Skagen Denmark: Affordable luxury

GO-SEE - Joyce Oreña () - September 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Singapore — In this day and age when trends change in the blink of an eye, when consumers can get almost anything they want and constantly change their minds about what they want, how do you stay true to your brand and continue to be successful in the business?

It seems Skagen Denmark has the answer to all of that. “We established Skagen as a result of personal passion to design and also a belief that we knew what people wanted — namely beautifully designed, high-quality objects at reasonable prices,” said Skagen Designs co-owner Charlotte Horst in a June 2009 interview in August Man.

More than 20 years ago, Charlotte and her husband, Henrik, came to the United States from their native Denmark to follow their dreams — to own and run their own company and introduce the Danish lifestyle and philosophy to the world. Their dreams are now a reality. Skagen is best known for its sophisticated timepieces that are inspired by the couple’s native Skagen, Denmark.

In the heart of Scandinavia, where the northern tip of the Danish Jutland peninsula bends to the east and breaks the surging waters of the Kattegat and Skagerak seas, lies a small and picturesque fishing village called Skagen. From the seas to the sandy shores, the lighthouses, the harvest of the Danish coastline such as shells and grass and the crisp blue skies of summer — where perfect purity and beauty reside — are continuous references to their product collections, from watches to jewelry, sunglasses and clocks.

“The most beautiful things are found in nature,” said Anita Jensen, sales and marketing director for Skagen Asia Pacific at a media reception held at the Red Dot Museum in Singapore. “We believe that nature never goes out of style — it’s classic. A walk on the beach is as astonishing now as it was years ago,” added Anne Trads Hansen, branding and marketing director–Norbreeze Group (the official distributor of Skagen in Asia).

Today, the family-owned Skagen Designs has come a long way. With corporate headquarters in Reno, Nevada, USA and regional offices in Albertslund, Denmark, Hong Kong and China, flagship stores in Skagen, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Taiwan soon followed and the collections are available in over 60 countries. Several outlet stores will also open in the United States and Hong Kong.

To further establish the brand, Skagen Designs won two prestigious Red Dot awards for product design in 2010. “We are so excited to receive the Red Dot quality label for our signature watch designs. We have been designing Danish-inspired timepieces and accessories for more than two decades and every style is very special to us. This acknowledgement is an extraordinary honor,” said Charlotte and Henrik Jorst. The Skagen Denmark 20th Anniversary 233 Timepiece Collection and 585 Swiss Series were awarded the Red Dot quality label for high design quality by one of the largest and most coveted international product design competitions in the world today.

The 233 series, recognized as the brand’s signature style, was first introduced in 2001. To this day, the 233 family is the most popular and best-selling design. The clean, round face with extremely thin profile in stainless-steel mesh bands perfectly fitting the wrist is the quintessence of Danish design elements for which Skagen is recognized. For the first time, the popular design is made with platinum-plated cases. The limited-edition watch is numbered and signed by the Jorsts.

The other winner, the 585 Swiss series, is everything true to the brand. The series embodies the design values of minimalism, honesty and clarity synonymous with the heritage of Denmark to create simple elegance. The Swiss movement is enclosed in a durable titanium casing held by a titanium watchband. The band’s individual links provide a lightweight and comfortable fit. The simplified two-hand movement showcases a minimalist-designed dial, contrasted by silver hour markers positioned on the unique mirror border. Moreover, the slightly curved watch crystal connects almost seamlessly with the watchband. The 585 series is available in black or charcoal gray, in sizes for both men and women.

“All products that have won a Red Dot design award had to convince an international expert jury of their quality,” explained design expert professor Dr. Peter Zec, initiator of the Red Dot design award. “The products stand out from the masses with their excellent design and innovative approaches and proved their quality in one of the toughest design competitions worldwide.”

Established in 1955, the awards are divided into three disciplines: product design, communication design and design concept. This year, designers and companies from 57 nations with a total of 4,252 products took part in the product design category. The awards presentation took place last July 5 at Aalto–Theater in Essen, Germany. “Excellent design achievements can — similar to excellent achievements in sport — inspire us and have a lasting effect on our lifestyle,” said Zec. 

On Sept. 16, Skagen Denmark showcased their Red Dot award-winning design watches and new collections at the Red Dot Museum in Singapore. The museum was transformed into a Scandinavian forest, highlighting the central role that nature plays in the brand’s design aesthetic.

The showcase featured the White Label with Performance Driven timepiece collection, which revolves around the Danes’ passion to succeed and love for fine objects with an emphasis on where it all begins — hard work. “I don’t believe in big breaks,” Charlotte stressed. “I get up every day and try to do my best. It is hard work, yes, but it’s what makes 99.9 percent of successful people and, at the end of the day, is ultimately the most rewarding kind of success there is,” she added.

The collection is a combination of sporty designs with elements of durable and lightweight materials such as titanium. The Granite collection is about affordable luxury, inspired by Danish cloudy skies and a minimalist design sensibility. This collection is a necessary detail for any working professional’s wardrobe, while Snowfall in Skagen — a sleek and glamorous Christmas collection in the newly crafted Platinum collection — is ideal for a timeless gift. Classic lines uphold the brand’s core heritage of minimalist yet distinctive designs.

The Black Label line presents revolutionary, modern designs for design aficionados. “You will find elements in nature like a starry night,” described Anita. “The dial is made of shiny gemstone so it looks like the night sky when you look at it.” The line utilizes Swiss quartz movements, genuine Italian leather straps, hypoallergenic nickel-safe stainless steel or titanium links, genuine diamonds and gemstones. A limited lifetime warranty guarantees the collection’s high standard of quality.

The Executive Black Label is a must for the working professional. The sharp and minimalist look takes you from the boardroom to today’s mobile office, while the Architect collection is a combination of Swiss movement with extensive attention to detail inspired by functionality and durability. The Cocktail collection features refined and premium timepieces for sophisticated glamour.

“While overseeing the design of all our Skagen product, I find inspiration from many different arenas, continually pushing the brand to the next level, keeping our image current and yet maintaining our true identity,” said Henrik Jorst.

Skagen Denmark credits it success to an approach to affordable lifestyle luxury as well as staying true to what the brand stands for: family, heritage and Danish design philosophy. “They are both so committed to each design,” said Anne. “They call themselves ‘heart core’. There is so much passion that goes in each collection that the Jorts almost get divorced in the process.”

“It’s an accessory that tells time but it’s timeless,” she added. “Skagen is synonymous to clean, simple and high-quality timepieces,” said Anders Peter Juel Sauerberg, managing director of the Norbreeze Group. “Now we are back to reality. People spend congruent to the size of their wallets. We are on our way back to basics,” Anita said.

A Skagen timepiece is the answer to the new kind of consumer — the smarter shopper who wants value for money, wants to be conscious and responsible and yet stylish, contemporary and individual.

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Skagen watches are available at L Timestudio, Chronos, Wristpod and Skagen Kiosks at SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia and Robinson’s Place Manila.

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Send queries and suggestions to jo@joyceorena.com or follow me at Twitter/joyceorena.

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