This Filipino-Owned Watch Company is Truly World Class

Makina is upping our watch game.
IMAGE Makina

An adman lives and breathes the brand to which he’s dedicated himself. It means understanding the brand’s history. Deciphering its DNA. Knowing how to make it desirable. At least that’s what they tell you in ad school. But it also means channeling your energy into something that’s not completely yours.

Dan Villanueva, a seasoned creative in the ad business, has spent plenty of long nights in LA, Dubai and Beijing agencies putting high-profile campaigns to bed, but with Makina he’s created something he can proudly call his own. Timepieces that reflect the craftsmanship and passion he displays in his daily work, but without the creative constraints imposed by a marketing department.

The first two models–Uriel and Mephisto–were built by a Hong Kong-based Filipino watchmaker based on Dan’s vision for Makina. While the parts were sourced from quality suppliers across Asia–both watches feature a Miyota movement made in Japan–it’s important for Dan and his small Filipino team that Makina’s recognized as a Manila brand. Makina time pieces may not be physically assembled in the Philippines but the people behind Makina share a common heritage that runs deeper than any brand loyalty ever could.

In the end, no amount of national pride can make you wear a time piece that doesn’t feel right. What matters is how a watch looks and feels like on your wrist, and unlike other micro brands on the market which try to emulate established watch models, Makina’s Art Deco-inspired chronometers revere everything vintage without any on-the-nose references.

The boldly designed Mephisto’s most prominent aesthetic feature is the blue multi-layered sunburst dial and bezel, which evoke the giant turbines of old military planes. However, framed by a 42mm-diameter stainless steel case, it’s the numerals which imbue this vintage beauty with additional depth. The even numbers are embossed and the odd numbers are engraved on elevated propeller-like platforms, which makes the cut-out numerals look sharp and crisp.


If you care about what’s under the hood, and you know you do, both models also feature an exhibition case back that showcases the Japanese movement, a Miyota 821A with a modified rotor. To top it off, the model’s flat sapphire crystal glass and flat Italian calf leather strap make this a classic-looking daily watch.

The Uriel, which is available in either a cream or brown dial, is the more subtle and dressy counterpart to the bold Mephisto. Slightly smaller at a 40mm diameter, the vintage chronometer stands out in its own regard with a prominent silhouette created by a highly polished stretched cushion case and domed Sapphire crystal.

The art deco-inspired model’s guilloche dial warrants a closer look, too: the dauphine hands, thick metallic indices and recessed seconds markers add another dimension to a classy chronometer. To make sure it remains that way, the Uriel comes with a padded Italian calf leather strap and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass.

Both models are produced in small batches for quality control purposes. The Uriel, with 500 made in each color, will be available for international shipping in June, while the Mephisto, limited to 500 pieces, will be available in September.

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Christopher Puhm
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