Better known for picturesque landscapes and minimalist furniture rather than timepieces, it’s not surprising that the Nordic countries don’t often come up in horological conversation.
Truth be told, we here at Bespoke Unit had a difficult time naming more than one brand previous to writing this article. Thus, we embarked on a trip through the world of watches to dig out the best from each of the five countries. To our surprise, we found some truly intriguing designs, various value propositions, and one insanely talented watchmaker.
We will be going through our list of Scandinavian watch brands in the following order:
You can use the links above to jump around, or keep scrolling as we take it from the top.
Scandinavian Watch Brands
- Skagen – Danish watches with minimalist designs
- Sarpaneva – Independent Finnish watchmaker
- TRIWA Watches – Swedish watches implementing modern styles
- Von Doren – High-quality Norwegian timepieces
- JS Watch – The first and only Icelandic watch manufacturer
You may already be familiar with at least one of the above brands. If you know a couple of them, you may notice that our picks cover a wide range of price points.
Each brand employs their own philosophies in the design and construction of their watches. Similarly, each highlights the different personalities that make up the Scandinavian watch industry as a whole.
See Bespoke Unit’s Watch Reviews
Best Scandinavian Watches
Skagen Watches [Denmark]
This simplicity, along with an uncluttered Scandinavian aesthetic, is the inspirational backbone behind all of Skagen’s models. If you’ve ever heard of “less is more”, that is exactly what they’re going for.
Horological complexity is certainly not the goal here, nor does Skagen try to imply this. In fact, the majority of their Danish design watches are quartz-powered. In effect, the attention should be devoted entirely to the look of the watch.
Clean and legibile dials, slim cases, a date window here or there. The Skagen watch is effective, functional, and versatile.
In the brand’s eyes, this purposeful design make’s the wearer’s life simpler, and as a direct result, better.
Stepan Sarpaneva is the watchmaking mastermind behind the independent Finnish watch brand Sarpaneva watches.
After finishing a traditional watchmaking education in Finland, Stepan spent ten years working with some of the most prestigious Swiss watchmakers, including at Piaget, Parmigiani, and Christophe Claret.
With the enthusiasm and perfectionism that characterized him, Sarpaneva founded his own brand in 2003 in Helsinki. Henceforth, he has passionately handcrafted uniquely-styled horological masterpieces of the highest quality.
Sarpaneva watches’ latest release, the Lunations moonphase watch, is their first moonphase offering. It boasts an ultra-precise movement that breaks down the cycle of the moons into exactly “29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.3 seconds”. As a consequence, if continually wound, this outstanding horological masterpiece would only have to be corrected once every 14,000 years.
TRIWA Watches [Sweden]
Stockholm-based Triwa watches was founded in 2007 with an unorthodox goal for their watches. Where a great majority of contemporary brands look to their heritage and tradition for inspiration of future lines, the founders of Triwa dissented.
Their Swedish design watches are created to stand out from traditional watch design while implementing classic silhouettes as well as “Scandinavian simplicity”. A gander through their online catalog offers a view into the embodiment of this vision.
Their watches range from $100 to $600, most of them being powered by reliable Miyota movements. Dial colors and textures vary extensively, as do the types of indices and band options.
Triwa also offers an interesting concept, that of “Humanium Metal”. Curiously, the metal for these timepieces is sourced from firearms used in crimes, namely in El Salvador where the world’s largest gang is based.
While indeed a unique concept, one can still appreciate Triwa’s goal of bringing attention to gun violence. Additionally, some of the proceeds from sales are in turn used to help these same victims, making for a noble cause.
Von Doren Watches [Norway]
Von Doren watches of Norway are another Scandinavian watch brand putting forth a value proposition.
Their watches boast inspiration from classical Swiss timepieces, are constructed of high-quality materials, and retail at competitive price points. Established in 2016 in the town of Aalesun, the fledgling Norwegian watch brand’s pieces are characterized by elegance and an understated sophistication.
Many of their watches, while quartz-powered, employ Swiss quartz Ronda movements. Additionally, they possess scratch-resistant sapphire crystals. On the other hand, their higher end models possess automatic movements. Nonetheless, these are also imported from fine Swiss movement manufacturers.
Overall, Von Doren offer a clean style, manifested in high quality watches, that is sure to captivate those looking for a different story behind their timepiece.
JS Watch [Iceland]
JS Watch Co., started in 2005 by watch enthusiasts, refer to themselves as “probably the world’s smallest watch manufacturer.” Since the early days, they’ve been designing and constructing timepieces in Reykjavik, Iceland.
As we’ve encountered earlier, the movements inside their timepieces are Swiss. In light of this, each individual one is adjusted by their expert watchmakers in Reykjavik. Similarly, the ébauches that they import are decorated in-house with blue screws and a rhodium plating finish, allowing the brand’s personality to shine through.
Externally, their designs are classically inspired. Thus, their dials stick mostly to black or white, Arabic or Roman numerals, and Breguet center hands. Once again, as far as complication, we see the Scandinavian simplicity shine through. Accordingly, JS Watch Co.’s watches consist of time only or time and date functions.
Final Thoughts & Further Reads
We hope the brands and models presented here have helped you garner an idea of what Scandinavian watches are all about. They’ve certainly given us a look into a region of the globe scarcely mentioned when talking watches.
What do you think of the brands we included in our article? Given the accessible nature of many of them, would you purchase any of these for yourself? Let us know in the comments!
Alternatively, use the links below to jump into our other watch articles:
- British Watch Brands Guide – The Best English Made Watches
- How Much Do You Know? View Our Watch Knowledge Guides
- Omega Speedmaster “Panda” CK2998 Reviewed by Paul Anthony
- All Of Our Watch Reviews
- Bespoke Unit Watch Homepage
"Who knew the Nordic countries had watchmaking in their blood? Especially Sarpaneva, what an amazing watchmaker!"Rating: 5.0★★★★★