A prodigious collector talks about his love for independent watches

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We caught up with Deployant friend and collector Jack Wong and talked about his love for independent watches.

Prodigious collector Jack Wong talks about his love for independent watches

Jack is a prodigious collector, with watches ranging from vintage gems, to watches from the grand maisons, to independents. When we visited him at his home in Singapore for the photography and chat, he had the Rolex Daytona Ref. 116506 in Platinum with diamond indices on his wrist. He had prepared a beautifully made leather watch box made by Bosphorus Leather.

In the box was a Rolex GMT Master-II Ref. 116748 SARU with diamond, sapphire ruby set bezel, a Richard Mille RM029 NPTP, a Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5980/1A and a Moser Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon. In addition, there were 4 other watches which he selected for this interview. We decided to limit to 4 independents due to space considerations. While we would have loved to feature more of his excellent collection, it would simply take too long.

Introducing Jack Wong (as he sees himself, in his own words)

Jack (IG” @jackwongyf) started digging this rabbit hole with the occasional treasures he scored from weekend flea markets back in 2004. Driven by much passion & obsession, with exceptional keen interest in the historical, artistry & engineering marvel of fine watches, he has dug too deep into this rabbit hole than he should. 

Jack now “struggles to make ends” meet as a banker in the financial industry, managing a team of offshore bankers that serve the North Asia market. Jack is a proud father of one, as he probably won’t be able to financially support a second child with his watch hobby. 

How did you get into watches? When was that?

I always love watches since I was very young. I felt that watches completes the accessory of a man. My first watch that I remembered buying for myself was a white G-shock when I was 16 as they were the in thing then.

However my first serious watch that I bought when I was 24, entering into the workforce and decided that I’ll need more than a digital watch in my business wear. As I didn’t have much money, I gathered my savings and bought a vintage Omega Geneve with a TV shape. I thought it was cool to have a vintage watch as it was different from everyone. Besides, Omega sounded like a good brand and to be honest, I know next to nothing about watches then!

Can you briefly take us through your favourite pieces in your collection?

I’ll like to categorise my collection into 3 genres; Independent, mainstream & vintage. 

I love the indies, for the fact that they are generally not restrained by the usual corporate red tapes and levels & levels of management to answer to, hence they have the ability to express freely in their work.

F. P. Journe Souverain Tourbillon.

My favourite from this genre would have to be my F.P. Journe Tourbillon, Vianney Halter Antiqua, MB&F LM101 & De Bethune DB28GS Grand Bleu

Vianney Halter Antiqua.

For the mainstream, Rolexes are hard to beat, as they are really superior in their build and for their reliability. My all time favourite would be my Rolex Daytona Platinum with baguette diamond, Rolex GMT SARU, and my Patek Nautilus 5980 Chronograph. 

MB&F LM101.

Lastly for the vintage genre, I love my early 1953-54 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and some dress pieces from the 1930s, mainly the “sector” Art Deco dial style in particularly from Omega, which happened to have good modern case size at 38mm, which were highly unusual for that period.

De Bethune DB28GS Grand Bleu.

I’m glad you didn’t ask me just exactly which one watch is my most favourite amongst all! It’s like choosing your favourite child amongst your children!

What is your approach when it comes to buying a watch for your collection? Do you buy with your heart or do you curate? 

It’s a difficult question. I do both as a matter of fact. I don’t have that one consistent reason for choosing my watches. As I have been collecting for a good number of years since 2004, I find it harder and harder to get really awed in wonder with watches. I need my next watch to be really different, special in certain aspect before I buy it.

It could be just that dial that I love so much or bold approach in their overall design language, but it must be that something that keeps me awake at night searching high and low for. That said, I do have a terrible addiction; I love new acquisition, and hence sometimes to feed that, I’ll just grab anything I find good value in, and of course it must be aesthetically pleasing in my eye. 

What is currently at the top of your watches wish-list? 

Currently, I will have to nominate Akrivia AK06 in gold dial as my top in my wish-list. 

Akrivia AK06.

What sage advice can you give to aspiring watch collectors who may be reading this now?

Collectors today have so much resources on the internet as compared to how little we had then. These online resources that are put up by collectors formed by their own opinions can be interesting. Google for good articles and do learn to be discerning on how to differentiate between marketing and facts.

Social media such as Instagram can be a double edged sword, you see trends, but at the same time, that could also be clouded with marketing (or even BS) as well. With enough knowledge, you will be better guided and you will also formed your own opinion. Buy what you really like; do not settle for something else because you can’t get due to the scarce supply or their forbidding price point; you will find yourself unable to ease that itch. 

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