Over the past several years, watchmakers have increasingly turned to the natural world for design inspiration. While this has led to stylistic themes as diverse as undersea moss, cherry blossoms, and the eye of a golden eagle, the majority of any watch brand’s nature-inspired designs tend to focus on that brand’s homeland. This has led to a wide variety of watches inspired by the beautiful landscapes of Switzerland and Japan, but Swedish boutique brand GoS looks to evoke a very different side of nature: the harsh wonders of the frozen Scandinavian north. Formerly known as Gustafsson & Sjögren after its two founders, GoS has spent over a decade highlighting the craftsmanship of Swedish artisans, but its latest release may be one of its most striking. To capture the look and feel of the ethereal Aurora Borealis (“Norrsken” in Swedish), GoS offers a duo of case finishes and two distinctive dial options all handmade by Swedish artisans. The limited-edition GoS Norrsken provides a stark and intricate Viking counterpoint to mainstream nature-inspired designs, with fascinating finishing and dramatic use of color.
Each variant of the GoS Norrsken begins with a 41.5mm case in stainless steel. The case form itself is simple, with long, narrow lugs and a sloping smooth bezel, but GoS gives this elemental profile a bold character with a few custom touches and an aggressive use of texture. The central case band is heavily ribbed, visually breaking up the vertical case sides, and the 3 o’clock crown takes on a unique tapering form. The overall look of the case, however, is dominated by the use of stainless Damascus steel. Stainless Damascus steel has little to do with the medieval alloy it’s named after, involving a thoroughly modern Swedish process of mixing powdered stainless steel, but the rippling two-tone stripes and mix of polished and grainy textures are nonetheless striking. This stainless Damascus steel covers both the mid-case and most of the bezel, highlighting and adding depth to these simple forms in initial images. GoS also offers an optional black PVD coating for these stainless Damascus steel parts, substantially changing the overall feel of the design. Surprisingly, the darker matte look the PVD variant provides actually gives the design a more cohesive feel in photos, allowing the still intricate case design to fade into the background somewhat. The raw steel case, by comparison, seems to jostle with the dial for center stage. Both models feature sapphire display casebacks and sport 50 meters of water resistance.
Like the cases, both dial variants of the GoS Norrsken make relatively simple forms into vibrant and bold statements with the use of texture and color. The first dial is made from Damascus steel, with a completely unique and random pattern for each watch that combines matte black with highly polished emerald green tones to evoke the shimmering look of the Aurora Borealis against a black sky. The outer chapter ring is made from hand-blown Swedish crystal glass, and ringed with a solid Badgerite lume insert from famed Swedish lume specialist Black Badger. The glow of this luminous ring through the glass chapter ring adds an ethereal touch to the dial, while highlighting the cutout hour indices. With such an intricate surface and a distinctive outer ring, GoS wisely keeps the rest of the design rather minimal with zero dial text. The handset is an exaggerated pair of rhodium alpha hands the brand refers to playfully as “Viking spearheads,” while at 6 o’clock, a slightly undersized small seconds subdial uses a sharp and stylized triskele for an indicator. GoS also offers this distinctive minimalist design with a hand-turned silver guilloché dial in the same cold emerald green tone. While the wavy light-catching pattern is reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis in its own way, the overall look here is cleaner and more elemental with far less color variation.
GoS powers the Norrsken with the Schwarz Etienne-based GoS03 automatic micro-rotor movement. While not an in-house powerplant, GoS adds extensive decoration and modifications of its own, including hand-polished anglage and an independent bridge for the escape wheel. The nearly full bridges are broken up by the sizable mainspring barrel topped with the brand’s exaggerated triskele emblem, as well as a custom-designed micro-rotor. This micro-rotor is a dynamically unique touch, topped with the same emerald green Damascus steel used for the dial for a flash of unorthodox color. Performance for the GoS03 stands at a hefty 86 hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate.
Each variant of the GoS Norrsken is paired with a clean and dressy strap in polished black. Like so many other elements of the design, these straps take an offbeat and distinctly Scandinavian approach that references the wild natural beauty of Sweden. Rather than calf or alligator leather, these hand-finished straps are made from salmon skin leather by an artisan in Stockholm. The scaly texture is immediately distinct from alligator or lizard skin and should make for a relatively under-the-radar conversation piece.
By combining minimal forms with dramatic and colorful executions, the limited-edition GoS Norrsken offers a bold and distinctive ode to the harsh but beautiful landscapes of Sweden. Only 50 examples of the GoS Norrsken will be made across all variants. Pricing for the GoS Norrsken ranges from $19,500 to $24,500, depending on options, and the watch is available for order now through the brand’s website. For more details, please visit goswatches.com.