March 14, 2011
by Ariel Adams
There are few designs less polarizing in the “I would wear this department” than a watch like the Lapland Sky” from Sweden-based Gustafsson & 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, Gustafsson 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.
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.
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.
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.