Sarpaneva’s own path to watchmaking was perhaps preordained, his family name being synonymous with design in his home country. His father Pentti, a famed jewellery designer and his uncle Timo, a celebrated glassware designer. But young Sarpaneva preferred old cars and motorbikes to objets d’art (he would eventually sell his first motorbike, a 1976 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead FX he rebuilt himself, to fund his business) something which drew him to the mechanical engines at the heart of every watch.
Another independent watchmaker who has been making a name for himself recently that also passed through the halls of Kelloseppäkoulu is Torsti Laine. He originally studied computer science and started his career in the field but later found his calling in horology and excelled in his studies. So much so that we won the Lange Watchmaking Excellence Award in 2014, for designing an ingenious moon-phase complication, for which he received €10,000. Since then he has established his own brand, with his first pieces, like those of Voutilainen, were based on vintage ébauches and now offers a range of four watches, all with remarkable levels of customisation.
But if the Kelloseppäkoulu is to help educate future Voutilainens or Sarpanevas something must change, and change soon. Even before recent austerity-driven public spending cuts and the even more recent Covid-19 related strain placed on the Finnish budget, cuts were being made to the school’s funding.
“State funding has dropped over 30 per cent during the past eight years and now the school is on the final edge with its’ future,” Parikka states ominously. “If the funding won’t be corrected, the trust fund of the school will have to close the school in a few years. It is not very well understood how important skills that are produced at our school. Skills that serve medical, space, computer science and their innovation.”