Designer Jeff Kuo founded Xetum in 2010 as a maverick watch company focused on design, sustainability, quality and value. Don't let the last word fool you, these watches still run for around $1,000, but you really do get what you pay for. Xetum's timepieces are made in Switzerland's Jura Valley, under the keen eye of timepiece artisans who've honed their craft for years. Kuo's designs are inspired by everything from art movements to pragmatic dials like dashboard instruments. We talked with the founder and designer about the benefits of Swiss movement, Xetum's environmental responsibility and the ideal ratio of watch size to wrist size.
The biggest influences in the case design are architectural—Bauhaus and mid-century modern both emphasize a clean design and minimal excess in decoration. Ultimately, I decided to go lugless because it helps to keep a continuous and clean flow of the case.
Well I think we appeal to guys who are looking to make a style statement, but in a more nuanced way. It's a substantial men's watch without screaming for attention. As far as the actual models go, the Tyndall appeals to the instrument enthusiast who's looking for a modern interpretation of the pilot-style watch. I'd say the Stinson has more of an appeal to those who like a minimal dial design, especially the brown dial version, which is great for people who want a subtle, tasteful watch face color that's a bit different than traditional dial colors. Our newest model, the Kendrick, in my opinion appeals best to automotive enthusiasts (the dial was inspired by dashboard instruments) and those looking for a sportier look, particularly because it's got the NATO strap.
Mechanical watches have an artisan and aesthetic appeal that allows you to participate in a long-standing timekeeping tradition. In the past, mechanical watches were the only watches available, and we enjoy sticking to that tradition. Not only that, but our Swiss movements offer very accurate and reliable timekeeping.
We try to make the experience special. For example, I've penned handwritten notes to customers when they are getting it as a gift from someone else. We've also done things such as finding a third party strap (and attaching it to their watch). If it's a reasonable request, we're going to do our best to ensure that their experience with us is a real luxury experience.
I grew up in California, so for as long as I can remember, those values have been instilled in me, and it was important to incorporate them into our operations. In addition to the areas you mentioned, our leather straps feature cork linings on the back. Cork is a renewable material and it has the same durability, comfort and performance as any other lining. We also support reforestation efforts through our partnership with Carbonfund.
In my opinion, it's a gut reaction. Most frequently, for men's watches, guys are deciding if the watch is too big. If you try the watch and you have to ask yourself more than once, "Is this too big?" then it probably is. If you find yourself thinking about how you might have to alter your shirts or sport coats to accommodate a watch, then it's probably too big. For minimum size, I think this comes up more if you're wearing vintage watches, and there I would shoot for a minimum size of around 36mm.