Northern Lights For Ukraine: GoS Auctions Unique Piece Norrsken For Charity
At the beginning of March 2022, as Russia attacked Ukraine, the watch community came together in support of Ukraine’s citizens in different ways, perhaps kickstarted united at first by a mockup of a blue and yellow Rolex by my friend and Fratello contributor Balazs Ferenczi that made the rounds on Instagram and then an open letter to the watch industry by Dan-Andrei Kluska. I rounded up the early efforts of our dear #watchfam in Silence Is Complicity: How The #WatchFam Is Standing Behind Ukraine.
These attention-raising efforts were quickly followed by the #WatchFamForUkraine Solidarity Auction, which took place on auction platform loupethis.com from March 25 to March 28, 2022 and raised around $250,000 with all proceeds directly donated to World Central Kitchen.
What was outstanding about the #WatchFamForUkraine Solidarity Auction was the speed with which it was organized. People and companies who donated items for auction either already had those items in hand – like Tim Mosso’s own watch, which became one of the auction’s top lots, selling for $22,600 – or were able to quickly make them using existing bases.
But what about independent watchmakers who felt a huge need to be helpful in such a way? Aside from the Grönefelds, who donated a private tour of their workshop to the #WatchFamForUkraine Solidarity Auction, independents were not able to get something together so quickly since most of their watches are handmade and/or made to order.
GoS donates a unique Norrsken for Ukraine
One independent watchmaker with personal ties to Ukraine was moved to help right away, but could not due to the handmade nature of his watches. Patrik Sjögren of GoS was already active on Instagram in support of Ukraine in early March, at which time he saw an opportunity in the form of a collaboration with artist @sunflowerman.watch (Matthew Miller).
Miller artistically replicated the unique watch Sjögren envisioned while the watchmaker worked out a possible method to create a two-tone guilloche dial – unlike the cloisonné enamel dial created by anOrdain for the #WatchFamForUkraine Solidarity Auction, the GoS Norrsken Northern Lights has a flinqué dial with handcrafted guilloche underneath the enamel, meaning it is a very tricky and time-consuming thing to produce. Making that two-tone could only be of the highest difficulty.
Sjögren chose to use something special for the face of his project, a guilloche dial that has been through a lot of prototyping in the GoS workshop. It contains microscopic “battle scars” as evidence of its long, useful life, which also serve to symbolize the aftermath of war on this watch.
After many attempts, Sjögren was finally able to apply the GoS Northern Lights blue enamel with a clean and horizontal, though undulating, line across the irregular guilloche pattern of the dial. The yellow tone of the bottom half recreating the colors of the Ukrainian flag was made by gold plating the other half of the dial.
Miller created the accompanying art piece with his trademark Sunflowerman watercolor wash technique in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
The artwork and watch were both finalized just three weeks after the project was started thanks to the two artisans’ hard work as well as support from movement manufacturer Schwarz Etienne, who provided the movement featuring a special engraving comprising the GoS triskele and “Slava Ukraini” (“Glory to Ukraine”) in four languages.
About the GoS Norrsken
“Norrsken” is the Swedish name for the aurora borealis, and this natural phenomenon is what inspired the watch that made its debut in 2021.
To achieve the look as he envisioned, watchmaker Patrik Sjögren, co-founder and owner of GoS, relies on his own craftsmanship and that of select innovative suppliers, starting with the dial, which is where the northern lights come to life. Here Sjögren relied on the expertise of Jochen Benzinger, master engraver and guilloche guru. Benzinger appears to have put his rose engine on the most extreme setting as the dial seems to be on the same erratic wave frequency as its natural counterpart.
For the index ring surrounding the dial, Sjögren turned to fellow countryman Mikael Kenlind of Vas Vitreum. Kenlind used rare Swedish crystal to hand-sculpt the translucent ring, which interacts with an insert ring made of solid, luminous Badgerite. The glowing Badgerite is a collaboration between Swedish-based Black Badger and RC Tritec, the Swiss company best known for producing Super-LumiNova.
The effect that the Badgerite creates in combination with the Swedish crystal index ring is as magical as the northern lights themselves, the glow reflecting to create a green or blue shimmer on the dial in the unlimited version. Ensuring the index ring’s safety, GoS secured it at 12 points, allowing for a degree of flex and minimizing risk of damage by shocks to the watch.
The GoS Norrsken box is made of handblown Swedish crystal by Mikael Kenlind, who also makes the stunning index ring.
This outstanding watch and painting set are currently being auctioned as a combined lot during Sotheby’s Important Watches: Part II with bidding opening on April 27, 2022 and lasting for 14 days. All proceeds from this lot go to Red Cross Ukraine.
To bid, please visit sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2022/important-watches-part-ii/ukrain-edition-norrsicen.
Quick Facts GoS Ukraine Edition Norrsken
Case: 41.5 x 12.1 mm, stainless steel with Damascus steel bezel
Dial: silver dial with handcrafted guilloché by Jochen Benzinger, machined and finished by Patrik Sjögren; hour index recesses filled with midnight blue Badgerite, developed by James Thompson and Super-LumiNova; transparent index ring in Swedish Crystal individually handmade by glass artisan Mikael Kenlind; solid ring of Badgerite around crystal index ring
Movement: automatic Caliber Schwarz Etienne ASE 200 with micro rotor in hand-finished Damascus steel tempered to match the dial, GoS triskele and “Slava Ukraini” in four languages engraved on click wheel, 86-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds
Limitation: one unique piece
Auction estimate: CHF 10,000-20,000
Remark: all proceeds from the auction of this lot are going to Red Cross Ukraine