This mid-week, we have a reader submission. Michael Ho talks about his collecting journey. Michael is a long time friend of the Chief Editor.
Text and photographs by Michael Ho.
Collector profile: Michael Ho
Hello, my name is Michael and I am a watch nut. I have been collecting/exploring this wonderful hobby for more than 15 years now, and it’s been a great way to meet interesting friends.
How did you meet Peter?
I remembered a time when social media still new, and if one wanted to learn more about watches, he/she has to write to established afficionados, read specialized magazines, or bump into other collectors at watch shops. Another way (I wouldn’t recommend it), is to say: “nice watch” whenever one senses another random person on the street is a collector.
I think, I must have written to Peter, a decade ago. We became great friends after that. I think I got fitter after meeting Peter, because I had to catch up with him on a bicycle. We’d go explore new places to eat and drink coffee on a bicycle, and talk about watches.
How did you get into watches?
I think my mother infected me with this watch collecting disease. I came from a poor family, and my mom struggled to make her way up the stockbroking field. She would often comment on a JLC Reverso advertisement they played before the news. She said “boy, that watch is from a different league.” I admired the technical novelty of the swiveling case.
Did you get a reverso then?
Yes, I once had the Grande Reverso 8 Days. My ex-boss, a South African hotelier, liked to borrow it to play polo. It had a good life. I had to sell it off, to buy a wedding ring. It was my biggest regret selling it away.
What pieces do you keep now? What are your favourite pieces?
I am quite a hoarder. But I try to remedy that by giving away pieces to friends and family. I hate the feeling of flipping, because a watch is more than that. It is a highly personal item, a mechanical piece of art that one could make part of his/her body. It spends good times, bad times with us.
My collection now has approximately 15 pieces. I have the classics like Rolex, but you won’t catch me wearing it often. It’s a higher probability I would wear my Girard Perregaux Laureato, Blancpain Fifity Fathoms, or Omega Seamaster. I bond better with these watches. There is something known as a bond owners have with watches.
Some watches I have, never developed that bond. I like watches that are highly water resistant, anti-magnetic, and somewhat scratch resistant too.
You made your sister into quite a collector herself. How did you do it?
I love my sister a lot. We went through a lot of hardships as children. I try to share my collection with her. Over the years, I gave her pieces such as a Hamilton Khaki, a Longines Legend Diver, an Omega Aquaterra Skyfall and a few more. When our dad passed away, she took the blow harder than any of us. I used some of the money he left me, to get her a titanium Seamaster 300.
She seems to like Rolex and went on to work like a maniac, to buy a used Yachtmaster, and Two-tone Submariner. I wish she would diversify her collection to include novelties from Ulysse Nardin, Chopard and Piaget. Time will tell how she develops in the hobby.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like talking to watch collectors. They are quite hard to find. I read Deployant daily.
I am an avid marathon swimmer too, and have swam with a Great White Shark accidentally. Sometimes I scuba dive, but it’s hard to find time these days.
My other hobby is collecting Steiff teddy bears. These bears are a reason to smile one more time everyday. It’s incredible, how the rarest bears are found not by money, but by persistence and having friendships.
Tell us a watch story worth listening to
I wanted a Royal Oak many years ago. This was in the era where they weren’t as hyped up as they are now.
A friend of mine has a collection of more than 100 pieces. He doesn’t use social media though, and is as elusive as a snow leopard. One day he wore the dual time Royal Oak.
He could see I liked it, and knew about it’s history. Money meant less to him, than passing down a piece to someone more worthy/appreciative of it. So he agreed to trade it with me. I got AP to engrave my name behind the piece, as a guarantee to myself I would never sell it off. I got the piece fully restored and look after it very well.
Any final words for our readers
It is a pleasure to be in this hobby and meet interesting people. Maybe I can write articles for Peter once in a while. I find great fun writing and sharing about this hobby.
Oh yes, watch collecting is not just about endless purchases. There is a greater joy to be in the company you enjoy the most.