Finnish independent watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva has once again turned to a Finnish artist for the Nocturne, a wristwatch that combines the technicolour luminosity of the brand’s Moomin editions with its trademark complication.
Starkly monochromatic during the day, the multi-part dial comes to life at night, thanks to the nine colours of luminous paint that fill the hundreds of tiny apertures all precisely cut by laser. And sitting in the an window that occupies a third of the dial is a huge moon “face” that instantly marks this out as a Sarpaneva.
Though the Nocturne looks quite different from the brand’s past watches yet quintessentially Sarpaneva in style and execution. Although it relies on a similar decorative technique as the earlier Moomin edition, the Nocturne is far more distinct. And the slightly gothic style suits the Sarpaneva aesthetic perfectly.
I like the design and being familiar with Sarpaneva’s other watches, I expect the quality of the dial to be excellent. In all tangible terms the watch is winner. But then there’s the price, which is substantial.
The Nocturne costs €19,000. That’s within the ballpark for the brand’s moon-phase models, with the premium justified by the fancy dial. And compared to the broader market – especially with the current hype around independent watchmaking regardless of quality or provenance – it’s still a reasonable proposition.
But it is pricey compared to Sarpaneva’s earlier offerings that were heavy on lume. The first Moomin edition was just €5,000, though it was an S.U.F., the affordable, sub-brand of Sarpaneva, meaning it had a simple case and plain movement. More comparable is the second Moomin edition, which has the same case but no moon phase display; it was priced at €12,000. Even with the moon phase and fancier dial, the Nocturne still feels expensive next to that.
A theatrical dial
According to Sarpaneva, the dial of the Nocturne was inspired by the puppet or shadow play travelling theatres of Europe. The motif was conceived with the help of Ville Tietäväinen, a Finnish graphic designer and comic book artist.
Depicting an owl looking out to sea with trademark Sarpaneva moon “face” looming over the scene, the dial is cut by laser and then finished by hand, just like on the earlier Moomin models. It’s actually comprised of six parts to create the depth and layers that are evident even at arm’s length.
There are 233 apertures on the dial and most of them have been filled with Super-Luminova. Nine colours of the luminescent paint are applied to every dial, resulting in a brilliant miniature landscape in the dark.
The key feature of the dial is the moon phase display, a complication almost synonymous with Sarpaneva. Mechanically the moon phase is simple – essentially a replacement disc for the date mechanism – and it takes 29.5 days to complete one cycle. As the moon phase disc moves over the course of the month, the background of the dial gradually shifts from the moon “face” to a shooting star.
The case of the Nocturne is the standard Sarpaneva case, although there’s nothing standard about its design or quality. Featuring flared lugs and “ears” on both flanks, the case has an unconventional form that calls for careful finishing to create the alternating brushed and polished surfaces, some of which are concave.
And it is fabricated from steel sourced locally, specifically the SUPRA 316L/4435 alloy made by Outokumpu, the Finnish steel giant that’s the largest maker of stainless steel in Europe.
Two versions of the Nocturne are available, differing only in the colour of the moon “face”. The White Glow Moon has the moon in white Super-Luminova, while the Orange Glow Moon has it in orange, inspired by the harvest moon, the orangey full moon visible in the Northern hemisphere in late summer and autumn. Each is limited to 30 pieces.
Key Facts and Price
Diameter: 42 mm
Thickness: 11.4 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Soprod A10
Functions: Hours, minutes, and moon phase
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Strap: Alligator leather with pin buckle
Limited edition: 30 for dial type
Availability: Direct from S.U.F. Helsinki, with delivery in 2-6 months from order date
Price: €19,000 before taxes
For more, visit Sufhelsinki.com.
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