Almost four years ago, I had the chance to spend a bit of time with the Linden from Visitor Watches. I liked it so much that for the following four years, I praised its design and its incredible straps as personal favorites. Yet at that time, for reasons that now escape me, I didn’t buy it. And then, in 2021, after five years in production, the model was discontinued. That’s when my regret set in and when I started endlessly nagging Visitor founder Phil Rodenbeck to bring it back so I could buy one. A few months ago, he finally heeded my call and reintroduced the Visitor Linden (yes, I’m taking full credit). With no delay, I bought one, and with only a slight delay, I decided to review it.

Visitor Watches is based out of Indianapolis, IN, and is the inevitable result of a creative engineer who couldn’t find the perfect watch. Rodenbeck describes the watches as “offbeat and idiosyncratic,” aggressively eschewing derivative designs in favor of inspired but unique elements that come together for a collection of timepieces that aren’t quite like anything else out there. To wit, when I reviewed the Visitor Duneshore Golden Beach, the only thing familiar about the watch was its bund strap. But within the brand’s offerings, there is a level of cohesion that’s rarely seen in microbrands, a gathering of common threads that string together a family of watches.

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The Visitor Linden delivers a similar not-quite-round, not-quite-square silhouette as the Duneshore (and its dive version, the Duneshore Shallows), but with a more refined, easy-wearing design. Measuring 39mm across and 10.5mm thick, the Linden is far more my speed than the bulky Duneshore. The brushing of the steel is balanced with some polishing, but while the finishing and dimensions are all well and good, it’s the lugs that really do it for me. There’s an elegance and fluidity to the pinched design. They’re narrower relative to the case (and perhaps in general) than you usually see in watches, and I think they add even more of a unique twist to the watch. Add to that the drilled holes for easy strap changes and the big, polished chamfer running the entirety of the 48.5 lug-to-lug, and the case alone sold me.

But it wasn’t just the case! The straps on the Linden are some of the best straps I’ve ever experienced, especially at this price point. They’re sturdy and flexible and don’t show even the slightest sign of wear issues. Plus, the custom tang buckle is a thing of beauty, echoing the organic case design. It all comes together for an incredibly easy wear that looks great on the wrist. My favorite combo, and the one that was in no small part responsible for my initial obsession, was the rough-finish Fieldstone leather strap. The watch has a nicely sized crown, which I occasionally wanted to slide to the resting position while I tried to set the date, and offers 50m water resistance. It’s not a go-anywhere, do-anything watch, but it serves my purposes perfectly, and when I need a more durable watch, I’ve got plenty.

The Linden’s dial bears a greater resemblance to the Duneshore in that they are basically identical. But that’s not a bad thing. Both cases work well with this dial because Visitor has a cohesive design language. Unique to Visitor, the handset features slender shafts before expanding into ends inspired by pen nibs, filled with a generous application of Super-LumiNova BGW9. The teardrop-like hour markers are similarly lumed, and the polished surrounds give them even more visibility than the white-on-red contrast. The astute observer will notice that the minute ring is created by cutout holes, with a lumed disc underneath providing matching contrast in the light and matching lume in the dark. The layering and style of the dial are standouts for me, and as I pored over the watch for the purposes of this review, I caught for the first time how the round minute holes complement the tips of the hands. Bravo.

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There are two easter eggs on this dial. The first is the seconds hand counterbalance. Unlike the pen nib-inspired hour and minute hands, the counterbalance features a stylized door knocker design, which is also the Visitor logo and is meant to convey the notion of someone knocking at your door or, you guessed it, a visitor. The second is something I had completely forgotten about. I’ll first say that the black reticle on the dial is divisive and the date is only made slightly more acceptable by the black of the reticle; the date almost acts as an expansion of the reticle, so is less disruptive than if it were on its own. If I had my way, I’d probably get rid of both. But the saving grace of the date wheel is that the white numbering is fully lumed. And that’s cool.

Keeping an eye out for detail, the Japanese automatic Miyota 9015 that powers the watch is seen through a sapphire caseback crystal and features a custom rotor with cutouts that mirror the hour makers on the dial and a gilt Visitor logo. I’ll be honest and say it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a watch with a 9015. It’s not an outdated movement, but I’ve just been spoiled lately, or at least handling a lot of no-date 9039 models. Anyway, the movement is a reliable workhorse, as they say, with a power reserve of 42 hours at 28,800 vph. Perfectly good for a watch in my rotation.

If you’ve been into watches for a long time, either as a consumer or just reading about them, you’ve likely noticed that in the more affordable watch space, there is an issue in which a brand is built on a single idea: a cool bezel insert, nifty indices, fancy hands, etc. These brands and watches are built around a single element of a watch, resulting in designs that are usually generic except for that element. Visitor watches don’t suffer this fault because they are complete concepts, not a solitary element held up by crowd-pleasingly generic components. With Visitor, each element is part of a greater whole, clearly connected and mutually derived from a common source. That’s what makes special watches special: they stand out not just for being attractively different, but for being fully formed ideas that keep you engaged and constantly appreciating the work that went into them. That’s how the Linden pulled me in and kept my attention for almost four years, and its why, after not holding one for that entire time, I was so quick to buy one. The Visitor Linden is priced from $595 USD to $610 USD, depending on your strap choice. For more information, please visit the brand’s website

There’s an important postscript to be included. Rodenbeck is pushing onward and upward with Visitor Watches. This means a focus on American manufacturing where he can and where it makes sense. That’s cases, hands, dials, etc., with many of the makers he works with being located in the Midwest region. That means even higher quality and better quality control, faster turnaround on designs, and more special projects. It also means increased prices, because better isn’t ever cheaper. It’s an exciting time for the small brand, but it means that while there may be Lindens and Duneshores in the future, they may never be priced like they are now.

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