After years of imagining their dream watch, friends Sigurdur Gilbertsson, Julius Heidarsson and Grimkell Sigurthorsson decided to make the timepiece a reality. In 2005, with Gilbertson’s father, Gilbert Gudjonsson, a master watchmaker of 40 years onboard, the team launched its first line and JS Watch co. Reykjavik was born.
The collection was an immediate success and sold out within six months. Iceland’s economy, however, turned out to be built on an unstable base and the Icelandic Krona - the currency of this island nation - collapsed. The wealthy domestic market, on which the firm relied, vanished.
In the wake of the financial collapse, however, millions of tourists flocked to Iceland, desperate to take advantage of the prices offered by the country’s weak economy. JS Watch co’s precision craftsmanship, attention to detail and sheer excellence in watch making appealed to this new influx of visitors. The brand was quickly back on its feet and working furiously to keep up with the renewed demand. Fans of the brand include Hollywood A-listers Jude Law and Tom Cruise as well as Constantine II, the former king of Greece.
JS Watch has gone on to create five highly sought after limited edition collections. Having survived the financial failure, it seems only fitting that the company has created a new timepiece that embraces Iceland’s volcanic vicissitude.
The Frisland GOÐ is a tribute watch that pays homage to the destructive power of the country’s volcanoes. Based on the brand’s popular Frisland collection, this edition has the name GOÐ etched onto the dial in a vivid red hue. The polished black dial is actually a carefully applied layer of volcanic ash taken from the cloud that grounded European air traffic for weeks in late 2010.
Beneath the brimstone, the timepiece is anything but ordinary. Assembled by hand, the case is made from 316L surgical steel and water resistant up to 50 meters. It protects an automatic ETA movement, customised to JS Watch’s specifications. The finished product has a power reserve of up to 38 hours and is visible through a sapphire caseback.
The simple, bold aesthetic continues with oversized white roman numerals at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. Plain white indices complete the hour markings and a red sweeping hand compliments the finish. At 44mm the Frisland GOÐ is a real statement and a piece of geological authority.
Fiercely proud of Iceland’s nautical prowess, JS Watch co. has also produced a hardy timekeeper in conjunction with the country’s national coast guard – the Sif North Atlantic Rescue Timer. A classically styled pilot’s watch, the Sif is generously proportioned at 40mm. The remarkably clean dial design and robust construction has made it a treasured possession of the fearless men and woman of the coastguard. White luminous numerals provide visibility in poor conditions and the water resistance extends to a depth of 1,000 metres.
Only 941 of these watches have been produced and the case back is specifically numbered. Available in stainless steel or with a contemporary PVD black coating the finished timepiece is as a comfortable in the office as it is in rough seas.
Arguably JS Watch co’s most popular collection is the Islandus. While the special edition, of which only 10 were made, has sold out, buyers have instinctively gone for the more widely available model. And for good reason: this watch is a classic. Generously proportioned at 44mm this timepiece features a manually wound movement and roman numerals on the face; the number 12 stands out in a bright red colour. With a sterling silver dial guilloched by hand and an ostrich skin strap it represents one very special timepiece indeed.
Reflecting the determination of the Icelandic people and the country’s dramatic nature, the GOÐ, Sif and Islandus timepieces exemplify JS Watch patriotism. These timepieces, which are available in Hong Kong through Times International Creation, are rare examples of traditional craftsmanship working in harmony with contemporary passion. Their mark may not yet match that of a volcano, but they’re a powerful – if exclusive – force in the world of horology and a brand the people of Iceland should be proud of.
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