Interview: Xetum Founder Jeff Kuo
January 30, 2011
1- Please tell us a little about your new brand Xetum.
We launched Xetum's first collection in late 2009, with the objective of offering distinctive Swiss automatic timepieces in an accessible modern aesthetic. Each piece in our collection is designed to draw your attention in an understated and nuanced way.
A watch is something that many men wear every single day, so it needs to really embody your personality. It has to do so in a way that is noticeable, but not distracting, and it needs to be suitable for many different situations (for example, professional and casual occasions). Mechanical watches, in particular, are something that people keep for a long time, so the aesthetic needs to have endurance, and not be driven by fleeting trends. At Xetum, we have tried to balance these, and many other factors into a distinctive timepiece collection.
2- Which timepiece are you currently wearing?
I am currently wearing our Black Tyndall, which has an instrument-style design with a subdial second hand). The other family in our collection is the Stinson, which features a more minimal dial design and sweep second hand.
3- What is the ideal case diameter range for men's watches?
The low 40mm range is a great range for men's watches. It's enough to look and feel substantial, but not be overwhelming on your wrist.
4- Will you ever use PVD or DLC on any of your timepieces?
We've looked at the possibility, and may offer something along those lines in the future. I know that many customers like the look provided by PVD/DLC.
5- How is your business doing? Where do you see your brand in five or ten years?
We have had a great launch, and have been very thankful for a great reception from our customers and the watch & design press. In five to ten years, we're planning on a broader, more diversified line, but one that is still true to our origins of modern, discerning design.
6- What makes your brand great/competitive?
There are several things: (1) Our modern design aesthetic - We've worked hard to create a modern collection of timepieces that is still "relatable" and wearable. We did not go so 'uber-modern' that you need to plan everything else you are wearing just for the sake of coordinating with your watch. (2) The high caliber components and Swiss craftsmanship that we offer for the price. Our watches are in the ~$1000-$1500 price range, and use Swiss ETA automatic movements that can be found in watches that cost thousands of dollars more. (3) Our environmentally friendly initiatives. We've taken numerous steps to design our products, packaging and company operations in an environmentally responsible way. For example, the leather used in our straps is tanned using vegetable-based substances instead of chromium sulfate which is often used in leather tanning. Our timepieces come in an elegant wood box made of rubberwood, which is drawn from trees that have already lived out their normal lifespan as rubber trees. This wood otherwise is often just burned on the spot or used for firewood, and instead, we are able to use it to provide a distinctive watch box for our timepieces.
7- So do you only use Swiss movements?
Yes, we use only Swiss mechanical movements. One of the things that we wanted to do from the outset was to offer a compelling, high quality Swiss mechanical watch at a reasonable price.
8- Can you tell us about any upcoming models or plans?
We will soon be releasing a numbered limited edition of our Tyndall - this will be our first limited edition, and I think it will be an exciting piece for our collectors. We are also looking down the road at new complications, case materials/designs, straps/bracelets and other features.
9- How important was the internet in regards to launching your business. How important is the internet in keeping your inventory turning?
The internet is a vital part of our business. We sell many of our pieces directly to our customers, and it is a great medium for watch enthusiasts to discover and purchase timepieces from boutique / independent brands. We've also been able to use our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/xetum) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/xetum) to directly engage with our customers in a meaningful way.
Additionally, the outstanding work that is being done by online journalists in the watch world plays a critical role in generating awareness of independent brands.
10- Anything more you want to tell the readers about your watches?
We would like to thank all our customers and supporters, who have helped to make our launch a success. We wouldn't be here without them. Thanks!