As winter is somewhat behind us now and just about everyone is looking forward to summertime (except maybe Santa Claus) the cold, dark period of the year is the inspiration for Gustafsson & Sjögren Winter Nights collection. It offers you more of the stuff you expect of the Scandinavian brand, and a little something-something extra! Here is an up-close and personal review of this watch.
The Swedish combination of watchmaker Patrik Sjögren and master blacksmith Johan Gustaffson returns on Monochrome frequently. Their watches are highly recognisable because of the forging techniques applied in their cases, dials, buckles and more, and are quite unlike any other brand out there. Of course we see coming brands venture into the world of Damascene steel and forging for the occasional project-watch, but there is only one brand out there that incorporates it into everything they do! And as we’ve learned through this review, they are doing more than just timepieces!
The Winter Nights in itself is not a new collection, and shares a fair amount of design details with other watches in the collection of Gustafsson & Sjögren, but does offer something new to set it apart from the rest. The main difference is the introduction of a new movement, the GoS02 caliber, but more on this later. Just a short reminder of what is so special about each GoS watch (or pen, cufflinks, or whatever they offer). Damascene or Damascus steel is a type of steel made by hand, forging various alloys together and making 1 ingot. Arranging the alloys in a specific layout can create a wide range of patterns in the final product. The process of heating, hammering and folding the material is repeated a number of times in order to create an intricate array of valleys and ridges to the point it can look like wood graining, floral displays or lightning bolts across the case or dial.
As I explained in the article covering the limited edition Christophe Claret X-Trem 1 in Damascus steel, the patterns can be revealed by either heat or acid. Heat is for color, and acid is for contrast basically, without drowning you in the full chemical process. With the introduction of the Christophe Claret at Baselworld this year, which is also attended by Patrik and Johan, a meeting between the two seemed almost inevitable. Considering the fact that Gustafsson & Sjögren are pioneering this technique in watchmaking for a little over a decade now, I find it funny to learn how much buzz the X-Trem 1 created. Don’t get me wrong though, it is still an amazing watch but it isn’t exactly a new concept in the industry.
Overall Appearance of the Gustaffson & Sjögren Winter Nights
I have repeatedly stated, and will continue to do so, that any Gustaffson & Sjögren is unique in its own right. Even though they come in various collections, sharing a common theme, the nature of the Damascene steel that is being used provides a one of a kind pattern in the final product. When being heat- or acid-treated to reveal its true color and contrast, the material really comes to life.
For the educated readers, who know the Swedish brand from front to back, this watch isn’t new in the collection. There have been Winter Nights by Gustafsson & Sjögren in the past, but always extremely limited or even unique pieces. Gustafsson & Sjögren have made a Winter Nights – for Purists (limited to 10 watches) and a Winter Nights Unique Piece, both long discontinued by the way.
As with all watches by Gustafsson & Sjögren so far, the Winter Nights is a time only creation. The only indication present is hours, minutes and seconds. But, as you might remember from my previous review of a Gustafsson & Sjögren, the application of Damascene steel is a feature in itself. It far exceeds the appeal of a normal steel case if you ask me, making it a conversation piece for everyone who is interested or who you deem fit to entertain with the story of “How it’s made”.
The indications, which we have to explain of course or this wouldn’t be a proper review like you expect it to be, are simple. Hours, minutes and seconds are displayed through centrally mounted hands, a small departure from most previous watches which featured a small seconds indication somewhere on the dial. All hands are set through the crown at 3 o’clock, which also received an update in look and feel, but more on that later.
Dial and hands
Like the cases by Gustafsson & Sjögren, the dials are always made of Damascene steel and thus unique in every way despite sharing a possible common theme. Each dial is constructed of tooling steel, which is folded and hammered over and over again until it reaches 192 layers in total. A nice touch that I didn’t know of before is that each numbered edition really is manufactured in chronological order. So, to explain, number 1 really is made as number 1, number 2 as number 2 and so on.
The monochromatic dial of the Winter Nights is almost mundane in look but has a very wintery feel if you will. The wildflower pattern of the dial, with various dark grey tones resembles the cold of the Scandinavian winter. When paired with the red gold hands and a red gold chapter ring on the edge of the dial, it makes a perfect interpretation of winter. The gold touches remind me of a cozy fire, or a hot drink at hand, scrunching up on the couch, close to a person you hold dear while gazing into the starry night or witnessing the splendour of the Aurora Borealis together. Ok, I am rambling on a little bit here, but I’m sure you get the idea right? If not, well, just ignore this part.
The sword shaped hour and minute hands of the Gustafsson & Sjögren Winter Nights are done in gold like I said, as is the thin, straight seconds hand. To correct myself from 2 previous articles, the symbol you see at 6 o’clock, now just a gold applique, is not a shuriken but a triple blade symbol which is portrayed throughout Scandinavian folklore and mythology.
Case and strap
The polished Damascene steel case measures 43mm in diameter and 10mm in height. It is a welcome reduction in size from previous models that measured 45mm in diameter. Even though it is only 2mm smaller than the Midnight Sun or the Aurora, it wears surprisingly different. Not that the other watches are extremely uncomfortable or gigantic in size, but this Winter Nights wears very well.
When handling a watch like this, you can really feel each individual ridge in the Damascene steel, no matter how fine they might appear. If you run your finger nail along the surface you really feel the woodgrain-like pattern of the surface. Be careful though, because “handling” can become “groping” very quickly with this timepiece and that might be socially unacceptable in some parts of the world. What becomes very apparent when looking at the entire watch is that they are very detailed and not only due to the use of Damascene steel. Everything about this watch oozes a common theme, even down to the crown which received an overhaul for this new collection. The Damascene steel crown grips very good because of the 9 hand filed edges, a detail first used in 2008 but re-introduced in current collections.
The movement inside the Gustafsson & Sjögren is the GS02 Caliber which is a TT718 by Technotime. This hand-wound movement is quite handsome to look at, especially with beveled edges that will be applied to all finished Winter Nights watches. Aesthetically, the movement is quite a handsome one as we’ve already seen in the Ophion OPH-960 we gave away to a lucky reader.
The movement is equipped with two barrels, which can store up to 120h (or 5 days) of power reserve, so you can easily leave the watch in your drawler during a weekend without carring about on Monday morning. The double-barrel construction grants a more stable distribution of torque to the escapement, when compared to larger single barrel movement. The shape of the large bridge covering the movement allows for a partial view of the gear-train underneath. In terms of finishing, the bridges are straight grained, while the mainplate received circular graining. The Gos02 caliber beats at 28,800 bph and runs within COSC specifications.
But if that is not enough for you, and this is an important bit so play attention please, you could also get one with an upgraded movement! Not upgraded like better parts, more power, or a cool complication, but one that is true to the heart of Gustafsson & Sjögren watches. If you are interested in one, you could order it with Damascene steel bridges to make it even more sub-zero cool! To be honest, if you are truly considering this as a purchase (and I think you should, but I’m a little biased); go for the upgrade!
To be honest, I have a soft spot for this brand and its creations, ever since I first learned about the amazing amount of technique, heritage and craftsmanship which goes into making one. The hand forged steel, the acid and heat treatment to reveal as much beauty as possible, all the Scandinavian inspired touches, it makes for one interesting timepiece if you ask me.
Being a slightly smaller watch (43mm compared to the more common 45mm) it wears extremely well, and is even a possible match with business attire. Especially when you match them with your Gustafsson & Sjögren writing instrument (the word “pen” doesn’t really cover it, does it?) and matching set of cufflinks, all with Scandinavian inspiration and Damascene steel of course.
The new type movement really is a step up for Gustafsson & Sjögren, and with the added bonus of Damascene steel bridges as a possible upgrade, you get something very special. Each Gustafsson & Sjögren comes in a wooden presentation case – which is also handcrafted. The Winter Nights is available as you see in the pictures or in a bicolor version with a gold case (formerly known as the Nordic Seasons Gold) and intended to be produced in a run of 25 pieces, regardless of the chosen version.
- Each Gustafsson & Sjögren is a unique piece, regardless of limitation in collection.
- Craftsmanship is extremely visible throughout the timepiece
- New movement with 120 hours of power reserve
- Vast customisation options if desired
- Steep price for time only watch
Pricing for the Gustafsson & Sjögren Winter Nights is $19,500 USD, and $27,500 USD for the full gold version. The displayed cufflinks are available for $1,200 USD and the writing instrument for $2,200 USD.
Specifications of the Gustafsson & Sjögren Winter Nights
- Case: 43mm diameter x 10mm thick Damascene steel case, 22mm lugwidth, sapphire front and back, double AR coated, 5 ATM of water resistance.
- Movement: Gos02 caliber (Technotime TT718) hand wound, 120 hours of power reserve, 28,800 bph, central hours/minutes/seconds.
- Strap: handcrafted nubuck strap, optional crocodile leather strap, GoS buckle.