From opposite ends of Europe come two wonderful Independent Watchmakers, from the south west, we have Pita in Barcelona, Spain and from the oft frozen north east, Sarpaneva in Helsinki, Finland.
Stepan showed me his new titanium Dive watch, with it's interior uni-directional bezel, operated by the winding crown. I was immediately taken by it. As a big fan of his work, I was thrilled to see a sport watch coming from an Independent, as this category is not usually part of an Independent watchmakers portfolio.
One more for the road:
Unfortunately I was unable to get good pictures of the remainder of Stepan's pieces, so please forgive me! I did like the new variations of the Korona in steel with colored pierced dials and a date at 6 o'clock. The other piece was the "Man in the Moon" watch with hour display at 6 o'clock. Very much an art piece, which I think Stepan under-estimated the positive response. He was happily surprised by how many people loved it. He continues to create watches in his strong style, and I can see a bright future for the Finn. Having Finnish friends in the Bay Area, I can truly appreciate Stepan's work, and seem to have a natural affinity for him. Possibly my favourite piece is the K3 Red Gold Moon of his recent work, although the new Titanium Dive piece comes really close!
Moving on, my next port of call was Pita. Anecito Pita, a self-taught watchmaker based in Barcelona, creates rather unusual and beautiful timepieces, from complicated to ultra simple one handed watches. Daniel, his son, is the general manager of the business and the English speaker of the two, who handles the business side of things. He greeted me effusely when I approached their stand within the AHCI area. We had "Twittered" prior to Basel and so a meeting was planned. I had looked casually at their watches a couple of years back, while at Basel, but had not focused too much on them. I found them a bit too "Hand made", I suppose I didn't really give them a chance to explain their inspiration or design ideas.
Here the Sol y Luna, with lovely enamel & 18k gold dial:
The time being shown is 10.30pm, as the hour disc is showing the moon rather than the sun.
This time it was different, Daniel eagerly explained the designs, and occasionally would ask his father something in Catalan. Barcelona, being Anecito's adopted city, is a strong anchor for the Pita family, and much of the design aesthetic comes from the great art & architecture found in and around Barcelona. Where a Pita watch differs from almost all other watches is in the fact that there is no crown. The watches are self-winding, and while setting, the mainspring is wound enough to get the watch running initially, then the movement of the wrist takes over. Setting is done via the case back, rotating it causes the hands to move using the Pita-TSM (Time setting mechanism).
You can see the rivets on the back of the Oceana to aid one in rotating the case back for time setting:
I like the Minimal watch, with the same sort of idea as Peter Speake-Marin's Piccadilly Shimoda. Only the hour hand to tell time, with a variety of dial options. One can also have a rather more standard hour & minute hand too. Customization of a Pita watch is very real and Anecito & Daniel encourage clients to participate in the design of their timepiece.
The Oceana is, I believe, a unique watch design among dive watches, not only using no crown, but able to withstand 5000 metres and have the time setting mechanism operated while underwater at pressure.
The mighty Oceana in steel:
Not sure why one would want to be able to change the time, but you can! Let's face it, less than .01% of all dive watches are actually used as tools for diving, so it neat to know your watch will survive long after you have been squashed and have gone to meet your maker, by the enormous pressure at these depths!
This PVD version is pretty cool:
I do think though that the system Anecito has designed to handle the age old issue of watch water resistance is remarkable and hugely beneficial to watch design in general. I also like the look and feel of the Oceana, I think it has all the attributes one would like in a dive watch. Even the depth gauge, a clever design using the colors of the rotating seconds indicator, which at various depths are noticeable, in order to estimate one's depth. Even though some will balk at the thickness, overall the design works well, and this will I think be a very popular watch to come out the Pita workshops in Barcelona. I think I see a new sports watch for myself here, to relieve the UN Blue Surf, which I must say has done sterling service for the past 4 years!