It is no secret that, once I discovered the Icelandic company Michelsen, I was quickly enamored of the products they were producing. While most of our attention has been on the Arctic Explorer, they do have some other rather nice-looking watches in their lineup. Today, we will have a look at two from their Waterfall line – the Michelsen Svartifoss and Goðafoss.
Let us start the tour by talking about the Svartifoss. It’s named after a waterfall of the same name. This 20m high waterfall (aka the Black Waterfall) is famous for the surrounding hanging hexagonal black basalt columns. It makes sense, then, that the watch features a rather blacked-out look. The 44mm case features a black DLC coating, the dial is black (with hand applied Côtes de Genève to represent the falling water), and the movement components are plated in black rhodium.
All in all, it is a rather dark watch. With the white SuperLuminova used on the hands, indices, and numerals, things are kept rather readable. And with this handset (and the two numerals that are included), the watch takes on a sort of aviator feel, albeit one that is more of an interpretation than a strict adherence to the style. For one, the case finish is high polish (rather than matte), and we’re missing the 12 and 6 numerals. Dropping the 6 is of course due to the sub-seconds. At that point, it only made sense to balance things out up at the top of the dial and tuck the logo in there.
The other watch we’re talking about today, the Goðafoss, features a very similar look – same case (without the DLC), same dial (this time in white), and the same movement. Also like the Svartifoss, the Goðafoss is for a 12 meter high waterfall of the same name, which is also known as the Waterfall of the Gods. Of the two watches, I think this is the dial I prefer more – the white dial seems more legible, and given that you can see the outline of the handset, they seem right sized (on the Svartifoss dial, they look a touch undersized). And, for some crazy reason, I like the “one-eyed Panda” look of the dial as well.
Regardless of which model you’d go for, the movement undergoes a good bit of work by the 4th-generation watchmaker, Robert Michelsen. After completely disassmbling the ETA6498-2, he goes through the following:
- Beveling and polishing on all bridges (chamfering)
- Straight grain on click
- Circular grain on Incabloc setting
- Black rhodium electroplating on bridges and Incabloc setting
Once all of that is done, the escapement is adjusted and the movement is timed in 5 positions. Then things are cased up, put through a water resistance test, and then they’re ready for purchase by you. Both watches carries a price of about $2,650 (318,000 ISK). While the particular interpretations of an aviator watch encapsulated in the Michelsen Svartifoss and Goðafoss may not be for everyone, I think it offers a bit of a twist to the design that can give you something a little bit different – especially if you’re looking to get Iceland represented in your watchbox. michelsenwatch.com
- Brand & Model: Michelsen Svartifoss and Goðafoss
- Price: $2,650 (both models are priced the same)
- Who we think it might be for: This is a good fit for the person who likes aviators, but wants something a bit different
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: That’s a tough one – I really dig the look of the dial (especially the Côtes de Genève), but I find the glossy DLC coating applied to the case not quite to my tastes.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I think it could be interesting to see the case finish in a matte or brushed finish
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The dial. The Côtes de Genève does invoke a waterfall feeling, and the rest of the layout is a nice twist to the aviator standard.