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Age is just a number for these young watch fans

Four under-35s who prove horology transcends generations.

Outside The Box

  • Chester Lau

    Chester Lau, 26, project manager

I) MY HOROLOGICAL HEAD START:

“My interest in watches started early. I liked to frequent watch shops even in primary school and I got my first mechanical watch, a Seiko 5 automatic, when I was in Primary 5. It cost about $200 and I bought it with my savings. I bought my first four-digit watch, a Ball, when I was 17 and, at 18, I got an IWC Big Pilot’s Watch. That was quite a leap.”

II) LOCAL BRAND TO WATCH:

“My Travailler watch is the first one made by a friend who started his brand more than a year ago. I first met him when we both in the US for school and work. He makes his own dials at a workshop at The Hangar at NUS, and he uses the same methods used to make grand feu enamel dials. He bought a kiln and experimented to find the best thickness so the dials wouldn’t bend during the firing processes. I bought it to support a friend but I also think it’s a very interesting statement piece.”

III) WHEN LIFE DOESN’T GIVE YOU A REASON, MAKE ONE UP:

“I buy watches to remember certain events. The Lange 1 was my graduation present to myself last year. But sometimes I create events to buy watches. (Laughs.) For example, I might decide, ‘This year is a leap year, I’ll buy a watch.’ So, I’ll purchase it on Feb 29.”

IV) HOW ELSE I INDULGE MY LOVE FOR HOROLOGY:

“I write for (watch blog) Deployant. I was at a Zenith event a few years ago when I met Peter (Chong, co- founder of Deployant). That was at a point when I realised that watches were too expensive to keep buying, and I needed to find another way to be involved in horology. So, I approached Peter and volunteered to write for the blog. I contribute about once a week.”

V) MY GRAIL WATCHES:

“They are a chronograph and a perpetual calendar. For the chronograph, two are in contention – either the Patek Philippe 5170 or a Datograph (by A. Lange & Sohne). For the perpetual calendar, it would be the Patek 5140 or a Patek 3940. I always wanted a 3940 – I think it has a perfect perpetual-calendar layout.”

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Parallel Universes

  • Kwok Kin Fei

    Kwok Kin Fei, 34, project director

I) IT STARTED WITH CARS:

“Since I was a boy, my passion was cars. I didn’t know much about watches when I first walked into an Omega boutique in 2013. I picked up a De Ville watch and saw the movement through the exhibition caseback. That was when I realised that watches and cars work on the same concept: It’s all about storing energy and having a mechanism to release the energy to move the car or the hands of a watch – the only difference is that this energy release is a lot more precise in watches.”

II) MY PARTNER IN TIME

“My girlfriend got me my first serious watch, the Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph. After the Omega episode, I thought watches were interesting but expensive. I was telling my girlfriend about different watches I liked, and she got me the watch on her own. She wasn’t into watches then, but she remembered what I said, took a risk and I loved it. She’s been learning actively about watches since – we attended Dubai Watch Week in 2016, and she struck up a conversation with (independent watchmaker) Philippe Dufour.”

III) THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY:

“One month after I was gifted the Maurice Lacroix, I bought the Longines Master Collection Complete Calendar because I still wanted to get a column-wheel chronograph watch. I got the A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 when I was 30. The finishing is excellent and I love the story of how Walter Lange built the brand again from scratch, and how the brand spends so much time and money on each of its movements.”

IV) PADDLE UP:

“I couldn’t bring it today because I sent it for servicing, but my first major auction win was a Vacheron Constantin Mercator from 1998. I paid HK$225,000 (S$39,200) for it at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong last October. I always liked the Mercator, and I was eyeing this one in particular because the dial features the South-east Asian map.”

V) BUYERS AS BRAND AMBASSADORS:

“Brands need to invest in their fans. They don’t have to be well-known people, just regular Joes who push for a brand just because they really love it. Even if you don’t like Manchester United or football, in Singapore you’ll easily meet a Man U fan who would want to tell you all about them. It’s the same thing with watches.”

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Study in Contrasts

  • Cedric Chua

    Cedric Chua, 32, company director

I) SOME THINGS LAST (NEARLY) FOREVER:

“I work in tech, so there may seem to be a disconnect in the fact that I like mechanical watches. But in this day and age where everything is powered by technology in some way, the fact that these mechanical, handmade watches have withstood the test of time is intriguing.”

II) PIVOTING WITHIN MY PASSION:

“The first serious watch I got was the Audemars Piguet (AP) Royal Oak Offshore. When I first started collecting, I went for sporty watches because I’m a sporty and casual guy. I got the AP after the first year in my first job as an investment banker. The hours are pretty brutal and I told myself, ‘You have to get yourself a present.’ I still like sport watches, but I’ve been pivoting to more classic and gentlemen’s pieces like the F.P. Journe Octa Lune in recent years.”

III) THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA:

“Social media has transformed the watch industry. For one, it has let people know all the variants of a watch that are out there, when people post photos of different watches on Instagram, or a reviewer on Youtube shows all the variants of a watch. It was through Instagram that I realised that the F.P. Journe Octa Lune came in a black and rose gold combination. I had been following the brand for four years and was waiting for the perfect F.P. Journe to come along. This was it.”

IV) ROLE MODELS VS GRASSROOTS INFLUENCERS:

“I’m a big Roger Federer fan because I played tennis growing up, and Federer is a well-known Rolex ambassador. I think these sporting ambassadors would have some influence over the watches you like if you are very much into sports. I use sports as an example, but this could apply to any other area. But social media has more of a grassroots effect: These platforms let me know of 20 people near me who like F.P. Journe, so I could organise a barbecue, and we could meet and talk about watches. Engagement at this level is powerful.”

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V) GRAIL TIMEPIECE:

“If I had all the money in the world, I would want the Patek Ref. 5970. It’s the last of the Patek perpetual calendar chronographs that were made with the Lemania 2310 movement. Of all the Patek Philippe watches, that’s the grail for me.”

 

Into his Own

  • Hosan Swee

    Hosan Swee, 30, sales director

I) FATHER TIME:

“My dad was always wearing a watch; I particularly remember his two-tone Rolex Datejust. When I was in primary school, he got me my first watch, a Seiko automatic military watch. I got myself my first serious watch when I was in the army. It was an IWC Mark XVI. There’s that connection to my first Seiko because they are both pilot’s watches.”

II) GOING LIVE WITH MY ROYAL OAK LOVE:

“I’ve actually done an Instagram Live video to explain the differences between Audemars Piguet (AP) Royal Oak models in the 37, 39 and 41mm sizes. The whole last thing lasted about 45 minutes, and I talked about the differences in wearing experience, the features in different models, and the history of AP and the design of the Royal Oak. I also did a Q&A segment, where I answered questions about the differences between the watches, and so on. It was a fun, one-off thing.”

III) MY WATCH-FLIPPING PHASE:

“When I was younger, I liked to try different stuff as I figured out what I liked. For a time back then, I was on a buying-and-selling spree. If I had the holding power, of course I’d just hold everything, but I earn my own money. But I know I really like a watch if I think about it when I don’t have it. There are some watches I’ll keep away as part of my regular rotation, but I don’t go back to them. That’s how I know I’m falling out of love with a watch.”

IV) THE GIFT OF TIME:

“I got the Rolex Day-Date 18238, which was made in the 1990s, from a second-hand dealer. I just love the feel of vintage watches. It was a present for my wife when we got married last year. She wears it all the time. It looks good on a girl or a guy, so I can wear it and so can she. However, it’s a bit too tight for me because the bracelet has been sized for her. (Laughs.)”

V) A WATCH I WON’T EVER SELL:

“If I could own only one watch for the rest of my life, it would be the AP Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ 15202. I got my first AP, the Royal Oak Selfwinding 15300, in 2013 and, over the years, I bought and sold a few different APs. I turned 30 this year, and thought it might be time to get the grail, the Jumbo. One day, I was at Far East Plaza for lunch. While walking past a shop specialising in second-hand watches, I saw it in the window. I got it two months ago, and I still feel very happy just looking at it.”

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