IN CONVERSATION: TW STEEL

We sit down for an exclusive interview with the father-and-son team behind Dutch watchmaker TW Steel of the Strand Arcade.

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You both share a wonderful creative partnership – what characteristics do you admire in each other and what makes TW Steel work?
Jordy Cobelens: To me it’s about the respect that we have for each other in our respective roles.  I value and trust both my father’s creativity and his business acumen.  That said, he allows me to do my job as CEO and he respects my role and my decision-making processes. My father is a very calming influence on my life.  It’s easy to get caught up in so many different things running a business as big and as worldwide as ours but I can always speak to my father and his insight and advice always prove valuable.
Ton Cobelens: It works frankly because we trust each other.  The family bond is naturally a very strong one but just because we’re family doesn’t automatically mean we would do well working together.  We do though which is fantastic and a great source of pride for me as a parent. Jordy has the ability to manage a wide variety of tasks which I greatly admire.  He’s also doing that while traveling around the world, meeting customers, promoting the brand and maintaining our HQ in Amsterdam.  I’m happy to let him manage all that as it simply allows me to follow my passion for design.  He trusts my creative inputs so again, it goes back to respect for each other.

When it comes to inspiration and good design, one theme you keep returning to is…?
JC: There’s inspiration everywhere if you’re prepared to look but from my perspective, good design comes from simplicity.  Less is more, especially in these times.  That isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re offering a value-based product to the consumer.
TC: Well we obviously know our consumer tastes and which designs work in terms of being a good fit for oversized executions.  We’ve found that our Canteen Style collection is timeless, so we’ve continued to evolve it but at its core the same design remains.

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You are both forward thinkers – how do you constantly inspire and challenge yourselves?
JC:  I constantly challenge myself as I always want to improve.  There’s simply no time to sit back in my life and I’m just not engineered that way anyway.  I love what I do and I’m always looking at ways to build the business and bring more value to TW Steel. I guess I’m never satisfied to an extent because there’s always more we can be doing in our line of work.  We work hard to build partnerships with our distributors and customers and it’s a never-ending task.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to be truly happy but I relish the challenge of growing a global brand.  It’s brought me a lot and I know we’re capable of doing even more.
TC: The challenge for me is perhaps a little more focused as I’m constantly looking to either improve an existing collection or create a new line that will appeal.  Sometimes I have to reign myself back in on a new design, it’s easy to overcomplicate something but again, that’s just simply part of the creative process.  I love each stage of the design and build of a timepiece.  There’s always another challenge around the corner and it’s the passion for what I do that fuels me to keep going.

What excites you both as you look to the future?
JC: The potential! I look around and I think there’s more to be achieved, both personally and professionally.  The potential in our business is what excites me about the future.  I look at where we’ve come from, what we’ve achieved and what’s still to be done. We’re already a truly international brand but I know the potential is there to grow even bigger and expand our footprint in key markets.  It’s exciting for me, I love this business and love going to work each and every day.
TC: Like Jordy I know there’s a lot more still to come from TW Steel.  We have ideas for future designs and naturally these things take time to come to fruition  I love showcasing new models to our partners and seeing the excitement on their faces.  That’s ultimately very rewarding for me knowing they can’t wait to take them to market. It comes full circle when you hear of the enthusiasm from consumers for one of your designs.  The future holds that next wave of excitement and enthusiasm, you can never get there fast enough.

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Can you describe your vision for TW Steel and why you think the brand is unique?
JC: TW Steel has always been about allowing people to make a statement about themselves through their timepiece.  It’s allowing them to express that bold sense of individuality.  We’re a lifestyle brand and I think our collections reflect something for everyone and the lives they lead. Our unique position ultimately comes from pairing oversized, luxurious timepieces with an affordable price-point.  There’s no compromise. I also believe the brand has a reputation for being non-traditional which in the watch business really allows you to stand out from the crowd.
TC: From my perspective I look to the design and what it says about TW Steel.  My vision is ultimately to execute a watch that sacrifices nothing but holds true to the DNA of the TW Steel brand each time.  I think we’re unique in that respect, we never waver from that philosophy.  Oversized is our heritage, that’s what we’re known for.

Click through for TW Steel’s stockist base. TW Steel’s flagship Australian store is located in the Strand Arcade, Sydney.