Smaller, independent brands often live a challenging life. Limited resources have to be stretched to cover everything from customer service to social media presence and yet, in order to stay in business, the collection also has to be developed further. This is perhaps the biggest challenge because if you want to achieve some sort of perpetual success you need to be able to entice your customers over and over again. Even the well-known watch brands, that have amazing name recognition and often the full support and resources of a luxury conglomerate behind them, find this challenging and sometimes don’t get it right. For many smaller, independent brands, there is no such thing as next time, since a model that fail to go over so well can mean closing the doors forever. Yet it is also no secret that the current watch-connoisseurs and -collectors are demanding – and rightfully so. They are well-informed, critical and know what the watch world has to offer for what price, so your new watch better be good. So how do smaller, independents brands not only survive but compete strongly? By innovating like a big brand!

LW_Morten_DKoffice_2014Linde Werdelin is one of those smaller, independent brands that have shown an almost vigorous ambition to innovate. Granted, their first model wasn’t exactly mainstream to begin with, yet that was nothing compared to where the brand stands now. Their reward has been sweet; an almost cult-like following that not only scoops up their watches, which are all very limited editions, at a decent pace, but also keeps and cherish them till kingdom come. That last part is quite rare, since most brands can be found in ample supply on the pre-owned market. Linde Werdelin’s approach to innovation is not a linear process, but also not as erratic as it may seem. They combine originality with practicality and high quality execution, achievingย praise after these innovations are introduced. This is then followed by lasting success and a further strengthening of their reputation. Great example of this is The Rock and The Reef, two digital intruments that can be attached on top of your analog, mechanical Linde Werdelin, aimed to provide you all the life-preserving information you need when skiing, mountaineering or diving.

LW_HandFinishing_of_a_SpidoCaseYet like many smaller, independent brands, Linde Werdelin does not have the resources to fund an entire R&D department, which sole purpose is to develop new products for the future. Yet, in a way they still manage to achieve this elusive innovation. Linde Werdelin has always been quite open about their strategy not to become a full blown manufacture that does and develops everything in-house, but to collaborate with the best companies in the business to create magic through teamwork. This refreshing approach has not only gained them access to, but also the respect of, many of these companies. In terms of manufactured watches per year, Linde Werdelin is quite small, and that does not really make them the partner of choice for these companies that are used to supplying large brands in often equally large volume. Yet, Linde Werdelin brings something else to the table that many of them find hard to resist. First of all, there is the challenge. Because they are a niche brand, they can also act like one and develop watches in a way a large brand simply cannot (because then it might loose touch with its customer base). This allows Linde Werdelin to push the envelope and that, by itself, is often enough of an enticing offer for many of the reputed suppliers in the watch industry. Through this, their own innovation is also stimulated, and the results might offer an expansion of services that they can eventually also offer to all their clientele. For Linde Werdelin, this opens up the way to even greater knowledge and craftsmanship that previously couldn’t be reached.

LW_SpidoSpeed_Black_Diamond_MAINLinde Werdelin’s recent history and current collection are filled with examples that this approach can result in very creative watches, often featuring industries first. Like for example, the SpidoSpeed Black Diamond, where a case with a DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) coating is set with black diamonds. The challenge with this watch was pretty much a chicken-and-egg discussion: when you first apply the DLC-coating, the diamonds would scratch it when you set them, yet when you first set the diamonds and then apply the coating, you also coat the diamonds. The solution that Linde Werdelin resorted to is then: first set the diamonds, then wrap each of them individually in a protective cover, coat the watch with DLC and unwrap all the diamonds. As simple as this may sound – and often the best solutions are indeed the simple ones – the execution of it still requires the utmost precision and craftsmanship since wrapping diamonds set onto a watch is not something everybody can do.

LW_BASEL2014_Oktopus_MoonLite_01

In 2013, Linde Werdelin introduced a new alloy to the watch world. Born into the aerospace industry, it is twice as hard as steel while weighing only half of what titanium would weigh in the same dimensions, and, with a surface treatment, it is virtually scratch-proof as well. Linde Werdelin is granted the exclusive use of this alloy for watches and have therefore also called it ALW, Alloy Linde Werdelin, because, of course, its exact molecular make-up remains a trade secret. This alloy allowed Linde Werdelin to craft watches that are lighter than any of them before. For example, there is the Oktopus MoonLite, a diving watch that allows the owner the sensation of being (almost) weightless both under as well as out of the water, while still offering a superior water resistance. Developments like this truly give a different spin on an existing concept. Furthermore, it gives Linde Werdelin a platform to develop it further, like applying different types of coating to the alloy so that they can also play more with color in future designs. This is undoubtedly an interesting development, although the iridescent sheen of the material in its naked self is also already quite captivating.

1403WA_LW_HR-60Innovating is sometimes also thinking straight and logical, as Linde Werdelin’s chronographs now come with an “R for R-Charged”, replacing the four at the chronograph’s hour counter sub-dial. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. After enjoying the outdoors with the instruments The Reef and The Rock, they will need recharging when they return home. Hit the start button of your chronograph and when the hour counter has reached or passed the R, you are ready to go out again, taking on the waves of change, or climbing the mountain of challenge with the help of some Linde Werdelin innovation!

Martin Green
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics

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