Slideshow = 15 photos to see this watch from every angle
It's impossible to discuss the SarpanevaUhrenFabrik (S.U.F.) without first introducing its creator, Stepan Sarpaneva.
A Finish graduate of the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP) at Neuchâtel (an independent watchmaker's training institute), Stepan Sarpaneva has worked with some of the greatest Swiss watchmakers (Michel Parmigiani, Vianney Halter, and Christophe Claret) before working as an independent starting in 2003.
Stepan Sarpaneva has been influenced by many, but he has, by his own admission, a soft spot for Harley-Davidson.
For example, he used a kickstarter gearwheel as a case for his first creation, the Time Tramp.
With their manufacturing production limited to a few dozen copies a year, the Sarpaneva watches have a very good reputation with collectors, particularly the Korona model, with its moon phase's enigmatic smile.
The only downside, given the extreme care given to its design and manufacturing, is its stiff price, starting at about 10,000 Euros.
Subtantially more than what most watch enthusiasts would be willing to pay!
A production of high quality
In 2006, Stepan Sarpaneva created a second line of watches, the SarpanevaUhrenFabrik (S.U.F.). More reasonably priced, the S.U.F. gives the hardcore fans without the financial means an opportunity to enjoy its high-end characteristics.
An interesting particularity is that the S.U.F.'s are not made in Switzerland, but are instead manufactured in Helsinki, in an old cable factory that once belonged to Nokia before the phone era.
The watch we reviewed for this article is a S.U.F. Flying Finn, made out of steel that's been treated with Diamond Like Carbon (DLC), a chemical coating that is more scratch-resistant than a regular PVD.
The first pleasant surprise is that the unique Sarpaneva style is still very much present, even though this is a lower-end model.
The bezel, with its very unique and peculiar shape, seems to come straight out of an engine or some other industrial machine.
Its execution is perfect, with a very clean manufacturing quality, and a high-level finish that is somewhat unexpected for a watch in this price range.
The same is true for the crown which seems identical to the one on the Korona model: it is both original, and very pleasant to the touch.
The case's mat DLC treatment also contributes to the watch's industrial look.
In order to keep the cost down, the movement used is a Swiss-made Soprod A10, a large production movement equivalent to the classic ETA 2892.
While this movement is not handmade, it is nevertheless still extremely solid and reliable. Incidentally, Stepan Sarpaneva also uses it as a standard in its Korona models.
Its design, while industrial-looking, is still very clean and doesn't have anything to be ashamed of when compared to other, more reputable brands with a similar price.
With a reasonable 11.5 line diameter, it is well integrated within the watch and doesn't seem to “float” in its 44mm casing, thanks to a well-designed case ring.
Stepan Sarpaneva was particularly attentive to details when he included in this Flying Finn a metal date disk with openings usually reserved for more expensive models.
A comfortable watch
With a thickness that is less than 10mm, and despite a generous diameter, the S.U.F. sits well on the wrist, and can be worn on any occasion.
The alligator wristband, flexible and comfortable, is of a much higher quality than what one would usually expect from a similarly-priced watch.
The pin buckle is also well-designed - a perfect score!
The S.U.F. will delight the enthusiasts looking for originality: not everyone is so lucky as to own a watch made in Finland by a Harley-Davidson fan who was trained in Switzerland!
Let's be particularly grateful that Stepan Sarpaneva did not just put his name on any generic product to make a buck with a high-volume production watch: he saw his creative vision to its end, and the care that went into the creation of this Flying Finn can be found in all the aspects and details of its design.
While this may be a “low-end” Sarpaneva, it is in no way a model from the cheap bin!
- the characteristic “Sarpaneva” design
- the high-quality design of the case, and the care evident in the details
- an exceptional value for the price
- a relatively unknown brand name outside of a small circle of fans
- a potentially high devaluation on the secondary market
- reviewer's wrist size = 17cm