Until a few years ago most people would have associated the Finnish watch industry with Suunto. Stepan Sarpaneva is slowly changing this perception with his original and stylish range of timepieces. His association with MB & F on their phenomenal MoonMachine certainly raised his profile significantly. In a recent article, I wrote about his new Korona 1, which is a wonderful example of his craftsmanship. There is also a new wave of innovative Finnish watchmakers emerging including the exceptionally talented Antti Rönkkö.
Antti Rönkkö’s breakthrough into the world of horology is a very unusual and interesting story. Initially he gained medals in the Finnish Judo championships before he sustained an elbow injury. This twist of fate led to a watchmaking apprenticeship and subsequently a career in mechanical engineering. Primarily his working life has been spent working on patented mobile technology for Nokia. In 2012 this all changed when he decided to fulfill his lifetime ambition of producing and designing his own range of timepieces. The wonderful Steel Labyrinth is his first original and exciting offering.
Antti Rönkkö has decided to adopt fairly modest case dimensions for this design. The Steel Labyrinth has classical proportions and measures 41mm x 11.5mm. This watch size should appeal to a very wide variety of buyers including the unisex market. Over the last few months I have met several women who have been enticed by larger timepieces. Based on recent in-depth reviews of watches of a similar size, I imagine this piece would be comfortable to wear on a daily basis. Essentially this is down to the design of the stylish and innovative Dragon Foot shaped case. In my opinion this amazing timepiece would look great with any formal attire.
Visually the façade of the Steel Labyrinth has a really high quality appearance. Apparently the design of the watch evolved over the duration of five years. The dial displays a complex labyrinth textured pattern with a steel chapter ring overlay. This gives the timepiece a superb and striking three-dimensional quality. Other features include the open worked stainless steel hands and Rönkkö nameplate positioned at 6 o’clock. Overall the composition is absolutely delightful and perfectly executed.
While collating data to write this article I contacted Antti to enquire about the origins of the Caliber AR1. Apparently these calibers date back to the 1940’s and have been modified specifically for the Steel Labyrinth. The 17-jewel movement is manual winding and oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5Hz). All the bridges are manufactured from German silver and have been hand decorated personally by Antti. Ultimately this rigorous process involved many labour intensive hours of work. This refined mechanism is visible through the exhibition sapphire crystal case back. Functionally the timepiece features hours, minutes and small seconds. The watch is also water resistant to a depth of 30 metres and delivers a power reserve of 36 hours.
The Steel Labyrinth has a bespoke leather strap and is limited to only 5 pieces. Due to the exclusive nature of this watch it is priced at: €21,000 (approximately $28,765).