Alf Norrsken

Samuel Alfsson Petersson recently launched his first Kickstarter campaign for his first watch, the Alf Norrsken - which failed to fund. Admittedly, that is not the ideal opening for a review. Why would I review a watch you can't buy? Because lucky for us, he is going to give it another go, and now that I have given this prototype a test run, I am confident that this watch deserves a second chance.
The Norrsken is a mid-sized watch that treads the line between sporty and dressy. It runs a 21 jewel Miyota 8245 automatic with an offset small seconds and 21.6k bph vibration rate. The movement hand winds, but does not have a hacking seconds hand. Power reserve is about 42 hours.

The watch's greatest asset is its case, a 40mm lugless square with rounded sides and corners, a flat sapphire crystal, and 50m water resistance. It is 11.6mm thick with a polished bezel and brushed sides featuring broadly spaced channels that continue all the way around the case. Samuel says he was looking to give the watch a bit of a raw look, and that aggressive pattern certainly does the trick, both in terms of the appearance of the matte channels, and their rough texture. The substantial crown clearly received the same degree of attention the same attention. Its deep, canted fluting and sculpted, signed head continue the case's apologetically machined motif. It is a unique approach that pays off handsomely. Watching the interplay of the different surface textures and dimensions is a treat.


On the flip side is a polished back plate secured with four screws and decorated with the Alf logo. The shiny surface complements that of the bezel, but as you can see in my photos, it is also highly susceptible to scratching. Production versions will get a less vulnerable finish.


The dial dresses things up again. It is a multi-layered affair, with a ribbed center section topped by a smooth layer perforated by rounded baton-shaped markers that mirror the lines the appealing stylized "ALF" logo. A small seconds dial in the lower right quadrant with a railroad track index mirrors the Norrsken's shape. On the black and blue dial versions, the markers reveal SuperLuminova. The white dial has black markers instead, reserving the lume for the fill in its black pencil hands. There is more than ample contrast for daytime viewing, and just enough glow to get you through in low light. It is a clean and well-ordered face that would not be at all out of place on a dress watch, but without any undue fussiness. I rather liked the contrast between the straight-laced dial and the somewhat rougher elements of the case.


The only thing that bothered me was its finely delineated chapter ring. It looks attractive, but because the 8245 has no central second hand, it serves no purpose. Even if you tried to justify it as a minute index, the hand is not long enough to indicate anything. It makes me think the dial was initially designed for a different movement. I've got to call this a rookie mistake. Maybe it isn't a deal killer, but I hope that Samuel will reconsider it before he relaunches. A simple railroad track like that on the small seconds would make far more sense.


Alf's dress/sports dichotomy takes another turn when we get to the strap. It is gator print leather with two rows of white stitching and a pilot style shape that starts with a 22mm lug width, flares to 26mm over the case, then tapers to a 16mm signed buckle. Like the rest of the watch, it shouldn't work, but it does, providing another element of drama to a watch brimming with intriguing contrasts.


On my 6.5 wrist, the lugless Norrsken was about perfect, fitting neatly without sacrificing presence. You would not mistake it for a dress watch, but I thought it sufficiently dapper to wear to the office. There is something delightfully Scandinavian about that stately, uncluttered dial and masculine heavy metal case. It is a unique design expression that defies easy categorization but is all the better for it.


As the Norrsken is currently unavailable, there is no pricing information. The failed Kickstarter had Super Early Bird rewards starting at SEK 2399, or about $299 USD, and an expected retail price of $599. I don't know if Samuel will revise those numbers, but I do hope he finds a way to make it sell. The Alf Norrsken is a weirdly wonderful timepiece that could easily become a watch nerd favorite. 

For more information about the relaunch, sign up at AlfWatchCompany.com. ⬩
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