One of the most talked about pieces during Baselworld 2015 was independent Finnish watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva’s new Korona Northern Lights collection, and with good reason. If you’re as addicted to “lume” as I am, then the Northen Lights should be very high on your wish list. It certainly is on mine…



The Sarpaneva Korona Northern Lights is first and foremost a collaboration piece,  bringing together the talents of watchmaker Stepan Sarpaneva and my good friend James Thompson, better known as Black Badger. A modern day alchemist of sorts, James is known for his zany creations that usually involve a lot of photo-luminescent materials as well as composites like carbon fiber and parts of Formula 1 cars, not to mention a slew of materials previously unknown to mankind. Okay I’m going a bit too far, but you get the idea!

Below is my own Black Badger “Eclipse” ring I wear daily, as well as the “Neolithic” strap he made for my SevenFriday with the coolest keeper you’ll ever see.


The Korona Northern Lights collection consists of three pieces: steel case with a blue dial, green dial, or black DLC-coated steel case with a purple dial. Perhaps I shouldn’t say the dials are colored, because if you look closely at the luminous plates under the colored steel, they’re actually off-white under normal lighting, with the color creeping in as the luminous plate’s are exposed to enough light.

Measuring 46mm wide, the pinion-shaped case features polished and satin-brushed surfaces. To me at least, it felt more like a 43 or 44mm case, thanks to the proportions of the dial and bezel.




At the topmost layer of the dial is a radially brushed skeleton grid in steel, treated (galvanic plating I assume) in blue, green or black/anthracite for the purple version. While Stepan has been executing this kind of dial for some years now, it actually serves as more than just a design element here in allowing a sufficient amount of light to reach the luminescent plate beneath.




Speaking of, the luminescent portion of the dial isn’t just a brass plate coated with SuperLuminova. Produced by the Canadian company Ambient Glow Technology, which Black Badger Advanced Composites has exclusivity over for jewelry, watches and accessories applications, the plate is actually a solid mass packed with photo-luminescent pigments, and it definitely glows brighter and longer than regular ol’ lume would.



Something to consider is that unlike the blue or green dials, the purple requires ultraviolet rays to “charge”. And yet, it gives off a very eerie kind of glow that’s not as overpowering as the blue and green (can you tell that the purple’s my favorite of the bunch?)



The hands and applied hour markers are have green SuperLuminova on all three models. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the base of the moon phase disk where the stars are etched also glows green. moon phase disk, and as moon phase disks have two moons, Stepan included both a steel and gold tone moon. How’s that for switching things up every lunar month?




Like the majority of Sarpaneva pieces, the Korona Northern Lights is equipped with a Soprod A10 automatic movement, finished to Stepan’s specs. Note the different colored rotor for each model.




What I especially adore about the Northern Lights pieces is that they tastefully merge all the signature characteristics of Sarpaneva’s pieces such as the kick-start pinion inspired case shape, multi-layer dial and of course the moon modeled after his own face with the unique (and borderline crazy) touch of Black Badger. It’s definitely one of the most organic horological collaborations I’ve seen in a while.



The Sarpaneva Korona Northern Lights will be limited to only 8 examples in each color, with a price of EUR 14’500.

For more information on the watches head to And while you’re at it, check out Black Badger’s site for more luminescent goodness :