Culem Prototypes - We got our bangers!

This week we revealed the watches from our first collection - if you haven’t seen them yet, head over to our Instagram account where you can see them in all their glory! There are three styles - the Portal, the Frame and the Lights.

Now that they have been unveiled, we wanted to share with you the journey that our founder, Matthew Cule, and the designer, Damien Ummel, went on to create these watches. We spoke to each of them as well as the Sales and Marketing Director of Walca, the independent, private-label watch manufacturer, where our watches are created, in Switzerland. Each of them reflect on the design process and the moment that they saw the watches for the very first time…

Matthew Cule - Founder and Creative Director

I remember taking the plane on 28th June 2018 from my home in Alicante, Spain to Basel, Switzerland. When I arrived I boarded a train to Biel - the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry.

It was the first time I had been to Switzerland when the weather was beautiful and warm. I checked into my hotel and decided to walk to Lake Biel. I sat down beside the lake, and I remember feeling very happy - I was excited because the following morning I would see the first prototypes of Culem watches!

When I reflect back on that moment now, it is curious that I did not feel nervous in anyway. Instead, I felt almost high with an excitement that stirred throughout my body. Everything just felt perfect.

The next morning I woke up early and headed to Walca (Culem’s private-label watch manufacturer) to see Damien and Christine. Every time I see them it’s like seeing old friends, and they were both very excited to show me the prototypes. When Christine presented the prototypes to me, I, for once, was speechless! Anyone that knows me personally knows that doesn’t happen very often.

It was literally love at first sight with my creations. I remembered seeing the Portal watch (blue edition) first, and saying that it was the most beautiful watch I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe the amazing 3-D effect of the world map on the dial, creating beautiful changing reflections and colours. Even when I am writing this now, I feel a shiver of delight!

Next they presented the Frame watch, which I loved immediately, too, for its contemporary and defined look complemented by the circle of clouds rising above the world. Outstanding! The Lights was the last watch to be presented to me, and wow. I went to a dark room to see the luminous night-time effect; how the lights of the world came on! I was overwhelmed with joy at the results.

You know that feeling when you see something for the first time and you have immediate feelings of pleasure and joy? I recall saying that that the watches were like a family - I don’t how people are going to choose - they will just have to buy them all! I also remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to travel with my Culem and show the collection to the world.

I felt so proud of the great work that Damien, the watch designer, and I had done together - a dream team. When I chose to work with Damien, I felt a strong connection to him and trusted my instinct. Often, we do not know what will happen, but in Damien’s words, “We got our bangers.” In other words, we felt that we had created the ultimate watch collection! One step closer to my mission to be the ultimate luxury Swiss-made travel watch brand.

The first collection of prototypes did not disappoint

Time for celebration!

Damien Ummel - Watch Designer of Culem’s World GMT Collection

Waiting for the prototypes was a quite difficult time, because I knew that the designs I had made were challenging to manufacture due to the very high-end aspect of the visual elements, especially for the dials.

But then, when I saw when the prototypes for the first time, they were way better than what I was expecting, and even better than what I could have dreamt about! The technical aspect of the way my designs had been transformed into reality was incredible! Immediately, Matthew and I knew we had our ‘bangers’ (our winning designs). We were ecstatic, almost dancing together, and all of the reasons I had been nervous to see the prototypes disappeared instantly!

This was a wonderful feeling because back in February 2018, when designing this collection, I already had a feeling that I was about to achieve my best watch designs in my career to-date. I had this feeling especially for the Portal, which turned out to be (from my point of view) the most successful result. I am really proud of this model, and feel that this was the perfect moment in my career to develop it.

Another point of satisfaction for me when developing this collection was the collaboration with Matthew. It was a wonderful surprise to see how easy it was to discuss the designs and concepts with him. It was like building something great together - I would propose something, then he would propose something to make it better, then me again, and so on. It was the definition of very successful teamwork - it’s really rare to have a connection like this with a collaboration!

A good example of this synergy was with the Lights style. Travelling from the first idea to the final realization was like a wonderful journey where Matthew and I added one creative brick after another, until we reached this poetic final result of which we are both very proud.

Creating this first collection was a fantastic journey from which I come back with great souvenirs, and a big excitement to see how people will react to this. No doubt it will be a great success!

Choosing prototypes over dinner in Switzerland

Christine Le Marquand - Sales and Marketing Director, Walca

When Matthew and Damien presented the first collection to me I was really wowed! Each design has clearly been considered down to the smallest detail, and the technical fabrication is absolutely stunning. The finishing on the watch dials are impressive; the variations of the world map are a beautiful touch, and the 3-D effect on the Portal catches the light so well it is almost mesmerising.

I am particularly proud of our team’s work with both Matthew, Founder and Creative Director of Culem, and our suppliers in putting together these magnificent prototypes. Matthew and Damien loved working together and bouncing ideas off of each other - it was the perfect partnership for this first collection.

As the watches are perfectly unisex, and the designs can easily be worn by men or women, I am more than confident that they will be a huge success. I love travelling myself and I know that I will be taking a Culem watch on many trips in the near future! My personal favourite styles are the Lights watch in gold and blue - truly unique and timeless!

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