Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

There are few designs less polarizing in the “I would wear this department” than a watch like the Lapland Sky” from Sweden-based Gustaffson & Sjogren (hereinafter known as “GoS”). While many people can appreciate the beauty of their in-house made Damascus folded steel metal, this is a watch to be worn on the right type of wrist only. I feel confident that I have the guts to pull it off, do you?

GoS is comprised of a pair of ‘metal turnin’ fellows that actually play heavy metal music. I mean, really what else is there to do in Sweden? I sort of mused on that as a joke when I first wrote about the brand here due to the style of the watches. The GoS guys then proudly confirmed to me that they indeed are fans and composers of heavy metal as I playfully suggested. How cool is that?

Their mainstay is making cutlery, including Damascus steel knives and swords, among other metal goods. To be more accurate, Gustaffson is a knife maker while Sjogren is a watch maker. In the past they made watch dials for a few other brands until they finally decided to start making their own. If you want something with a lot of (hardcore) artisanal spirit that has a very limited production, then you aren’t off something from Gustafsson & Sjogren.

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

On my wrist here is one of their Lapland Sky watches. Part of a limited edition of just 5 pieces, it is a good representative of their mid-range watches. The case is 44mm wide in steel with a stylized, but not overly complicated case. In this instance, the case is not Damascus steel, but watches like that are available. The case is a combo of sandblasted and polished steel, while the crown is Damascus steel. Inside the watch is a top-grade Swiss ETA 6498-1 manually wound movement that has desirable upgrades such as perlage and Cote de Geneve polishing. It also has a swan neck fine regulator and blued steel screws. GoS uses their swirly blade logo on the dial subsidiary seconds dial – which of course means that it spins.

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

This watch has polished steel hands, but other models have un-polished, rugged looking Damascus steel hands, All of them have a total heavy metal design to them. Each time I look at the watch I hear a quick guitar riff. The Lapland Sky has a wonderfully colored Damascus steel dial with applied hour indicators (also Damascus steel). Another model – the Lapland Ice has a colorless Damascus steel dial.

Often times people say that Damascus steel looks as though it has a wood grain. This is especially true here, though they aren’t related to wood at all. The process here takes various metals which are folded over one another in a blacksmith shop. The manner of folding as well as the types of metals and chemicals used dictate what the metal will look like after polishing. Of course that is a simple answer, but you get the idea. The point is that Damascus steel involved a unique and labor intensive process to yield results. The same grain is never seen twice, so the dials of each of the watches are unique.

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Gustafsson & Sjogren Lapland Sky Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Through the caseback of the watch you can see the movement via the sapphire exhibition window. There is another sapphire crystal over the dial. Quality is pretty nice given the artisan style of the design. It is also quite comfortable on the wrist. I always get a kick out of the strap – very much a local “flavor.” GoS uses reindeer leather straps with unique designs stitched into them. Each model has a unique design. These are made specially for GoS from a local leather maker in their area. They have a unique feel to them being soft, and almost quilt-like.

There aren’t many GoS Lapland Sky watches. These were made as a limited edition of only 5 pieces. Price for this model would be $8,300, and there are ones similar to it. For those who love the metal, the style, and the Scandinavian spirit of the watch, you can’t go wrong with a Gustaffson and Sjogren – there just isn’t anything else out these like them.

12 comments
weatherman
weatherman

I'm not so fond of the Damascus face. I'm more impressed with a Damascus case, like the one on the Bathy's Damascus. Google it - it's a thing of beauty.

Ivan Y
Ivan Y

GoS watches can be pretty outrageous, so this is a rather elegant & tame example. Really like it, personally. Although, I'd think that hour markers should've been polished.

P.S. For those of your curious about the name, Lapland is a geographical/cultural area in Finland and Sweden -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapland_(region)

Ulysses
Ulysses

For a similar effect but in a more handsome watch, google "H2O Kalmar Mokume Gane". It's a dive watch with a unique and attractive rippled metal finish.

simon
simon

I have to agree a totally unique watch but the conversation would go ,
a what
that's nice
who
how much
why
it's steel
don't get me wrong no disrespect intended just a laymans view

kris c
kris c

Well, I really like damascus steel - my chef knives at home are damascus, and the quality is as good as the look. The layers really help it keep an edge.
But $8,300 for a 649x watch, and no precious metals, etc? Yeesh. I get it, there are only 5, but again, a very limited edition from a brand that nobody knows. Doesn't line up.

Patrik Sjögren
Patrik Sjögren

The work that Bathys have put into their stainless damascus steel case is impressive but I personally prefer the damascus steel cases designed and used by Cornelius & Cie (Kees Engelbarts).

Patrik Sjögren
Patrik Sjögren

Hi Ivan,
The hour markers are polished but then etched to highlight the damascus steel pattern, so its only the pattern ridges that are left highgloss polished. I think that a more dense pattern, like the one we use for the hands and index ring for the latest model, would have improved the looks of the hour markers to your liking.

Good additional info regarding the name! The strap is actually made in Lapland by a Sami handcraft artisan who use traditional methods and traditional tin thread decoration of the reindeer leather.

Patrik Sjögren
Patrik Sjögren

Johan Gustafsson is a master bladesmith and has been a custom knifemaker for almost 20 years. He has mastered color extraction in his handforged steel to a degree which is unmatched by anyone. With those aspects in mind, we consider our watches to contain a large amount of "precious metal", especially in regard to the time consuming process required to produce and finish it.

kris c
kris c

Hi Patrik:

Nice to see brand representation lurking the reviews. Don't think I was attempting to discount the work and artistry put into this watch. And I can also appreciate that this material has precious internal value because of the techniques honed over so long a time to perfect it. But, at the end of the day, it's steel, and that's what pretty much everyone else will see immediately as well. I've been a long time fan of damascus, and I put a lot into my knives, which were forged in Japan by another master of this type of steel. Is Johan's steel better? Sure, why not - it doesn't really matter; after almost 10 years of regular use, the steel I have performs as good or better than the day I got it, so the difference will be almost incalculable.
If the watch is worth this much not because of it's rarity, but because of the quality of the steel, what does the average consumer have at hand to understand that? Obviously Joe 6-pack who sees this and loves how it lines up with his Soils Of Fate albumn, then walks away because of the restrictive pricetag will not just know about the skill and labour involved. No gold, platinum, and the steel didn't come from the Titanic, with maybe the most affordable mechanical movement in history, etc - where is my money going?

admin
admin

Thanks for the additional information Patrik!

kris c
kris c

Well, I'm not looking to question your artistic integrity, nor your pricing model - just trying to better understand it. I do not know Johan's knives - I'm not a collector, I'm just a chef, so I couldn't fathom paying something like that for a folder (I own several, as I'm also an avid survivalist camper, I thought the ones I already owned were nice...). To be honest, the Johan Gustafsson I know is a professional hockey goalie.
I'm also not insulting your choice of movement - I own 3 649x watches, all 3 have swan regulators, blued screws, and special polishing. Simple, highly reliable, and easy to regulate. The 3 of them together cost about 25% of your 1 offering, but none of them are limited editions, and they are housed in pedestrian materials like 316l and tungsten carbide.

Patrik Sjögren
Patrik Sjögren

Discussing prices can be difficult but for us it is quite straightforward as it is mainly a combination of the amount of work that both Johan and I put into each watch and the artistic level and recognition of Johan's damascus steel and finishing. Maybe it is easier to understand our pricing if I mention that Johan's folder knives retail for $4000 on average and are bought by knife collectors worldwide. That does not mean that his knives are "better" than any others but they are instead praised for their artistic values and uniqueness, as are our watches by our customers.
For the Lapland series, we used the highest grade available of the 6498-movement, which includes refinements such as swan-neck regulation, screwed balance, Geneva-stripes etc. So, it is quite far from the "most affordable mechanical movement in history" in my opinion.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Their first watches incorporated Damascus steel dials and sometimes other elements such as hands or the crown. The next step for Gustafsson & Sjogren (Gos) was to produce an all-Damascus steel case. Eventually however, GoS's aim was to produce watches with Damascus steel dials, cases, crowns, and even movements. Not only that, but unique in-house made movements that were far and beyond more impressive than the high-grade Swiss ETA Unitas manually wound movement included in their early creations such as the Lapland Sky (aBlogtoWatch review here). [...]