Linde Werdelin Octopus Blue Sea, A Wild Lume Collaboration With Black Badger And A ‘Lightsaber’ For The Wrist
by Anders Modig
The Linde Werdelin Octopus Blue Sea, a collaboration between Danish boutique brand Linde Werdelin and Sweden-based James “Black Badger” Thompson, pushes lume to the limit.
When the lights are out, this watch seems like looking from a boat down into the ocean.
The Swiss-made Octopus Blue Sea features three versions of what Thompson calls Badgerite – tailor-made variations of Super-LumiNova – applied using three different technologies. And despite their nocturnal appearances of aqua blue, ultramarine and purple, they are uniformly and eye-pleasingly grey during the day.
The case, which houses an ETA-based Dubois Dépraz large date caliber, is made of a material used for airplanes and Formula 1 cars and is equally worthy of praise.
Black Badger x Linde Werdelin
When Linde Werdelin wanted to create a seriously luminous diver’s watch, the brand turned to Canadian-born, Gothenburg-based lume guru James Thompson aka BlackBadger, known in the watch world for his collaborations with brands including MB&F, De Bethune, and Sarpaneva.
“This is an epic watch,” said Thompson enthusiastically as I talked to him via Zoom from his new, larger workshop on the Swedish west coast.
“At night it really looks like looking into the big blue from a boat, and I also love it for its daytime appearance. Perhaps I’m shooting myself in the foot saying this, but . . . in all honesty, there are lume-heavy watches that do not look their best during the day. But on the Linde Werdelin Oktopus Blue Sea the dial is uniform Pantone Cool Gray throughout the day. This we achieve by mixing the lume with a colored pigment.”
Working directly with the Swiss company Super-LumiNova, Thompson developed a lume he calls Badgerite – one of the most luminous substances in the industry. By mixing Super-LumiNova powder with other chemicals and colorants, Thompson and the Super-LumiNova team can create different viscosities, colors, and nuances.
Depending on where the Badgerite lume is placed in the watch, different application techniques are used. In this case, three different lume techniques were required: Lumicast, liquid infill, and spray painting.
Lumicast is used on the parts closest to the surface like the aqua blue chapter ring. “This is a brand new technique,” Thompson continued. “In the past we manufactured chunks of the material that we milled. This was very work intensive and it was also wasteful. Now we are working in a smarter, cleaner, and more efficient way. First we make a master in a simpler material. From this we can then create a mold in which we cast the parts.”
As you dive into the watch, the second layer reveals an ultra-marine-hued section on the skeletonized dial, numerals, and hands. This of course was achieved using another technique, liquid infill.
Toward the Mariana Trench section of the watch we find the third and deepest color: violet. Here the technique is pretty basic: it is spray painted.
The use of blue tones is not only a flirt with the ocean. When I talked to co-founder Jörn Werdelin via phone from his current location in the Portuguese countryside, he explained, “The blue spectrum of emitted (glow) light is ideal for very dark environments, as in total darkness your eye sees the blue spectrum better as the eye shifts from photopic to scotopic. Or put easily: blue is the easiest color to see in the dark.”
Linde Werdelin Octopus Blue Sea: high-tech LWA case
The three-part case is made of LWA (Linde Werdelin Alloy), an alloy consisting mainly of aluminum, titanium, and zirconium. “I wish I could tell you more, but that is all I know,” Werdelin laughed. “What I do know is that we are the only watch company using this material developed for airplanes and Formula 1 cars.”
The most important properties of this LWA alloy are its weight and hardness – it is half the weight of titanium with twice the hardness of stainless steel; it boasts high scratch resistance as well.
The hardness and the satin micro-blasted finish are achieved through anodizing – pushing an electrical current through the material. Anodizing gives a surface depth of 25 micrometers, five times deeper than surface treatments such as PVD.
Paradoxically, this hardening process gives it a softer, warmer feel. Werdelin likens the silky, satin-brushed surface with sandblasted titanium. I imagine petrified scallops, if there is such a thing.
As the surface is porous on a microscopic level, it also breaks the light in subtle ways. Bringing the case close to a light source, you get an ever-so-slight rainbow shimmer.
I know what my seven-year-old goddaughter would say to that: “It’s a unicorn watch.”
Linde Werdelin’s development of the material started back in 2014. At that time, the brand had a DLC-coated ALW case, but designer Morten Linde thought, “why not use raw LWA?” The result was the sold-out 59-piece Oktopus Moonlite.
“But our exploration and strive for light cases goes back further than that; lightness is really at the core of Linde Werdelin,” Werdelin continued. “Our watches are made to be used, especially in the mountains and in the oceans. But when we teamed up with Leo Houlding’s Mount Everest team back in 2007, we realized that we had to change – when they ascended the peak they left the watches in the basecamp because they were too heavy!”
With the ALW, lightness is achieved. And now, thanks to Black Badger, Linde Werdelin can be seen in another light.
For more information, please visit www.lindewerdelin.com/journal/oktopus-blue-sea.
Quick Facts Linde Werdelin Oktopus Blue Sea
Case: 44 x 46 x 15 mm, ALW (Alloy Linde Werdelin, a mix of aluminum, titanium and zirconium); titanium case back and crown with octopus engravings, water resistant to 300 m
Dial: three proprietary colors of Badgerite lume developed in cooperation with Super-LumiNova; upper dial laser-cut in stencil technique
Movement: automatic Dubois Dépraz Caliber 14580/ETA 2842-2, modified, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 44 hours
Functions: hours, minutes; large date
Limitation: 88 pieces
Price: 14,194 Swiss francs/€15,725