April 22, 2013
by Ariel Adams
For months now I found myself putting the Linde Werdelin Oktopus II Titanium Yellow Double Date watch on my wrist more times than I would have first anticipated. With its avocado green strap and bold sporty looks, I always liked the watch but guessed that it would settle in to be more of a ‘once-in-a-while’ piece. The limited edition dive watch from the ‘alternative’ UK sports watch brand really proved me wrong. The charming boutique character and good looking case along with dial legibility ended up sealing the deal that it was a watch to wear all the time. By the way, in this post we are experimenting with allowing you to click on pictures to get larger versions of them. Let us know in the comments how that works for you and if you’d like more of that in the future.
We first debuted the Linde Werdelin Oktopus II Double Date watch just over a year as the successor to the brand’s first dive watch, the Oktopus (debuted here in 2009). While the case dimensions remained relatively the same, and given the brand’s design DNA, the Oktopus II is quite different than the original. It isn’t actually a better or worse watch, the Oktopus II is merely a “re-imagined” concept of what a Linde Werdelin dive watch should be. When I first saw the Oktopus II last year at Baselworld, I said to Linde Werdelin “you are finally settling into a brand design DNA comfortably with this piece. While it is true that all Linde Werdelin watches have more-or-less the same case shape (for a specific reason), they are only recently finding that right mixture between avant garde and modern style that allows people to identify their pieces with immediacy.
Nevertheless, as a brand that only produces limited edition watches, their entire aesthetic ethos is constantly evolving. That is just a natural effect of always coming up with new and more interesting things. In a sense, investing in a watch from Linde Werdelin is like buying a very temporal work in progress along a continuum that will hopefully last for a very long time. While watches from brands such as Linde Werdelin aren’t like beta products, they are more like art. You are buying a glimpse into what the brand was focused on at a specific time and place in their own history, and the history of the world. Timeless watches from larger brands such a Rolex are very much “complete products.” They exist in their own design world aiming to offer an insular look and feel meant to apply to yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Boutique watch brands like Linde Werdelin are more agile in their development.
It is easy to understand this concept when realizing that Linde Werdelin only produced 88 pieces of this specific Oktopus II watch. Not 88,000 or even 8,800. Just 88 pieces. The downside for the pernicious collector is that knowing ‘the right’ Linde Werdelin watch to buy can be tough. Something new is always around the corner, so settling on one product is a challenge. I suppose the hope is that you’ll buy a new one each few years to not only own a piece of their brand, but be a member of the small group of people who is actually seeing how the brand continues to evolve, and enjoying the process along the way.
True enough, wearing the Oktopus II is an experience unlike walking around with most other timepieces. Very rarely do I wear a timepiece that really isn’t directly inspired by anything else. The Oktopus II isn’t an homage watch, it isn’t trying to look like some type of industrial instrument or a piece of a submarine. Rather, it is a completely independent design that attempts to justify its existence on its own. I never fully appreciated that until wearing a rare item such as this, even though I have reviewed a number of other Linde Werdelin timepieces in the past. The effort involved in attempting a truly original watch design that actually looks good and complete is very challenging. I honestly do have a newfound appreciation for Linde Werdelin and its fellow independent watch maker brands who have decided to design in this manner.
My favorite aspect of the Oktopus II is probably the case. The basic 44mm wide shape, like all other Linde Werdelin timepieces, is design to accept Linde Werdelin’s clip on wrist instruments such as The Rock or The Reef diving computer. That is why the flanks are indented as such. Aside from the same basic shape, the Oktopus II’s case is very unique. It is constructed from a series of parts, being mostly titanium with a black ceramic bezel. This is actually the first time the brand has used ceramic in a watch. The black side parts of the case are coated with a the very scratch resistant DLC coating.
Linde Werdelin did a great job on the case detailing and machining. The satin-finished and brushed titanium looks great with extremely precise edges and a really high-quality look. Most of the hex screws use matching yellow o-rings for an added and welcome splash of color. On the rear of the case is a titanium case back etched with the timepiece’s octopus logo. An amusing vision of the “wrong end” of a giant octopus if it was swimming toward you. Compared to the original Oktopus, the Oktopus II has less water resistance. It is now ‘just’ 300 meters versus 1,111 meters. That honestly doesn’t matter to me. It is still a dive watch and will go as deep as I ever wish to descend.
Probably the most experimental area of the Oktopus II is the dial. This Oktopus II Titanium Yellow version is in the Double Date collection. Already Linde Werdelin has released the Oktopus II Moon watch (hands-on here). The Double Date model has a big date indicator, which is one of my favorite ‘useful’ complications. Linde Werdelin wanted to spice it up a bit by putting the numerals as cut-outs on discs, rather than as printed numerals on discs. You’ll notice the double discs under 12 o’clock. The concept is good in theory, and they look cool, but some legibility is of course hampered by the design. I suggested to Linde Werdelin that they put a dark-colored plate under the numerals to enhance legibility. I don’t think that ended up happening.
Richard Mille for example does a similar thing with cut-outs, but does it a bit better given the placement of contrast coloring behind the discs. The big date system still works fine and looks good, but it didn’t quite reach its full potential. The rest of the dial retains good legibility given the complex design and several textures. SuperLumiNova lume keeps the dial easy to read in the dark. Another nod to the unique design is that the brand logo is placed out of the way on the periphery of the dial. While it isn’t perfect, I nevertheless did fall in love with the unique styling of the dial. In a sense its quirks are endearing, as it is able to mix its task of telling the time nicely with being an artistic design item.
The soft, high-quality rubber strap uses a standard buckle, but is actually able to be cut to length. Linde Werdelin now offers an alligator and textile strap as well (for an additional price). Everyone originally thought that the Titanium Yellow version of the Oktopus II watch was going to in fact come with a yellow strap. It is much less yellow than it is bright ‘mollusk’ green, or as I said, fresh avocado.
Before discussing the movement I need to bring up what was the single most controversial element of the Oktopus II watch when it first came out – that lack of rotating diver’s bezel. Conservative watch lovers yell aloud “it cannot be a diver without a diving bezel.” If you feel that way I understand your sentiments, and I am a known fan of the rotating bezel. Nevertheless, I never find myself missing it on the Oktopus II watch. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate a rotating bezel if one were here, but rather that the existing design of the ceramic bezel and overall presentation of the watch is enough for me. I have plenty of other dive watches in my collection for when I want a more “standard” diver with more standard parts. If you haven’t noticed yet, Linde Werdelin has gone to admirable lengths to make the Oktopus II a different sort of diver.
Inside the Oktopus II Double Date is an exclusive automatic movement produced by Dubois-Depraz for Linde Werdelin. They call it the caliber 14580 automatic, and it has about two days of power reserve and runs at 28,800 vph. The Linde Werdelin Oktopus II is at its very heart a capable albeit unique boutique dive watch with real soul. If you fancy cool stuff that no one else has, then you’ll love it. Limited to 88 pieces as the Titanium Yellow model – other colors and materials in the Oktopus II collection exist. As seen, it is priced at 9,500 Swiss Francs. lindewerdelin.com
>Brand: Linde Werdelin
>Model: Oktopus II Titanium Yellow
>Price: 9,500 Swiss Francs
>Size: 44mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: A man of resources who enjoys art as much as sports cars and not fitting in to the crowd.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Less than ideal legibility of big date indicator.
>Best characteristic of watch: Experimental design comes together in a satisfying and endearing manner for long-term enjoyment.