The brilliance and innovation of Sölvi
I am gold and glory,
a loving gilded treasure.
I am a gem and jewel,
The Lord’s equal measure.
This is how the vagabond, Sölvi Helgason, described himself in a stanza. He never doubted his own genius and believed that he was the foremost authority on art, science, debate, oratory and mathematics. To fit his stature, he decided to call himself “Solon Islandus” and acquired the quintessential scholar’s apparel, the overcoat and glasses. He was resigned to breaking the law, wandering the country and begging for a living, because most 19th century Icelandic farmers believed that this penniless braggart, who was raised in the country while never putting in an honest day’s work, was an unbearable and untrustworthy rambler. Many would sic their dogs on him on sight, but some enjoyed his pretence and discourse enough to let him spend the night. Bólu-Hjálmar, the celebrated Icelandic poet, was amongst the latter and wrote this about Sölvi:
A philosopher arrived in beggar’s garb.
Spectacled he walked on skis,
Lack of fortune his lasting disease.
In days gone by, it was widely believed that experts in the art of mathematics could accomplish amazing things, including calculating babies into the womb. It is said that Sölvi bragged about a competition against a world famous mathematician in Copenhagen, where he won by calculating triplets into a distinguished and magnificent African woman.
When we at JS Watch Co. Reykjavik took it upon ourselves to calculate a distinguished and magnificent watch in to the world, we realized that it needed some of the brilliance and innovation of Sölvi. It had to be powered by the bearer and its design and construction needed to be inspired by 19th century timepieces. It isn’t likely that the genius, Solon Islandus, ever owned a watch, so we decided to honour him as one of the first commoners to live according to his own rules, making a name for himself as an artist of life. Naturally, a great deal of expertise in the art of mathematics was needed to assemble a watch of this calibre, ISLANDUS. After two years in production, the watch grew to 44 mm and the number 12 stands out on the watch face in a bright red colour. If Solon Islandus had been given the chance to design a timepiece, it would certainly have been like ISLANDUS, no compromises, with high quality and standards throughout.