A New Space Elevates Scandinavian Watchmakers

Mikael Sandstrom knows that many people associate Scandinavia with modern furniture and stylish home accessories.

But, as the founder and chief executive of Watches of Scandinavia, a new retail and event space in Stockholm, he wants that impression to encompass high-end, contemporary watchmaking, too.

“This region has always punched above its weight on the global stage, with numerous famous brands and companies,” he wrote in an email, citing Bang & Olufsen, Arne Jacobsen, Marimekko and other well-known Scandinavian and Nordic luxury brands. “Now we are going to bring the quality, values and uniqueness within the world of watches to this bigger market as well.”

The store, which opened Dec. 15, occupies two floors of a 17th-century bank building that stands near the Royal Palace. The 165-square-meter (1,776-square-foot) space contains a retail area with one display case for each of the 14 brands it highlights, as well as meeting and event areas, and a repair shop staffed by watchmakers with certifications from the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program, best known as WOSTEP.

Among the brands are Sjoo Sandstrom — which Mr. Sandstrom co-founded but no longer has any association with — and the luxury alarm-clock manufacturer Bage & Soner, both from Sweden; De Motu Watches from Finland; Von Doren from Norway and JS Watch Co. from Iceland. The store also sells the Swedish label Halda Watches 1887, where Mr. Sandstrom serves as chief executive.

The operation is something of a collective effort. Mr. Sandstrom said the brands, which were invited to participate, paid what he would describe only as a “low” monthly service charge and a small fee for each sale. Those payments also cover free use of the meeting and events areas.

To ensure equal exposure, he said, the brand positions in the displays will be changed regularly. (A separate case contains an assortment of watches from 10 other Scandinavian and Nordic brands. Mr. Sandstrom estimated there were about 40 brands in the region.)

While he also declined to be specific about costs, he noted that he and a group of financiers spent “several million euros” to renovate the building, designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, a court architect, and built in 1679.

Mr. Sandstorm said he chose the location, in the Swedish capital’s Old Town area, for its historical connections, but also in the hope that some of the approximately four million tourists who stay in the city each year might drop in to what he described as a “modern watch hub.”

“This will become like a community, where watch aficionados are welcome to visit, have a cup of coffee, talk about watches and also see some of the most prominent watch brands from this beautiful part of the world,” Mr. Sandstrom wrote.

Niko, host of the Nordic-themed “Beyond Horology Podcast,” which has featured Mr. Sandstrom and watchmakers from most of the shop’s brands and who asked to be identified by only his first name, said Watches of Scandinavia was the manifestation of the region’s fiercely devoted community of watch enthusiasts.

“Even if they don’t sell a single watch, they are putting relevance on the table,” he said. “The watch communities in the Nordics are extremely active and extremely big compared to anywhere else in the world. It’s a phenomenon; it’s a very unique thing that we have such a strong watch community here.”

Voutilainen X Leijona, a collaboration between the 117-year-old Finnish maker Leijona and Kari Voutilainen, the acclaimed Finnish independent watchmaker based in Switzerland, features its entire collection in the showroom.

“We think this project provides us with a significant opportunity,” Toni Huuhtanen, the collaboration’s brand and sales manager, wrote in an email, “serving as the initial step towards the international expansion of Voutilainen X Leijona and the entire Leijona brand.”

And Jesper Bie Schollhammer, sales director for the Danish brand Ole Mathiesen, wrote in an email that the brand was attracted to the business’s location in a bustling area — but especially the team mentality behind the project.

“When nearly the whole Swiss watch industry goes for mono-brand stores these years,” he wrote, “we in Scandinavia go together.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com