Watch reviewed is part of a private collection.
When asked about a watch - any watch - the first image that comes to mind would be that of a dial and hands, within a case. This “face” is often the canvas for some of the greatest creative and technical expression. From mother of pearl, to meteorite, from lacquer, enamel to porcelain, the range of possible dial materials is almost endless.
One of the more unique and distinctive dials on the watch market today is that of the Swedish independent brand, GoS. A collaboration between Johan Gustafsson, a bladesmith, and Patrick Sjoegren, a watchmaker, their watches use damascus steel, hand-forged by Gustafsson, using his own reinventions of ancient Viking smithing techniques.
Before discussing the particulars of this watch, it’s important to establish that what is common to as ‘Damascus Steel’ is actually pattern-welded steel, rather than the traditional method used known as ‘Wootz’. The art of crafting wootz is long lost and the specifics of this distinction can be read about here.
Now the watch. Most instantly noticeable is the lightness of the watch. While it would not be expected to have the same heftiness of something made of gold or platinum, given its considerable size, it feels closer to something made of titanium. The lugs of the piece are also relatively long, and so it does seem to wear a bit larger.
The rest of the case is rather well designed and unique in a number of ways. The sides of the case feature coin edging, much like Breguet’s signature type of styling, with slightly more width to each edge. In this Sarek reference, the crown is modelled after a viking sword hilt, and is quite intricate and tactile. Certainly it is one of the more unusual crown designs that we have seen in recent years, and rather successfully fits with the rest of the piece.
The polished caseback is a bit plain and features a smaller movement, visible through a sapphire display crystal), and large rounded bezels. Within the case sits a fairly standard Soprod A10 (popular with smaller independent makers) featuring a custom triskele rotor. Other than that, there isn’t too much to discuss regarding the movement of this watch.
At 24mm, the screwed lugs are quite wide. The watch also features a Panerai-like strap and buckle finished with light brushing. The strap is made of moose leather, which is something not usually offered with a ‘production’ watch.
The problem with it is...
Understandably the viewer’s attention will be drawn to the dial - and what a dial it is. Under bright artificial light, such as like standard office lighting, the dial is quite dull but still impressive, with only 2 colours, close to a dull brass or bronze, being visible. In this state, it can be difficult to read the time; when the light doesn’t hit the hands at the right angle, they blend directly into the background.
Take the watch outside into natural light, the dial becomes blindingly vibrant. Whether it be direct sunlight or an overcast day, brilliant shades of pink and red join in on the darker grey and bronze tones to produce something remarkable. The sword-like hands also make much more sense under these conditions, as they contrast greatly with the dial and due to the angling of the hands, the two halves of the hands always are in contrast to each other, with one half dark, and the other, light. To support the damascus dial, a brushed inner chapter is neatly placed upon the outer circumference of the dial. As this is also angled inwards, under natural light, this captures light in the same fashion as the hands and thus always exudes the same shade of colour.
Would we own one?
Yes. Even just to photograph that dial from every single angle. It bedazzles me everytime I look at it. Dial aside, the damascus steel feels great on the wrist and this would be a fun watch I'd own alongside the Konstantin Chaykin Joker
This one is a yes from me. Even though the dial is undoubtedly the star of the show, the rest of the watch, and even the accessories, all work together harmoniously and for me is strong enough as a package to appeal to a broad range enthusiasts. Every design element has its own unique touch (where others would often use generic cases and components), but are also subtle enough to not distract the viewer away from that dial.
It’s a yes from me. The mesmerising colours of the Damascus steel dial is reason enough. The watch does wear big on my wrist, which is a slight problem. Still, I can see myself enjoying this watch, be it to look at, or to wear.