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Switzerland inspires Danish design duo

The use of graphic illustrations captures the spirit of the designers Linde Werdelin

The annual Baselworld watch fair – to take place in March – attracts exhibitors from far and wide, among them the London-based luxury brand Linde Werdelin.

Jorn Werdelin and Morten Linde, two friends who grew up together in Denmark, split their time between the British capital and Copenhagen, but it is their strong bond with Switzerland that has been a major factor in their success.

Werdelin’s Swiss connection can be traced back to childhood. He was born into a household of three generations of jewellers, all of whom lay particular emphasis on top-quality Swiss branded watches.

“I was always aware Swiss watches were very desirable and customers were willing to pay high-end prices for them,” he told

“When you grow up in a home where watches are an important part of what you are, and your father comes home every year from the Watch and Jewellery Show in Basel obviously thrilled by the latest designs, it becomes part of your identity.”

Werdelin was hooked and as he grew older he would help out during the school holidays in one of his father’s jewellery shops gaining knowledge about leading luxury brands and developing a strong marketing sense for high-end, niche products.

Business partner Morten Linde also demonstrated a passion for watches from an early age. Although from a family of furniture designers, Linde had his sights on timepieces.

So much so, that when he was in his early twenties, he presented four of his own designs to some of the major brands exhibiting in Basel and won several commissions.

“They are incredibly complex products, with so many technical and ergonomic constraints,” he likes to point out.

“A wristwatch has to look good with suits, jeans, work in light or darkness, be comfortable and fitted, be precise, resist water, be manufactured in the finest materials and above all be easy to read and use.”

Brand developing

Aware of the need to become ever more relevant to their clients, the two business partners have spent the last few years refining their business concept to bring together watch-making and sports instruments for skiing and diving.

“We started with the skiing instrument because we are both big skiers,” explained Werdelin.

“We have been skiing in Switzerland since childhood, sometimes at altitudes where weather conditions can change quickly. For us digital ski instruments are part of a serious skier’s gear.”

Their latest wrist-top, minicomputer for example accurately measures altitude, weather conditions and temperature.

The Danish duo was prompted to move the business into digital sports instruments because they were fed up always having to substitute their elegant mechanical timepieces for a mini computer.

“I would have to take off my well-made Swiss watch when I went skiing and put on this big chunky sports instrument, which I would then have on for the rest of the day. It was all very cumbersome and not ideal for après-ski events,” said Werdelin.

“Our new lightweight, portable apparatus is unique as it can be clipped on to the watch when needed. All it takes is two clicks.”

Thoughtful design

Critical of how luxury products are marketed today, the two men did a lot of soul searching before coming up with an innovative and distinctive promotional programme for their products.

“Every watch brand is trying to tell you their product is rare and special,” explained Werdelin.

“But simply showing pictures of a high-end, luxury watch against a black background, and then promoting it in thousands of magazines, is contrary to what luxury and craftsmanship should be about.”

In an inspired move, the two friends brought together two comic strip artists to promote the Linde Werdelin brand. A small cast of illustrated superheroes, all recognisable by the unique timepieces on their wrists, embark on a journey of intrigue and adventure in a parallel universe known as The Perfect Five.

This original use of graphic illustrations captures the spirit of Linde Werdelin.

“These hand-crafted illustrations reflect values we have: fresh and creative with a focus on quality, design and craftsmanship,” said Werdelin.

Basel International Watch and Jewellery Show is one of the largest exhibitions in the world and it can be traced back to the first Schweizer Mustermesse Basel (Muba) held in 1917.

However, it wasn’t until 1931 that the first Swiss Watch Show appeared in a specialised pavilion at Muba.

Nowadays, the exhibition has become a large and grand assembly for watches and jewellery and attracts over 100,000 visitors, with retailers and wholesalers coming from more than 100 countries.

In the period up to 2013, major modernisation work is being carried out on the exhibition site in Basel. The project compiled by Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron will create a gross exhibition surface of 141,000 square metres.

This year’s show opens on March 24 and runs to March 31.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR