Jordy Cobelens—, the 29-year-old CEO of TW Steel—, represents the future of the watch industry. A lofty statement, perhaps, but iIn the age of Blackberrys and iPphones, Cobelenshe instinctively knows well that watches are no longer about telling time, no matter how fancy the movement or how plentiful the functions. It’s about style. In fact, he loves the fact that at night, say, in a nightclub, it’s too dark to read the time on the dial of the blacked-out Canteen model from the CEO (Collection ExtraOrdinary) collection. “I just love the cool black dial,” he says, adding, “it’s our best seller.” The design philosophy of TW Steel can be summed up in one word: size. The oversized look has become the brand’s trademark, with case widths ranginge from 37mm to 50mm. Another distinguishing characteristic of the line is stainless steel: TW Steel stands for “the watch in steel,” even though the latest high-tech materials, including titanium and PVD, are also used. Several of the watches also feature an outsized crown protector, called the “Canteen Style” which both protects the crown and, in keeping with the brand’s philosophy, serves as a design element.
Cobelens created the TW Steel watch brand with his father, Tom, a veteran of the watch industry who distributed Swiss brands in their native Holland. Cobelens junior stopped in Toronto recently to host a cocktail reception as part of an ongoing world tour to promote the brand. TW Steel is carried in 5,000 stores worldwide (120 in Canada), and Cobelens travels constantly to host events and launch products and open new stores. “You have to be in touch with your markets,” he says.
Although the watches are more about style than time, that’s is not to say the Cobelens have scrimped on the movements. The brand uses top-grade Swiss (ETA, Ronda) and Japanese (Miyota) quartz and automatic movements. Miyota, a division of Citizen, the giant Japanese watch and movement maker, has recently introduced a new, multi-function automatic mechanical movement, caliber 9100, that TW Steel uses in the Multi-Function Diver. Functions include hours, minutes, day, date, month, power-reserve indicator and 24-hour scale. The watch is priced at an amazing $1,400 (approximately). “We are about offering value for the price,” says Cobelens, who says the price range for TW Steel is in the $600 to $1,500 range.