Linde Werdelin SpidoLite II Tech
It seems that there’s a new high-end luxury company emerging every day, making diamond-covered mobile phones or clothes made out of crocodile faces or perhaps even yachts that turn into helicopters. It’s the clock-radio industry of the modern elite, creating desirability by combing two things that already exist to invent something that doesn’t—and more importantly, that you don’t already have. It’s no wonder, then, that so many of these brands disappear almost as fast as they materialise, so what does it take to stick around?
Linde Werdelin isn’t so much the clock-radio of modern luxury as it is the watch-computer. I don’t mean like smart watch—you can’t browse the internet or listen to music on a Linde Werdelin watch—because the Linde Werdelin concept is far more literal an execution than all that. The journey started in 1996, when one-half of the co-founding pair, Jorn Werdelin, got himself into a bit of a sticky situation off-piste that almost cost him his life.
It’s well known that near-death experiences change people, make them see life in a new way, but in the case of Jorn Werdelin, instead of quitting his job in the city and joining a hippie commune, he reacted in a typically Danish way and decided to fix the problem. So, he and his business partner, Morten Linde, set about finding a solution by—of all things—making a luxury watch with a difference.
That difference was that the watch could be fitted with one of two attachable devices, an activity computer called The Rock and a dive computer called The Reef. These aluminium-hewn blocks attached straight on top of the watch, with a latch arrangement that hooked into the receiving points on the case sides, transforming a simple mechanical watch into a fully fledged ski or dive computer.
And Jorn and Morten weren’t mucking about; these were properly spec’d-out computers: with The Rock you got a thermometer with frostbite alarm, chronograph, 3-axis compass with inclination sensor, altimeter, barometer, heart-rate monitor, route guidance—the list goes on. It’s safe to say that Jorn made sure he wasn’t getting lost again—and The Reef was equipped with the same level of suitably neurotic monitoring.
The only problem with The Reef and The Rock was, really, the period they existed in. In 2002, when they were first released, the simple, monochrome displays and not inconsiderable bulk seemed fine, but five years later, as devices like the original iPhone hit the shelves, these attachable computers became rather redundant—and so that was that, and it seemed that Linde Werdelin itself was to follow.
It seemed unlikely at this stage that Linde Werdelin was going to become anything other than a luxury DOA statistic, but the discontinuation of The Rock and The Reef revealed something unexpected: the brand didn’t actually need them. As Morten Linde, previously a product designer for stylish hi-fi outfit Bang & Olufsen, had laboured over making the design as good to look at as it was functional, the watch itself turned out to have an appeal all of its own.
The not entirely unfamiliar design—Morten himself references Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak as inspiration—had, in its need to facilitate a secure hold on the piggybacking computers, developed a personality of its own, an identity that had caught the eye of the watch-buying public. Regardless of the demise of the computers themselves, Morten capitalised on this feature, expanding the collection and carrying the design language through.
The result was two more lines on top of the original classic: the Oktopus, a diver, and the Spido, for all other out-of-water activities. This is the SpidoLite, a time-only watch with a focus, unsurprisingly, on light weight, and despite its size, it is indeed a featherweight, tipping the scales at 33 grams. By comparison, a Rolex Submariner is 160 grams.
It’s a combination of Morten’s design and use of some trick materials that makes the watch weigh as little as it does, the most obvious impact being the spider-like columns—that give the watch its arachnidan title—that span from the front to the rear of the case. The hollowed recesses, in which you can spy the limited edition number of this 75-piece Tech Green edition, houses the main barrel of the watch, which is fashioned in what Linde Werdelin calls ALW. That’s ‘Alloy Linde Werdelin’, a needlessly mysterious amalgam 50% lighter than titanium, that’s coated in a surface treatment harder than steel.
The watch is dressed with a titanium crown, titanium screws and a ceramic bezel for added weight saving and scratch resistance, with a dial as equally spidery as the case to carry the lightweight theme through. The LW04 movement—as with everything in this watch—is commissioned from a supplier, in this case Concepto, which sports enough decoration to give it some interest.
But the really impressive part of the weight-saving effort comes from that spidery outer case, which is made from a rather exotic blend of chopped up, heated and compressed carbon fibres known as forged carbon. You might know forged carbon from some of Audemars Piguet’s—much more expensive—watches, or more recently Lamborghini’s Huracan Performante, and the result—as well as being both strong and feather-light—is a unique marbling that’s unlike any other material … except marble, which isn’t practical in a lightweight watch for obvious reasons.
With the number of new watch brands that come and go—especially ones asking for what this cost new, around £10,000—it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Linde Werdelin continues to exist. Whether it’s the striking identity, the exotic materials or simply the ‘I don’t already have one of those’ factor, there’s something about this watch brand that has kept its head above the water.
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