Stepan Sarpaneva’s Sensational Seasons Watches Thank Black Badger For Their Intense Light
I dislike taking the spotlight from Stepan Sarpaneva here, but I’d really like to start out this particular post by singing the praises of the latest non-watchmaker shooting star of the modern horological world: Black Badger Advanced Composite’s James Thompson.
Thompson, a 40-year-old native of Ottawa, Canada who now lives in Sweden has made quite a splash among watch enthusiasts . . . despite not even having his own watch.
His first watch collaboration came about after having attended the 2012 edition of SalonQP. “A friend was wearing one of my Eclipse carbon and glow rings while working at the Bell & Ross stand,” Thompson recalls. It was then that Giles Schofield of Britain’s Schofield Watches saw the ring and jumped right to engage Thompson to co-create the Schofield Blacklamp.
“Giles called me a few days after I got back to Sweden to invite me on board before we really knew what the project would be,” Thompson said. “I made a glow ring and placed it on my wrist where I’d drawn watch hands. I sent him a picture showing how easy it was to view in the dark. We took off running from there!”
Solid blocks of lume
Similarly, Thompson met Sarpaneva at SalonQP just two years later in 2014. “To be honest I think I met him in the men’s room,” he quips. “We both knew what the other was doing, and it really was only about a 15-minute conversation. It was so perfectly Finnish, ‘Wanna do a watch? Okay, cool, me too. Let’s meet in Helsinki’.”
The watch that emerged with Finnish watchmaker and goldsmith Sarpaneva made its debut at the 2015 edition of Baselworld. Called Korona K01 Northern Lights, it was truly a ray of light at the gargantuan fair (see Stepan Sarpaneva’s Striking Korona K0 Northern Lights) despite its very limited quantity.
The 24 watches available in three colors sold out quickly, so much so that Sarpaneva released another eight-piece edition in a gold case at SalonQP 2015.
At the 2016 edition of Baselworld, three different new timepieces are set to be introduced with glowing Black Badger Advanced Composite elements. One of them is Sarpaneva’s Seasons (you will find out what the other two are once the fair opens on March 16).
Thompson’s company Black Badger creates jewelry using solid blocks of lume, carbon fiber, and titanium. The high-tech rings are an idea that actually originated with his engineer father.
In Canada, engineers then didn’t receive a gold watch upon graduation, but rather an iron ring.
Using solid lume was an idea that came from knife maker John Gonzalez’s Dervish Knife handles. “They looked cool.” While this is not all that Black Badger includes in its portfolio of products, the glowing rings are definitely the company’s most popular item.
“It was fantastic, we were just discovering things as we went,” Thompson enthusiastically responds to my question as to how the collaboration went with the creative Finn. “We were really off the edge of the map.”
In a technical sense it is important to understand that the luminous substance is not like Super-LumiNova in that it is not applied or painted. It is a solid material. It is a material that a designer can “sculpt” with, and it is 40 percent brighter and longer lasting than Super-LumiNova.
Sarpaneva’s new Seasons models created with the help of Black Badger Advanced Composites pay artistic homage to the strongly differing seasons that take place in Finland.
The dials comprise two parts: a stainless steel grid coated with either DLC or TiN placed above the solid block of lume in teal, green, violet, or blue. The hour and minute hands are rhodium-plated, polished, and matt-blasted, while the second hand is crafted in blued steel.
One huge difference to the previous edition is the case back, which features Sarpaneva’s signature moon face. While he officially communicates that the steel relief engraving is a tribute to the art of traditional pocket watch reliefs common more than a century ago, I am convinced that he put the face there to please his loyal following of collectors since it is uncharacteristically absent from the front of the watch.
So has Thompson been bit by the watch bug yet? “Ha ha, for sure,” he laughs. “But not blindly! I like certain watches, but I think a lot of them just don’t need to exist.”
Thankfully, though, the luminous ones with moon face caricatures continue to exist.
For more information, visit www.sarpanevawatches.com/seasons.
Quick Facts Korona K0 Seasons
Case: stainless steel (Autumn boasts a TiN-coated case band), 46 x 12 mm
Movement: modified automatic Soprod A10
Functions: hours, minutes, sweep seconds
Dial: Black Badger proprietary luminous advanced composite covered by a DLC or TiN-coated stainless steel grille
Limitation: 20 pieces each in four colors (luminous teal, green, violet, blue), only made to order
Price: €10,000 excluding tax for each model