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Time is of the essence for Rönkkö

Independent watchmaker Antti Rönkkö makes ultra-limited-edition wristwatches by hand in his workshop in Espoo, Finland.Teemu Rytky / Facebook

This esteemed Finnish watch brand is silently making an impact around the world.

The Finnish startup scene is peppered with companies that have been founded after their team members parted ways with Nokia. Given the fluctuating fortunes of the company, many have had their hand forced by circumstance. Yet for Antti Rönkkö, he made the decision to leave the Finnish stalwart once he sold his first watch.

“I worked for years at Nokia Research Center in fine mechanics before setting up my own watch brand in 2012,” he recalls. “I have loved mechanical watches since I was a small kid and becoming an independent watchmaker was natural; it had always been my dream.”

Using his surname as a moniker, his independent watchmaking company Rönkkö has since carved a name for itself by making fine handmade mechanical timepieces in limited editions for a cosmopolitan clientele.

“I aim for perfection in my timepieces,” Rönkkö says. “Handmade timepieces are like art. They get bought and collected for the same reasons: design, aesthetics, perfection in craftsmanship and visual pleasure.”

Good timing

Since 2012, Rönkkö has launched five different timepieces with different complications, drawing inspiration from mythology to sculpt each aesthetic. Aside from this, the obvious overriding theme of the watches is time, both in their function and the hours which go into each piece.

“Delivery times of my timepieces are from six months to two years,” Rönkkö says. “Unlike many tech startups I have only two hands.”

The other important ingredient is silence. According to Rönkkö, peace and quiet is the first condition of horologic art. All insight, design, art and innovation are born in silence. Realisation occurs when one takes a break from thinking.

“Silence comes naturally for a Finn, when you have months of darkness you have to deal with,” he states. “For a Finn, silence means time for thought; creating something out of nothing. It’s what happens at my bench.”

In contrast, international acclaim has been turning up the volume. Rönkkö’s handmade watches have been selected twice in the row by the international publication of Lürzer’s Archive, which presents the best creative design from over 70 different countries every year.

Quality that goes the distance

This recent acclaim has widened the scope for his work, with customers now travelling long distances to meet their makers.

“My clients come to my workshop to collect their timepieces when they are ready,” Rönkkö says. “They want to get to know their timepiece in depth… and of course have a good chat. My clientele is culturally mixed, made up of interesting individuals from all over the world: the US, Mediterranean, Far East, Asia, Europe and Finland, of course.”

Now, with his global customer base continuing to grow, Rönkkö remains in no hurry to expand operations, preferring to maintain his hands-on approach.

The most important thing for him is the quality of the final product, now and in the future.

“I will continue to transform ancient legends into mythical handmade timepieces,” Rönkkö says. “I will sit at my bench for the next year, think about nothing and suddenly the next timepiece is ready in front of my eyes.”

The design of each watch is inspired by such mythological sources as the legend of Minotaur. Image: Rönkkö
By: James O’Sullivan