Something old, something new: Padron Tessera and an interview with Leo Padron

Thread: Something old, something new: Padron Tessera and an interview with Leo Padron

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  1. #1
    Watchuseek Editor
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Something old, something new: Padron Tessera and an interview with Leo Padron

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Size:  6.6 KB Watch restorer and designer Leo Padron of Minneapolis Minnesota has a Kickstarter campaign on the go to help launch his new watch, the Padron Tessera. The Padron Tessera is described as the classic mid-century mechanical watch rebooted for modernity, and powered by your motion. It’s a highly crafted, all stainless steel 25 jewel automatic watch proudly designed and hand-assembled in the USA.

    As a self-winding mechanical watch, the Tessera uses no electronics and requires no battery. Its case is a 150 Meter water-resistant design with anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal and surgical-grade stainless steel. 150 Meters water resistance means that it can withstand water depths of up to 500 feet, making it appropriate for snorkeling or swimming.

    You can find out more about the watch and Leo’s Kickstarter fund drive here.

    We asked him to describe his watch and his approach to watch making in more detail, and these are his replies.

    1) What started you on the road to designing your own watches?

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    LP: I founded my business a few years back restoring vintage timepieces. I came into watchmaking completely out of left field. I have an engineering background, but it is largely software related and I am self taught.

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    For me it began several years ago with the discovery of my Grandfather's broken 1965 Mulco, failing miserably at my first repair attempt, and then experimenting on other project watches. In the meantime, I was reading as much as I could get my hands on and acquiring good tools. (I've since serviced that poor Mulco twice, unbotching my own prior amateur work) So for a few years I restored watches first as a hobby, then as a business, then finally to creating my own brand, to launching three different timepieces. I run my business full time now.

    2) So you are now restoring watches as well as designing them?

    LP: Yes. For the last two years I had my restorations sold through a local retailer, in addition to my online website which was doing pretty well and I did some small repair work on the side as I improved my practice and setup. I kept finding myself gravitating towards mid-range Swiss and Japanese timepieces from the 50's, 60's, and 70's, a period which appealed to me. Mechanical movements were a mature technology by then and most of the important problems had long been solved and designs were getting more interesting. And just then, the Quartz revolution happened in the 70s and all this momentum fell by the wayside.

    3) This is not your first Kickstarter project, why did you decide to raise money this way?

    LP: My first Kickstarter project began last year with a suggestion from a friend. I was skeptical at first, but I decided to try running the Padron Vuelta on it. I was already trying to raise funds privately, and I was put off by the idea of crowdfunding, but looked at some of the other projects people were doing, and was inspired by all the great ideas, but mostly by the backer community.

    Kickstarter's true value isn't just from the fundraising, but from the community feedback and the opportunity to build a lasting customer base. I am somebody that constantly likes to ‘bullshit check’ my own work with friends, and I felt the ability to talk directly with my backers in a collaborative setting, and ask them what they thought helped me take an already good product and make it even better.

    4) Tell us about your approach to making watches

    LP: The first point is when coming up with my vision for a new line of timepieces I put quite a bit of thought into what's important. I only want to make watches that are easy to use and maintain, to obtain Chronometer grade accuracy, and for the watches to be made of high quality materials, so that they conceivably last for generations.

    The second point is that I want these watches to be bone dry inside the casing, because the best vintages endure thanks to a well-sealed environment and I have seen way too much moisture damage on good movements in subpar cases.

    The third point is that the design should only speak for the watch and nothing else, it should have as much an economy of lines as possible (though not necessarily minimalist), and avoid the trap of genre. Naturally everything on a Padron watch (with the exception of the movements) are 100% original designs.

    Lastly, I want my friends and loved ones to be able to afford my products. That means when considering scope, to diligently and constantly ask what is right, versus what is 'best', (Best in the watch world being the trap of the five figure gewgaw that miraculously tells time.)

    5) Let's talk about your new watch, the Padron Tessera

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    LP: The Padron Tessera is pretty much the successor to the Vuelta 25. Both are 150 meter 316L stainless cases with sapphire and 28,800 bph movements with a date feature, hack lever and bidirectional autowind. Apart from the design (I made the Tessera to be far dressier and a bit smaller) there are improvements I made in vendor selection and overall process.

    When I began shipping Vueltas, they were made overseas. Early this year, I in-sourced assembly to Minneapolis for the Vuelta 25 and developed some good additional supplier relationships both within the US and Hong Kong. Like the Vuelta, the Tessera will be hand assembled in my office in Northeast Minneapolis.

    6) What are the specs on the Tessera?

    LP: 316L Stainless Steel Case and Band
    15 ATM / 150 Meter (up to 500 feet) water resistance
    Sapphire Crystal with Anti-reflective coating
    Superluminous hands and dial
    Exhibition Caseback
    Screwdown Crown
    Size: 42mm x 45mm x 12mm
    Weight: 146 grams
    Two Year Mechanical Warranty

    7) Tell us about the movement

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    LP: Watchuseek readers will note it’s an Asian 2824-2. Mine is not Seagull however, I am using a new manufacturer which I am keeping proprietary. The movement has a beautiful rhodium perlage finish and the build quality is excellent!

    These are the key specifications:

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    Asian 2824-2
    25 Jewel Mechanical with Automatic Winding
    Bidirectional Automatic design with reverser wheels
    COSC capable with Microadjuster
    Hacking lever (can stop watch to synchronize time)
    28,800 beats per hour
    Rhodium-plated engine-turned finish
    39 hour power reserve
    Adjusted in three positions

    8) What are the Padron brand values?

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    LP: It’s important to know that Padron Watches are all about well made, quality timepieces, and I have no intention of ever being a lifestyle brand. My designs are a little bit eccentric, which might make people think that I am about fashion, but really I am an engineer first and foremost who so happens to greatly enjoy designing my own products.

    9) Are there any signature design elements to a Padron watch?

    LP: Well, much of my design work is done on paper first, and then developed by me to near spec in Solidworks, with final engineering drawings done by the vendor. My influences are definitely inspired by my work with vintages, and one commentator on a watch forum called my watches "Vintage watches re-engineered by aliens" which I personally loved. I admit that to look at my timepieces (especially the Tessera) is to see a little bit of the 1960's. Hooded lugs, lots of planar elements, chunky indices, etc.

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    I've also been asked about the four circle indices. It's my trade dress, but also something that when I first came up with it, I myself wasn't clear about it or why it spoke to me. It was only much later that I realized I was subconsciously inspired by a Curta mechanical calculator my dad owned when I was a kid. (When you look at the device from the top, you see a bunch of white zeros.)

    10) And finally, what about price?

    LP: Currently on Kickstarter if you pledge $450 or more you will receive the Padron Tessera in satin silver with a silver dial. Pledge $785 or more and you can receive a matching set of one satin silver (with silver dial) and one satin black Padron Tessera. You will also get an acknowledgement in the Padron Tessera manual.

    Leo, thanks for talking to us and good luck with the project!

    Visit the Padron website
    Last edited by Michael Weare; July 26th, 2013 at 13:08.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Portland, OR

    Re: Something old, something new: Padron Tessera and an interview with Leo Padron

    Excited to be among Leo's pre-orders for this watch -- and even more excited to wear it! Kudos for all his efforts bringing this beautiful and unique watch to reality

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