciate ur effort..,frank! I need some advice from you! And i would really appreciate it if u wil inbox me ur reply!..i am an african, Nigerian to be precise! But there is no single luxury watch making industry in africa!…therefore i want to be the first to launch this dream, and probably begin a world class wathes manufactured from nigeria! Do you think one can get an indipendent watch maker to work with us to achieve this dream! Again u have so much expertise in wristwatches that it would a blessing to also have u in the team! What do u think about that? And lastly, how much do u think it can cost to achieve this dream,…from setting up an industry here in Nigeria to getting all equipments needed, and so on and so forth… Thanks! Waiting for ur reply

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