Sierro is a "Beautifully Practical" Filipino Watch Brand
Evenings spent with your fairly fresh out of college friends and a couple dozen cans of beer can turn out a lot of the same subjects. There’s always the “crazy crap we did in school,” the “crazy state of geopolitics,” and of course, the classic, ever-glistening “crazy business idea” that handily ripen from 11p.m. onwards. But while the former two topics are usually off-the-charts levels of actual crazy, the business idea usually decants down to something that could probably be constructed with the remnants of empty beer cans and peanut wrappers.
Perhaps this is more the close-to-home experience of putting two things together in the hopes of calling it a product, but the point here is that amongst mates setting the world right, running full-steam ahead into a business of moving parts and precise inner-workings is not top of mind.
And yet, two communications technology graduates decided—and probably not during one of the abovementioned sessions—to found a company that sells objects of many moving parts with precise inner-workings: watches.
Birthed in college, resurrected years later
Mikael Soriano and Jacob Echague began their business partnership over the course of their Business Enterprise Development minor at the Ateneo de Manila University, where the thesis mates graduated in 2017. “We envisioned creating a local e-commerce service and discontinued it after college,” Soriano says. “[But] after graduating, we reconnected and pursued Jacob‘s vision of creating beautiful and accessible timepieces.”
Planning for the actual timepieces began in 2018 with the duo deciding on the name Sierro. “We wanted to have a name that represents travel, adventure, and the little trips you take every day,” he says.” We really liked the word “sierra” because you immediately think of exploring a new frontier.” But, much in the same way the founders iterated from prototype to prototype, they edited “Sierra” to “Sierro,” giving them what Soriano calls “an opportunity to give new meaning to it.”
“Sierro: to be beautifully practical in the adventures of the every day,” he adds.
Essence: The first collection
Sierro’s debut collection was publicly released at an event last August in collaboration with two other local brands, namely Guppy and Alba, held at Artesania in Makati.
The Essence Collection is a spread of three colors: black, rose gold, and silver. The timepieces aggregate plain faces, neat, thin bars to indicate the hours; tidy, flat-topped crowns; and stainless steel mesh bracelets. The material comprising the bezel is also stainless steel, while behind the 39-millimeter watch face ticks a Quartz Miyota 2035 movement. The watch quickly allows its wearer to tell the time as it does away with any frills. As per the sierro.store, “whether it's to the beach, to formal events, or spending time with friends, it's the most versatile watch you can own.”
“We…found that a lot of people don't wear watches,” Soriano says. “We think having a watch is essential. And so we want people to take note of the time at a glance, take control of their time, and make the most of their time. And the Essence is the perfect tool for that. From the watch beginner to the watch snob, you'll need a simple watch that you can bring anywhere that keeps good time.”
The watches are priced at P4,999, with free shipping available, but they also come as bundles for P5,999. These bundles include one of the Essence watches with the matching stainless-steel mesh strap as well as two alternative straps—one in nylon and another in leather.
That sounds right along the lines of someone’s first watch as he works his way up to his own collection of watches, but at a price far removed from those found on the ground floor of Greenbelt 5. Those brands, however, play a different game altogether.
“We know our limitations and we don't claim to be a luxury timepiece maker,” Soriano says. “But we do know our strengths: knowing how to design around our customer and giving value to their lifestyle.”
Manufacturing and moving forward
The watch movements, faces, and stainless-steel mesh are put together in Hong Kong, but the leather straps are Philippine-crafted. Sierro seeks to expand its repertoire in the coming years, with leather bags, accessories, and “anything that gives you value in your day-to- day life,” Soriano says. “We’re looking to produce that, but reimagined with our vision of ‘beautifully practical.’”
More than that, the pair also seeks to improve on an existing collection with magnetic mesh straps already in the works and an active stance on collecting feedback from their first customers. “Of course, we'd want to manufacture everything locally if a good opportunity comes for that to happen. We're always looking to use as much local talent as possible. Hopefully, we'll get to that point.”
Soriano admits he and his business partner are in a minefield of competition with affordable watch brands, some well known at that, undercutting their price point. Nonetheless, the pair believes in the product.
“Sierro stands out because we’re focused on delivering the perfectly practical watch that you can wear anywhere,” he says. “'Beautifully practical’ is our goal, and we think this focused vision will help us stand out even more as we make our watches better.”
A word on inspiration
The young entrepreneur namedrops Montblanc when asked which brand inspires him.
“We admire how Montblanc designs its whole brand experience. All of their products complement one another.”
Montblanc, whose store is literally around the corner from the Sierro stall in the mall, differs from other luxury watch brands because it suavely carries its elegance and perceived quality to other products, such as pens, wallets and other accessories. That’s how the brand built its success.
Perhaps Sierro, standing slightly to the side, with future products in the works, is doing the same.