Skagen – the best-known name in Danish watchmaking.
Please see my Conclusion at the end of this article where I do not recommend this brand to anyone. Thank you for reading.
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Known for their minimalist Scandinavian designs and eye-catching simplicity, Skagen watches have taken the US by storm since their debut over 30 years ago. In recent years, their designs have become increasingly attractive as they integrate their Danish designs with the era of smartwatches for a new kind of digital minimalism.
Skagen has gone by a few names over the years, including Skagen Denmark, Skagen Designs Ltd., and just “Skagen.” In 2012 they were purchased by Fossil, so technically all these terms are outdated. However, fans of the brand understand that they operate independently, and affectionately refer to it simply as Skagen.
History of Skagen Watches
Skagen was founded in 1989 by Henrik and Charlotte Jorst, who had moved to the united states from Denmark just 3 years prior for a job promotion. Henrik Jorst had just been promoted to be the sales manager for Carlsberg beer in the US. Seeking to diversify their incomes and put their years of corporate experience to work, the Danish couple established their own business as a representative of a Danish company that sold corporate-branded watches (as gifts) and Jacob Jensen designer watches.
Through their extensive Danish network, Henrik and Charlotte Jorst started contracting with Comtech Watches – a Danish-owned watchmaker that had contacts with Hong Kong factories for cheap timepiece production.
Emboldened by new friends and ambitions, the Jorsts began designing their own watches, showcasing them in 1991 at a New York corporate gift fair. At that time, the couple was encouraged to sell the watches under their own brand name; to commemorate their humble origins and cultural background, they chose the name Skagen – a local fishing peninsula-based village in Denmark.
The following year, the Jorsts achieved $800,000 in annual sales.
In 1998, Skagen annual sales approached $30 million. In 2005, Skagen sales increased in $70 million. Adapting to the information age, Skagen expanded internationally to Europe, Australia, and Asian markets. By 2010, they had a solid online store driving the majority of their sales.
Acquisition by Fossil
In 2012, Fossil, Inc. purchased Skagen for 150,000 Fossil shares and $25 million.
Today, Skagen Designs Ltd. is owned by Fossil. After massive success selling watches, they expanded to other accessories such as backpacks, purses, handbags, sunglasses, and jewelry.
The Skagen logo represents the place where two rivers meet
Skagen is named after the northernmost city in Denmark – a fishing peninsula located where two rivers meet. These rivers are the Skagerrak and Kattegat bodies of water, which curve around the landmass. The logo of Skagen depicts the meeting of these two rivers, as you can see overlaid here:
How do you Pronounce Skagen?
The proper way to pronounce Skagen would be the pronunciation for the city: SkAh-gen (with a hard ‘g’). You can think of it as the beginning of “Sky” (ska-) and the beginning of “gain” but “gen”. Put the accent on the ‘A’: SkAh-gen.
Conclusions on Skagen
To be frank, I’ve never owned a Skagen, and I never will. While researching this article, I didn’t come across a single Skagen watch worth recommending, and I advise you to avoid this brand. They make cheap watches that I wouldn’t pay $10 for.
If you like the look, try to get a used one on eBay. Otherwise, please get a real watch like this Seiko 5 – a million times better for half the price.