For over 400 years, Switzerland has been known as the center of the watch industry. As such, luxury watches produced in the landlocked mountainous country come from some of the best brands in the world. Lately, however, the Philippines has gotten in on the action to produce timepieces that combine style and craftsmanship as a formidable alternative. Here, we present the Filipino watch brands you should know and support.
1989 Watches was founded with the simple vision of quality with classic style. As a follow up to its philosophy, the brand follows a painstaking process to make sure each piece works perfectly. The production stage starts with the parts which are produced individually. Afterward, 1989 Watches sees to it that each timepiece is assembled, adjusted, and tested properly. Currently, the brand offers seven collections: Breckenridge, Montreux, Curaçao, Belize, St. Eustatius, Santorini, and Florence.
Paolo Sarmiento founded his brand Jackdaw after coming across a feature on the most renowned watches in history. It was this newfound fascination that inspired him to pursue a career in horology. After realizing that only a few brands in the country made wooden watches, he took the opportunity of harnessing the potential of the underestimated and underrated material. Each Jackdaw collection reflects the various types of wood used which are sourced from all over the world. These include Hawaiian koa wood, African zebrawood, ebony, walnut, and maple, to name a few.
Founded by Rex Layos and Angeli Ortega in 2015, Kawayan is known for its eco-friendly bamboo watches. The brand chose to work with bamboo in an effort to create a sustainable and durable product and as a plus, Kayawan sources its bamboo from the Philippines which is abundant with the grass. Kawayan has four different collections: Classic, All-Bamboo, Premium, and its unique Couples collection.
Kayu was founded in 2016 with the mission of “transforming undesirable wood parts into beautiful wooden watches.” The brand was born after the founder wanted to give a wooden watch as a gift. After searching online and in malls and not finding anything suitable, he ended up sketching the first Kayu watch. Kayu’s watches, designed by Ivatan hands, are made to capture the spirit of the local indigenous community and to honor time, culture, and tradition. Aside from watches, Kayu also produces bamboo sunglasses.
KLO & Co., which Ken Lee Ong, Bryan Chua, and Ralph Yu founded in 2016, creates timepieces that feature excellently finished materials and precise movements. As watch enthusiasts, the founders took to further their knowledge by studying the art of watchmaking. Soon, they made sketches that turned into rendered drawings and finally, actually samples. Today, KLO & Co. has five collections: Space Walker, Silverstone, Villamor, and Classic.
Ibarra, founded by physicist Nico Moreno in 2014, is a watch brand that’s designed and assembled in the Philippines. It was inspired by Moreno’s dream of rekindling the Filipino heritage of timekeeping. The brand creates classic timepieces that use materials from Switzerland, Japan, and China. In 2017, the brand was chosen to be the official timepiece in ASEAN50. Ibarra currently has six timepieces: Mariano Automatic, Rizal, Rivera, Salvador Automatic, Plaridel, and Soldado.
Isidore is a brand known for its understated classic design. The brand’s watches features include a stainless steel case, 50 meters water resistance, and mineral glass. It also has a Japanese automatic movement that has a date function, 41-hour power reserve, 21 jewels, Diashock shock system, bi-directional winding, and hacking seconds. Currently, the watch brand has four designs: Redemption, Myrmidon, Continuum, and Diplomat.
At an early age, Danilo Villanueva already had a passion for watches. It wasn’t until 2016, however, that he decided to turn his love for timepieces into a business. He started by selling off items from his prized watch collection, and collaborating with a watch engineer to work on sketches, concept art, and a 3D model. Makina manufactures parts in Hong Kong which are then assembled in Manila. From the case and crown to the dial and strap, each component of a Makina timepiece is custom made.
When he was just 24 years old, entrepreneur Brian Poe Llamanzaes founded Time Master Watches. The brand’s Poseidon collection, which takes inspiration from the Ancient Greek god of the sea, can dive up to 100 meters in depth. Time Master Watches also sells NATO straps in five variations.