Sarpaneva Moomin Rose Gold Hands
Independents don’t necessarily have a monopoly on creativity, but it does increasingly seem like the small eponymous names are showing the Richemonts of the world how it’s done. This is particularly true of Stepan Sarpaneva, whose brilliance lies in just how much of his personality he’s able to suffuse throughout his watches. He is not famed for subtlety. It should come as no surprise, then, that after having been given the green light to collaborate with Swedish-Finn illustrator and Moomin Creator Tove Jansson for their 75th anniversary, Mr. Sarpaneva created something truly extraordinary. The Sarpaneva x Moomin watch which resulted not only went on to win accolades at SIHH and GPHG, but featured what I certainly consider to be the most creative use of Superluminova ever. And then he followed it up, this time under his eponymous brand name rather than SUF Helsinki, in the distinctive case he’s known for.
Watchmaking is about so much more than what movement something is derived from, how much above retail is sells for, or who’s been spotted wearing it. The best of watchmaking is about people. It’s about story, personality, and ingenuity (I’ve been writing Ingenieur so much recently I just got an autocorrect to German/French). Sarpaneva first became infamous in the best way possible for putting his own face on the moonphase complication, but backed it up through serious watchmaking, having trained under Vianney Halter, Christophe Claret, and Kari Voutilainen. His designs are as wild as one could hope with scalloped cases, texturized or machined dials, and generous use of luminous material, usually built upon a reworked Soprod. The purity of niche independents is the completeness of vision. One man can imagine, design, engineer, and create a singular vision. Perhaps that is overly romantic, but the singleminded-ness of approach seems tangible when you pay close attention.
The singleminded-ness here led to a scene, no more no less, which comes alive at night. The dial features layered discs of laser-cut steel, then finished by hand at every level. The black lacquer and laser etching are contrasted against eight different colors of painted Superluminova, leading to a painstakingly-enriched magical artwork under the night sky. While there are many diver’s and aviator’s watches that can be said to be practical lighthouses at night, I simply can’t think of another watch comparable in its artful lume glow. Compared to the first series, I love the polished concave indices on the chapter ring. This second Moomin was limited to 100 examples, 25 of rhodium, flame blue, black coated, or these rose gold hands respective. The cases are all 42mm Finnish steel, but surprisingly thin. One more detail I just love which you might miss if it didn’t spell it out: Sarpaneva’s face is on the rotor and his eyes and mouth are lumed to matched the dial. Always watching.
This example appears to have hardly spent a day out of the safe. Its case is showing only the lightest surface wear. It comes with its full set, dated 2022, from a well-regarded Australian retailer.