It is thought that Damascus steel was first used to make swords as early as in the 3rd Century and the Viking period ended almost a millenium ago, but there is no reason why we can’t continue to appreciate these crafts, designs and techniques through modern craftsmanship.
Scandinavian watch brand GoS have been creating historically inspired pieces since inception in 2008, where two guys combined their respective specialities. Johan Gustafsson is a master blade smith and Patrik Sjögren a master watchmaker.
The watches clearly have an heir of Viking styling about them and the dials on many models (including this Sarek Ice Blue) are created using Damascus steel.
The appearance of the Damascus dial is made in multiple steps in order to create the different patterns and colours. The patterns are created by folding of the steel and the colours defined by tempering. The colours of steel are created when light is reflected on the surface and slightly different nuances can be experienced based on the angle of reflection and the light source.
Co-owner of GoS watches Patrik Sjögren explains a bit more about the Sarek Ice blue:
“I wanted to do a finishing of Johan Gustafssons dials that made it look like ice for the Winter model. So, I started to experiment with tempering and slowly increasing temperature during heat tempering to achieve a lighter blue nuance than whats normally used in watchmaking. Patience is key as the target temperature will be different for each dial depending on finishing, dial thickness and steel types. The final minimal degree-increases are crucial as the dial immediately becomes dull if you overshoot the temperature the slightest. My goal was to have two different blue nuances, darker blue in the deeper sections of the pattern and a brighter icy blue on the black-polished higher surfaces of the dial.”
Face & case
The case is 43mm and made from stainless steel, worked and finished with clear inspiration from viking jewellery.
The bright blue, Damascus steel face bursts out brightly from beneath the domed sapphire glass, of which double sided anti-reflective coating has been applied (extra hard on the outer facing side)
The dial itself is made from a slice of 164 layered steel Damascus steel, with a Wildflower or Pools pattern and finished with the GoS Ice Blue temper. Two main blues are apparent, but there are also shades of purple, white, silver and even orange, depending on which way the light hits the dial.
Sitting just inside the bezel, the index ring is also steel, with half moons to the outside and an inner (smaller and thinner) blackened ring has “v” shapes pointing out towards them. The GoS brand plate can clearly be seen breaking the ring at 12 o’clock, where the steel logo sits on top of a 10mm blackened plate, the same thickness and finish as the inner index ring.
The hour and minute hands are in a typical GoS broadsword shape, finished with a highly polished glossy Rhodinium, making time easy to read at a glance. The seconds hand is much thinner and flows above everything, reaching almost all the way to the bezel.
Looking at the side of the watch, at 7mm, the crown is a decent size, also with a polished finish, but with 6 satinized grooves, which were inspired by design features on Viking sword hilts, helmets and bracelets. This is not only good for it’s appearance, but also provides for good grip. The GoS logo is stamped into the end. One feature that may not be immediately apparent, is the recessed crown neck – this not only works as a very effective side impact protection, but also allows space for double gaskets.
The side of the case has a set of indentations running around the watch, which gives another dimension to the surface.
In the centre of the reverse of the GoS Sarek, the modified rotor can be seen below sapphire glass and is of a triskele design – this shape has been present on GoS watches since GoS was founded (a triskellion or triskele is a Viking symbol made out of three interlocked horns, which on rotation will always look the same from any angle). Look closely and you will see that the rotor is finished with a circular satinisation. It also has an additional counter weight made from German silver, which is hand-finished with polished bevels and circular satinisation on the top.
Various aspects of the watch can be seen below, including various moving parts of the caliber and the main plate with its polished pattern. The words “Ice Blue” can also be seen engraved into a small plate running around the bottom from 3 to 9 o’clock.
The screw down case back is also highly polished framing the crystal viewing opening and has various engravings, including the two owners’ surnames, the logo and on the other side, “Unique Piece 1/1”, as well as the model name “Sarek”.
The movement is an automatic Soprod A10, which has been modified to feature the Gos triskele rotor..
One should likely expect up to 42 hours power reserve once fully wound.
The 22mm strap shown in the images is a Milanese style chain link strap. It is of a substantial thickness and features quite a different looking quick release butterfly clasp.
The Sarek watches are however usually sold with handcrafted moose leather straps, fitted with stainless steel GoS buckles. 4 colours are available to choose from; black, chocolate brown, khaki and matte black.
Damascus steel was originally made from ingots of wootz steel imported from India and Sri Lanka by the Arabs and is characterised by distinctive patterns of banding and rippling, or in other patterns created by the folding and tempering of the steel.
Damascus steel was created by folding heated steel multiple times (some say over 1000 times) and was originally used to forge sword blades – these blades were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering, and capable of being highly sharpened, with a very resilient edge.
Production of swords using this method gradually declined and by around 1750, the whole process was lost.
Although no historian, I’ve always been intrigued by history and enjoy learning about culture in general. I also appreciate minimalism, so the overall style of GoS watches do appeal to me.
The Sarek Ice Blue is a handsome watch, with a very well considered design. The case is fairly understated, but the different tones of blue on the dial give it the wow factor which will be noticed and most likely commented on.
The Sarek is a good weight on my wrist, possibly adding to the weight on this particular watch is the metal mesh band, which at 3mm is quite thick and sturdy. I actually prefer the look of the metal band against the case and dial (to the usual choice of colours of leather strap available), but perhaps an electric blue exotic leather strap might be a good look to consider with the Ice Blue dial too!
At only 10.5mm thick, the watch could be an every day wear, not protruding too far from the wrist and getting in the way with cuffs or constantly bashing against things.
Each Sarek Ice Blue is a unique piece and retails at $9,500 (+ taxes), so I would say for the craftmanship that goes into the watches, definitely good value for money. All dials are provided for selection and approval on watches which are produced on order, so there is a bit of personal choice included in the price.
One thing is for certain, if you purchase this model, or any other GoS watch, there is no chance anyone, anywhere on the planet, will own a watch that looks the same as yours.