Legendary and storied independent watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva recently announced a line of more attainable, simplistic field watches. The SUF Helsinki brand aimed to bring Finnish design philosophy and simplicity to the masses. This all feels deeply Scandy in philosophy and aesthetics. Think of this as the Volvo XC90 of mid-level watches: dependable, modern, attractive, and unpretentious.
I have a theory which I’ve espoused once before while discussing the Kurono Tokyo pieces here. Microbrands are clamoring for attention in every corner of the market. One feels that any random combination of components from Alibaba has a brand associated with it. However, ETA and Sellita make some truly remarkable engineering that is not to be scoffed at, badge snobbery aside. I feel that watch brands are allowed to utilize ETA-like movements at mid-range price points once they have proved their understanding through more haute horology.
Sarpaneva’s watches, like Hajime Asaoka’s, are marvels of independent beauty. Real, pure high-level watchmaking that demonstrates an understanding of what makes a special watch special. Once that hard work is performed, I believe the watchmaker is entitled to ‘dilute’ their brand to a more attainable standard. Often, this involves more movement modification and design consideration than any profit-hungry microbrand competitor could manage. I like the idea of a people’s watch, an everyman’s watch— but from someone who truly knows what they’re doing. Maybe it’s my Swedish heritage speaking.
This 180 utilizes a Seiko-based Soprod A10 with modification and finishing at SUF. The case is a 39mm stainless, simple design. Its strap is black leather from a Nordic-sourced Elk (nice touch). The attention to detail, particularly for its price, is sound. This LT piece was a very limited run released last year, just 12 pieces in total with this beautiful dial. I like the idea of extreme exclusivity at a reasonable price. This one is in perfect condition with a full set. Am I being too kind? Possibly. But all I do here is speak my honest take.
Find this 180 LT here from Belmont Watches for 4200 USD.