By Ed Estlow
on 4.3.13
Photo by Xetum

The XETUM Kendrick ($995), introduced this week, is the third watch collection to be released by relative horological newcomer Jeffrey Kuo since he founded XETUM several years ago. Kuo designs his collections around a singular California-modern vision of a vintage performance aesthetic; his previous models, the Tyndall and the Stinton, were inspired by pilot watches and instruments of times gone by. While the Kendrick continues the vintage theme, it takes inspiration from classic automotive instrumentation. Paired with a variety of NATO straps, the Kendrick is a unique watch with plenty of summer chops.

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Some folks like their watches paper-thin, which is certainly nice for a tight-cuffed evening shirt on a black-tie evening. But if you like your timepieces a little meatier, this watch is nicely sized at 40-millimeter diameter by 11 millimeters thick. Water resistant to 100 meters might come in handy for washing the car on a Saturday morning or spending the weekend at the lake.

A Quick Note on Names

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XETUM watches are made in Switzerland, but Kuo bases himself in San Francisco and dearly loves the Left Coast. The names of his watches pay homage to California beaches and to mountain peaks in the High Sierra. Maybe you’ll settle a bar bet with that info some day.

Visually, the Kendrick features clean lines and a modern no-lug design. The surgical stainless steel case sports a sapphire crystal, and a hardened mineral glass exhibition back reveals the Swiss ETA 2824 movement. Other nice details include the hexagonal screw-down crown, reminiscent of a refined lug nut, a tribute to the watch’s automotive heritage, along with an exhibition back window shaped like a retro television screen (which is unconventional, to say the least). The vertically oriented XETUM name on the dial is one of our favorite subtle touches.

You’ve got a choice of white dial with black points and numerals, or a black dial with white or teal points and numerals. Dial and hands are treated with SuperLuminova for good night visibility. The white dial with white hands outlined in black is a clean, fresh look, but the black dial with white hands is a bit more readable.

Brilliantly striped NATO straps, the optional black and teal version of the dial (which conjures up images of a Caribbean evening), and red seconds hands on several models combine for a range of vibrant looks that fit well with spring and summer. The NATO straps are faintly collegiate or regimental (almost preppy, really), and the black and grey version brings back visions of James Bond calling out to Honey Ryder on the beaches of Crab Key, while the red and white is obviously road-race inspired. The optional black rubber strap with butterfly clasp has an elegant minimalist look, especially complimenting the black dial versions — perfect for an evening in town. The black rubber/white dial version is for the more irreverent, who we cheer for just as loudly.

But these straps also hearken back to a simpler time in the world of auto racing, when color and striping alone designated allegiance. We long for the days of MG TDs, Triumph TR3s, and Porsche 550 Spyders, and the Kendrick is a fresh breeze blowing from that direction.

Ever the Californian, Kuo has given XETUM an ecological bent as well. Boxes are made from rubberwood that would otherwise simply be burned; shelf cartons are made from Forest Stewardship Council certified paper supplied by Ecological Fibers. XETUM has signed on with Carbonfund.org as a CarbonFree Partner, and hosts their website on an eco-friendly hosting service. Which is to say that you can look good and go green this summer, all by strapping a timepiece on your wrist.

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