Each member of the MONOCHROME team has their favourites amongst the many brands and watches we share with all of you. And for me, one of the brands I have been following closely since I joined MONOCHROME is the Swedish brand of Gustafsson & Sjögren, or GoS in short. The duo of Patrik Sjögren and Johan Gustafson offers very unique watches incorporating hand-forged Damascus steel for the cases, bezels, crowns, dials and more. So when I learned of the opportunity to chat with the owner of a very special 1-of-5 GoS Skadi, I just had to follow through.
Just as a reminder, as we’ve covered the watch about a year ago, the GoS Skadi is somewhat of a direct result of the collaboration between GoS and Singer Reimagined Track 1 for OnlyWatch 2019. That specific collab piece was the first time GoS presented a watch with a case in blackened Damascus steel.
The Skadi is the first GoS watch to offer a similar styled blackened Damascus steel case as the collab piece. It is combined with the mother of pearl dial, painted with top-grade Luminova on the backside, from the Sarek Glacier collection. Just about all watches by GoS feature details inspired by Scandinavian folklore and Viking heritage. The movement for the GoS Skadi is a detailed adaptation of the highly familiar ETA 6498 hand-wound movement (improved to chronometer specifications by Soprod), with Damascus steel bridges and a golden inlay with a Viking style motif. All this results in a watch with a very unique style.
Today we talk to Chris, and Chris is the owner of not one but two GoS watches, including the aforementioned GoS Skadi. We discussed how we discovered the brand, what he likes about the brand and their watches and how he got to buy them in the end. An interesting story, to say the least!
Robin: What lead to your interest in watches to begin with?
Chris: I’ve been self-employed for close to 30 years now and I have been a fan of fine watches for most of my life. This mostly revolved around different styles of Rolex watches, for example, pieces from their Oyster Collection. As I’ve grown older my preference in watches has shifted to watches like Louis Moinet, Hublot, Patek Philipe and others. I like to build my collection step by step and upgrade as I go. Sometimes watches I consider as the “bottom” of the collection leave and I add new watches towards the top end of the collection. Currently, I have about 12 pieces, but I continue to try and improve the quality of watches that I have.
I always like to tour around and look for unique, stand-out watches as I do with other things in life too. Many things I own and like are one-off or at least custom pieces. Other than that, I have learned that the experience in buying a watch becomes more and more important to me. The experience I had with Patrik was such a joy, I have never had that in buying a watch before. With many brands, you deal with a salesperson, but beyond that, it ends after the purchase. I had a similar feeling to what I experienced with Patrik when I was invited to Italy to see the process of the build of my Ferrari for instance. That exact feeling, learning about craftsmanship and what goes into a product really interests me.
GoS isn’t a mainstream brand, how did you learn about them?
My wife and I were touring around Europe a couple of years ago and during our trip, we befriended a lady called Joanne Ryall. Joanne is an incredibly talented engraver, her work is very detailed and refined. She engraves watches, hunting rifles, knives, all sorts of things really. Since we met she has engraved a Rolex Daytona for me. When chatting to her about getting another watch she pointed me to GoS and when I saw the Damascus steel I was like a kid in a candy store. I had never seen Damascus steel before and was immediately intrigued, I just knew I had to get one.
And to be honest, I really couldn’t decide which one to get so I ended up buying two of them; the Skadi and the Sarek Trollius. Both watches are incredible but the Skadi is the probably the most eye-catching piece in my collection so far. Occasionally friends of me, owning Patek’s worth 200.000 dollars or more, ask me to “show and tell” about the watch. Even in restaurants I often get questions about what I’m wearing on my wrist and people are often curious to learn about it. People that know little or nothing about watches see it as a pretty watch while people that do know watches appreciate the craftsmanship and all the details.
How did you end up going for the Skadi?
My best experiences in working together with someone on a custom piece is to let the artist quite free. I’ve done that before and basically, I share my ideas, give one or two pointers on what I would like and for the rest give them carte blanche. I feel this leads to the best results and I again tried to do this with Patrik.
After I got in touch with Patrik for the first time and going back and forth on a few pointers, we decided on the Skadi. I just love the contrast between the black case and the gold bezel and lugs, paired with that unusual dial. And during the configuration of the watch, if you will, the pleasant thing was Patrik kept me up to speed with all developments and wasn’t shy on sharing the process in building his watches. And for a novice like me in watchmaking techniques it was quite exhilarating to see!
What is it that attracts you to their watches?
From the moment I learned about the brand through my friend Joanne Ryall, I was struck by the look of the Damascus steel. I had never seen anything before as mentioned and all the intricate little details still amaze me. Every time I wear it I find a new little detail or experience a new encounter with someone interested in the watch, it just brings me so much joy! The Skadi in particular is a watch that evolves throughout the day. The look of the watch changes dramatically between a sunny day for instance, or at nightfall with that glowing mother of pearl dial. The engraving of the case, lugs, movement, everything seems to complement everything else.
What would you say to anyone looking for a stand-out piece like this?
My simple answer; do it! The experience of dealing with Patrik and working together on this very special watch was pure joy and I am really happy with both watches, but the Skadi is that extra bit special to me. Patrik is just an all-round great guy to deal with. You will not be disappointed.