Watches, especially dive watches, tend to follow a set formula: black dial with white markers, round case, rotating bezel. But while classic aesthetics are all well and good, sometimes it’s nice to see a watch company pushing at the edges of design, whether it be through a splash of color, a new case shape or an innovative function. The Linde Werdelin Oktopus II (~$9,873) checks all these boxes. Linde Werdelin is a Danish company, which should be your first clue that its watches are going to be a little on the “design-y” side. After all, the Nordic country that gave us Bang & Olufsen and Jens Risom is known for questioning aesthetic norms and making functional art that borders on the severe — with plenty of angles to slice your finger on.
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Linde Werdelin brings this avant-garde ethos to the conservative world of watchmaking while still respecting its traditions. A guiding principle of all LW’s timepieces is the combination of analog and digital: one for readability and the other for assimilation. Born out of a close call on an Alpine ski slope by the company’s co-founder, a digital module that could clip onto an analog watch created an entirely new kind of sports watch. All of LW’s timepieces, from its motorsports-inspired Spidospeed chronograph to the Oktopus, can accommodate either the Reef or the Rock modules, for diving or mountain sports, respectively. It’s genius. You don’t have to leave behind your luxury watch when you hit the slopes or the dive boat, and you get the added functionality that is vital in those environments.
Calibre: Linde Werdelin customized Dubois Dépraz 14580/Automatic/Double
Frequency: 28,800 Vib/h (4Hz)
Reserve Power: 40 to 44 hours
Big date at 12 o’clock
Hour, minute, seconds
Five-part case construction
44mm (w) x 46mm (l) x 15.25mm (h)
Ceramic secured bezel with 8 hex screws
Screw-in back case with engraved octopus drawing
2.5mm sapphire crystal, anti-reflective on one side
Water resistant to 30 ATM, 300 meters
Natural rubber strap
Despite the company’s noble hybrid design motif, in reality most buyers of Linde Werdelin’s Oktopus probably don’t also buy the Reef module. That’s fine; the watch is perfectly capable in its own right. What makes it Reef-compatible is also what gives the Oktopus its most distinguishing trait — the case. Besides the ceramic bezel, the caseback and a few hex screws, there is nary a curved line on the entire watch. The first impression is that of a B2 Stealth bomber or a Lamborghini Countach, a study in bevels and triangles, all of which are rendered in gorgeous brushed titanium. Looked at from the side, the case has black DLC-treated rectangular notches into which the Reef perfectly clicks for a secure ride to the depths, hiding the analog dial behind a liquid crystal display of water temperature, depth, time and no-deco. limits. The knurled screwdown crown nestles into the right-hand notch, an engraved octopus cheekily replacing the usual LW logo.
The dial of the Oktopus II is equally angular and industrial, made up of two black-on-black layers. The top layer is a series of concentric rings with radial spokes and an outer minute scale, as well as the bold, almost digital floating 3-6-9 markers in lemon yellow. The lower level of the dial is circular-grained and catches the light at certain angles. At the top of the dial are two apertures for the large double date display, into which rotate the over-sized numerals in the same yellow. A slight skeletonized section of the dial shows the yellow date wheels. While a large date function typically provides enhanced legibility, the highly stylized numerals and structure of the dial leave it difficult to read at a glance, a rare sacrifice of function for form on an otherwise purposefully-built watch. Wide triangular hands and a fat seconds hand make telling time a breeze, though the finish quality isn’t quite up to that of the rest of the dial.
While design is Linde Werdelin’s calling card, they don’t skimp in the movement area either. The Oktopus II is driven by a custom-built calibre 14580, made for Linde Werdelin by Swiss movement specialist Dubois-Depraz. While we didn’t subject it to extensive abuse, the watch proved accurate over a week of regular wear, staying to within a couple seconds per day. We’re told the movement is highly decorated, though this was wasted due to the solid caseback, which is engraved with the watch’s namesake cephalopod.
It’s funny how, for all the technical fireworks and impressive finishing a $10,000 watch can boast, sometimes it’s the strap that gets the most love. The Oktopus II’s may be the most comfortable rubber strap we’ve tried (and we’ve tried a lot), due in part to the stubby lug-less design of the case and the perfect suppleness of the strap, which was neither too sticky nor too stiff. And perhaps it was the budding spring weather or just a preponderance of black straps, but the lemon yellow rubber on the Oktopus was one of our favorite features. Though clearly a casual look, the overall appearance of the watch worked as well holding a kayak paddle as a cocktail glass. One caveat: worn regularly, the strap is bound to get dirty in a hurry, so we’d suggest having a backup. Linde Werdelin watches use a proprietary strap attachment method involving hex screws on top of the case — so it’s good that the Oktopus can be had with a number of straps, from a more formal alligator to a textile to the excellent rubber one we so loved.
Linde Werdelin brings an avant-garde ethos to the conservative world of watchmaking while still respecting its traditions.
“This is a diving watch, so where’s the rotating bezel?”, you ask. As mentioned, all of Linde Werdelin’s timepieces are built to be used with the Rock or Reef module and, if worn as such for diving, a rotating bezel would be unusable. So while it still makes for a perfectly capable general sports watch with its rubber strap, titanium case and 300 meters of water resistance, the lack of the timing bezel does mean you’re tied to using the Reef for diving use, and you can’t time your steaks with your watch. We’re OK with that.
Despite its fresh design and high build quality, the Oktopus II isn’t for everybody. But for the guy looking beyond the usual crop of dive watches to add a little color and modern design to his collection, it may be worth looking in the octopus’s garden. Unfortunately, the watches may soon be as hard to find as their namesake, since only 88 are being made.