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My Collecting Journey: Chester, A Collector’s View

by Chester Lau on December 18, 2014
The Collector's View

In this article, I will not be reviewing a watch, or a movement or some other object. But I will be reviewing myself. I will share with you my short collecting experience, and some observations of young watch lovers.

As we may know, more and more people these days find watches redundant. Some say that the smart phone already does the time keeping, while others simply view it as a utility item and nothing else. As for me, I love watches and I am always excited to find some other young person like myself who is attracted to fine timepieces. However, like every toddler learning to walk, we do require some guidance in the right direction. After all, few can start out knowing exactly the ‘perfect’ watch to buy.

So the first big question. Why did I start collecting?

I have always had a keen interest in watches during my teens. As a child, I loved my blue aluminum cased “Flik-Flak” on a nylon strap. As habit would have it, I became so accustomed to having a wristwatch and would feel extremely uneasy to leave the house with a naked wrist. In primary school I got intrigued by a screw-down crown on a Casio. At 13, I discovered mechanical watches through a Seiko 5, amazed by the see through case back and a winding rotor movement called the ‘Automatic’. At 15, I realized that ‘Swiss Made’ watches were always almost more expensive and I wowed at Tag Heuers through their displays. On hindsight, it took me almost a decade of watch following to eventually start learning about horology. But something important that I have learnt as a young collector is to save up for my own timepieces. Finding the right piece at the right price at the right time is all part of the collecting experience. The ritual of saving up for your time pieces is what makes them all the more special.

When I turned 17, horology insanity took over. It was like an extreme growth period when I was extremely hungry for knowledge. I got myself third rate watch maker tools, from link and bar removers, to hand removers and pressers, movement holders, tweezers, screwdrivers. At one point my room looked like a store room. I even bought stock movements to take them apart, studied the 6497, 2824 and 7750. I played around with barrels, tried snipping off a mainspring to replace, watched videos on assembling and disassembling and spent hours upon hours at my desk doing surgery on watch movements. So what did I gain from this playtime? A finer appreciation of watch makers and watch making.

My first ever Swiss mechanical timepiece. A Ball Night Train. I was fascinated by the DLC case and H3 (Tritium) gas tubes.

My first ever Swiss mechanical timepiece. A Ball Night Train. I was fascinated by the DLC case and H3 (Tritium) gas tubes.

Today, I am glad to continue my passion for horology through reading and writing, contributing articles whenever I can. At college, I share this passion with my peers and frequently answer questions like, “What watch should I get for $600?”, “What should I get for graduation? I want a Rolex.”

So some may ask. What do young people know or think about watches?

Of those that I have met, there are 2 individuals who have left a striking impression. The first is Justin, my classmate who I recently discovered to be a watch fan. He is relatively new to watches but has been reading up extensively. For him, his attainable grail is a Rolex Submariner for graduation, and his dream watch is a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Since the latter is terribly expensive for non-income churning students, they tend to turn to homage watches. For example a Seiko diver watch with a similar bezel, and a modded dial bearing fifty-five fathoms. Apart from that, he is a dive watch lover, and collects Seiko diver variants.

Seen here is a Seiko SNZH57J1 which houses a 7S36 movement. It is fitted with a moded dial and a steel mesh bracelet.

Seen here is a Seiko SNZH57J1 which houses a 7S36 movement. It is fitted with a moded dial and a steel mesh bracelet.

Here’s some of the other divers in his collection.

Seiko 7002 diver 7S26 movement on red nato strap.

Seiko 7002 diver 7S26 movement on red nato strap.

Water Resistant to 150m, another Seiko diver in orange.

Water Resistant to 150 m, another Seiko diver in orange.

The next person to mention is Wesley. He is a budding young collector who believes that watches are great to remind himself of notable life events. He has just started out on his journey with watches but what is most striking, is the story behind his budding interest. His Aunt. She is the reason why he fell in love with watches. A heavyweight Swatch collector, she has more than a hundred Swatches in her collection. Wesley greatly respects his Aunt and through it has inherited her love for mechanical timepieces. He enjoys collecting watches that have historical or functional significance and hence his favourite watches are the Rolex Milgauss GV for being the first antimagnetic mechanical watch designed for professionals in the scientific field and the Omega Speedmaster, also commonly known as the “Moonwatch”. For him, his dream watch is the Harry Winston Opus 12 and hopes to acquire a Zenith Striking Tenth to add to his collection, for its feature in the feat of highest human freefall. He hopes to further his horological journey by interacting with key players in the industry.

A Speedmaster Chronograph, Wesley's first ever mechanical timepiece.

A Speedmaster Chronograph, Wesley’s first ever mechanical timepiece.

A Rolex Milgauss which Wesley received for his 21st Birthday.

A Rolex Milgauss which Wesley received for his 21st Birthday.

 

The three of us from right to left, Justin, Wesley and myself.

The three of us from right to left, Justin, Wesley and myself.

Together, the three of us have begun to grow a Horological Society in College, known as NUS Horological Society to spread our love of Horology with fellow young people. The Society’s Mission is to: Learn about the World of Horology, Grow together with fellow watch lovers, and to Nurture a future generation of Watch Collectors.

The release of this article also marks the unofficial opening of our page on Facebook, NUS Horological Society. We will embark on a Mission to shake up this world of watches, for it is my belief that a good part of collecting includes the imparting of philosophies and knowledge. And what better way to start, than to start with the young.

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