Stepan Sarpaneva’s SUF Helsinki project launches a diver’s watch with extra Finnish character
By James Gurney
The idea of a Finnish diving watch is not one that would have crossed your mind, unless, of course, you’re a follower of the watch industry’s most disconcerting character, Stepan Sarpaneva. Once through the improbability barrier, there’s something of a gem on offer. Sarpaneva is a familiar enough name to anyone that follows independent watchmaking thanks to his decidedly individual take on watch design and artisanal approach. Despite a training that included stints in various complication ateliers, Sarpaneva’s focus has been on the design and craft rather than horological fireworks as such and it’s this style of work that lead to the formation of SUF (Sarpaneva UhrenFabrik) Helsinki a few years ago.
SUF is a more entry-level (€2,500+ against €10,000+), less extreme take on the horological world that Sarpaneva offers under his own name. That clearly doesn’t mean vanilla as the Vetehinen diver’s watch shows. All sharp edges and complex shapes, the Vetehinen is a defiantly Finnish take on the genre – this is no me-too ISO pattern diver’s watch thanks to there being no minute scale on the dial. And by Finnish, SUF mean stainless steel smelted in Helsinki with Finnish-mined chrome. Water-resistant to 300m, properly luminous and simple in form, the watch is, nevertheless a proper diver.
The name comes from a famous World War II submarine that was itself named after a water sprite, or “Näkki”, from Finnish mythology: “a magical, bearded man with the tail of a fish, the Vehetinen appears on Midsummer’s Night to cure illnesses, lift curses and brew potions. But also cause unintended harm by becoming too curious about humans…” Very Sarpaneva.
Inside is a 65-hour power reserve Eterna calibre 39, a new alternative to the Soprod movements that SUF usually use, which is visible through the caseback. The dials, silver, grey, cooper and blue, are manufactured by the famous Kari Voutilainen and are paired with what SUF call Harpoon or “devil-tail” hands.
The Vetehinen is available from SUF Helsinki in editions of 26 for €4,650. This approaching Submariner territory, but that won’t be a problem or anyone after something with a little “sisu”, the Finnish word that captures the grit and determination that the Vetehinen’s captain showed in the war.