My thanks to Jorn Werdelin, co-founder of Linde Werdelin Instruments for taking the time to answer my questions and for offering us this rare insight into Linde Werdelin . . .
Thank you Lex! It is my pleasure.
Had you always been involved horology? What was your first experience with a wristwatch?
I have always been surrounded by watches! Growing up, my parents and grandparents owned jewelry stores in Denmark. I still remember when I received my first watch, I was 5 years old and my grandparents gave me a Timex diving watch with a plastic bezel as Christmas present.
What’s the story behind your partnership with Morten Linde? What were you guys doing for a living before you set up LW?
Morten and I have been friends for many years, at least since primary school when I was 6 years old. After school we took different paths, Morten started his brilliant designer career and I worked in banking. Despite each one going his own way, we always kept in touch as we share many interests namely watches and sports which brought us together to create Linde Werdelin 30 odd years later.
What lead you to start up your own watch company?
Everything started in 2002 when Morten asked if it would be possible to design a mechanical watch with attached digital functionality as we are both into sports but we could never find a high end watch that would provide us with both functionality. Hours of discussions between us sparked such an enthusiasm that we decided to take it to the next level. Not long after, we setup a number of meetings with watch industry professionals to discuss how we could manage to create such a timepiece.
In those days what was on the wrists of the two founders of Linde Werdelin? What types of watches were you interested in? What brands were you wearing?
We always enjoyed spending our time doing sports namely skiing and diving. The watches we have been wearing prior to Linde Werdelin’s existence were high end sports watches. Morten and I have both been collecting watches for many years such as Audemars Piguet, Rolex and Patek Philippe.
Where did you look to for inspiration, when you were designing your first model? What brands if any, and what kinds of design philosophies influenced you?
Morten and I, for that matter, are fans of the ‘70s Gerald Genta designs. Having said that, Linde Werdelin watches have their own unique style that to me sets them apart from the classic sports watches in the industry but still belong to a particular design vein that makes them appealing to lovers of sports watches and ones who are looking for a watch with an advanced design.
The functionality element of Linde Werdelin watches and the fact that it is a modern sports watch with no history record resulted in this design. I guess Morten is a bit better in discussing the design aspect of our watches than I am, but we wanted to create a modern sports watch and stay true to Danish craftsmanship and design, which is functional.
What other brands would you compare yourself to?
I do not think we can compare Linde Werdelin with other brands. LW is different to any other brand out there crafting high end, technologically advanced sports watches and precision digital instruments.
What kind of person buys a Linde Werdelin watch?
There are two kinds of customers. Those who are general sports oriented people who use their Linde Werdelin instruments for everyday training such as their bicycle training, jogs, swim, even hiking and trailing. Of course, The Reef is a much more technical instrument than The Rock and requires actually diving to operate, but The Rock is becoming an accessory for many sports.
The second customer profile we have identified is people passionate about watches and this passion is certainly the driving force of the company for both the watches and instruments. Value and quality are very important for us and I believe that that comes across in our products. I also think people generally like the fact the brand philosophy itself is innovative.
LW offer a free 5 day test drive on all their watches; please could tell me how this idea came about? How does it work? Do customers receive a demonstration model? What kind of feedback have you had from customers?
We were one of the first brands to start selling online and especially for countries we had no partners in, this proved and still proving to be a very successful strategy. We wanted to act in a total transparent policy, that’s why we created our 5 day Trial Program. We are proud of our product and now customers can have their own idea of the product, at no obligation. Creating such a program needed of course to be hassle-free for the customers wanting to take advantage of it.
By simply completing a short loan form on LindeWerdelin.com, we ship the chosen watch model and instrument to be experienced and enjoyed for five days. There is a holding guarantee which is released the moment the timepiece is safely returned to us and there is no obligation of purchase. The send out and collection are all arranged by us to make the whole experience as hassle-free for the recipient as possible.
The idea of the Trial Program has been incredibly well received giving the option to customers where we are not present in to see and experience the LW watches from up-close. Equally though, we have seen people opting for the program in countries or cities where retailers are present. It is an opportunity to try a watch from the comfort of your home rather in a busy store.
LW watches initially were only available online from LW. But now LW have partnered with a number of retail outlets across the United States and the rest of the world? Please talk a little about this new strategy . . .
As I mentioned earlier, we were one of the first brands to start selling online and especially for countries we had no partners in, this proved and still proving to be a very successful strategy. As the brand grows, we are receiving more and more recognition in the industry and have retailer partners.
We work closely with our retailers and even direct customers to them from online. Online sales has been one of the ‘hot’ topics ever since a lot of brands started selling online, we are actually in a better position than many of the big brands the reason being that we started growing our online business along with our retailing channel in a total transparent policy.
I remember reading an article on the subject and I think Maximilian Busser’s of MB&F quote sums it up well: “The Internet will never kill the brick and mortar store, but everyone will be using the Internet – and no one can stop them – so maybe the retailers should think of how to reinvent themselves in this new era”.
There are few watch companies, who truly know and understand ‘new media’ such as blogs, e-magazines and online discussion forums the way that LW does. Please talk a little of your personal experiences with them and the benefits to both LW and its customers. If I remember correctly the first time we spoke was via Watchuseek.
Indeed it was via Watchuseek! Linde Werdelin has embraced the online world as the online world embraced Linde Werdelin alike. People nowadays are very savvy about the objects they desire but have little time. Blogs and e-magazines have helped towards giving people knowledge, the option to read various opinions about the same product and then make an informed decision.
What I have also found very interesting at the beginning of this, was the speed with which things happen online. Whereas the same action in print would have perhaps taken triple the time; that said though I do not think that online media will ever replace print, like TV didn’t replace radio, they will coexist as they already do.
An advertising campaign featuring comic book illustrations, a collaboration with a tattooing legend and collection of edgy mechanical sports watches that can be integrate with digital technology . . . How important is it for LW to be perceived as a 'cool' brand?
Linde Werdelin’s idea and concept is unique in the industry so all we cannot but differentiate ourselves from what is already know and seen. We do not follow trends, we have our own way and pace of doing things and focus on creating well thought quality and functional timepieces and digital instruments.
In terms of communication, this means moving away from anything that has to do with traditional way of product advertising and instead going for a lighter and fresher approach which does not necessarily use a product, but rather a beautifully hand-drawn illustration. The result is non-intrusive, engaging and aesthetically pleasing.
How did the collaboration between comic illustrator Dominique Bertail come about? Why chose such a medium?
The illustrations of Dominique Bertail are included in our complete brand image from catalogues, to advertising visuals, to our online appearance. Since it was first introduced, it has been very successful and gives us a unique communication approach setting us apart from anything previously done in the industry.
The effectiveness of the illustration branding has been proven by the interest and coverage we get from the press and the customer around the characters and the stories. It also gives us a unique visual recognition (hand drawn illustrations) when other companies might get lost in the same campaign direction using similar photographic themes.
to be continued, stay tuned for part2 . . .