Rough, cold, with a unique character and surprisingly fascinating… that is how I would describe the contrasting country that is Finland. Funnily enough, it’s also how I would describe the new S.U.F. Helsinki Vetehinen, the brand’s first dive watch. A Finnish watch made by Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva, who loves to play with the elements of unique design DNA he has developed, transposing and combining them in his little universe, resulting in a watch that simply looks and feels different, in a very good way.
What is S.U.F. Helsinki? Basically, it stands for SarpanevaUhrenFabrik, a brand that is said to be “Finland, through and through“. What you might have spotted of course is the name Sarpaneva, one of the most productive members of the “independent watchmakers” scene. With S.U.F., Stepan wanted to explore different horizons, with sporty and more accessible watches – relatively simple sports watches, with out-sourced movements, prices starting at around EUR 2,500 and some pretty distinctive DNA (see for instance the Paroni Flying Finn). While his usual brand Sarpaneva is used for complex watches and feature the emblematic menacing moonface, S.U.F., while remaining a collection of watches for the cognoscenti, focuses on exploring different styles, however still with a heavy Scandinavian pedigree.
After the first two watches, both with a pilot look, one aviation-related piece – the Myrsky – and one motorbike-related – the Panori – SarpanevaUhrenFabrik is now jumping in the cold Baltic Sea, with the introduction of its vision of a dive watch at Baselworld 2017. And of course, don’t expect another Submariner copy here. The codes of the dive watch are present, however with very much a unique Scandinavian look. The S.U.F. Helsinki Vetehinen is cold, rough, pure but also complex in shapes. The 42mm case, made in 316L steel, remains simple at first, however the influence of Stepan Sarpaneva is easily visible in the details. The bezel and the crown for instance display the same concave curves and sharp angles of Sarpaneva’s other models, utilized here to create grip.
One interesting detail, which reiterates this idea of being “Finland, through and through” is that the steel used for the case is high-grade Supra 316L/4435 stainless steel from Finland’s world-renowned steel giant, Outokumpu – forged in Helsinki, impregnated with anti-corrosive nickel mined from the Finnish ground. Of course, this remains a detail but one that adds to the story and to the authenticity of the watch. The S.U.F. Helsinki Vetehinen is a true diver, with a 300m water resistance, a screw-down crown and a one-way rotatable bezel – with a clean look, as no markers except the 12 o’clock luminous dot are present – meaning that it does not satisfy the ISO 6425 standards, which require a minute scale going up to 60 min and markings indicating every 5 min… but honestly, who cares.
The dial and hands continue the Made in Finland theme. Although they may appear typical of dive watch at first, the hand-set in particular help give this Vetehinen its own identity, making it readily identifiable as being Sarpaneva’s brainchild. Large, sharp, shaped as swords, these “devil-tail” hands show a dual-finishing, polished on one side and matte sand-blasted on the other. The dials, manufactured by no-less than Kari Voutilainen – mentor to S.U.F.’s very own Stepan Sarpaneva during his early years – offer 4 possible colors: silver, grey, cooper and blue. Various straps are available, from simple leather bands to snake-skin Natos.
Inside the case of the S.U.F. Helsinki Vetehinen is a new movement, the Eterna Calibre 39 (the brand used to rely on Sorpod A10 movements). Visible through the caseback, this automatic calibre shows a matte decoration and a personalized rotor – a look that is in line with the utilitarian and cold design of the Vetehinen. It displays hours, minutes and seconds via a sub-dial at 9, ticks at 4Hz and boasts a comfortable power reserve of 65 hours. This Swiss movement actually has its own connection to the S.U.F.’s heartland, as Eterna was the first to recruit Finnish watchmakers, back in the Sixties.
The S.U.F. Helsinki Vetehinen By Sarpaneva is a very nice offer, a watch that has its own style, that shares its origins and that stands out of the crowd. It is isn’t cheap as priced at EUR 4,650, however this is the price you’ll pay for a mainstream Omega Seamaster or IWC Aquatimer – and here, each color will be limited to 26 pieces only. Those who feel a bit adventurous won’t be disappointed. Note: the Grey and Blue editions are now sold-out. The Silver and Cooper versions are still available on the brand’s own webshop here.
Technical Specifications S.U.F. Helsinki Vetehinen
- Case: 42mm diameter x 13mm thickness – Stainless Steel (Finnish Supra 316L/4435) – sapphire crystal on both faces – One-way rotating bezel, Screw in case back and crown – 300m water resistant
- Movement: Eterna Calibre 3901A – automatic – 4Hz frequency – 65H power reserve – 29 jewels – hours, minutes, small seconds
- Strap: Leather in various colours and rubber – steel pin buckle
- Price: EUR 4,650
- Limitation: 26 pieces per color