Albeit our chosen raison d’être of experiential travel, it’s not every day that we meet someone who, in a bid to explore the world’s many hidden corners, has visited an astonishing sixty-four countries. And it’s certainly not every day that a traveller this committed has decided to start their own brand of luxury watches, celebrating those always on the move. Today, however, is that day.
Matthew Cule, founder and Creative Director at CuleM, tells us he’s wanted to create a timepiece with a classic world motif at its fully automated heart – or as the more technically-inclined would call it, the dial. Now that his young label is starting to gain momentum, he’s finding himself busier than ever, though checking the time often comes with a twist: ‘When I look down at my watch, I forget to look at the time because seeing the dial, I’m in awe of our world – it happens to my partner, Riccardo, too’.
For OutThere, Cule makes some time nonetheless, as he talks about the unique relationship between travel and watches.
You only founded CuleM in 2018. What has the journey been like so far?
It has been both an amazing and a fast journey from concept to manufacturing CuleM watches in Switzerland. I am glad you used the word journey as I call my blog a journey rather than a journal – I view all aspects of life, and of course travel, as a journey.
My favourite part so far has been designing and prototyping my first collection, the World GMT collection. I knew that I wanted to create the ultimate travel watch with a beautiful world map on the dial. To me, the world is a masterpiece like a fine painting.
How have your personal travels around this masterpiece inspired you to start a brand?
I always seem to get my best ideas when I am travelling because my mind is free to think in different and new ways, so my travels have greatly influenced the start of CuleM.
I wanted to create a brand with meaning – when you look at your CuleM watch, it is like a time capsule reminding you of the places you have been and the destinations you want to go.
The unique relationship between watches and travel as well as adventure has always been romanticized. Do you remember the first watch you travelled with?
I was fifteen years old and saved my money to buy a gold Seiko chronograph in Miami airport before returning to the UK. I bought it so it would remind me of a great trip with my family.
I purchased many watches whilst travelling. For instance, I bought an antique watch in New York, as it was the last destination at the end of a four-months round the world trip. Without buying it, the journey would not have had the same meaning.
CuleM watches obviously aren’t antique, but they do come in different styles. From the Asia collection to the South America one, in what ways do CuleM’s designs differ from one another?
Every collection will be different and yet maintain the brand’s visual identity. The Europe collection has already been designed, but I can’t tell you too much about it – yet. However, I believe that watch buyers and collectors will want to have at least one watch from each collection, particularly if they love travelling. Imagine having the World GMT watch, then Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North America, South America, Antarctica – it will be some collection.
You’re setting up a foundation to provide transformational travel experiences to underprivileged youth. Can you tell us about the project?
This is my plan as I build CuleM. I am putting aside a percentage of every sale to be put towards the foundation, which will give groups of underprivileged youth the ability to travel, giving them transformational experiences. If those experiences make a difference to even one person’s life, then the foundation has achieved its goal. That one person can achieve great things in their own life, their community and the world that they would not have realised without travelling.
Absolutely. People around the world consider travel to be a fundamental drive for personal development. Why do you think this is?
To get out and see the world is an amazing achievement in life. Complemented by your beliefs and values, travel is inspirational and offers mind-expanding opportunities. Aside from travelling, I do a lot of personal development and my partner Ricardo is a life coach. So, I get coaching practically every day.
Aside from its GMT feature, what makes a CuleM watch the perfect travel companion?
Aside from its practicality, a CuleM watch is the perfect travel companion because it coexists with you and the world as you travel it. Cule is the watch; the small and meaningful object on your wrist, and Mis the man wearing the watch as he travels the world. A CuleM is a reminder of the destinations you have been and the places you wish to go.