A Love Story Lost with Time, Found Through Time

A Love Story Lost with Time, Found Through Time

History-telling meets watchmaking in the latest collection of this Filipino watch company.


Leonor Rivera remains to be a household name in the Philippines. Thanks to our history books, many Filipinos remember her distinct character as one of our national hero’s lovers. However, most of us see her only as a piece in the complex network of women in Jose Rizal’s life, which includes the like of Nellie Boustead, O-Sei-San, and Josephine Bracken (allegedly married by Rizal), just to name a few. Indeed, Rivera sits in a room full of ladies, portrayed to have fallen in love with our boy-next-door hero, one after (and allegedly, simultaneously with) the other.

A deeper reading of our history accounts, however, will reveal that Rivera was more to Rizal than this common portrayal, and more importantly, that there is more to her than being just Rizal’s lover. These and other discoveries are what the Filipino watch company Ibarra Watches seeks to share with us in its latest collection.


( “A bolder and stronger Leonor Rivera is portrayed in the collection.”)

Last November 26, Ibarra Watches released the look book of its first-ever couple watch collection, dubbed the Rizal and Rivera. Ibarra treats us with a desirable mix of romance, sophistication, and history, elegantly expressed in the timepieces they have just assembled.


Timely Releases

When in Manila got to chat with Ibarra Watches’ Founder and CEO Nico Moreno to talk about the new products. “The first watch we ever tried releasing in the market was actually called the Rizal. However, that model eventually became hard to service, even for our watchmakers. For instance, in order for us to fix its dial, we would have to break the glass. Eventually, we opted to pull it out from the market. This new Rizal is somehow a tribute to that first release. It’s a way to celebrate the three years since we released our first watch,” as Moreno reminisces his company’s first release in November 2015.


( “The new Rizal has a noticeably thick case for the automatic movement, and is as dressy as it is romantic.”)

The new Rizal model, unlike the old one, will come with an automatic movement. Similar to Ibarra’s earlier automatic watches, the new Rizal model will house a Miyota movement which is also used by Japanese watchmakers such as Citizen. The watch features a flat sapphire crystal, steel bracelet, and fluted bezel to top, all calculated to leave a sparkle on the wrist of any wearer. The date window display also adds functionality to the timepiece.

On the other hand, the Rivera will be Ibarra’s first watch in the women’s line, which will come in seven different color patterns. “We think it’s about time to release timepieces for the modern Filipina. The watch market is admittedly dominated by male buyers, but Filipinas equally deserve quality watches. We hope to provide that, starting with the Rivera,” Moreno promises. The Rivera will come with a 29mm case housing a Quartz movement.


( “With a dial as dark as her gazing eyes, the Rivera can be worn like a powerful statement.”)

Individually, the Rizal and the Rivera each has its own story to tell. But together, they prove even more stunningly stylish.


A Lost Story of Love

We all know that Jose Rizal and Leonor Rivera were darlings during their youth. But upon closer examination, we would realize that Rivera was much more special than all of Rizal’s other lovers.

“All accounts lead to the conclusion that Leonor Rivera was really Rizal’s one great love. He courted her for 11 years and mourned her marriage and eventual death probably more than the many tragedies of his short life,” shares Moreno, who takes inspiration from pieces of history every time he puts out timepieces. “I honestly think they would’ve made for an amazing power couple, so we just decided to try and see what that would have looked like if it did happen.”


( “Though perfect under the sunlight, we can imagine wearing the Rizal and Rivera in evening events as well.”)

According to Moreno, Jose Rizal is one of his idols. “Rizal will always top the list of people I look up to. He fought for his country with his heart on his sleeve, which is something modern-day Filipino gentlemen should emulate,” Moreno adds. “Leonor Rivera on the other hand is an underrated heroine. She was extremely talented, intelligent, and was undeniably beautiful. Her life was filled with challenges caused by society she lived in, but she persevered ‘til her last breath,” Moreno closes.


Proudly Filipino

Ibarra Watches has come a long way since its entry into the market in 2015. Despite the continued success and the lure of greater profit, Ibarra has stayed committed to its principles. “We continue to make all our watches in the Philippines. While there will always be that temptation to simply bring in assembled watches from other countries, nothing beats seeing the watches being assembled in the Philippines by our own talented Filipino watchmakers. They are not only employees of Ibarra, but they are our partners in developing the brand as well.”

The full look book can be viewed here (https://ibarrawatches.com/) with the specs of the watches in the descriptions. The Rizal and Rivera collection can be seen in person through Ibarra’s physical consignments in malls and upper tiered barbershops. You can check out the full list of authorized distributors here.