Welcome back to an original aBlogtoWatch feature, “My First Grail Watch.” In this series, we ask prominent people in the watch industry about the first timepiece that they lusted after. Today, we are diving into the subject with Stepan Sarpaneva, and he lets us know about the accident that set him on the path to watchmaking.
aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): While I am sure many of our readers already know the answer, we need to ask – who are you, and what is your relationship to the watch industry?
Stepan Sarpaneva: I am Stepan Sarpaneva, a watchmaker, designer, and owner of the Sarpaneva watch brand.
Still, this response out of Rolex Sea Dweller Tritium Dial Replica is a tiny bit like Ferrari mentioning functionality for its usage of Formula 1-style transmissions over a three-pedal manual — it is faster, but there’s significant percentage of this sports car purchasing public that believes we reached “fast enough” years back and could exchange .03 off their automobile’s 0-60mph time whenever they could enjoy the sense of rowing their own gears.If Rolex really wished to create the most accurate watch in the exact same way Ferrari wishes to create the most high performing car, would not the Sea-Dweller be thrown? Here in lies the fantastic irony of Swiss watchmaking — they want to push performance and efficiency as far as you can, but not so much that they begin to play at a area where they are no longer the experts — basically until they start sacrifice of some of their own traditions. If Ferrari, by way of instance, was established in Geneva rather than Maranello, maybe we would see the new 812 Superfast using a six speed transmission and carburetors since “that’s the way the real car ought to be made.” The new Sea-Dweller includes a cyclops window, like it or not.Ah, the bracelet, the one bit of any Rolex watch that is virtually impervious to critique from anyone. What is there to say, really? The matter is a modern marvel. Rolex has been in the forefront of bracelet technology and really, they have a full team of dedicated engineers, scientists and craftsman in Geneva that ensure what they create is the bar where all other bracelets are measured. And if you didn’t know this, merry Freres, the manufacturer of these unbelievable vintage bracelets you see not just on Rolex watches but also many others (such as classic Pateks) was acquired by Rolex some years ago.
ABTW: How did you get into watchmaking?
Stepan Sarpaneva: Quite by accident. I was supposed to follow my father’s path and become a goldsmith. I went through and did the two-day tests for both the goldsmith and the watchmaknig schools. I got directly in to the watchmaking school (in 1989), but I did not get accepted to the goldsmith school.
I thought that I would then attend the watchmaking school for a year, and then make another attempt to get into the goldsmith school. That, of course, never happened. I now understand that watchmaking is much closer to my heart. But, as Vianney (Halter) says, “you never know!”
ABTW: Given that you intended to be a goldsmith, I am guessing your path of grail watches was a bit different. What were you looking for when you were in school?
Stepan Sarpaneva: While I was in school (from 1989 to 1992), my grail watch was a Rolex. After my schooling, I was working in Switzerland, and my grail watch would have been something from Patek.
ABTW: Now that you have been creating your own watches, do you still have something outside of your creations that you would consider a grail?
Stepan Sarpaneva: I would like to find an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Not just any Royal Oak, though – the 1972 Jumbo version in steel. Of course, if I did find one, I would probably fall in love with something else to go searching for.
ABTW: With the Royal Oak, has one ever slipped through your fingers?
Stepan Sarpaneva: No, not yet. I still do not have my Grail watch. I have also never had those earlier grails, either a Rolex Sea Dweller 16600 V Series Replica Sea Dweller or a Patek Philippe Nautilus. Perhaps, some day I will pick them up. As to whether or not I will ever find the Royal Oak I desire? Time will tell!