By Kenn Anthony Mendoza
There’s no better way to appreciate historical sites than to explore them firsthand, so to gain a deeper understanding of our history, visit Corregidor, a hidden gem that has stood against the ravages of time and has remained a cultural cornerstone of the past and the present.
It was befitting then that TW Steel picked Corregidor to launch its new watches, as the island has its own sense of identity—an uncanny parallelism to the brand’s personality. Situated at the mouth of Manila Bay in the southwestern part of Luzon, Corregidor got its name in the 1840s during the Spanish colonization. If you had papers that needed to be amended, you went to Isla del Corregidor, which translates to “The Island of the Corrector” (the Spanish word for to correct is corregir). It was also an inspection area for ships entering Manila.
After we arrived via a two-hour cruise from Seaside Esplanade Terminal, we toured the island. Our first stop was Battery Hearn, the strongest gun in Corregidor. It can fire at a trajectory of 27 km, the same distance from LRT Baclaran to Monumento.
The most prominent sculpture on the island is the Eternal Flame of Freedom, designed by Aristedes Demetrios, who spent US$85,000 to complete it. From there, you get a panoramic view of Manila Bay, Bataan, and the Cavite coastline.
If you want to take home souvenirs, go to the Spanish Lighthouse, erected in 1836, the oldest structure on the island. Standing at 628 feet, it towers over the blue waters. A stronger light was replaced in 1853 to get a clearer view of its surroundings. In 1897, it was used to detect enemy ships when the Pacific War broke out.
In the afternoon, we braved the dark Malinta Tunnel. Excavated by Filipinos for 10 years, it was designed to house war supplies, food, and an underground hospital with a thousand capacity. During the siege, it shielded soldiers from bombs and artilleries. With its bomb-proof protection, it was said that General MacArthur traversed the tunnel to escape to Australia.
It’s not enough that brands launch their products and merely introduce them; they have to engage. TW Steel, which advocates an active lifestyle, laid out a set of physical activities for the press and executives to participate in. First, we had to kayak and paddle against the waves. I was apprehensive at first because the current was strong. It was a good upper arm workout.
I woke up early the next day to join BodyArt, a movement training system that tests strength, flexibility, and endurance. We stretched our muscles and ligaments for an hour. The result: We were all drenched in sweat! The next event was the Amazing Race. We were grouped into four teams and it was an opportunity to know our colleagues beyond the usual introduction. The best part was when we had to be blindfolded while walking among cups of water. The goal was to reach the other side without hitting any plastic cups while listening to our leader’s instructions. Then, we had a bike relay along Mile Long Barracks. Since I don’t know how to ride a bike, one of my teammates had to assist me. At the end, surprisingly, we won against our competitors!
As global head of marketing, Auke Possel makes sure TW Steel’s identity and message is on point throughout the 100 countries where it’s available. His responsibility includes creating stories for the brand and guarding its DNA.
TW Steel launched three new watch collections—Son of Time (P27,000), New Mavericks (P20,000), and Race of Champions (P15,000). This is in line with the #haveitall campaign, which is about moving forward.
Each edition caters to different personalities. Son of Time fuses elements of custom motorcycles and craftsmanship—perfect for jogging and biking. If you like big and bold styles, New Maverick is your best bet. Motorsport racing fans who love watching Formula One can get their own thrill with Race of Champion. Possel’s favorite is Son of Time since he personally developed it from the start. “I’m biased because I like bikes and watches,” he said in an exclusive with Manila Bulletin.
TW Steel’s story goes back 13 years ago, when father-and-son tandem Ton and Jordy Cobelens decided to plunge into the watch market. Without weighing the pros and cons, they just had a gut feel that everything would work out. It was a big deal that they were independent and Dutch as most high-quality watches are from Switzerland.
That act of bravery and instinct paved the way for the brand’s distinctive voice. “It’s full of energy. We are who we are and we’re not afraid to express it. The company has a certain fire and attitude,” Possel claimed.
TW Steel’s design process begins with creating a concept and translating it into a design. Then, they look for markets and find opportunities. At the brand presentation, Manuel Dacanay, The Watch Store Asia Ltd. marketing director, recalled there was a time when the South African market demanded a diamond base. “TW Steel came out with a watch just for [that market],” he said.
TW Steel is on the right track, boasting seven boutiques in the Philippines and 417k likes on Facebook as of this writing. “People keep coming back because of design, price point, mechanism, and equity,” Dacanay said. “The watch fits every lifestyle. I’ve met people who’ve told me they have 16 TW Steel watches. It’s easily recognizable because it’s oversized.”
At a local level, Possel aims to increase the number of stores per country. “Instead of nine stores, we need 15,” he said. “Our relevance and how we connect with our consumers are important.” He continued, “When people go to sleep and ask themselves, ‘What was the coolest thing I’ve seen today?’ And if they think ‘TW Steel,’ then we must be doing well. If the next day they decide to buy the watch, then better.” Raising the bar even further, TW Steel aspires to be the best—the brave and bold watch everyone should look out for.
For more info, go to twsteel.com. Like facebook.com/twsteel, follow @twsteel on Twitter and Instagram