TW Steel Q&A – BASELWORLD Countdown Begins

TW Steel’s Chief Executive Officer, Jordy Cobelens (27)

TW Steel’s Chief Executive Officer, Jordy Cobelens (27)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands (22 December, 2009)
With just under three months to go before the watch world congregates in Switzerland at BASELWORLD 2010, 18th – 25th March, TW Steel’s Chief Executive Officer, Jordy Cobelens (27), took time out from his schedule to give his thoughts on how ‘The Watch in Steel’ is gearing up for the event and 2010 in general.

Q: We’re less than three months away from the start of BASELWORLD 2010 – what can we expect from TW Steel looking ahead to March?

Jordy Cobelens CEO TW Steel

Jordy Cobelens (JC): “Well first of all we are moving into Hall 1.1 which is a major step forward for TW Steel. We’re still a very young brand but we’ve accomplished a lot already in just four years – highlighted by our recent move into Formula One sponsorship with the Renault F1 Team.”

“I think people have high expectations of us now, we’ve grown thanks to the strength of our distributors but in return, they expect a lot from us in terms of how we now position the brand. Location of the stand was critical looking to Basel in 2010 and I’m pleased to say the stand itself will look absolutely phenomenal!”

“From a product perspective we’ll use Basel as the launch platform for our Renault F1 editions. These models will accommodate both the higher-end CEO range as well as entry-level options to cater for everyone.”

Q: How important is it for TW Steel to be on display in Hall 1.1 and what are your expectations of the move?

JC: “There are two huge advantages to being in Hall 1.1. First of all it’s about positioning and brand recognition. The major brands all showcase themselves in Hall 1 and Hall 1.1 so for the image of TW Steel it looks very good.”

“Secondly it’s about the traffic generated in those halls. It’ll be busy and people will undoubtedly stop to check us out which obviously has some advantages, not least we could be approached by people interested in distributing TW Steel in areas perhaps where we’re not currently represented.”

Q: As a family-run, privately-owned business, how do you measure TW Steel’s impact on the market against the brands you’ll share Hall 1.1 with?

JC: “Well a lot of it is just based on your gut instinct. Firstly you have to take risks and we’re ambitious so that’s why we’ve chosen to be relatively aggressive in our approach to Basel in 2010 and ‘go big’.”

“We’re a young, fast moving brand so everything we do is geared towards the future. Moving into Hall 1.1 is a major step for us but we believe it will offer us a significant return and convince both distributors and retailers of just how seriously we’re taking our growth and our standing in the marketplace.”

“It’s hard to measure the actual value of being there, I think that’s probably fair to say of any trade event, but again, for us it’s about the brand recognition and the brand positioning we can offer at such a prestigious industry event.”

Q: TW Steel made its Basel debut in 2009 in Hall 2 – what lessons did you learn from this experience as a first-time exhibitor?

JC: “From the start we wanted a bigger booth and a better location but entering for the first time we just had to start somewhere and we certainly made the most of what we had. It was important for us to be there and to engage our distributors by showcasing our latest collection at the time. Ultimately we saw for ourselves the impact of being present at Basel and what can be achieved there!”

Q: BASELWORLD undoubtedly presents a demanding schedule – what are the secrets to surviving such a rigorous industry event and what do you personally take from it?

JC: “Baselworld really takes you back to the ethos of the traditional watch business and I both love and respect that. It’s a classic way of presenting your business and engaging with the likes of distributors, retailers and of course the media as well now. I think the secret to surviving there is to respect the traditions Baselworld upholds but be forward thinking enough to make sure it works for your brand in a modern, commercial setting.”

Q: You mentioned TW Steel’s new status as ‘Official Timing Partner’ to the Renault F1 Team – how important was it to get TW Steel aligned with a global sponsor programme in building the brand?

JC: “I think to be associated with an accomplished brand like Renault and a sport as high profile as Formula One is a terrific reflection on the hard work and effort put in by everyone associated with the TW Steel brand.”

“It provides us with a great degree of credibility while showing our global partners we’re investing long-term in the brand therefore it should give them an increased confidence in TW Steel. The relationship offers our distributors a fantastic platform for managing promotions and incentives, further engaging TW Steel with the consumer which is the most important element at the end of the day.”

Q: 2009 has obviously been a challenging year for a lot of businesses – can you sum up the year from TW Steel’s perspective?

JC: “Despite the challenges in business that everyone has faced lately TW Steel sits in a very good price range with a strong variety of models. 2009, I’m pleased to report, has seen us expand our business with new offices opening in the likes of Thailand and Australia.”

“We consciously took the decision almost to over-invest in the business during these times as we know down the line that the payoff will be there when turnover increases in line with an improved economic climate. We’ve committed to things like Baselworld and Formula One at a time when a lot of brands are pulling out of such commitments. We basically see these times as an opportunity for TW Steel to build some momentum!”

Q: BASELWORLD and your first season in Formula One are obviously going to be high points of 2010 – what else are you looking forward to for TW Steel in the New Year and beyond?

JC: “I’m looking forward to hosting TW Steel’s first ever Distributor Conference in February in Amsterdam. It’ll be a good tool for sharing things like ‘Best Practice’ between our ourselves and our partners. We feel like everyone is part of the TW Steel family therefore it’s important to us that everyone’s voice gets heard as we move forward.”

“While our partnership with the Renault F1 Team is our main, global platform, the United States features heavily in our plans for 2010 as an area of massive potential for the TW Steel brand. Put simply it’s a critical market for us and we really want to get more brand recognition there. We’re going to put a lot of focus on the United States in terms of marketing and promotion.”

“Looking ahead at product in 2010 we’ll continue to focus on the CEO collection. It’s proven to be a very successful range for us so we’re going to look to build on that success and offer some additional pieces. We obviously have our Renault F1 watches coming out and we’re looking at some licensing agreements as well. All in all 2010, our fifth anniversary, is looking like the most exciting year yet in TW Steel’s history and development!”


As a graphic designer, I'm fascinated by the crossroads between technology and aesthetics. Horology is one of these crafts, where art and engineering come together to produce mechanical wonders that grace the eye. WatchPaper was born from the desire to create an online tool where I can share my passion for watches.