November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

The need for speed

OUR MOVEMENT in the world is measured by time, and in a world that moves faster, perhaps it’s a good idea to wear a watch that looks like it can move as quickly as the world that surrounds us.


TW Steel, the Dutch watch company known for its oversized watches, released a new collection last week called Volante which is based on the design of cars -- looking at the timepieces might remind one slightly of speedometers and other elements of a car’s dashboard. For example, on its three-handed model one sees a ring on its dial, meant to channel the look implied by the measuring devices on cars. The name of the collection itself is a reference to automobiles: volante in Italian means steering wheel. “It kind of has a double meaning: it’s also [about] steering your life in a certain direction,” said Jordy Cobelens, the young CEO of TW Steel, a brand he and his father Ton founded in 2005.

The loudly masculine watches boast of 22 different executions with models offered in either 45mm or 48mm sizes. The timepieces come in three distinct designs: a three-hand piece with a Miyota 2415 movement; the Chrono, offered in a compact 45mm with a 0S10 Miyota movement or 48mm with a big caliber 6S10 movement; and, finally, a Dual Time model with a Seiko VD31 movement.

As for the decidedly masculine look for the watches -- as well as other collections within the brand -- Mr. Cobelens agrees that the brand has already hit its sweet spot, when asked if the brand would like to tap into more feminine designs, in order to attract another side of the market. It’s largely unnecessary: “We have a lot of female buyers, but they like us because we’re doing these cool-looking watches,” he said. “Stick to what you know, right? Never change a winning team,” during a July 11 interview at BGC.

While the brand is known for its very large watches, a few years ago, an oversized watch would have been a novelty, and watch designs were decidedly more staid. That being said, would fickle trends may spell trouble TW Steel? Mr. Cobelens argues, however, “of course, now you see that minimalistic design is very popular. But people still buy big watches. When we brought it out, it was such a big hit, because nobody else was doing it. Now we’re an established brand that continues to bring out strong designs, and it’s continuing to grow its fanbase. We absolutley have no doubt that big watches... [are] going to go out. If you see the collections that a lot of brands are bringing out, still big watches are a big part of it.”

Speaking of speed, the brand has been sponsoring the Formula One races since 2010. This year it teamed up as the official timing partner of the Race of Champions, which brings together drivers who have competed in various races around the world, from the Formula One to NASCAR. “In motorsports, timing is everything,” said Mr. Cobelens about the company’s obsession with making a connection between the watches and vehicles: after all, TW Steel has released collections based on several modes of transport, from aircraft to motorcycles. “Of course, we’re adding that lifestyle element to it. For us, it’s a way of thinking.

“Life is already serious as it is. Have fun while you’re here, because life is short. Enjoy it -- and that is the message that we’re sending our customers.”

The watches range in price between P14,000 and P27,000. TW Steel is available in boutiques in Alabang Town Center, Century City Mall, Podium, Shangri-La Plaza, SM Makati, SM Megamall, SM North EDSA, and SM Seaside Cebu. -- Joseph L. Garcia