How Do You Pronounce Skagen?

I fancy myself a bit of a watch connoisseur. I don’t own any Tag Heuer or Movado (yet) but I certainly have plans to someday. I’m pretty sure the next watch I purchase will either be a Bulova or a Citizen EcoDrive (ironically, both brands are owned by the same company). My current lineup includes an Invicta, an automatic Akribos XXIV, a vintage mechanical Hamilton with original Speidel band, and a Skagen.

I first became aware of the Skagen brand while aboard a Caribbean cruise in January 1999. If there’s one thing all island ports have, besides gaudy t-shirt shops, it’s jewelry – and I was instantly attracted to the brand’s stainless steel mesh bands and ultra-thin design.

Naturally, most Americans would see the name and incorrectly pronounce it Skaw-ghen.

One of the real benefits of finding a foreign product while on a cruise is that the staff (largely western-Europeans) all know exactly how to pronounce the odd looking names.

In 1986 Henrik Jorst, a sales manager from the Carlsberg brewery, moved from Denmark to New York. By 1989 Henrik had tired of the beer business and became a representative for the Danish-made Jacob Jensen brand of designer watches. In time, Henrik began designing a few of his own watches (using another Danish manufacturer, Comtech) and eventually showed them professionally at a 1991 New York gift fair. His designes proved very popular and Henrik was encouraged to market the watches under his own brand name – Skagen Designs, Ltd (taking the name from his Danish fishing village).

In Dutch the word Skagen is correctly pronounced Skay-en (the “g” is silent and the “a” is long). I have found that most Europeans will shorten what looks like a two syllable word into the single syllable Skein; rhyming with vein.

So, the next time you’re at Macy’s, Zales, or even JB Hudon do what I do. Walk up to the display case, point, and ask “may I see one of these”. Refrain from saying the brand name; instead, allowing the sales associate a chance to present their own pronunciation. No matter how they end up pronouncing it (right or wrong) it always makes for a great conversation starter.

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2 thoughts on “How Do You Pronounce Skagen?

  1. Thank you for this explanation! I bought my first Skagen watch today (a two-tone Freja design). Indeed, I asked the sales person how this brand is pronounced. As you’ve noted, she said is as “Skaw- Gen” (hard “G”). Online, I found another explanation supporting yours – “Skein” like “vein” with an “S”… Having taken a few Caribbean cruises myself, I agree with your description of the islands’ shopping attractions. I also agree that the vendors would know the correct pronunciation. Much appreciated. Enjoy your Skagen! :)

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