There aren’t a lot of American companies making watches these days — RGM, Kobold, Bathys; a handful of others. So let’s welcome new San Francisco brand Xetum — the brainchild of founder, Jeff Kuo. He’s started a new company with two original-design, Swiss-movement watches: the Tyndall (pictured), and Stinson. Jeff kindly agreed to loan us a Tyndall for review, so let’s dive into something quite rare: a brand-new, American-designed mechanical watch.
- The movement is the high-end ETA 2895, Elabore grade. Note that ETA has five movement grades (base, standard, elabore, top, and chronometer, where chrometer is top plus COSC testing) so this is a expensive and nicely decorated movement. It’s phenomenal to see a 289x on a watch under $2,000.
- Assembled in Switzerland.
- 316L stainless steel case with hidden lugs, screw-down crown, and exhibition caseback.
- Sapphire crystal, anti-reflective coated.
- Nicely sized at 40mm by 11mm.
- Water resistant to 100m (330ft).
- Hours, minutes, subseconds, and date.
- Superluminova on hour and minute hands, and on the 3, 6, 9, and 12.
- Available from their website for $1,395.
Please read on for the full review.
Two things really impress me about this watch: the details and the price. As I mentioned before, the materials and movement are expensive, so I was looking to see if they had to cut corners elsewhere. Not only did they not cut corners, but they went much further than I expected. For example, their website is hosted on a eco-friendly web hosting service, the leather bands are vegetable-tanned, the cork lining the band is renewable from Italy, and they work with CarbonFund.org to offset their operations. Even the presentation box is carved rubberwood, saved from slash and burn. The watch, too, shows that same obsession with detail.
Pictured here are the uniquely-shaped caseback window, hidden lugs, and hexagonal crown. You can also see that the case isn’t just a plain cylinder; there are two polished rings contrasting from the brushed sides. It’s a subtle but quite beautiful shape to enjoy, and the hidden lugs leave a clean line from wrist to case.
Another look at the case and detailing. Excellent, even finishing, beautifully detailed, and very impressive for the price. You can also see how the thin bezel and reduced depth of the face emphasize the dial; this watch is very much about the design not interfering with functionality.
The strap is, as mentioned, is vegetable-tanned leather with a natural cork backing and butterfly deployant clasp. Contrast stitching adds a bit of visual flair, and the result is very comfortable. I did wonder a bit why he specified a screw-down crown, as the leather strap would contradict any use in the water; perhaps just to add durability and versatility.
On the wrist, the light weight and strap make for a comfortable fit. The watch seems larger than its 40mm size, due to the cylindrical shape and thin bezel. I prefer a bit of taper if I’m going to wear long sleeves, but at a svelte 11mm high, that’s not really much of an issue. I consider the design to be versatile enough to go from business dress to weekend jeans, and for me that’s high praise. Yes, I am going to have a hard time returning this one!
The movement, as expected, keeps superb time, within 2 seconds per day, with very smooth winding and setting. Even setting the date was enjoyable with crisp, distinct changes. A very nice movement family, the 2892, 2893 and 2895 are among the few ‘tracteur’ movements of Swiss watchmaking, able to hold their own with even the storied Rolex 3135.
The Tyndall is also available in a black-dial, white-hand version. For me, I like the unusual eggshell color of this version, as it makes a nice change from my usual dark-dial-diver routine. Also check out their other model, the slightly less expensive Stinson, using the ETA 2824 ($995).
These are not cheap watches. They are, I would argue, superb value watches and thus worthy of your consideration. The Tyndall is a watch I’d be proud to wear in a room full of Rolexes; it’s an original design, and first-rate construction should age very well indeed.
Our thanks to Xetum for the loaner.
By Paul Hubbard