Sunday Morning Showdown: Tantalizing Titanium — Linde Werdelin SpidoLite Nord Vs. Zenith Defy Extreme
Welcome to another edition of Sunday Morning Showdown. Today, two editors jostle for position with two watches of a similar persuasion. Expect no holds barred as these writers vie for your votes to be crowned the winner. In this fight, we have two titanium watches with automatic calibers. The Linde Werdelin SpidoLite Nord is going up against the Zenith Defy Extreme. These are two titanium watches for extreme conditions, but which one will take the crown? Our writers are ready, so let’s get this battle going.
Today’s showdown is all about extreme titanium sports watches. Both combatants, thanks to their lightweight construction, are substantial in size but easy to wear. The intricately sculpted titanium cases of the Linde Werdelin SpidoLite and Zenith Defy Extreme give these watches an angular presence. Linde Werdelin’s function-over-form approach incidentally led to its distinct design. Combined with the skeletonized dial, it creates this extreme sports style. Echoing this is the Zenith Defy Extreme, which is not for the faint of heart. The dramatic case and open-worked dial exposing the unusual movement make for an exuberant sports chronograph. Which will take the crown this time? It’s up to you, dear Fratelli!
Last week, on Sunday Morning Showdown…
But first, let’s recap last week’s Sunday Morning Showdown. As it happened, the outcome was somewhat surprising. As Jorg explained, the Baltic Aquascaphe Titanium seemed to be the underdog against the Seiko Prospex SPB317. The Seiko had just won the Fratello title of the best watch under €1,000, as voted for by you. To see the Baltic take the win in the battle against the Seiko is, therefore, nothing short of surprising. The Aquascaphe Titanium took a slim 51% of the votes against 49% for the SPB317, so it’s only a marginal victory. But it shows that Baltic has done something right with its titanium Aquascaphe. While on the subject, it’s over to Ben and Jorg to make a case for their respective titanium picks for this week. Let’s find out more!
Ben: Linde Werdelin SpidoLite Nord
Morten Linde and Jorn Werdelin designed the Biformeter watch in the early 2000s. It was a mechanical watch that could “piggyback” one of two detachable computers. These digital instruments were packed with features. One was designed for the sea, the other for the land. Nicknamed the Rock and Reef, these computers clipped onto the case using several recesses and hollows machined into the housing’s surface.
The world of technology moved on very quickly, and a small brand like Linde Werdelin had little chance to keep pace. Additionally, wearable technology’s increasing miniaturization and sophistication very quickly made these bulky attachments obsolete. Did that spell the end for Linde Werdelin? Absolutely not. Collectors weren’t bothered by the absence of high-tech attachments as the stylish and characterful “old-tech” was the show’s real star. I couldn’t agree more, and I’m glad that it stays true to the brand’s dual interests in the land and the sea.
Linde Werdelin fleshed out the collection with the Oktopus for diving and the Spido collection for all above-sea-level excursions. Within the Spido range, there is the SpidoSpeed chronograph and SpidoLite time-only model. I like how the SpidoLite Titanium keeps the hollowed facets of the case and the skeletonization of the dial while also maintaining structural rigidity. Referred to as the “Trigon” technique, it requires an acute knowledge of architecture that Morten Linde fully grasps. The advantage is a fantastic wrist presence coupled with extreme lightness.
Simplify, then add lightness
Perhaps it would’ve made sense to select the SpidoSpeed model to compete with Jorg’s Zenith Defy Extreme chronograph. But ever since the SpidoLite Nord was launched in 2021, I haven’t been able to shake it off. Inspired by the colors of the North Sea, the two-part skeletonized black/blue fumé dial is intensely captivating. The SpidoLite Nord has ample use of Super-LumiNova for the hands, but there is hardly any contrast for the indications among the spider’s-web-like dial construction. Typically, that would limit its appeal, yet the audacity to eschew legibility showcases the gorgeous color fade. The stenciled numerals of the date wheel are also barely visible through the skeletonized dial and the altimeter-style display at the 3 o’clock position. But the mix of the extreme case design and the almost abstract dial is a dichotomy not to be missed.
The SpidoLite Nord case is something unique in the watch world. As I said above, I appreciate objects designed with a purpose that coincidentally creates an aesthetically exciting and unique silhouette (for example, a classical guitar body is designed to resonate with a clear and sustaining tone that results in a shape similar to that of a voluptuous Spanish lady). The ceramic-coated titanium screw-down crown, a characteristic of Linde Werdelin watches, includes the brand’s “LW” logo. With the addition of a lightweight, interchangeable rubber strap, Linde Werdelin adopts Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s mantra of “simplifying, then adding lightness” into the SpidoLite range. The automatic movement LW 04 is created exclusively for Linde Werdelin by Concepto. This movement is visible through the sapphire display case back and has a 42-hour power reserve.
Despite the gargantuan dimensions of the 44mm × 46mm × 15mm case, in tantalizing titanium, it still provides lightness for wearability. Now it’s over to Jorg to make his case for his contender.
Jorg: Zenith Defy Extreme
This week’s showdown features two watches that I love. Similar to last week, I would gladly add either to my collection. However, the Baltic and Seiko were more palatable to my bank account than the Linde Werdelin and Zenith. But that doesn’t mean I don’t aspire to own them one day. When it comes to Linde Werdelin, I became a fan when I got acquainted with the collection in 2009. My favorite model is, without a doubt, the brand’s 3-Timer, but a close second is the SpidoLite. The brilliantly sculpted case is still among my favorite modern case designs ever created, and it’s a good choice by Ben.
But when it comes to matching a spectacular presence with a brilliant mechanism, the Zenith Defy Extreme is the better package. I hesitated when the first Defy Extreme models arrived at the Fratello offices. They are big watches with a technical and futuristic style, features that don’t necessarily appear high on my wishlist. But while trying out the titanium version, it became apparent that it was more familiar than I initially thought.
The specs may deceive you…
Honestly, the Defy Extreme seems hefty with its 200m-water-resistant case that measures 45mm wide, 51mm long, and 15.4mm thick. Those are numbers that would scare a lot of people immediately. But the use of titanium ensures that the size doesn’t weigh down the watch, while the combination of the materials, the angular case, and the skeletonized dial still turn the technical looks up to 11!
When it comes to the case, it has plenty of character rather than looking impersonal or cold. That’s due not only to the design but also to the mix of materials. The case design works very well with its many prominent facets and circular bezel. Additionally, sitting underneath the bezel is a contrasting dodecahedral ring. The ring matches the protective surrounds of the chronograph pushers in material and color. This ensures that the watch is not just a big chunk of titanium.
A skeletonized dial that combines form with function
I am usually not the biggest fan of skeletonized dials, but if there is one watch genre that works well with these dials, it’s modern sports watches. And in the case of the Defy Extreme, it is not just a style element. It is also a peek into the magical caliber that powers the watch. But the Zenith designers have not forgotten to create a dial that is easy to read, unlike that of the Linde Werdelin SpidoLite. The movement parts are safely placed underneath a sapphire glass dial that holds the hour markers, three contrasting chronograph register rings in familiar Zenith colors, and a power reserve indicator for the chronograph.
The large Super-LumiNova-filled hour and minute hands hover over the dial. The central chronograph hand, the smaller hands used for the chronograph registers, and the power reserve indicator all feature red accents for a bit of injection of bright color. On the rehaut of the dial, encircling the 60-minute scale, you’ll find the 1/100th-second scale that hints at the extraordinary movement of the Zenith Defy Extreme.
A spectacular Zenith caliber
If you turn the watch around, you will be greeted by the blue star-shaped oscillating weight of Zenith’s caliber 9004. This watch is even more special inside, and that sets it apart from competitors in the same field. The impressive movement features two separate escapements with dedicated barrels. The first is for standard timekeeping, while the second is for the chronograph. On top of that, the caliber also runs at two different frequencies.
The movement uses the familiar El Primero frequency of 36,000vph for the general timekeeping functions. The chronograph, however, operates at a bonkers 360,000vph. It makes it possible to accurately measure elapsed time to 1/100th of a second. After a firm push of the start/stop button, the chronograph hand flies around the dial in precisely one second. The perfect extreme complication fits this revolutionary chronograph’s character and purpose.
On the wrist, the Defy Extreme is surprisingly gentle
Thankfully, this extreme chronograph is far more gentle on the wrist than you might expect. The 45mm diameter lets you know you’re wearing a serious timepiece, but the lightweight titanium case and bracelet make it easy to wear. The angular titanium bracelet has a butterfly clasp that is easy to open and close. And thanks to the single-button quick-release system, you can easily swap the bracelet for the included rubber or Velcro straps. These provide a significant variation in both the wearing experience as well as the watch’s presence.
And that versatility is where the Zenith wins it for me. As mentioned, this watch is the better complete package over the Linde Werdelin Spidolite. Sure, it might be significantly more expensive at €19,400 than the SpidoLite at €14,828, but it makes up for that in a lot of ways. Furthermore, while I’ve been a Linde Werdelin fan for longer, the Zenith brand has captured my heart over the past few years with its excellent releases. In my opinion, the Zenith Defy Extreme is the obvious and better choice.
Time to vote!
There you have it, folks — another Sunday battle with two popular timepieces going toe to toe for the win! Will the Linde Werdelin SpidoLite Nord get your vote, or are you a fan of the Zenith Defy Extreme? Make sure to vote for your choice below, and also let us know why you picked it in the comments. See you next week for another installment of Sunday Morning Showdown!