Valhalla of Norway Øks

Review and photos by Mike Razak

The Valhalla Øks found its way to me after chatting with a fellow reviewer. He remarked that he was surprised by the Norwegian watch, which is centered around Norse mythology and inspired by Norse battle axes (Øks is Norwegian for axe). And he wasn’t wrong: the watch presents a very Norse take on a tool watch and functions well as such: it’s priced fairly, has some fun design elements, the bezel rotates well, the lume shines brightly, and it’s highly legible and easy to wear. I say all these nice things because, at the end of the day, it’s just not a watch for me. But it may be a watch for you, and I’d strongly encourage you to read on as I desperately try to maintain my objectivity in the face of a watch that doesn’t appeal to me.

Everything about the Øks says rugged, and a bit of it suggests something a bit mythical. The 42mm case is angular everywhere it can be, from the sharp-edged cushion case, to the bold crown guards. Every surface is brushed, though I wish the edges were a bit crisper in their finish. A decidedly modest 46mm lug-to-lug and a height of 13.5mm—average for a tool watch with a bezel—allow the watch to wear quite easily on any wrist, despite a lack of case curvature.

The 20mm lugs step down from the main case and are an entirely new shape in my experience: they’re shaped like the head of a battle axe, a nice touch that furthers the theme. In an odd addition that truly left me wondering “But why?” the case features slashes on the case at 2, 4, 8, and 10. They are ostensibly axe slashes, but all they did was made me worry I had damaged the case.

The Øks’ bezel is another nod to Viking heritage. It’s modeled after the riveted border of old Viking shields, and I must say it nails the look. Polished pips sit on a matte black background, while a red pip differentiates 12 o’clock. That said, the bezel’s ease of timing use is limited. While it rotates easily, with a satisfying click and good tension, it is only marked at 12 hours. You could use it for timing, but with some extra math. Better is limiting timing to 5 minute increments or tracking a second timezone (like Norway).

I’ll describe the dial as curious, if quite engaging. It’s shielded by a sapphire crystal with AR coating (which worked quit well as I didn’t get a lick of Flecto™). The dial is offered in red or black carbon fiber (I’m unclear if it’s printed or proper carbon fiber), and a radiant blue dial. As you can see, I had the black carbon fiber in, with whirls of grey throughout. There are several features of the dial to point out, but for me, it was all too much.

The Valhalla of Norway logo at 12 o’clock is unbalanced and almost too on the nose. The rune at 4 continues the Norse theme, but it is the rune for ‘R’ and I can’t figure out the logic behind its choice. Around the date window is the rune meaning “Day,” which is occluded by the date window for a loss of effect. The dial text has an ancient style to it.

The handset is a rather generic sword style with a not at all generic custom axe head seconds hand. It echoes the shape of the lugs and again reminds us of the model name. Like the markers on the dial, the hour and minute hands are lumed with a healthy dose of Super-LumiNova BGW9 lume that is evenly applied and shines brightly. All the details under the crystal are hard to ignore and end up beating the wearer over the head with the whole Viking theme. I think a little restraint would’ve paid off (and it does, if only a bit, with the blue dial).

Flipping the watch over, a screw-down caseback features the Norwegian flag, the model name, and some obligatory text (it says water-resistant, but doesn’t mention to 200m, as is specified on the dial. Under the caseback is the reliable automatic Seiko NH35. If you have doubts, just google it.

The strap on included with the Valhalla Øks is just as sturdy seeming as the case. It features an ungodly amount of stitching, likely all the thread in Norway. And it’s rather thicker than I like my straps. But it was pliable and the color is an interesting combo with the black and red dial that for some reason worked for me. In lieu of a traditional leather keeper system, the Øks features two brushed steel keepers for extra Norse ruggedness. While the watch doesn’t really lend itself to NATOs, I did have success pairing it with my Barton Elite Silicone, and you can expect many different straps to play nice. I’ll note that the watch will also come with a mesh bracelet, which can be seen on the Kickstarter page but was not part of my review package.

So here we are at the end. I think I did a decent job keeping things objective. As I said up top, the Valhalla Øks is not a bad watch, it’s just a watch that doesn’t appeal to me. The case is very well designed (Even with the random ax slashes), but the dial—though very legible and functional—brings too many different Norse/Viking elements and simply overwhelms the wearer thematically. At just under $300, you can do a lot worse, and frankly may not be able to do much better as far as fit and function are concerned.

But the watch isn’t for me. Maybe, though, you’re Norwegian. Or love the show Vikings. Or enjoy nothing more than a nice glass of Aquavit with your lutefisk as you read from the Sæmundar Edda. Maybe all the tips of the hat to Norse heritage captivate and intrigue you. If that’s the case, you’re in for a real treat and can treat yourself at the Kickstarter page, which is live for just another day or so.

Photo courtesy of Valhalla of Norway

Photo courtesy of Valhalla of Norway

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