You saw it here first, the SpidoSpeed Black Diamond, Linde Werdelin’s first watch to use stones, specifically black diamonds. But before we take a closer look at the newest edition to the family, let’s find out why this little brand has become such a powerhouse independent and a collector favorite. Linde Werdelin came about in 2002 when Morten Linde and Jorn Werdelin, friends since age 6, decided to create watches. Linde is the Creative Director while Werdelin takes care of business.
A unique proposition in the industry, Linde Werdelin’s limited edition watches were designed to combine analog and digital readouts via The Rock and The Reef. For the high-altitude thrill seeker and underwater junkie, these high performance Snap-On instruments attach directly onto every timepiece like the White Watch, providing essential information during the experience.
There truly are no competitors because the watches are so different from any others in the marketplace, particularly because of the instrument aspect. Linde admits that a Linde Werdelin isn’t the first watch people buy. They’ll purchase a few and then discover the brand when they want something a bit different and individual. Always produced in limited editions, with an average of 88 in the series, the watches have an air of exclusivity about them. People tend to hold on to their purchases, making them coveted by collectors. Some of the older pieces even go for over retail now. In fact, we couldn’t even find one Linde Werdelin show up at auction. For such a young brand, they have managed to create a strong brand equity and community. While you should buy a watch because you like it, it’s always a nice bonus if it holds value too.
Perhaps the reason for Linde Werdelin’s success is their approach. One of the idiosyncratic aspects of the company is that they have no business plan in the traditional sense. “We are product focused and work hard to find the balance of movement and case to express the DNA and personality of the watches, “Werdelin says. “We don’t want to be traditional or copy other brands.”
Most of brands, those owned by large conglomerates especially, design watches according to marketing reports to please enthusiasts. Linde Werdelin won’t abide by this common practice. Sure, they take suggestions from collectors but keep true to their vision. “It’s our idea, it’s our mind developing the watches and you can’t always satisfy everyone,” Werdelin says. “You have to push the boundaries and do something special.”
A case in point is the Oktopus Tattoo, the dive watch engraved all the way around the case with tentacles and the hour and minute hands spotted like tentacles too. It was done by Danish tattoo artist Henning Jorgensen. Werdelin points out that upon its introduction at Basel, people said it was the ugliest piece Linde Werdelin every made. Werdelin points out that all 82 pieces sold out. “It shows people are opinionated and you have to push things that people don’t immediately understand,” he notes. “We have to be able to communicate.”
Now to the SpidoSpeed Black Diamond. So how did this watch come about? Linde decided the models needed to be rounded out with a masculine but still elegant diamond watch. (Pure Carbon is a great site devoted exclusively to men’s diamond watches.) Linde displays his passion for natural structures and elements in the black diamonds and mother-of-pearl dial. “It can be the structure of an insect or the color of a leaf,” he says. “I’m a kind of freak for constructions. The most beautiful ones you find in nature, such as mother-of-pearl in the way it reflects light and changes color depending upon the environment.” The truth is that black diamonds aren’t considered the most desirable when found in nature. To answer any questions about quality, Linde Werdelin instead chose to use top-quality diamonds and darken them chemically.
Far from being a watch best fit for a couch potato, like all Linde Werdelin watches, this one begs for adventure even though it’s ever ready to add some flair to your Black Tie Optional when you are. The DLC (Diamond-Like-Carbon), the hardest surface besides diamond, was made not as a color treatment but to harden the surface. “There’s no problem wearing this watch for activities,” Linde notes. “The movement is hand finished but still robust, which is important to Linde Werdelin.” For example, the customized Concepto movement made especially for them is based on the hearty ETA 7750. If the watch is dropped, it should be possible to repair the movement locally because the base is a well-known construction.
Linde Werdelin doesn’t produce their own movements and doesn’t plan to. They are very forthright about that. Werdelin remarks, “We are proud of what we’re doing and provide transparency and honesty about our product.”
Although, I’ve got word they are developing and making a complication of their own that will debut later this year. Stay tuned.
It makes sense that form marries function in Linde Werdelin timepieces, since both men are Danish, steeped in the tradition of aesthetic functionality. As Morten Linde notes about his process, “You find the problem and then after locating the problem you can start with the design.”
In the SpidoSpeed line of watches, the idea is to reduce weight but, of course, it’s not just a technical exercise. Linde Werdelin road tests all its products so that they perform as advertised. Ambassador Leo Houlding, an extreme climber, wore a Linde Werdelin watch with The Rock on his expedition to Mt. Everest expedition in 2007. The watch was a trooper and kept up with all the abuse Houlding dished out. His one suggestion was to lighten up the load on his wrist.
From this feedback, Linde bounced around some concepts. He had the light bulb go off when he thought about Formula 1 cars. Their chassis are constructed from lightweight titanium and take away everything not essential, such as temperature control systems, stereo and floor mats. Linde thought that companies skeletonize a movement, why not the case? Thus from the drawing boards came the SpidoLite, produced by milling a titanium case until only the essentials remained, resulting in a watch that is 60% lighter than the original yet just as strong. Linde likens it to bone construction.
An evolution of the SpidoLite, the SpidoSpeed adds a chronograph to the mix. The dial presents a multi-layer construction to give a 3-Dimensional experience. From the dial material, which was used on racing car dashboards from the 1940’s, to the sub-dials that look like brake discs and even the cut-out details on the strap that resemble driving gloves, the watch tips its hat to high-tech automotive racing in a similar fashion to Richard Mille’s designs.
While not conceived as a woman’s watch, Linde noticed that his wife kept stealing the Black Diamond from him. He admits he’s not a fan of women wearing men’s watches, especially when there are so many beautiful women’s watches. Some of his favorites are the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, Rolex Oyster in a woman’s size and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak with stones. “I generally like the work that Gerald Genta did in the 1970’s,” he says. But the Black Diamond had a special quality, a bit of a rock star appeal for both sexes.
Though Linde has designed other objects, such as telephones, lamps and furniture, the one muse that stands above others is the watch. There’s no other product, he explains, where the lifetime is as long. “If I didn’t design watches, I wouldn’t design anything else. It’s difficult to find an object better to design.”
For Werdelin, producing their watches comes down to simple pleasure. “If when people wake up in the morning and put on the watch and smile, then we’ve done our job.”
It seems Linde Werdelin has another winner on their hands with the SpidoSpeed Black Diamond. But, if you’re uncertain whether or not this watch suits you, then give it a test drive–but quickly because it’s limited to 50 pieces. Through their Try It program, Linde Werdelin gives you five days to wear the watch without commitment to buy. Don’t like it? Send it back. The company really makes it easy to do business with them, another reason the brand stands out among the crowd.
Retail for the Black Diamond: $27,500