Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S04 ep12 : Sarpaneva Watches [Helsinki]

Interview with Stepan Sarpaneva

All Sarpaneva watches are designed by Stepan Sarpaneva himself. His ambition is to create unique design, fusing timeless elegance with unorthodox boldness. Sarpaneva Watches manufactures mechanical timepieces of outstanding quality, created in the spirit of the traditional watchmaker's art. Stepan Sarpaneva was born in 1970 to a Finnish family with a long heritage of craftmanship. Son of jewellery designer Pentti Sarpaneva, Stepan was brought up to be a talented designer and craftsman. Sarpaneva first graduated from the Finnish School of Watchmaking and then moved to Switzerland to further his studies at WOSTEP. In 1994, he began work for several prestigious watchmakers including Piaget, Parmigiani, Vianney Halter and Christophe Claret. During those ten years in Switzerland, Sarpaneva specialised in the crafting of complicated timepieces.


Stepan Sarpaneva is a watchmaker from Finland. Born in 1970 in Finland; studied watchmaking in a Finnish watchmaking school. In
the beginning of the 90s Iwent to Switzerland to study more.

My father was a jewelry designer. My uncle was a very famous designer in Finland and also around the planet actually.
TimoSarpaneva. So we have that, like I have the DNA for designing things. But I also have the DNA to do the things because my
great-grandfather was a blacksmith and he was also a music instrument maker. Actually he was also a healer inaudible [14:24] in
the center of Finland.


Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

The watchmaking school in Finland, the teaching methods are like from the class root, beginning of the 20th century. So it’s really
like to the old-school way, hard way I would say to actually learn. You have to file the material to understand it. You have to
make a lot of tools, that’s really important. The first year it’s only about tools and tool making. So you make tools that you will
use for all your professional years, really special tools.

I did my school, the Worstep course in Switzerland and after that I found a place to work at Piaget after sales service at Piaget. I
went back to Worstep to learn more, more complicated restoration course and I ended up at Parmigiani. I was working together
withKari Voutilainen. We had our own department for the piece unique,more complicated small series. For me; repeaters,
tourbillons, probably two calendars, jewelry something really special.Watches that take easily eight months.One month’s work
only for the one watch.


Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Kari wanted to leave from the company. I decided also to leave and I went to work with Vianney Halter. So Vianney was the eye
opening genie of what is possible. If you just want to do something, everything is possible. But of courseVianney knew also the
old school way how to make things. So it was a really interesting time. And from Vianney I went to work to Christophe Claret.

The watch companies in let’s say 1960s, they created teams to build new calibers. And that means there were like five
watchmakers working under one caliber. Today it’s like five designers and then there is the one watchmaker who gets the work.


Jewellery Theatre Elements

When I was working at Parmigiani I made a watch for myself. And somebody saw it, somebody wanted it. When I was working at
Claret, I only worked 80% because I was making my own stuff on the side. That I started at the beginning of 2003. I moved back
to Finland. So since 2003 I’ve been working on a small workshop. I have one watchmaker to help me and that gives me freedom
because nobody cares what I do.

I saw Max [Busser] first time at the Viannay Halter in 2000, when Max came there to talk about the Opus project. He was still
working for Harry Winston. But then I met him a few times passing by like that somewhere. And Max came out from the meeting
and he knew who I was and he came to say hello, and I said “Max I have something that I would like to talk about it”. So he said
”What is it, tell me”.


Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

I’m not making anything like super complicated watches. I work more like to complete design of the product. But I still use a lot
of hand to work on it. On each watch everything is hand finished; the dials, the cases, whatever that is visible. I use already
existing movement but I modify it really strong. So actually that’s not the main thing in my watches anyway.

I am just making watches that I like to wear. I just have a luck that people; they like it. They look different, I hope they look
different and I know they look different. And I wish they will always look a bit different than the others. That makes it’s also
more difficult to sell, but that’s not the issue on this work that I do.

There’s independent brands and there’s independent watchmakers. The independent watchmakers, there will always be there
doing their own things. And probably they will always stay on their own and on a certain level. They are more artists, they are
doing something that they just feel like to do. But then there’s independent brands and those follow a lot the hype and what’s
going on. They look at each other and they steal projects. They do whatever is possible just to get things going. I’m an artist, I
prefer to be an artist and today it’s the way how I work. But of course I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

In Finland people think fast. It’s like everything has to be fast and a lot. So it’s about Nokia, it’s about Angry Birds. They think
why spend half a year to build something that somebody somewhere in the other side of the planet will buy one. Why don’t you
make 100,000 of those.

I have a friend that asked me why am I doing this because it’s so worthless job to make a watch? It’s like I’m in a totally wrong
place in Finland. But that’s the best thing to do because it’s so nice to be nobody.


OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Stepan Sarpaneva