With a gorgeous guilloché dial, top-end state of the art Swiss made movement and of course the signature Damascus steel case which has come to define the brand, the new Norrsken Rissa by Swedish independent GoS Watches is the latest in a series of individually manufactured watches, inspired by and named after one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena, the Northern Lights.
The ‘S’ of GoS, and now outright owner and CEO of the brand, Patrik Sjögren is in buoyant spirits when we speak on video call recently. He’s got good reason to be upbeat too, as with new retail partners in Asia and the Middle East, and a more streamlined, self-contained operation now in place back home, he is looking forward to moving GoS across into larger premises in the same building, which will include a new showroom, overlooking the picturesque market square of hometown Linköping, about 200km south of Stockholm.
Pioneers in the use of Damascus steel since its foundation in 2007, when watchmaker Patrik Sjögren and co-founder and master bladesmith Johan Gustafsson joined forces to create GoS, the very nature of the hand forged metal has always meant that each GoS watch was an individual and therefore unique piece. As Damascus steel is the result of a laborious process where at least two different types of steel, each with its own properties, are repeatedly heated, folded over, cooled and hammered into one multi-layered billet by the master blacksmith, before being passed on to Patrik who then subjects the raw material to acid dips, further heating, grinding and sanding which eventually reveals and extracts the characteristics and colours of that particular piece of metal, it’s simply not possible for two pieces to be the same, and so each GoS watch has, by its very nature, to be unique.
Following Johan Gustafsson’s departure in July 2021, the company has undergone a number of significant changes in recent times, and these have presented Patrik with the opportunity to restructure the business on his own terms, but with the arrival of another Swedish master of Damascus steel, Conny Persson (do they grow on trees up there?), normal service is maintained, and that core Damascus steel dna is still very much intact and part of the GoS package.
With an extensive menu of personalisation options on offer, which allow the collector to tailor the watch to their own specific tastes, the Norrsken Rissa is the latest addition to the brand’s new flagship collection. Featuring a dial whose captivating blue colour is inspired by the crystal clear waters of one of Sweden’s most northerly mountain lakes, Rissajaure, it is also a true collaborative effort which has brought together a number of independent artisans and craftspeople to create a display which, with its novel use of luminous materials and hand blown crystal, captures the spectacle of the Northern Lights, or Norrsken as it is known in Sweden, to remarkable effect.
When it comes to the dial, before we even get to the Norrsken’s special effects, which are concealed in daylight, there is a tough choice for the customer to make. On one hand, Conny Persson’s Damascus steel creations are synonymous with the GoS brand identity, and are in their own right exceptionally beautiful examples of the bladesmith’s craft. But with the introduction of a new guilloché alternative, engraved onto a solid silver dial by master guillocher Jochen Benzinger and featuring a quite stunning zig-zag wave pattern which emanates at the six o’clock index and radiates across the dial now also offered as an option, according to Patrik, this new development has proven to be a highly popular choice among GoS customers.
The index ring around the periphery of the dial is a section of hand blown crystal which is supplied by local 5th generation glass artisan Mikael Kenlind. It rests above the twelve hour markers and also Norrsken’s secret weapon, a circular insert of powerful luminous Badgerite by Gothenburg-based Black Badger a.k.a. James Thompson. When the daylight fades a transformation occurs, as the ghostly blue glow of the X1 grade Super-LumiNova is refracted through the crystal and then diffused across the surface of the dial, creating a shifting cascade of illumination which plays on the bands of guilloché waves as the watch moves with the action of the wrist.
The blue colour of the Norrsken Rissa is achieved via a process involving coloured nano ceramic particles which are bonded to the silver dial using a secret technique. The faceted steel lancine hands taper to fine tips and complement the rotating GoS Triskele motif, which takes the place of the more traditional small seconds pointer in a recessed subdial at the six o’clock position.
The case, which measures 41.5mm across and features pronounced fluting around its waist, can be commissioned in either full or part Damascus, including bezel and crown, both of which are produced from a different ingot for contrast. Alternatively, if the distinctive and very beautiful random pattern of the hand forged steel is surplus to requirements it can also be ordered in full or part stainless steel, with Damascus elements if desired, and while it is an option, Patrik informs me that this is a rarely chosen request.
Inside beats a superb state of the art self winding movement with micro rotor, which has been manufactured and modified to GoS specifications by Schwarz Etienne. Essentially a gentle reimagining of the Swiss specialist’s Calibre ASE 200 as used on the brand’s celebrated Roma Synergy model, it now features a bespoke GoS escape bridge, a Triskele laser etching on the barrel cover, and more noticeably the original micro rotor has been replaced with one of Damascus steel, matching the colour of the dial. A further development which is expected to be introduced in the near future is a guilloché micro rotor, again decorated by Jochen Benzinger.
When asked about the move upwards to Schwarz Etienne Patrik explains “I also wanted to have a more exclusive movement, and the possibility to customise a Schwartz Etienne movement to my liking and add a Damascus microrotor was sort of the icing on the cake.”
The meticulous attention to detail extends to the super soft polished salmon leather strap which is also manufactured in Sweden, as is the crystal presentation box which, like the dial ring is produced by the hand of Mikael Kenlind.
As well as the Rissa version, the GoS Norrsken is also available in a range of colours, which thus far include Fuscia (above), dark blue and green options (below), all with matching luminous effects.
Fact File: GoS Norrsken Rissa
Reference: Norrsken Rissa
Case: Full or part Damascus steel/Full or part stainless steel
Case dimension: Ø: 41.5mm, H: 12.1 mm
Dial: Rissa Blue with guilloché or Damascus steel options
Features: Crystal dial index ring with luminous Badgerite ring, lancine hands, GoS Triskele small seconds
Movement: Schwarz Etienne ASE200 self winding with GoS Damascus steel micro rotor, 21,600 vib/hr (3Hz)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power reserve: 86 hours
Caseback: Sapphire crystal
Water resistance: n/a
Strap: Sustainable polished salmon leather with pin buckle