Form Follows Function: Linde Werdelin SpidoLite II Tech
Carbon composites, aerospace alloys, ceramics, mountable tech, and a heaping pile of adventure: this sounds like the description of some science-fiction epic or maybe the tagline for a cutting-edge outdoors sports company.
On their own, each of those could be a standalone feature on thousands of products with much to discuss and dissect. And the research and innovation that is behind them is truly staggering.
But this isn’t some Arthur C. Clarke novel and nobody is trying to sell you the lightest, fastest, most advanced hiking flashlight.
I’m sorry if that disappoints you, but we are looking at something a little more specific.
To preface this I will say I have always had a passion for old-school techniques, technology, lifestyle, and personal consumption habits. Basically, we have too much, most things advance into uselessness, and a lot of money is wasted making things easier instead of better, especially because better has morphed into automatic.
I love science
That being said, I love science. I really love science. Science, materials, technology, exploration, and the ability of our species to discover and invent amazing things makes me smile on a daily basis.
While I might think that having a refrigerator that keeps track of the contents and makes a shopping list is overkill and completely unneeded, the science behind that technology and the eventual proper application of that technology to truly make our lives better excites me.
I look at many things that have come from military or aerospace applications that are now making their way into our daily lives and I remember the groundbreaking aspect of those materials or inventions.
I may never need a smartphone that can withstand impacts from a nuclear blast and be submerged under five miles of water, but the ability to create such an object will definitely come in handy for those doing more than posting selfies to Instagram.
The research and innovation that makes products like that possible go into tools that serious explorers and adventurers can use to keep themselves safe while pushing the boundaries of exploration.
Be it in space, on a mountain, or beneath the ocean, this is the domain of cutting-edge technology that can mean the difference between life and death.
For that reason, I wanted to talk about a product that utilizes carbon composites, aerospace alloys, ceramics, and mountable technology for a very useful purpose and provides, as a result, the possibility of a heaping pile of adventure.
That product is the very capable Linde Werdelin SpidoLite II Tech.
So let’s start with the first part, the forged carbon outer case. And what a case this is. People have used carbon fiber for years to make super-strong, yet super-light, structures. However, the traditional layup techniques (the process involving single sheets of carbon fiber laid upon each other and adhered with a resin binder) limited designs and therefore hindered specific applications.
Enter forged carbon, a term that describes the process in which carbon fiber and resin are pressed and “forged” into a final shape. The process has been around for a while, with the most notable example being Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak cases made from in-house forged carbon, beginning with the Royal Oak Offshore Team Alinghi in 2007.
This is still a very under-utilized technology but promises a lot with its capabilities.
Taking chopped carbon fiber strands, a binding resin, pressure, and heat, you can press (“forge”) carbon into almost any shape you want, making a completely solid structure that is incredibly light and very strong.
To make a watch case, the process is actually rather straightforward and only needs equipment that could fit in a broom closet.
The chopped carbon and resin material is lightly packed into a mold and then heated to the temperature at which the resin melts. The mold is then pressed with over 5,500 psi of pressure and held until the temperature drops to a certain point and the part is mostly cured. The piece can then be removed and secondary processes performed, e.g. drilling holes and finishing.
For the SpidoLite II Tech outer case frame, this process enables Linde Werdelin to have a solid carbon fiber frame without any miniature layup, which would be nearly impossible given the complex skeleton aspect of the outer case frame. It also makes the material nearly indestructible under even the most challenging of circumstances.
Inner case made of what?
Moving inward, we note an inner case housing a movement made of magical unicorn horn.
Actually, that’s a lie, I’m sorry. But what it is made out of might be almost as cool. (I know, nothing is as cool as unicorn horns.)
Made from a metal alloy developed for the aerospace industry by a materials supplier and used exclusively by Linde Werdelin for watch cases, the material goes by the name ALW, or Alloy Linde Werdelin.
Left in its natural state like on the new Oktopus MoonLite in a shimmering satin white/grey, ALW does resemble unicorn horn at the very least.
Either way, the material has some pretty cool properties. Composed mainly of aluminum, magnesium, and zirconium with a dash of other secret ingredients, it is only half the density of titanium (a notoriously light metal as it is) yet more than double the hardness of some steels.
To further strengthen the material, a surface treatment is added that boasts a hardness of 5000 Vickers (Vickers is a measure of hardness tested with a diamond cone).
To compare, a PVD coating is usually only 1000-2000 Vickers, while tungsten carbide (a super-hard metal alloy used to make cutting tools) is 2242 Vickers. So basically after the treatment, the ALW is virtually scratch-proof.
A ceramic bezel sits on top of that inner case and the forged carbon outer case. At this point, I don’t think I need to mention that ceramic is the hardest of hard and is basically scratch-proof as well.
Combining these three aspects makes this watch a rather tough contender, and one that can handle almost whatever you can throw at it. And that’s the point.
Heaping piles of adventure
This is where the heaping piles of adventure come in, and it’s all due to the case shape, mountable technology, and the original purpose behind Linde Werdelin. The company was founded with the idea of making an ultimately wearable sports watch, finished to high standards, and utilizing the best materials to be as functional as possible in harsh environments.
With that, the second goal of the company was to make a watch that, when needed, could be combined with a precision digital instrument and used by explorers and adventurers needing a versatile tool, hence the incredibly complex and ruggedly cool case.
The outer case frame’s design was not based on looks; instead, it is based almost entirely on functionality. The skeleton aspect and “cages” on the side are there as mounting points for the two digital instruments Linde Werdelin also produce: the Rock and the Reef.
The Reef is intended to be used by divers and the Rock by skiers and other mountain explorers. These modules attach directly to the watch case to become a high-tech digital instrument on your wrist. They give you vital information about your environment to keep you aware and safe in addition to just telling you the time.
This is why the SpidoLite II Tech is actually a watch for explorers: it isn’t just hard and strong because it can be; it is what it is because it needs to be to survive where it’s intended to go.
When I first saw the design I loved the complexity of the case and the style of the assembly.
But when I found out why it was that way, it made for a much deeper appreciation. It was not design for design’s sake, but instead it was form following function.
Like I’ve said before, things that are made “better” without reason seem pointless. A problem is what should be the call for improvement, an obstacle that only more advanced materials, clever design, and a lot of research will solve.
Many things are new & improved in our society, but when products like this come along, I hold out a little hope for the people doing the research and the breakthroughs that come out of it.
Breakthroughs, that reminds me of breakdowns! How about one of those?
• Wowza Factor * 7.74 That case and those angles, they just grab you and make you say wowza!
• Late Night Lust Appeal * 28.65 gn » 280.960m/s2 Just across the threshold of likely death and probable serious injury, the lust appeal of the SpidoLite II Tech matches its desire for adventure.
• M.G.R. * 40.2 Concepto-made custom movement, a very solid heart for a rugged piece.
• Added-Functionitis * Severe While the watch itself only tells the time, the ability to attach a digital module that can tell you almost anything you need to know makes this a serious piece. I would recommend prescription strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream to be safe.
• Ouch Outline * 7.45 – Slipping On A Patch Of Ice While Carrying A Frozen Turkey Unless you are lucky, chances are that turkey is coming down on your head, chest, or other very painful location when you hit the ground. And, yet, I might take that pratfall a dozen times if it meant I had a SpidoLite II Tech on my wrist. It could take it even if I couldn’t.
• Mermaid Moment * Clip In – The moment you are on a mountain top or getting ready to explore the depths of the Marianna Trench and click a Rock or Reef onto your LW, you just know that taking vows and tossing the bouquet are close behind.
• Awesome Total * 647 Limited to 75 pieces, multiplying by the 19 components in the case, with the result divided by the 2.2 mm thick sapphire crystal brings us to a very solid score. Well done, Linde Werdelin!
For more information, please visit www.lindewerdelin.com.
And for another Linde Werdelin model that caught our eye, please check out Heartbeat: Linde Werdelin Oktopus Moon Tattoo.
Case: 44 x 46 x 15 mm; forged carbon outer and ALW inner case with ceramic or rose gold bezel
Movement: automatic Caliber LW 04 by Concepto
Functions: hours, minutes, and seconds with attachable digital instrument modules (Rock or Reef)
Price: 13,500 – 17,500 Swiss francs
Limitation: 75 pieces