De Guzman & Co. Watches, which is founded by Gio de Guzman, is a Pinoy luxury watch brand that’s inspired by passion and history, and is driven by creativity and innovation. The business was born in midst of a pandemic, but still grew and found a niche for itself in the sea of watch collectors and enthusiasts.
How does one turn a love or a hobby into a brand? Join us as we go in conversation with Gio and find out more about how it all started, the challenges he faced, and what he dreams for the future.
As a young student, Gio was already fascinated with watches. He recalls a G-shock being one of his first watches and eventually moved on to the likes of TW Steel, Swatch, and Seiko. Value of money was something that he regularly looked for in the watches he collected, and so when he felt the drive the create his own brand, it became one of its backbones.
“Given the rising prices of the watches I wanted, all I really wanted back then was to have my own custom watch made, thinking it might be cheaper (and cooler) to have my own custom watch with all the dream materials I can have at a lower price,” Gio explains.
The Start of a Watch Brand
This Filipino watch brand has always had a certain modern-vintage appeal to it. Its watches are smaller than average (e.g. 38mm and our upcoming model is 40mm), which is a nod to a more vintage and classic sizing. Initially, the brand was heavily homage-based but they eventually found their own image and path, paying heritage to the brand’s country of origin. One example is how De Guzman & Co. figured out how to incorporate Baybayin scripts in its watches, which now is part of its signature design.
“When we started, we were both praised for the quality of the watches we were making, but heavily criticized for not having any originality. My team and I were discouraged by a lot of the comments saying that ‘this is just another homage brand’ or ‘just another brand copying others’.
It was devastating at first, but I really thought to myself that yes, they were right and we were happy that we listened. We didn’t want to be associated anymore as an homage brand and we moved on to creating our own designs,” Gio imparts.
Now, the brand has found a place between the world of familiarity and originality:
“We wanted our watches to not just be unique but we also want them to be familiar. It is a balance between uniqueness and familiarity that we want to be in.”
Looking Into the Future
De Guzman & Co. plans on having accessories for their watches, designed to mainly complement its existing watch lineup. Currently, the brand wants to move its resources into further creating watches that are not just unique, but also watches that are otherwise unattainable at a certain price point.
In terms of other endeavors, it has been working with the local industry in creating accessories for its timepieces:
“Right now, we are working together with local leather makers from Marikina in making the straps, and we have endeavors with indigenous weavers for products in the future. We would love to support our local industry, especially as a local brand.
Even our boxes are actually made from here. Our watch rolls this year will now be moving production here. I certainly believe that the Philippine industry has the potential to create products that compete worldwide.”
Curious to know more? Watch Carlo’s vlog on the Filipino watch brand: