Stepan Sarpaneva’s Striking Korona K0 Northern Lights
One of the most intriguing sets of watches I had the pleasure to see at Baselworld 2015 was Stepan Sarpaneva’s Korona K0 Northern Lights.
This timepiece available in three different color schemes (blue, violet, green) really captures the essence of Sarpaneva creations, and does so in the designer’s typically understated manner.
Understated with a glow-in-the-dark twist, that is.
Sarpaneva’s fascination with the moon is well known, and the 18-karat white or red gold moon phase indicator we see peering up at us from the depths of the dial is in actuality an engraved stylization of his own face.
But it’s not the moon that takes center stage here; what really captured my attention was the extreme, colored lume created by Black Badger Advanced Composites, a Swedish company founded and run by Canadian industrial designer James Thompson.
To create the solid composite lume material used in the Sarpaneva pieces, Black Badger worked with a Canadian company called Ambient Glow Technology to produce the truly wild and wonderful colors.
The lume material is not a paint or liquid like the familiar Super-LumiNova. This material is solid, so shapes can be sort of carved out of “glow light,” if you will. The luminous dial components on the Korona K0 Northern Lights are therefore milled, not lacquered.
When Sarpaneva’s signature, blued, stainless steel grille, which holds the large, eminently legible, dot hour markers made with the addition of Super-LumiNova, is added, the glow from the composite becomes more refined as it is interrupted by the minimalistic grille and, of course, the cutaway for the moon phase indication.
The contrast can only be described as spectacular.
Once we “loaded” glow composite (which we did by walking outside the fair hall with the watches and subjecting them to the sunlight), the effect was like turning the light on.
The rhodium-plated stainless steel hands’ legibility is also enhanced with the addition of Super-LumiNova, while the cutaway for the stylized moon at 6 o’clock provides an additional point of interest that is both typical of Sarpaneva and a welcome and fantastic addition to this already interesting dial.
In fact, if I were ever to buy a Sarpaneva, I would only buy one with a very visible moon phase display. For me, it is this element that makes a watch a “Sarpaneva.”
Veering from Sarpaneva’s usual blue tones, the Korona Northern Lights is available in purple and green as well as the luminous blue. This would provide a great range of choice if they weren’t so limited. But visitors to the upcoming SalonQP exhibition in London will be glad to know that there will be another 8 pieces released in a gold case.
The Korona K0 Northern Lights comes in a stainless steel Korona-style case that loosely resembles a corona (which means crown) of light. Its screw-down crown is placed at about 4 o’clock, which is a necessary position so as not to disturb the piece’s design. Despite the 46 mm size, my small wrists can attest to the fact that the case is a perfect fit thanks to its superb design.
The base movement used is Sarpaneva’s beloved automatic Soprod A10 with his own modifications enabling the addition of the moon phase.
Finnish mythology tells tales that the aurora borealis is a “fox fire” (Revontulet in Finnish). This name originates in an ancient Finnish fable that maintains that the colorful celestial light display was “caused by a magical fox sweeping his tail across the snow, spraying it up into the sky.”
But Sarpaneva will tell you that his dials’ northern lights were definitely caused by a badger. A black badger.
For more information, please visit www.sarpanevawatches.com/en/models/korona-k0-northern-lights.
Quick Facts K0 Korona Northern Lights
Case: stainless steel, 46 x 12 mm
Movement: modified automatic Soprod A10
Functions: hours, minutes, sweep seconds; moon phase
Dial: Black Badger proprietary luminous advanced composite covered by blued steel grille and 18-karat gold moon
Limitation: 8 pieces each in blue, violet, and green
Price: € 14,500 without tax