Skadi: A Nordic Goddess Of A Wristwatch For Men By Gustafsson And Sjögren (GoS)
by Anders Modig
Swedish boutique brand GoS may be inspired by Viking aesthetics and Scandinavian northern lights, but the appeal of its timepieces to the watch collecting community is global.
GoS specialty: Damascus steel
“We are the only watch brand making our own pattern forged steel, also known as Damascus steel,” said co-founder and watchmaker Patrik Sjögren when I met with him at Dubai Watch Week in November 2019.
Sjögren had several reasons for attending this global, biannual watch hub. For starters, he was one of the artisans invited by the organizing Seddiqi family to hold a workshop about the hand-finishing of watch hands. Which makes sense since a set of hands on a GoS watch have hours, if not days, of handwork in them.
Sjögren was also showing the GoS Sarek Trollius, the first fully engraved GoS watch, as well as discussing the Only Watch 2019 collaboration with Singer Reimagined, for which GoS made the black Damascus steel case.
“It was good to be there as I see increased interest from the Middle East. It was great to meet up for milky cardamom coffee with one of the Dubai-based collectors for which I have made bespoke dials and hands in the past,” Sjögren explained.
“The U.S., Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China have already been ‘conquered’ with several pieces sold – even though the business for any independent watch brand can fluctuate at the best of times.”
Most of the time Sjögren is in his workshop in the Swedish town Linköping, trying to keep up with orders from around the world. And today Quill & Pad has the pleasure of presenting the first finished example of the brand-new Skadi, named for the Norse goddess of winter.
GoS Skadi: limited to five pieces
With this watch, one of a limited edition of only five pieces, the brand famous for its Viking aesthetics, Damascus steel, artisanal hand finishes, and increasingly Game of Thrones-compatible model names, is taking its skills to the next level.
“It has taken us five years – this is by far the most exclusive watch we have ever made,” said Sjögren proudly.
This is the first GoS watch with a black Damascus steel case and crown. It is completed by a bezel ring, lugs, and case back in 18-karat yellow gold.
“To make a good expression with Damascus steel you really have to plan the lines to make sure they support and follow the different aspects of the case. And it is a real challenge to make Damascus in black – you must make sure that the PVD surface treatment doesn’t mask the pattern. In this case, with the super resilient, super black, solution made by Ionbond – a company with production facilities in Sweden and Switzerland – we were able to achieve a really good contrast,” the Swede explained.
The black also contrasts phenomenally with the shimmering, luminescent blue of the premium mother-of-pearl dial. Underneath it is a thick layer of a Strontium aluminate–based non-radioactive and nontoxic photo-luminescent material – better known as Super-LumiNova – which provides the best available afterglow.
On Skadi, not only the case but also the bridges and the hands are made using the proprietary Damascus steel.
“Moreover, these bridges are hand-engraved to bear the resemblance to Viking shields,” Sjögren explained. “It is difficult to engrave Damascus steel with strong visibility without sabotaging the surface. Here we achieved that by filling the engravings with 24-karat gold and framing it with sunken lines that are polished at a 45-degree angle.”
Master knife maker Anders Hedlund is the steady hand responsible for these engravings; he also does the engravings on the 18-karat gold lugs and case back.
“These Viking loop patterns with double lines are quite a challenge, especially when it comes to the spacing between the lines. We also gave the engravings a high polish, an extreme luster, which is very unusual,” explained Sjögren before turning to the mechanical details.
“Some watch nerds turn their nose up at our Soprod-enhanced 6498 caliber. But we use the high-end chronometer-grade version with a screw balance. It is important for us to show a lot of steel with the bridges that we produce in our workshop. My philosophy is also that a watch must be serviceable by any authorized watchmaker. This is also the reason why we don’t design our own screws.”
With the world’s travel and meeting plans currently on hold, Sjögren is focusing even more strongly on the workshop.
“Next up we will finish the remaining four pieces of the Skadi – all the components are here. We will also start on the next model, which will have an even more complex movement. We can make a prototype, but we are still waiting for the movement itself from the supplier. And they closed down last week for the coming period . . . so we just have to be patient.”
But despite the times, Sjögren remains positive.
Sjögren signs off with, “Our orders generally are, as usual, taken care of via phone, email, and Whatsapp. And social media is our most important marketing tool anyway. But I look forward to meeting our collectors, friends, and suppliers when things are back to normal. In the meantime, I hope everybody stays safe.”
For more information, please visit www.goswatches.com/skadi.
Quick Facts GoS Skadi
Case: 44.5 x 10 mm, 18-karat yellow gold and black PVD-coated Damascus steel
Dial: luminous mother-of-pearl
Movement: manually wound Soprod-enhanced ETA Unitas Caliber 6498 with screw balance, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, 46-hour power reserve, bridges made from solid hand-forged piece of Damascus steel
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds
Price: CHF 41,800 / €38,100 / $42,000 plus taxes
Remark: five-year warranty