Hands On: The Linde Werdelin × Black Badger Oktopus Blue Sea
2020 was a dark year. Thankfully, however, some things brought light to what was otherwise a rather bleak affair. One of those things was light in its literal form. Enter, the Linde Werdelin × Black Badger Oktopus Blue Sea. What a wonderfully cheesy, yet apt, segue!
I have been a fan of Linde Werdelin for a while now. Visually, the brand’s watches have always struck a note with me. Modern, and, somehow, “organically angular”. I also admire the brand’s strong DNA that runs through its designs. Each of Linde Werdelin’s model families (3-Timer, Spido, and Oktopus) cases follow the same base shape. Sure, the 3-Timer has a rotating bezel, the Spido case is partially skeletonized, and the Oktopus has a chunky fixed bezel. There are some differences, but the cases all allow for the brand’s proprietary instruments, a dive computer (The Reef) and a ski computer (The Rock) to be attached should the wearer so desire.
Granted, these instruments are not made anymore or indeed really necessary as the tech world has advanced. Still, the brand has used this as an anchor point for its designs and retained this DNA throughout. I appreciate that the brand never forgotten its roots.
The power of ALW
So, as the name suggests, the Oktopus Blue Sea falls into the Oktopus family. This means it’s a dive watch. Again, the name kinda gives that away. The case is machined from a solid lump of Alloy Linde Werdelin (ALW). What’s that, you say? I’m glad you asked. Linde Werdelin has always been keen on exploring new and alternative materials. This resulted in Alloy Linde Werdelin. ALW is a unique material initially created for aerospace and Formula 1 use but now repurposed by Linde Werdelin for its watches.
…twice the strength of steel…
Linde Werdelin uses a colorless version of ALW and subjects it to a 25-micrometer treatment (standard treatments are usually only 5 micrometers in depth). This treatment creates a protective layer on the surface of the material, making it twice the strength of steel while remaining half the weight of titanium. The treatment is absorbed deep into the metal because of the porous structure of ALW. Essentially it absorbs the treatment like your hand would absorb skin cream, which results in a protective layer that is highly resistant to dents and scratches. Pretty ideal for a dive/tool watch!
At first glance, the case looks to have a grey/white metallic color, but in certain lighting, the combination of the ALW and the protective treatment gives off a subtle pearlescent sheen. It takes the edge off what is quite an industrial and serious watch. The almost whimsical nature plays well into the fun side of the incredible luminescent qualities of the watch.
Enter the Oktopus
Flip the watch over, and you’re greeted by a closed case back with an awesome etching. Don’t get me wrong, for a nice movement, I have no issue with a display case back. On a dive watch, however, I always prefer closed. It’s all business. It better fits the overall dive watch aesthetic in this writer’s eyes. When the closed case back also features an excellent etched motif, it’s a real winner. Here we see the Linde Werdelin Oktopus and the Black Badger logo. I think this is a far better option than a sapphire display case back.
…one of the nicest big date displays…
The movement for the Oktopus Blue Sea was made with help from Dubois Depraz. The automatic Caliber 14580 has a power reserve of 44 hours and has a double date complication visible at 12 o’clock. Linde Werdelin has used this movement for all of its Oktopus Double Date models. It’s a proven movement, and the date mechanism is quite attractive, as far as dates go.
There are 2 skeletonized, independent date wheels visible through the dial. Both of them rotate to reveal the date through the oversized aperture. It’s one of the nicest big date displays I’ve come across. The only minor criticism is that given the incredible lume on this watch, the date is hidden in the dark, meaning the date change will usually not be seen. I would have loved to see a lumed section behind the date wheels too. First world problems, eh?
Let’s talk lume
Now, I’m sure many readers will have seen me write about Mr. James Thompson before. AKA, Black Badger, AKA the ‘God of Lume’. Nuclear lume is somewhat of a signature of James’s. His Badgerite-infused rings have a cult-like following; indeed, I have bought one myself. It’s a badass ring and I can attest to the quality of Badgerite. If I wake up in the night to let the dog out, the ring is still glowing brightly — even in the small hours. James has called upon his lume mastery once again and taken the Oktopus to another level of night-time legibility.
…new Badgerite compounds…
Every project James works on needs a fresh approach to the integration of luminous compounds, as no two projects are alike. When I chatted with the Badger, he told me a little about the process for this project: “We knew we wanted this watch to look as good in the daytime as it did in the dark. To achieve this, we worked closely with SuperLuminova to develop these new Badgerite compounds from the ground up. They’re all engineered to have a common daytime appearance of the same ‘cool grey’ Pantone color.”
Into the deep
As soon as the light begins to fade, the watch and James’s influence step up. The ‘cool grey’ dial splits into three different colors, highlighting the dial construction’s depth. The three colors of Badgerite are Aqua Blue, Ultramarine, and Violet. While raw Badgerite is a powder, the Oktopus Blue Sea uses three different types of application. The Violet is pad printed (on the lowest sub-dial), and the Ultramarine is liquid infilled (indicators and numbers). Finally, the Aqua Blue chapter ring is Lumicast. This is a method where components are literally cast in solid Badgerite material.
…a visual representation of a thermocline.
I’ve mentioned this previously, but the different shades emitted by the lume create a visual representation of a thermocline. As a recreational diver, this stood out to me. For the desk-divers among us, a thermocline is “a sharp temperature gradient in a body of water, marked by a layer above and below which the water is at different temperatures”. With the deepest parts of the dial being cold in hue and warming as they get close to the surface, I think the likeness is uncanny. Knowing James and his thoughtful approach to design, I believe to have been entirely purposeful.
The Oktopus Blue Sea comes on one of Linde Werdelin’s rubber straps as standard. If you’re familiar with the brand’s proprietary strap change system, you’ll know that regular straps are not compatible. Linde Werdelin straps attach the watch head via two hex screws visible from the top of the watch. It’s an attractive solution as it creates the effect of all straps appearing integrated. If you’re a Linde Werdelin collector, all of your other LW straps will fit. If this is the first piece you’re considering, extra straps are not cheap, but the quality is superb. From my hands-on Linde Werdelin watches over the years, the straps are very well made and will last a very long time, which is convenient given they start at £375.
I love this piece. There’s no denying it. I knew I would love this watch before I had seen the final design, let alone held it in my hands and had it in my wrist. Linde Werdelin is a brand with a strong and well-focused design language. James Thompson, Black Badger, is a man after my own heart. He loves to explore new and alternative materials, and his dedication to the art of lume is incredible. These two entities coming together was only going to be a good thing in my mind. Still, I am glad my unconditional excitement was rewarded with the Oktopus Blue Sea.
…the watch wears incredibly well…
Despite the size specs on paper, the watch wears incredibly well on my 7.25″ wrists. The 44mm case diameter is cleverly offset by the shorter 46mm lug-to-lug. The integration method for the straps only enhances this reduction of the visual impact. Again, looking at the specs on paper, the 15mm height may seem steep, the but wrist-hugging design of the case and the slime, flat case back offer a close wear. Whilst this is not a small watch by any means, smart design ensures that it will wear well on many a wrist.
Would I buy it?
I guess a question on many readers lips may be, “Would I spend my cash on this watch?”. Well, it’s not a small wedge of cash, admittedly, but is it worth it? That depends. This is not a watch that you can buy and wear in all social situations. It’s not a ‘one-watch collection’ type of piece but nor does it want it be. If Linde Werdelin or Black Badger had had that ethos in mind when working on this project we’d have sadly missed out on the fun that is the Oktopus Blue Sea in its final form. After all, isn’t watch collecting about having fun and enjoying ourselves? I’m glad that this project turned out how it did. So yes, I would happily spend my money on this watch. It would fill a spot in many collections, one that is often overlooked when things all get a little serious. We have our dive watches, our chronographs and our dress watches; well, this one is a fun watch. And for that, I am glad.
If you want to dive in with this watch, it can be yours for £14,400. Visit Linde Werdelin’s website to find out more. While this is the first collaboration between Linde Werdelin and Black Badger, I hope it’s not the last!