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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Yes, these sleek, minimalist watches are designed by a Filipina

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Whether here or overseas, watch design has always been a male-dominated field.

Riane Garfin, designer and owner of LEUPP Watches, is here to change that.

A self-confessed tinkerer, Riane has always loved pulling things apart and putting them back together. What could be more fascinating to a tinkerer than the inner workings of a watch?

“The first time I opened up an electric-powered watch that kept time by a steel tuning fork (yes, a tuning fork!), I was hooked,” Riane recalls.  “It was like a machine from another dimension – so small, delicate, and precise.”

It was the beginning of a lifelong passion.



Time as an unending loop

Riane put up a fashion accessories business in 2014; she decided to focus solely on watches four years later. LEUPP is a play on loop, a reference to time’s repetitive, cyclical nature. The earth’s revolution around the sun, the changing of the seasons, the rising and ebbing of the tides – the world as we know it runs like clockwork.

Watches in LEUPP’s price range are loud and very logo-centric, which tend to draw unnecessary attention. What sets LEUPP apart from the usual is its minimalist aesthetic.

“We apply Kanso – a Japanese zen principle which means simplicity or elimination of clutter. This principle guides our design process – we get rid of anything that’s non-essential,” says Riane.

She adds, “This is why we keep the watch face logo-free. The LEUPP logo is always modestly placed on the back of the watch face and on the buckle.”

Devoid of distractions, one’s eyes are drawn to the watch’s clean lines and classic color palette, which effortlessly complements any outfit, from day to night.

Being logo-free also leaves room for one to be pleasantly surprised. Not many people know that LEUPP is a Filipino watch brand designed by a woman, whose design studio is in London – and are amazed when they do find out.


Watches for non-conformists

If you expect LEUPP to have a very feminine feel, be prepared to be surprised yet again. LEUPP watches are designed to be worn by everyone. Best-sellers include Kubo, which comes in three colorways and has an asymmetrical winder, which gives it an unexpected flourish; Mori, which also has an asymmetrical winder and a dial with minimalist markers; and Ito, a square, Bauhaus-inspired watch with an all-black face.

Riane shares her personal picks. “Ueno is our most unique design yet. Another favorite is the Imako – it's an unconventional watch designed for the non-conformist.”


A new collection is launched every year. While LEUPP takes inspiration from classic pieces, watch enthusiasts can look forward to something unexpected.   


Changing with the times

With this year’s unprecedented circumstances, what does the future look like for LEUPP?

 “We're under no illusion that it will be a groundbreaking year,” Riane says. “It's a time for doing things differently. You need to get onboard with the digital world, or go into an indefinite shutdown. Times are challenging but it's a great time for learning.”

Riane is excited to introduce LEUPP to a bigger audience and will soon venture into South Asia and Southeast Asia. 

With its timeless pieces and accessible price points, LEUPP is destined for exciting things ahead – it’s only a matter of time.

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