You know what I like? I like to be surprised…
Not like the scary ‘jump-out-of-my-bedroom-cupboard-and scream-at-me’ kind of surprise (thanks dad for the ongoing psychological issues btw), but pleasant surprises. Like leaving work to find your brother has bought theatre tickets for you and your wife to celebrate your new wedding (thanks for real, Neel!), or looking through an old jacket pocket and finding a crisp 50 note in there, or meeting a watch company with a fresh approach to their whole objective!
Linde Werdelin is neither new nor un-established, and I have seen watches from the brand since the initial release of The One series back in 2006.
The idea of a luxury mechanical sports watch with the optional addition of a professional digital module was a completely new idea back then, but what really caught my eye was the aesthetics and design of the watches themselves. How could I pass up an invite to the head offices in London to look at some of the new generation Linde Werdelin’s in the flesh? Well I couldn’t, obviously!
Adam and I made the short trip to the Linde Werdelin offices early one Tuesday afternoon. Located in Notting Hill, the large airy office is occupied by only a handful of people. I don’t know what I actually expected, but it probably involved a bunch of salespeople in power suits coupled with radical blonde haired snowboard dudes. What I actually found was a young team of very genuine and knowledgeable people that actually enjoy what they do. We sat down with Madina, and while Adam set up his super-camera I could already see a few pieces on the table that were drawing my attention.
The digital instruments sat next to the mechanical analogue watches, and all were laid out on velvet display trays. However, before we even got to the handling and inspection of the watches I found out the ideas behind the brand and its fusion of analogue with digital.
“See, if you are a serious diver, you need serious diving equipment. In the same way that a snorkel is ok for a certain level of dive, an automatic watch with a diver’s bezel is also good for that same kind of level. Anyone that wants to go deeper and explore the ocean properly needs the right instruments, and that includes not just a watch, but an actual dive computer.” Madina explains in a way that makes perfect sense. See, the co-founders of the brand, Jorn Werdelin and Morten Linde are people that partake in activities such as mountaineering and skiing as well as diving, so are well placed to know what calculations are likely to be needed when up in the Alps or down by the Mariana Trench. That’s not to say they don’t enlist the help and advice of experts in these fields also, but it shows that these are not a pair of accountants looking to cash in on the luxury watch gravy train, but rather people with a genuine reason to create something that didn’t really exist before.
Since its debut in 2006 the ranges have evolved from time only automatic models, like The One, to the multi time zone 2 and 3 Timers, to detailed Moonphase displays in the Oktopus range. In 2012 the focus is on two areas: above ground and under water. As the new Oktopus II is still in it’s production stage, I will be focussing on the land instrument, and the watch to go with it.
Taking inspiration from stripped out F1 cars, the SpidoSpeed chronograph is the piece I was most looking forward to seeing when I first arrived. The case shape keeps the signature linear design and almost Patek Nautilus like ears, but is then treated to a Tony Stark-esque high tech makeover. Whole sections are drilled out of the case and bezel to reduce weight without losing strength and rigidity. The dial mimics this with its gridded semi-openworked construction. The result is a great distinctive looking timepiece with that now familiar Linde Werdelin feel.
Movement wise, the chronograph calibre is powered by a bespoke LW03 Concepto, caliber 2251. One day I would like to see an in house movement brought into their watches, though with a production capacity of around 500 pieces a year I don’t know how feasible that would be. For now I will say that the finishing and execution of the movement is still of a very good standard.
As always, the watch is made to be integrated with a digital module, namely one that is monikerd ‘The Rock’, and contains functions as diverse as a barometer, altimeter, internal compass, optional wireless heart rate monitor as well as a ski area restaurant guide amongst others! The watch and modules come in a variety of finishes including steel, black DLC and as a complete oxymoron, solid rose gold!
For a watch that has stripped most of its case in order to be lightweight, construction is rose gold goes against the whole point of the case. What I will admit though is that the full rose gold case is in my opinion the best looking of all!
Moving away from the physical watches for a moment, we spoke about the role that the Perfect Five graphic novel plays in their marketing strategy. For those that are un-aware, Linde Werdelin commission and distribute a graphic novel (or comic if you are a simpleton like me) which tells the story of various fictional and non-fictional characters.
The watches feature in the illustrations, but not overly so which actually makes them pleasant reading. It’s a novel approach (pardon the pun) which helps deliver the brand in a unique way to a watch buying audience that is used to over dramatic pictures and fictional stories of romance when looking at the usual horological marketing gracing websites and newsstands across the world. I like the idea. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and actually brings something more than just nice pictures and flouncy faux poetry to the table.
I was then invited to have a chat with co-founder Morten Linde. Morten is in the enviable position of being a relatively young guy with a great brand under his helm.
It was great to talk about topics as diverse as sportscars (he drives a great Aston Martin) and menswear (a big Junya Watanabe/Comme des Garcon fan)…
…with someone that is very down to earth and easy to get on with.
I wasn’t just thrown a sales pitch and some clichéd quotes, which made me really take interest in what he had to say. The main message I got was that the company use their independent status to make products for the people that will really use them. They interact with their buyers regularly, and by keeping their production numbers low (every range is made as a limited edition only) they maximise the quality and help to maintain the value of the pieces.
Linde Werdelin is a surprisingly open company. Maybe due to it’s size and independent status, or perhaps because that’s just how they operate. I know of no other Swiss watch brand that not only openly sells their products online, but actually offers a ‘try before you buy’ option. Call them up, leave a deposit and you can have a watch to trial for a whole 7 days! In an age where e-commerce accounts for an ever increasing percentage of overall sales, this is the kind of move that I like to see. Bear in mind, Linde Werdelin have been offering this service for the last 6 years…forward thinking indeed!
Find their products and more info at: http://www.lindewerdelin.com