A New Age
In a time of adversity, those who drive and embrace change survive and become even stronger. As Ibarra approaches its fifth anniversary this November 2020, the brand sets its gears forward by putting more attention into improving its craft. The challenges of the trying times allowed Ibarra to look back and reflect on its experiences over the years, to assess the current state of the brand and the entire watch industry, and to re-calibrate its road map that is aligned with its vision.
A Fruitful Start
In 2015, the brand was launched by its founder Nico Moreno with the mission of pioneering horology in the Philippines through innovation and competency-building. Guided only by a vision of having a watchmaking industry locally, Moreno took a leap of faith to start a Filipino watch company despite the lack in technology and capacity in the Philippines. According to the founder, he treated this vocation as his true calling – a calling to embark on this watchmaking journey. But although he had a road map to turn this vision into a reality, it was not an easy task as the brand he had established encountered challenges obtaining growth and sustainability. But through passion, perseverance, and people, he was able to push the brand forward. Ibarra had progressed significantly from almost throwing in the towel, early in 2017, to representing the nation in the ASEAN 50 later that year and the 30th SEA Games in 2019.
In its first four years, Ibarra focused on establishing its brand in the market by releasing entry level quality timepieces that kept the market interested. And as a frequent supporter of history education and heritage preservation, Ibarra focused on using historical figures to represent its timepieces. During this time, the brand grabbed the opportunity to learn about the industry further and to validate and determine its road map’s feasibility. Ibarra mainly released dress watches whose designs were inspired by timeless classics. This quality resounded well with the market and Ibarra was able to capture support locally and overseas. However, new releases were still not frequent due to the limited capacity of the start-up company. But after capping off 2019 with the 30th SEA Games Commemorative Timepiece, Ibarra was getting set for a greater 2020 ahead.
As Ibarra was riding on its momentum right after the 30th SEA Games, the brand was greeted by unfortunate events that affected most industries globally. With the Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) disease outbreak starting in main logistics and manufacturing markets of the watch industry, developments and timelines of Ibarra were greatly affected. This caused indefinite delays due shutdowns of its partners in other markets. And eventually, Ibarra also had to stop physical operations when the pandemic reached the Philippines. Projects were shelved, sales plummeted, and developments were postponed indefinitely – all resulting to two quarters of corporate bleeding in 2020. The difficult times pushed Ibarra to take a step back and refocus on its brand’s direction for the future.
With this, Ibarra’s management has decided to pivot the brand’s focus into competency development while only releasing timepieces that are well-developed and in fewer quantities. This will enable Ibarra to focus on its quality as well as partnerships for industry development.
Growing by Sizing Down
Ibarra needed to size down to grow. Moving forward, Ibarra will be narrowing its focus to develop its craft beginning from the Sucesos Mechanical Hand Wind. The Sucesos was first introduced in June 2019 and was opened for pre-orders until it was suspended due to issues faced with supply and manufacturing. As the production and release was postponed indefinitely, Ibarra only completed the timepieces pre-ordered from June-July 2019.
But today, with the supply and manufacturing issues successfully addressed, Ibarra is now ready to produce the Sucesos Mechanical Hand Wind. And as a part of the brand’s pivot and recovery plan, the exclusive timepiece will be having an official online pre-selling launch at a new market price. The new price of the timepiece had been determined by considering current production costs. Ibarra’s Sucesos Mechanical Hand Wind remains a partnership with the Order of the Knights of Rizal in support for the Jose Rizal Model Students of the Philippines Awards Program.
The Door into Longevity
This 2020, Ibarra also eyed for innovation to ensure the brand’s longevity. The brand is now working with De La Salle University (DLSU) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on a materials development research collaboration. With the project approved last February, Ibarra is now formally putting its focus on research and industry development. This is a testament of Ibarra’s commitment to the future of the brand and watchmaking in the Philippines.
With Ibarra’s resolve to continue its mission, the dream is kept alive despite the present challenges. The global health crisis had indeed caused bleeding to most industries in 2020 – and Ibarra was no exception to it. However, with the Sucesos Machanical Hand Wind and the research collaboration with DLSU and DOST, Ibarra continues to tick forward as it now welcomes a new age for the brand. #WindYourHeritage