For industry insiders the volatility of the watch industry is no secret. A great idea for a new watch is often not only the starting point of an adventure in this industry, it can for be, for many unfortunately, also the end. Even renowned manufactures need to work hard to not only continue previously enjoyed success, but also to simply survive! This is a complex process where quality control, dealer networks, marketing, after-sales, financing, supplier relations, R&D and many more processes, all need to be aligned to not only create a high quality watch, but also to market it correctly. This is a process that needs to be repeated over and over again to perpetuate success and avoid failure.
After the quartz-crisis, mechanical watchmaking has become less of an industry and more of a showcase of art. This gave room for the brands that survived to flourish like never before, while it also welcomed a select few who where able to successfully navigate the often precarious seas of watch making. The new brands that where able to do this, often had a unique, previously unheard of strategy. A good example of this is Linde Werdelin, a brand that came out seemingly of nowhere to become an established part of the watchmaking landscape.
The story of Linde Werdelin can be described as something in between an exciting novel and a coffee-table size design book, yet it is all non-fiction. It all started in 2002 when Morten Linde and Jorn Werdelin introduced their mechanical watches that could be paired with digital instruments for diving and skiing/mountaineering. They had been life long friends, (they first met in primary school), and also shared another thing in common; they are both Danish.
Friendships as foundation for businesses can become either a disaster or the recipe for success. In the case of Linde Werdelin it turned out to be the latter. The different backgrounds and expertise of both might have contributed to this. Morten Linde is a designer who has continuously worked on taking the design Denmark is so famous for to the next level. Jorn Werdelin has an entirely different background, being from the 3rd generation of a family of jewelers, he grew up surrounded by watches in his parents watch- and jewelry stores in Denmark. While he had undertaken a brief career in banking, his passion for watches quickly took him back to the industry he knew and loved. This merger of expertise, knowledge, and most of all passion, would be turned into the cornerstone of Linde Werdelin.
Jorn Werdelin says that while he has the simplest of tastes; he is only satisfied with the best. In the case of watches, Switzerland was the place where the best could be found. A brief slow down of the economy at the end of 2002 made it easier for Linde Werdelin to get the ear of potential Swiss partners who represented a wide variety of artisan craftsmanship of the highest degree. With these partners they were able to form yet another pillar under the unique concept of Linde Werdelin. Often pushing the limits of watchmaking through design, they have come to rely on partners who are capable and willing to step things up, think outside the box and take it to the next level. Unlike many other watch brands, becoming a so-called manufacture does not rank very high on Linde Werdelin’s wishlist. Instead their focus has always been on achieving synergy with their partners.
The result of such a unique approach became visible when they introduced their very first collection. Pure and straight forward in design, they featured a complicated case and integrated straps. With the time-only “Elemental” collection and with a second time-zone equipped “Two Timer” collection they made a rather bold entrance, especially since it also included thought provoking watches like a yellow gold Elemental with a red dial, red aluminum dive bezel and a matching red rubber strap.
Thought provoking was also that all the watches could be fitted with a clip on digital device. With this Linde Werdelin gave the superior possibilities of assimilating information with digital precision, a place in mechanical watchmaking. The first offered by Linde Werdelin was “The Rock”, although back then still referred to as Land instrument, a device aimed to aide those passionate about skiing and mountaineering. Milled out of a solid piece of aviation grade anodized aluminum, it provided its owner with a compass, altimeter, thermometer, heart-rate monitor and barometer, information that could be vital up in the mountains. Later on “The Reef”, a similar instrument but this was dedicated to the divers, and would be able to turn any Linde Werdelin watch into a full blown diving computer.
Through the years Linde Werdelin has truly carved out a niche for itself. Their personal customer approach and limited production have not made them a heavy-hitter in terms of volume, but it has allowed them to build an extremely loyal and passionate customer base, to the extent that pre-owned Linde Werdelin’s are hardly ever offered for sale. Their passion to innovate has ensured that for those fans, there is always something daring and new to look forward to. From yellow gold diving watches with red dials to the recently introduced Oktopus Moon Tattoo that Linde Werdelin created in cooperation with renowned Tattoo artist Henning Jørgensen. Yet this innovation has always been an important part of what excavated their niche in the first place, and what perpetuates success for Linde Werdelin.
In an upcoming article we take a close look at how Linde Werdelin can innovate like a big brand!
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics