FITA Magazine Vol. IV / Time Travel

Asier Mateo
The Founder of Lebond Watches

Interview by Francisco Teles da Gama

Photograph © Courtesy Asier Mateo

Let’s meet the architect who founded one of today’s most ambitious and iconic watch brands, which through the hands takes us across the history of internationally renowned Portuguese architects, such as Álvaro Siza Vieira. Lebond Watches was founded in 2022 and its creations are already highly coveted. Asier graduated in Architecture at the Universidad de Navarra, continuing his studies in the Master’s Degree completed at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. His talent earned him two research grants from the French government. He returned to the Universidad de Navarra as Assistant Professor of Architectural Lighting Design, an area in which he has gathered a wealth of experience. Now he presents the clock as the ultimate exponent of architectural creation, the key to traveling through time and breaking down all barriers.

How did your career in architecture and design encourage you to create Lebond Watches?

As an architect, I had the chance to collaborate with great architects from all over the world, which I really loved. I could understand their way of thinking and learn about their approach to working, which encouraged me to keep collaborating with them for the rest of my life.

When I decided to found my own company, my plan was to combine my two greatest passions - Architecture and Watches - to create something unique and inspiring. This is how Lebond started; an exclusive watch editor that creates high-end timepiece editions designed by prestigious architects. Lebond comes from “le bon design”.

Álvaro Siza is known for his unique approach to architecture, which emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and a deep understanding of context. What inspired the design of Lebond Siza watch?

First, I would like to say that collaborating with Álvaro Siza and his team has been an amazing experience and a great pleasure. Mr. Siza is a brilliant professional and a wonderful person. After working with him, I understood why he is such a strong reference for architects of all ages.

Image © Lebond Siza, 2023
Sketch by Álvaro Siza

Since our first meeting, it was very clear to Mr. Siza that he wanted to create something special; a sophisticated and elegant but also distinctive piece. As he said, “there already exist many beautiful round watches. I want to create something different.” Lebond Siza watch was inspired by the Leça swimming pool that the architect designed in 1966 when he was 28. The watch case shape is based on the square main pool and the watch hands are adapted from the minimal restroom signs that Mr. Siza used in multiple projects.

Piscinas das Marés
Photograph © Fernando Guerra

How do you approach the timepiece design proposal when collaborating with prestigious and award-winning architects?

The architects that collaborate with Lebond are highly renowned professionals with a full schedule and it is not easy to be part of their project’s portfolio. At Lebond we understand what these architects really enjoy about their job, and we work hard to make the watch design process as pleasant as possible. We offer them complete design freedom, horologic technical assistance and minimum bureaucracy. Also, sometimes architects find it challenging to design a watch, as its function and scale is completely different to the buildings that they conceive.

Lebond Watches is known for its minimalist elegant designs. How do you balance the aesthetics with functionality?

Lebond collaborates with architects who design every component of their watch edition from scratch. The architect has complete design freedom to create a unique and special timepiece, and Lebond provides technical assistance during the entire design process to ensure that the watch is ergonomic and durable to last a lifetime. That is Lebond’s recipe to combine aesthetics with functionality in our watches.

How do you keep up with current design trends and incorporate them into your work while still maintaining the Lebond Watches brand identity?

Lebond watch editions unites the best design with the highest quality to create beautiful watches that aim to be timeless. Our main goal is to build a curated collection of timeless icons that Lebond Collectors can wear every day proudly. As is the case for architectural masterpieces, it will require some time to confirm that we have effectively accomplished our ambitious objective.

Can you walk us through the production process of a Lebond watch, from concept to finished product?

Sure. The design process of our watches is structured very similarly to any architecture project. The main phases are Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documentation and Construction Administration (SD, DD, CD and CA). The Schematic Design is the beginning of the creation where the architect defines the concept and the essence of the watch. This early step is documented through beautiful hand sketches that illustrate the origin of the watch.

Once the concept is defined, the design team starts the Design Development phase, which consists of CAD plans, renders and models of the timepiece. Then, Lebond horologists prepare the precise technical plans and build 3D printed watches. This Construction Documentation package is presented to the architect for approval.

The final part of the design is the Construction Administration, where Lebond manufactures fully functional prototypes to run tests and check that the timepiece is perfect and ready for production.

What do you see as the future of watch design and how do you plan to stay ahead of the curve with Lebond Watches?

Lebond editions are made with the finest materials and equipped with mechanical automatic movements. Mechanical watches overcame a crisis in the 1970s with the arrival of the quartz watches, and have stayed strong after the release of the smart watches in the 2000s. History proves that there is a stable niche for these cult objects, and even more if they are designed by the very best architects in the world.

Lebond Siza, 2023
Álvaro Siza during design process with models of his watch

The interview to Asier Mateo was published on pages 124 to 127 in the Carnation Revolution chapter of FITA Magazine Vol. IV / Time Travel dedicated to the city of Berlin.
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