JS Watch Co, Iceland

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Dancematt
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JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Dancematt »

One cannot talk about Js Watch Co without talking about the beautiful country that is Iceland, I visited during a week of heavy snowfall (without it i wouldn't have bought my Frisland God - but more on that later) and found out that Iceland had been suffering with it for about 8 weeks straight, thanks to some Geothermally heated roads and alot of road plows (and John Deere tractors fro the pavements) Iceland did not grind to a stand still (unlike our own lightweight country), Suprisingly snowfall like this is rare in Iceland - this being the biggest snow storm the island has seen since 1984. Iceland is a wonderful country with many amazing sights, i took a small collection along with me to share my experiences:

Casio Pro-trek, Ball Night train, Tag Heuer F1
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Pro trek by Goðafoss waterfall, very very cold - I left it on the side 2 minutes and the temperature dropped from 28 degrees to what you see here
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The view from our hotel - Hotel Laxnes (about half hour drive from central Reykjavik), Mountains on all sides.
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Icelandics are better drivers - Our mini-van had standard tires (Family owned company IG tours were fabulous, although the cheapest on the island, the tour bus managed to stop at twice as many places as the major tour operators we saw)
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Seljalandsfoss waterfall
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The view from the only road to the Airport
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A view from the Mid Atlantic Ridge
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Alright Geyser!
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The Northern Lights, very bright in 2012 due to solar storms - the missus's reason for the holiday, mine is below these photos ;)
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A visit to JS watch Co

Js watch co's slogan is 'the worlds smallest watch company', this is probably true as you can see below (Gilberts), the shop in the 101 district of Reykjavik looks like it can only hold around 10 customers and its workshop is half that size again:
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The team which comprises of Sigurdur Gilbertsson watch-mechanic, Julius Heidarsson pilot, Grimkell Sigurthsson designer and Gilbert O. Gudjonsson Master Watchmaker are rightly proud of their little brand, which has built up a respectable fan base of celebrities and watch collectors alike:
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Gilbert with Movie Directors Eli Roth (who now owns 2 JS's), Quentin Tarrentino and Gilberts Son Sigurdur. Also with Viggo Mortensen. Jude Law, The Dalai-Lama and Yoko Ono are also owners.
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We stayed in Iceland for a week and visited the shop on a tuesday (with a return flight on the thursday), i spoke in Length to Gilbert and he showed me all the models on offer aswell as his workshop, how his regulator worked, the water pressure testers and the cleaning and servicing machines he uses on all the watches (Gilbert told me he can strip and service a 2824 in around minutes), Gilbert has such great passion and enthusiasm for his job and company that you can't help but get caught up in his ideals. Three watches from the collection caught my eye the most:
The Frisland God, The SIF N.A.R.T diver and the 101 dress watch, all on the recently added steel mesh bracelet (available since mid 2011 i believe)
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As there is not much information about the brand or live photos of its models i took some more photos for others to see, The Sif N.A.R.T - changed slightly since its first incarnation, now with red seconds hand:
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(MY F1 with the coast gaurd ship on which a fleet of SIF NA.R.T watches now sail- it being the chosen watch of the Icelandic Coast guard)
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The stunning 101:
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and its highly detailed movement (shared by most JS models):
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All three blew my mind, the quality is very high (although so is the price some may say), Pics do not do justice (especially mine).

After handling all three for quite a while i just couldn't decide which one i wanted and so left empty handed! ](*,). That night i have to say i bacame a very sad individual - i couldn't sleep because i regretted not buying one!....The next day we had a tour booked that lasted into the night (well past closing time for Gilbert and Sigurdur) and the day after we were had an early flight back home....i had missed my chance to own a JS watch :(.

Then....a miracle (sort of)! The one and only road to the airport had been shut off due to extreme snow which the road ploughs could not easily shift. Our flight was put back to 11 45 from 9am. By the time the (long, long, looong) road re opened that day we were close to the airport, we got to our flight with half hour to spare but we were not allowed on the plane and it departed without us.
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After some argueing (we were not the only ones to miss our flight) we were offered room at a local hotel and a return the next day (Icelandic express only have one flight back to the UK a day :? ) so guess what we did? Yep back to Gilbert and Sigurdur to buy me a JS Frisland God :D

JS watch Co Frisland Goð

The JS Frisland God is not the only watch to use volcanic ash as a dial, there is also the Romain Jerome Eyjlafjallajokull:
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Not suprisingly this was also on sale in Iceland (a bit further down the street at a rolex, tudor dealership. As a side about watch buying in Iceland i noticed the country is dominated by Tissot, Certina and Reymond Weil with major brands such as Breitling only available at the airport) I found the Romain Jerome woefully unimpressive - looking almost plastic in reality and so on to the Frisland God then.

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The Frisland Gods ash for the dial also comes from the volcano Eyjlafjallajokull (the only Icelandic word i learnt in my time out there - it is a notoriously hard language to learn) that errupted in 2010- causing all manner of chaos:
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So far about 10 Gods have been made but the production run is not limited. All JS watches are however, very limited in execution. For example less than 1500 Frisland cases have been made since the companies inception. The story behind the watch from the people who made it:
About the name, I can only say that it is in line with our philosophy i.e. the names of our watches mean something in historical, social and even artistic sense...and we enjoy coming up with the story´s and the names alike. The production run has not been decided, if we look at volcanic activity in Iceland through history I am pretty sure that we will have no shortage of ASH!! But the production is quite complicated so that will be the deciding factor. The price is in line with Frisland plus the added cost of the dial, we have been trying to keep the prices stable for the last few years.

The story behind the watch is a story of enthusiasm, friendship, talent and the Christmas spirit (you look puzzled!). We sent our dial-maker ash from Eyjafjallajökull and a book about the volcano (plus some chocolates, of course) for Christmas to show to his kids. Him being a talented watch enthusiast found a way to make a dial from the ash, we had earlier decided not to jump on the volcano marketing bandwagon. When seeing the magnificent texture and finish on the dial we thought this was too good not to go ahead with. We were sitting at the JS Watch co. headquarters (my kitchen) drinking coffee and speculating on a name and story to compliment the dial when my uncle, a retired schoolteacher came by for a cup. He came up with the idea that in pagan times Icelanders believed that when a volcano erupted the GOÐ were angered with us humans. Hence the name.

regards,
Julius
JS Watch co
And so onto the pictures:
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by downer »

Great post. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Iceland looks an interesting place to visit, although like you, I can imagine it would be difficult to leave without a JS watch.

Congratulations. :)
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Loddonite »

I love the story behind the purchase - it seems that Fate was giving you a nudge. The dial looks very rough. The writing looks almost illegible from some angles (I'm assuming that it's not the photography) and as clear as a clear thing from others - fascinating.
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

A brilliant story and an amazing buy- great pics too - congratultions! :thumbup:
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by androo »

Very good read and pictures. The northern lights in Iceland is in my to do list. Lovely looking place. And a watch wouldn't go amiss either
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by alphajet »

Great story and a lovely watch. :D
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by village »

Excellent post......looks like you had a great time. Always wanted to visit Iceland.

And now you've also got me reinterested in the SIF :lol:
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JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Mortis »

Wow. Brilliant post, fascinating tales and great pictures. And then a lovely watch!

An early entry for Post Of The Year, I'd say.
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by scooter »

Great posting Dancematt.

Sounds like a trip of a lifetime.

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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by AdDaMan »

wow! Love that watch, seriously epic. and what a great story!
What sort of price range are they?
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by xtriple »

Just fantastic. Serendipity at work for the watch lover as well.
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Wis »

Very interesting post. Did you go riding? The icelandic horses are special, not too big but very strong willed. They have two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and gallop. They are the tölt and the skeið, flugskeið or "flying pace".* Glorious horses, we had a few when I was a young boy.

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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Dancematt »

Thanks so much for the kind comments guys, it did take me a while to put this post together (bloody thing timing me out, pressing the wrong buttons and exiting the web page after i'd wrote a bunch of stuff.....must press save....must press save!
AdDaMan wrote:wow! Love that watch, seriously epic. and what a great story!
What sort of price range are they?
One of the pictures has the full selection of JS watches, prices in Icelandic Krona underneath. The good thing about going to Iceland to buy one rather than ordering over the internet (other than talking to cool watchmakers) is that you get 15% tax back on your purchase, bringing prices down to acceptable amounts.
Loddonite wrote:I love the story behind the purchase - it seems that Fate was giving you a nudge. The dial looks very rough. The writing looks almost illegible from some angles (I'm assuming that it's not the photography) and as clear as a clear thing from others - fascinating.
Thats about right Lodders, the dial is very interesting - it just looks like someones glued the earth to the movement - it looks like it could almost grow crest or something, The numbers have cracks and bumps that also add a touch of character for me but may put some people off, every now and again the tiny crystals in the dial hit the light and shine:

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village wrote:Excellent post......looks like you had a great time. Always wanted to visit Iceland.

And now you've also got me reinterested in the SIF :lol:
Village, i originally intended to buy the Sif and once i saw it i knew it was perfect (40mm dive watch without a bezel - awesome!) but then considered if i did get it, i would hardly wear the others in my collection. it caused alot of problems deciding the first day i visited the shop, i settled for the God because it would find a good place amongst my other watches....and because the dial reminds me of the time i spent there.
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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Dancematt »

Wis wrote:Very interesting post. Did you go riding? The icelandic horses are special, not too big but very strong willed. They have two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and gallop. They are the tölt and the skeið, flugskeið or "flying pace".* Glorious horses, we had a few when I was a young boy.

*Yeah, Google is my friend.
Hi Wis, unfortunately we didnt get time to ride the horses, or rather we did but it cost the same as going whale watching so we chose that instead. 5 killers and 1 sperm whale - it was another highlight of a great trip (even though we both got sea sick and i almost caught hypothermia as i had to lend some of my thermals to the other half :cold: )

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We did get to feed the horses, incredibly friendly for such wild animals- they stay outside all winter because of their thick coats.

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Re: JS Watch Co, Iceland

Post by Kip »

What a great read regarding a fantastic trip. Thanks so much for sharing.

I am very happy that all worked out so you were able to acquire that terrific watch. It will always be something special to you as a result of how it came to be. :clap:
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