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Why Kenneth Chua, founder of the Naturalist Grandeur, is an avid fan of vintage watches

Kenneth Chua reveals how he first got into collecting vintage watches.

MY FIRST TASTE OF HIGH HOROLOGY

“I studied at the University of Wales, and my school was in a castle. There were beautiful clocks from the 16th century. In summer, my friends and I would travel to places like the Patek Philippe Museum.”

 

ON GETTING HIS FIRST SERIOUS WATCH FOR A DOLLAR

“I have a bonsai master; he taught me how to create bonsai. In 2007, he was in his ’70s, and he had a pink gold Vacheron Constantin Patrimony from the 1930s, which he wanted to give to his son. But the watch wasn’t to his son’s taste. We have a good relationship, so he offered to sell it to me for a dollar, which was totally unexpected.”

 

WHY I LIKE VINTAGE TIMEPIECES

“My collection comprises 50 watches. About 80 per cent of them are vintage pieces. To me, these are more than just watches. They hold a lot of memories, and I feel quite fortunate to own a vintage piece that’s in good condition – because it must have been able to remain that way, thanks to the efforts of its previous owners. I display special watches on this sandalwood log (pictured), which is from Mysore, India. It is around two centuries old.”

 

WHY THE 1910 PENDANT WATCH IS SPECIAL

“When I first saw this pendant watch at an auction preview, I was amazed. Even though it’s so intricate and was from 1910, it was well-preserved: The movement was working, and the pearls were in good condition, as were the platinum case and chain. Its blue enamel case was very glossy and (evocative) – the pattern resembles water ripples. A husband had bought it for his wife, and I like to think that it was a form of commitment. I buy watches based on the stories behind them.”

 

ON OWNING A DECIDEDLY UN-VINTAGE 46MM MODEL

“On a daily basis, I select a watch to wear from only a couple of watches in my collection. I like small watches – the Vacheron Constantin vintage watch I’m wearing right now is 32mm. But I also buy new watches because it’s good to know about developments. I like IWC’s Little Prince collection because the story is so dreamy. I have the Annual Calendar, which has an interesting rotor (with The Little Prince character standing on a planet). It’s 46mm – so I don’t wear it, I just keep it.”

(RELATED: Why retro and vintage-inspired watches are making a comeback, says Su Jia Xian)

MY TOP THREE TIMEPIECES

  • timepieces
    01 “Pure artistry” – Patek Philippe Ref. 5115R in red gold, from 2000

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