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An Afternoon with Jorn Werdelin

The Laslett

What I am particularly passionate about is meeting the people behind a brand; the creators. I love getting to know them as individuals and understanding what has driven them to their success. Key to this is understanding their inspiration for doing so and how that has filtered through to the company they fashioned from nothing. We are fed so much marketing rubbish nowadays that you just don’t quite know what is true about a brand and what’s not. So when Pietro Tomajer of The Limited Edition asked if I would like to join him at The Laslett in Kensington, to meet with Jorn Werdelin, of Linde Werdelin, I gratefully accepted.

The Linde Werdelin story all started in 1996 when Jorn Werdelin, an ex-investment banker with a passion for extreme sports, got lost whilst skiing during a period of bad weather, went off a cliff and broke his back.

It was a result of this experience and his long recovery, that in 2002 he and his business partner Morten Linde, decided to create a high-end sports watch which, as and when required, could be combined with attachable professional digital diving and skiing equipment. Their vision was to ensure those partaking in such activities, which are prone to sudden, adverse weather changes, have all the information they might require at their fingertips.

In many ways, Jorn (wearing a stunning Linde Werdelin Oktopus Moon Tattoo in 18k rose gold) is what we might typically expect of a Dane and especially one so sports orientated. Slim, hair neatly brushed back, steely eyed and, ultimately, an aura that everything should serve a purpose; that function should not be compromised by form.

Linde Werdeline Moon Tattoo
Linde Werdelin Oktopus Moon Tattoo

He was happy to explain his vision for the brand. Linde Werdelin needed to focus on its “two universes” of extreme sports – skiing and diving – and remain true to its design philosophy. As a result, his approach was very distinct to other brands; that ensuring such dedication to purity remained and to ensure the value of the watches they create is maintained, they had reduced the dealerships through which their watches are available to a handful of trusted ‘friends of the brand’. In doing so, they had brought the purchasing options in house, not only reducing the cost of the dealership network (with those savings passed on to the customer) but also increasing their client’s ability to customise their watches. “It means we retain more control of the process” he explained, “which in turn allows us to provide a better product”.

It is for this same reason Linde Werdelin is not showcasing at Baselworld this year. Jorn had calculated that were they to do so, for each watch they sell (around 150 a year), the price to the customer would increase by around £1,000. Accordingly, he considered that given the message of Linde Werdelin watches and their extreme nature, they were much better placed being more creative in their marketing. Simply having a stall at Baselworld was not going to tell the brand’s story; “there would be no connection…”.

Jorn wants Linde Werdelin to be a community based on the fact the watches are designed for a purpose and should be used as such, so they have created an Instagram page, called @lindewerdelin_explorers, which allows the wearers of their watches to showcase their timepieces. He also wants the brand to be accessible and the buying process user-friendly. As a result, with their Biformeter, they have introduced a slightly cheaper model, starting at £4,600 plus VAT, for those looking to dip their toe into the brand’s extreme world for the first time. All their watches feature easy to change, interchangeable straps, with a wide variety available through their website.

Lastly, and perhaps most innovatively, they have also begun a ‘pre-owned’ section on the site; meaning clients can access the more expensive Linde Werdelin timepieces, at a slightly more accessible price point, but with the safety of having bought from the brand itself.

With only six new versions of their watches being released this year, Linde Werdelin is certainly a brand to which the phrase ‘less is more’ can be applied. But that’s no surprise following my meeting with Jorn. This is a brand that has been created in its founders’ image and is committed to staying true to it. A breath of fresh air in today’s over-marketed, hyperbolic world.

It was a real pleasure to meet with Jorn and I’m thankful for his time. My gratitude also extends to Pietro, for arranging the meeting.