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Watch collector: Yu Chye Fong favours petite timepieces that pack a punch

Among the civil servant's collection are a Patek Philippe Calatrava 150th Anniversary Officer’s watch and two Chopard Happy Sports.

How my love for horology began:

“I was introduced to horology by a collector friend and former colleague around 2011. He used to talk about jewellery and watches as movable investments as opposed to, say, property. I got my Patek Philippe Calatrava 150th Anniversary Officer’s watch, which was released in 1989, through him. But I started small – my first ‘serious’ watch was an Oris automatic.”

A gradual evolution:

“When I first started buying watches, I stuck to timeless classics such as the Omega Constellation and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. Smaller watches appeal to me and fit better. However, in recent years, I’ve grown in my collector’s journey and become more attracted to unusual pieces that combine fine movements with elegance, playfulness and vibrant colours. For instance, I have two Chopard Happy Sport watches, one purple and one green, which I recently bought a year apart. I like the colours and the guilloche details on the dials.”

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Why my watch budget has swelled:

“In the last two years, I’ve visited the Chopard and Jaeger-LeCoultre facilities in Switzerland. I was introduced to the processes involved in watchmaking, and had the chance to try some hands-on activities. At Chopard, all I had to do was put some screws into place. Even though it sounds easy, it was quite challenging because they’re so small that if you use a bit more force, they go flying. When I first got into horology, I balked at the thought of paying a thousand dollars for a watch. Then seeing the effort and details that go into watches helped me understand why they cost so much. ”

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On statement style and stars:

“When buying watches, I’m first attracted to their aesthetics. I bought my first Parmigiani – the Tonda Metropolitaine Selene – a few years ago at an event by The Hour Glass. I liked its mother-of-pearl dial with a floral design. Just this year, I got a Parmigiani Kalparisma with diamonds and an aventurine dial. I usually don’t go for bling watches, but I really liked the galaxy theme with its sparkling dial and a star indicating the seconds.”

Watches > bags:

“Aside from watches, my other main indulgence is travel. I don’t buy branded stuff – except for watches (laughs). A number of my friends like designer bags, but I can’t see the same amount of details and effort that go into a watch going into the making of a bag. Some watches are really works of art. If you asked me to spend $10,000 on a bag, I’d rather use the money to buy a watch.”

Three watches that best represent my collection:

  • Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metropolitaine Selene

    “Elegant” - Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metropolitaine Selene in steel (33.2mm)

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