The term “fashion brand” is one that is all too frequently derided within the watch community, and that’s really a shame as there are plenty of watches out there that are fun, relatively inexpensive, and — the horror! — fashionable. Though all of us here at aBlogtoWatch are guilty of gushing over multi-thousand dollar works of haute horlogerie, the fact is that there are plenty of brands creating stylish, well-made watches for the masses that are certainly worth taking the time to discover. In its newest release, Skagen fully embraces the term, partnering with the über-fashionable Copenhagen-based design house, Soulland, to create the limited-edition Soulland X Skagen Grenen Chronograph.
Well before the term minimalism hit the mainstream, Skagen was drawing on the Danish affinity for minimalist design, producing slim, stylish watches at appealing price points. Established in 1989, Skagen was in many ways a staid and elegant contrast to the colorful, brash designs coming from Swatch. That’s not to say that Skagen doesn’t have its share of bold and playful designs, but rather that its focus on classic, slim watches with a minimalist aesthetic acted as an affordable quartz counterbalance, appealing to consumers looking for something a bit more subtle and versatile, but still available at an accessible price.
Over the years, Skagen has embraced different materials and technologies to produce watches that wear light and comfortably on the wrist. Though perhaps best known for bringing titanium to the masses, the Soulland X Skagen Grenen Chronograph is crafted of stainless steel; however, the case is made from at least 50% recycled stainless steel, a trend we’d love to see more watch brands follow. In what has become the brand’s trademark aesthetic, Skagen also opted for hooded lugs on the case of the Grenen Chronograph, resulting in a short lug-to-lug distance of 46.5mm, which, when coupled with the slim 9mm case thickness, is another detail that allows the watch to wear slim and comfortably on the wrist.
The Soulland X Skagen Grenen Chronograph is available in two colorways, a natural stainless case with silver dial and green leather strap or the blacked-out Midnight version reviewed here. Aside from the overall stealth look, the design element that immediately stands out is the massive rehaut. Indeed, the subtly sunburst rehaut is so large that the minutes and seconds hands even extend past the chapter ring and into the rehaut. Typically, hands extending so far would be a design faux pas, but that’s one of the great things about partnering with a design house like Soulland — you end up with designs that break the rules, creating an aesthetic that’s unexpected. Now, whether this design choice works for you is another matter, but that’s the beauty of the watch — at $175 USD, you get guilt-free experimentation.
Consistent with Skagen’s brand identity, the Grenen Chronograph is as minimalist as a chronograph comes. There’s no logo or text on the dial whatsoever, only a chapter ring and three subdials. The chronograph itself is powered by a Japanese quartz movement and you get a bit of a different layout than you may be used to with something like the Valjoux 7750. The central seconds hand is the running seconds, while the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock registers provide chronograph seconds and a 45-minute counter, respectively. The minutes, hours, and seconds hands are all luminous, though the lume is weak and short-lived.
The Skagen X Soulland Grenen Chronograph comes mounted to a 22mm leather strap with a crocodile pattern. In a nice touch, the strap is produced by Leather Working Group certified tanneries. The leather is soft and comfortable and dresses the piece up a bit. That said, the crocodile imprint seems a bit of a mismatch to the otherwise sporty and aggressive aesthetic. Luckily, the 22mm lug width means that finding an alternative strap that suits your style will be easy to find.
The Skagen X Soulland Grenen Chronograph exemplifies exactly why the term fashion shouldn’t be taboo amongst watch enthusiasts. For $175 USD, you get a stylish, attention-grabbing watch from two excellent Danish brands that pushes the design envelope, allowing you to experiment with your own tastes and preferences. Only 300 pieces of each colorway ar available. For more information on the Grenen Chronograph and other Skagen watches, be sure to visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Skagen X Soulland Grenen Chronograph
>Price: $175 USD
>Size: 42mm diameter, 46.5mm lug-to-lug, 9mm thickness, 22mm lug width.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: On a night out in the city, especially as my outfits generally consist of grays and blacks.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: University student looking for a stylish watch for wearing out that won’t break the bank.
>Best characteristic of watch: Minutes and seconds hands that extend into the rehaut.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Crocodile imprint on the leather strap; reflective crystal.